I received an interesting request lately. The Powers That Be at Tea Trade wondered why I had never done a forum post about my Tea “WANT!” List. Truth be told, I wondered the same thing. After all, it was the sheer basis for my “Steep Stories” blog in the first place. Said list was inspired by a now-defunct blog that catalogued unique teas from around the world. I wanted to take it a step further, track them down, and drink them. ALL of them.
This is that [current] list…in its entirety.
Krasnodarskiy (Russian-Grown Tea)
The Dagomys region near Sochi City in Krasnodar, Russia has been on my radar for over a year. I learned that during the U.S.S.R. there were government mandated tea farms to help cater to the nation’s rampant tea consumption; same with the former Soviet state, Georgia. Some of those gardens have since fallen into disrepair, but private farmers still exist.
Jackie – Mrs. Tea Trade to us – posted a video about tea growers near Sochi gearing up for the upcoming Olympics. That re-triggered my interest in acquiring tea from there. However, as far as I know, no export site exists for any of the growers. And believe me…I’ve looked.
New Zealand-Grown Teas & Tisanes (Other than Zealong)
Around the time I was hunting down local shops that stocked Tregothnan’s British-grown (and blended) Earl Grey, I also saw scant mention on their main page about a Kiwi-borne tisane that tasted like honeybush. The Maori name for it was Manuka. Several health properties were associated with it – and it was often used to make honey – but I mainly wanted it for the honeybush comparison. Thus far, the only place I’ve been able to find it stateside is in teabag form. I’m not too keen on settling for that.
Possible Source: http://www.tregothnanshop.co.uk/ShowDetails.asp?id=452
Grain Moth Pu-Erh (Yunnan province, China)
I learned the existence of this through Steepster. From what I can gather, it’s a sheng pu-erh that is naturally aged, then fed to caterpillars. When the caterpillars…um…”pass” the leaves, they are then further aged. That’s right, it’s tea culture’s very own Kopi Luwak. Other than this entertaining article and a couple of others, I’ve found scant mention of it. It bears the infamous nickname of “Poo-Poo Pu-erh” for obvious reasons. And, yet, I want to try it. Badly.
UPDATE: There is now a possible source for this! Grand Tea now carries a young version of this, although they call it “Worm Tea”. Do WANT! http://www.grandtea.com/Chong-Cha-Worm-Tea-50-gram-p-240.html
Ilex vomitoria – or Yaupon Holly – is the only plant native to North America that is caffeinated. It is a close relative to yerba mate and guayusa. The poor tree also has a dubious history, mentioned as the key ingredient to an infamous Native American beverage called “Black Drink”. Books have been written about this mysterious rite-of-passage beverage, and its apparent ill-effects. I grew curious about it when I watched a YouTube video of someone steeping the stuff and mentioning its similar taste to yerba mate. I don’t really care for yerba mate, but this plant of ill-repute interests me.
Yes, it actually exists, and I have fellow Tea Trader – Family and Tea – to thank for bringing it to my attention. I’ve already notched kocha (Japanese black tea) off my list. This is next. And I know just the one, too.
Possible Source: http://www.yuuki-cha.com/japanese-oolong-tea
In my review of a Kenyan black tea, I incorrectly assumed that Sri Lanka didn’t do oolongs. Jackie was quick to prove me wrong, and I’m glad she did. Now, it’s on the list.
Possible Source: http://www.teteas.com/shop/product.php?productid=108
I might be imagining it, but I could’ve sworn I heard someone say that Pakistan grew its own tea. I have found very little mention of it anywhere. If it exists, though – by golly – I will find it.
Japanese White Tea
This might be wishful thinking on my part. I saw a minor mention of it on a Wikipedia article (citation needed), and I was instantly transfixed. It might be possible, though. I mean, up until last year, I was convinced Japanese black tea didn’t exist. Here’s hopin’.
Would that be called “Roolong” or “Rooiboolong”? I dunno. Anyway…one time I was looking up information on the health benefits of green rooibos (my absolute favorite herbal) when I found a bit piece about a semi-oxidized variant. That definitely cocked an eyebrow. A discussion on the Teaviews forums with Alex Zorach peaked my interest further. I have yet to find one for sale…but the search hasn’t ended yet.
Loose-Leaf Greenthread (Native American-Grown Tisane from New Mexico):
Chʼil ahwééh – or Navajo/Hopi Tea – is an herbal infusion native to the high desert area of New Mexico. It is made from an herb popularly known as greenthread –a simple enough bush that is wild-harvested on the plateau. I had the pleasure of tracking some down locally in teabag form when I read an article written by a Portland-based holistic specialist. It was one interesting tisane. My goal now is to try it in the traditional bundle.
Green Rooibos Matcha
The inclusion of this might be just wishful thinking on my part. Several months ago, I had an opportunity to review red rooibos matcha. It was a very unique sort of beverage – tasting like regular rooibos only thicker. The powder also cold-brewed well. Comments to my review lamented the lack of existence of a green rooibos variant, just as I had in the actual write-up. For the moment, I don’t think a stone-ground green rooibos powder exists…but if someone is reading this – a Nishio-based matcha producer, perhaps? – please get on this.
I’m not sure who told me about this, or if I simply ran across it on a regular Internet perusal, but Mongolian salted milk tea held my fascination fast. Since pure water is a valuable commodity there, tea is boiled in milk instead. Salt and other things are added to low-grade, brick-pressed tea to form a concoction with an…eccentric character. Sure, there are recipes online for preparing it yourself, but I want it made by an actual Mongolian. And so, I wait.
Po Cha (Yak Butter Tea from Tibet)
Similar to Mongolian tea, po cha – or “butter tea” – is an infusion out of Tibet. It is prepared with melted yak butter, salt and (again) brick tea. Recipes exist online on how to prepare it, but – like suutei tsai – my goal is to try it in a Tibetan restaurant. One did exist in my hometown for a time, and they did serve po cha, but said eatery has since gone out of business.
This will be a permanent page on the blog. I finally formalized all of this so as to have a public record of all the teas I want to notch off. It will be constantly updated as more teas catch my fancy and others still are sip-conquered. If you have any leads on teas I need to add to the list – and/or possible sources for those currently on it – shoot me a line. There might be a blog plug in it for you. (I’d offer more…but I’m poor.)
Thank you for reading. I’m going to pass out now.