Started in 2013, Garden to Cup is a unique program that drives our sense of exploration and discovery. Throughout the year, we scour the globe in search of the world’s freshest and most intriguing single-estate teas. Once plucked, teas are sent to stores within a matter of weeks – about as close as you can get to drinking a freshly-picked tea. Today, we’re adding three amazing new teas to this fantastic collection.
Our first ever Malawain tea! Grown on a third generation, family-owned garden in the Shire Highlands, these exceptional little pearls are a true labour of love. Each leaf is hand-plucked and rolled by an amazing team of 15 tea-crafting local women. Committed to giving back, this Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified garden has also introduced some amazing initiatives to support the community, with a strong emphasis on health, wellness, education and the environment.
As for the tea, it steeps a beautiful bright yellow, with the aroma of lemon meringue and a light, buttery taste with natural sweet and floral notes. To get the most out of these fair trade gems, try drinking them over multiple steeps, or “gung- fu” style. As the leaves unfurl with each steep, each cup is a totally new experience.
How it’s made?
Hand Plucked >> Quickly Withered >> Hand Rolled and Shaped >> Dried
Location, location, location. It’s what makes this tea so special – and so sought after. If it doesn’t come from Hangzhou, you can’t call it Lung Ching. Ours is grown in a small, family-run garden in Lanxi, an area specially selected for its mineral-rich red soil. And trust us, these guys are pros. They’ve been making this tea for decades, hand-flattening and drying the leaves in a deep, hot wok. Is it worth the trouble? Absolutely. Each sip is rich, nutty, sweet and vegetal, with note of minerality.
What’s the difference?
For those keeping tabs, this is our second tea from the Zhejiang province in China. A relative to our much-loved Dragonwell, the key difference between the two lies in the withering process. After plucking, tea leaves are left to wither, allowing the moisture to evaporate from the leaves. Lung Ching is left to wither much longer than Dragonwell, leaving it with almost no moisture left in the leaves: a process called “hard withering.” When the hard-withered leaves are then pressed in the wok, the lack of moisture causes them to stay bright green. Though this process might seem like a small difference, it’s one of the most important factors that makes our Lung Ching so unique.
How it’s made?
Pluck >> Hard Wither >> Wok Fire/Roll/Shape >> Dry
Although Darjeeling teas represent only about 3% of all tea produced in India, the region’s 86 tea gardens have perfected their crafts, and produce some of the country’s most sought after teas.
High up in the Himalayas, overlooking the snow-capped peaks of majestic Mount Kanchenjunga, lies one of these 86 gardens – the exceptional Puttabong Tea Estate. Tea grown up here just tastes better – thanks to the pure mountain air, unique soil and perfect altitude. This garden has been growing amazing Darjeeling teas since 1852. And this year’s delicately delicious crop is no exception – sweet, refreshing and uniquely creamy, with hints of sweet grass, sycamore leaves, tea oil and mountain meadow honey. We rushed this organic Super-Fine-Tippy-Gold-Flowery-Orange-Pekoe Number 1 (SFTGFOP1) to our shelves right after the pluck so you can taste it fresh off the bush.
First dibs, first bids
First flush refers to the first plucking period of the year, when spring rains have stimulated new growth in the regions tea plants. Given their rarity and exceptional quality, First Flush Darjeeling teas are in incredibly high demand, so as soon as the production is finished for each “lot” of tea, we express ship samples from Darjeeling right to our tea tasters. The teas are tasted and a bid is placed within 24 hours. From there, it’s a waiting game to see if our bid is accepted. Needless to say, we’re over-the-moon to have won this bid. This tea is absolutely phenomenal.
How it’s made?
Pluck >> Hard Wither >> Roll >> Oxidize >> Fire
Want to enjoy these teas to the fullest? Read our sipping guide.