What makes Jade Tea special?
A good handcrafted tea depends on three essential elements.
The terroir, cultivar and craft.
We know that all three are important.
Terroir is the sum of the natural environment in which a tea plant is grown. Terroir includes factors such as climate, topography, soil type and the ecosystem of surrounding plants and animals. A cultivar that thrives in one region will often struggle in a region that differs in terroir. This accounts for the on going regional diversity in tea production and why black teas from India will never taste the same as black teas from China. And why some regions specialise in oolongs and others specialise in white teas, but as you’ll see, terroir is just one factor.
Tea plants are categorised into different cultivars or varietals depending on their genetic makeup. Specific cultivars may have larger or smaller leaves; grow bushier or taller than others; or suit a different terroir and soil type. Grown side by side two cultivars can exhibit very different physical traits and flavour characteristics. Cultivars play a crucial role in determining the innate flavours and aromas in any tea, and new cultivars are constantly being developed by local craftsmen and research groups who are looking for something unique. We select teas made from both traditional cultivars which are known for their superior properties, and new cultivars selected for their unique flavours.
Terroir and cultivar are responsible for the characteristics which are innate in the tealeaves, but the final element of craft is just as important. During the crafting process the innate flavours of the carefully plucked leaves are unlocked. When done well the tea master is able to draw out each of the desired flavours from the leaf, and add a little extra to compliment the natural aroma of the tea without disguising or extinguishing it. It is possible to craft both highly impressive and less impressive teas from the same batch of leaves. Sometimes it’s just a few seconds that make the difference.
While it is relatively common for tea enthusiasts, travellers and merchants to source teas from a region which is famous for a specific type of tea, it is easy to overlook the importance of the cultivar and the craft. At Jade Tea we believe that it is essential to consider all three factors together to find a tea that is truly exceptional and worthy of being called a Jade Tea.