I am thrilled to say that we finally received our specialty teas from Tanzania that we've been trying to get for several months. Bente Luther-Medoch is a very gifted and passionate tea maker in Tanzania. I've tried several of her teas and each of them are exceptionally smooth with a beautiful jewel-like clarity to them. We have two productions to offer online right now with another shipment of freshly made teas arriving (fingers crossed) in November. (Please note these teas are only available in the online store, not in our physical location.)
There is a tremendous amount of tea being produced in Africa but not very much of it is what is called 'specialty tea.' The production in African tea producing countries (Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, and Mozambique) is geared towards CTC (or 'crush-tear-curl' tea meant for tea bags). Bente's shop is currently the only company producing specialty tea in all of Tanzania!
Overall, these tea producing countries are particularly well situated to make some very compelling teas, though these teas are certainly quite different in style than the teas coming from Asia. Most African teas are growing at an altitude of between 5000 to 7000 feet; the soil is often rich, red, and volcanic; and the areas growing tea are very near the equator with an abundance of sunshine (my teacher Joyce calls them "sunshine in a bag"). Generally speaking, the teas made in Africa, and certainly at Bente's farm, are naturally pest free and therefore pesticide free. Tea is plucked all year long in Africa so the concept of seasonality for African teas is not important, in stark contrast to Asian teas.
We've just posted Papaya Oxidized Oolong from Tanzania and Guava Oxidized Black Tea from Tanzania. Both of these teas showcase a production technique that I've never heard of anyone else doing except Bente: they are oxidized inside fruit for a period of time in order to gently pick up some of the essence of her farm grown fruit. There are not pieces of fruit in the final tea, but there is just a whisper of a tea-fruit rendezvous. Bente uses this technique, among others, to produce specifically African tea and not another tea coming from Africa that is in the generalized export black tea style.
These two teas are very relaxing and easy to drink. They are creatively made with lots of passion, hand-picked, and made with only minimal machine use. They come from a very clean and vibrant farm in Tanzania. They are not particularly complex teas - they fit squarely in the clean, comfortable, could drink all day tea camp. I really appreciate the opportunity to have these teas in our online shop and share them with a wider audience.
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