Samurai means “to serve.”
Tamurai means “to serve through tea.”
AT TAMURAI TEA OUR GOAL IS TO HONOR THE SPIRIT OF HEALTH AND WELL-BEING.
2020 Mingqian Tea Harvest
The 2020 Mingqian Spring Harvest teas of China are here! In any typical year, spring is an exciting time, as the earth moves from cold hibernation into energetic bursts of new life. During this unprecedented time, we are fortunate to have our 2020 Mingqian Garden Direct Green Teas land securely! We are grateful for our partners and are joyful they are healthy and creating wonderful spring harvest teas.
In springtime, the weather is growing warmer and nutrients are being replenished to the plants in the ground. With the change in season, we also see the first crops of teas being introduced into the market. One can imagine the anticipation to the release of Beaujolais Nouveau, or other sought-after wines, and correlate the same excitement for celebrated seasons within the annual calendar of the global tea harvests. True tea connoisseurs know these seasons well and eagerly anticipate the release of the new crop vintage.
Jin Long Ping Village, China
Harvesting Mingqian teas
Yulu plucks before steaming
In China, the early spring season teas are cherished for their lively energy and delicate, naturally sweet flavor. In most tea producing regions of China, tea plants go dormant around November through February. During the winter, nutrients are stored in the plant’s roots. Beginning in March, the tea plants awaken from dormancy and draw nutrients up from the roots. These elements, including natural plant sugars like polysaccharides and umami-rich amino acids, are concentrated in the new tea leaf buds and leaves that sprout from the tea plants. It is this new growth that is picked and collected during the tea harvest. Spring teas are noticeably brimming with energy due to this annual effect.
In China, the spring tea harvest is categorized into several phases that coincide with the traditional agricultural lunisolar calendar, which is divided into 24 periods each lasting a little over two weeks.
- Mingqian Season [ 明前茶 ] – Teas harvested before the Qingming Festival [清明节 “Tomb-Sweeping Festival”] on April 4th or 5th are given the “Mingqian” designation. Mingqian literally means “prior to Qingming.”
- Qingming Season [ 清明茶 ] – Teas harvested in the two weeks after the Qingming Festival (April 4/5 – April 18/19) are designated as “Qingming” teas.
- Yuqian Season [ 雨前茶 ] – Teas picked in the two weeks after the Qingming season (April 18/19 – May 2/3) are designated as “Yuqian” teas. Yuqian literally means “before the rains.
This year, we sourced teas from a range of cultivars and produced according to a few significant processing methods. With these nuances, we are able to taste the significance of cultivar and processing method.
The Mingqian season boasts the freshest and most brilliantly energetic teas of the season and beg to be consumed within the first few months. Although the white teas can grow more beautiful with age into vintages, it is ideal to consume the green offerings more quickly. We are proud to offer a range of cultivar and processes in this 2020 Mingqian harvest.
DISCOVER MINGQIAN TEA DIRECT FROM ORIGIN
Dragon Well is a well-known, Chinese ‘tribute tea’ once given in tribute to the emperor of the time. This micro-lot offers the classic Dragon Well character of pleasant grassiness with hints of pistachio and green banana.
This lot was produced using the Long Jing #43 cultivar, which offers a balance of tender dewy sweetness, pleasantly herbaceous and pine-like aroma, and undertones of savory broth.
The rocky gardens of Jin Long Ping are famous for their picturesque plantings of Quntizong. This tea offers a rich density and deep umami, with hints of fresh picked red clover and dulse seagrass.
FASTING WITH YERBA MATE
IN YERBA MATE
Imagine a drink that makes you feel as alive as coffee does, as healthy as tea does, and as happy as chocolate does…It sounds magical, doesn’t it? Well because we live in a wonderful world, this miraculous drink does exist, and at Hebden Tea, we are excited to introduce it in our new Fasting Range! If you want to kick-start 2016 with some healthier lifestyle choices, then make sure to include super-drink Yerba Mate!
WHAT IS IT?
Grown in South America, most prominently in Argentina and Brazil, Yerba Mate (pronounced yur-buh mah-tay) comes from an evergreen tree, not dissimilar to a holly bush: the Ilex Paraguariensis. Although the native trees can grow to almost 50ft tall, cultivated yerba mate trees are kept at around 13-16ft in height. Harvested every two years, these trees need time to replace the leaves lost to pruning; therefore the tree is harvested in a rotating system, where only part of the plant is harvested at a time. The yerba mate tree also produces small white-green flowers and very small red stone-fruits. Traditionally used by native South American tribes for its energising ability, yerba mate has been proven to offer a range of health benefits. Containing compounds that improve moods, increase focus and mental energy, aid digestion, and act as an appetite suppressant (potentially resulting in weight loss), yerba mate has also been found to reduce the risk of diabetes in mice. In 1964, the Pasteur Institute (a private French non-profit foundation dedicated to the study of biology, micro-organisms, diseases, and vaccines) reported that yerba mate contains ‘practically all the vitamins necessary to sustain life’. There are very few plants in our world that come close to this plant in terms of nutritional value. Containing vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B5 and B-Complex, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and zinc, yerba mate really is packed full of goodness! It also contains a number of antioxidants, such as theobromine, which is the compound in chocolate that makes you feel good!
WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
When infused, yerba mate has quite a savoury smell; it is leathery with grassy hints and very subtle notes of tobacco – almost like a smoky green tea. When tasted, these leaves open up a whole spectrum of flavour, which is hard to compare to other drinks; to put it simply, yerba mate is unlike anything else! This infusion gives an incredibly smooth and pleasant drink with a rich taste and no tangy aftertaste. Flavours range from light and woody, to soft and nutty, and even suggest a slight fruitiness. The absolute lack of astringency makes this highly-caffeinated drink a great alternative to coffee, as it doesn’t dry out your mouth, but still gives you that energising boost to get the day going.
Traditionally, in South America, yerba mate is infused in a hollowed out calabash gourd, and drunk with a metallic drinking straw, that also acts as a sieve, called a “bombilla”. (Drinking hot liquid through a straw may seem anti-intuitive, but boiling water is never used, minimising any risk of injury.)
- Fill your gourd about 3/4 full with the loose yerba mate leaves. Place your hand over the top and shake well (this mixes up the dust, leaves and small stems for a more even infusion)
- Add a small amount of cold water, then allow the leaves to soak this up before filling the calabash up with hot water. Boiling water burns the leaves, resulting in a bitter-tasting drink, so allow your water to cool to about 80°C.
- Drink the mate through your bombilla (taking care so not to burn your tongue).
- Keep topping up with more hot water to enjoy further infusions.
Alternative brewing method:
- Boil your water and pour it into your cup/teapot, then leave it for a couple of minutes to cool to about 80°C.
- Put two teaspoons of Yerba Mate into an infuser, then place this into the receptacle of water. Infuse for 3-5 minutes.
- When you have finished your drink, re-infuse the leaves for another delicious drink.
The Benefits of Turmeric and Ginger
Turmeric and Ginger – Two Complementary Ingredients
Turmeric and ginger have both been used for millennia as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicine. With its bright yellow color, turmeric is a lively botanical that many cultures claim works to improve brain function and reduce inflammation. Similarly, ginger is traditionally know to aid in digestion and relieve nausea.
Turmeric and ginger are also used in traditional anti-inflammatory tonics. The flavors blend well together and both contain compounds known to be anti-inflammatory. However, the active constituents in both are slightly different, which enables the complementary effect of these two delicious herbs together.
Turmeric and ginger plants are both rhizomes, also called rootstocks. Rhizomes propagates through a type of a stem that sits either at the soil surface or underground and forms nodes. The nodes grow the roots and shoots in perpendicular directions—therefore, new growth can come up from the ground. One can separate the rhizome to grow new plants. Other common rhizomes include hops, bamboo, and the notorious poison oak.
Traditional Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is a rhizome that belongs to the family, Zingiberaceae, to which cardamom and ginger belong. Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in Southeast, and it is also commonly linked to the practice of Ayurveda. Turmeric is a prominent spice, used in religious ceremonies, and also sometimes referred to as “Indian Saffron.” In Sanskrit, the word for turmeric is “Haridra” (the Yellow One) and in Chinese is Jiang Huang.
Similar to ginger, turmeric is a bitter digestive, a carminative (flatulence relief) and also a cholagogue, which increases bile production in the liver. In Ayurveda, turmeric is used to expel phlegm—or alleviate a kapha imbalance. The compound that is recognized as the anti-inflammatory is curcumin, which is also commercially available as isolate compounds.
At Rishi, we source our turmeric from Guatemala. In the mountainous region of Cobán, Guatemala, there is a small community called Nimlahakok—Nimla for short. We work with a group of farmers to source our cardamom and now, turmeric, from this farm.
Turmeric has been used for centuries as a wonder-herb, and it certainly is gaining traction in scientific studies and applications of the herb. Herbs are best used to create balance when consumed on a daily basis and are typically not a miracle cure delivered by consuming once or twice sporadically.
Traditional Benefits of Ginger
Ginger is a rhizome that belongs to the family, Zingiberaceae, to which cardamom and turmeric belong. Ginger has been used for thousands of years in India and China, and it is commonly linked to the practice of Ayurveda.
Ginger is known for its anti-microbial, warming properties, which aids in digestion and relieving nausea. Overall, this rhizome is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and for increasing circulation. Ginger is also said to relieve motion sickness and morning sickness due to its properties as a carminative (relieving flatulence) and antispasmodic action.
Though there are numerous compounds in ginger that attribute to these numerous benefits, ketones known as gingerol and gingerol-related compounds really drive the thought behind the touts of anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects.
At Rishi, we source our ginger from Mizoram, India, a Southeastern part of India on the border of Myanmar.