Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary. ~Chinese Proverb
The shifty March weather dumped a lot of fluffy snow from Vancouver to Whistler just as the spring buds tentatively began to sprout. As foraging TeaCrafters, this is a much anticipated time of the year as everything comes to life again in the forest, farm and in the waysides. We begin to forage very early as sap resumes the upward flow, Salmon Berries blossom and the first shoots of Stinging Nettles come out of their winter dormancy. That means more Birch Bark hand chipping, Morel mushroom hunting, Spruce tips harvesting, Labrador Tea spring flush and many more forest delights.
Blending these uncommon botanicals at their peak freshness into unique Off the Beaten Path blends for seekers of the unusual, wild and rare is our cup of tea. We are taste seekers scouting nature's seasonal bounty to craft into seasonal artisan concoctions to please the palate. Foraging in lush west coast forests is the most amazing experience of unfurling, getting attuned to nature, and sharing with you the sustainably hand-harvested bounty of these delicacies. Botanicals for bitters crafted by mixologists, unique herbal ingredients for discerning chefs and of course, tisanes to tea craft into seasonal, limited-edition blends. Spring also heralds TPatch growing planning, new co-operative growing partnerships with local farmers to help us bring you an array of unique botanicals from distinctive Thérroirs that we TeaCraft into fine loose leaf tea blends.
Savouring divine seasonal winter harvest High Mountain Oolongs from Taiwan tie us over as we await the first 2014 spring flush tea samples. Downy silvery buds begin sprouting at our partner farms in Asia and at our indoor overwintered Camellia Sinensis Tea Plants. First Flush green teas from high mountains in Hubei, Sencha Teas from Kagoshima in Japan, White buds from ancient tea trees in Yunnan and Fuding da Bai Silver Needle from Fujian. First Flush Teas are sought after for their exquisite taste, quality and freshness. Over the winter months, the tea plants slowly concentrate their luscious flavors into each new bud and leaf growth for expectant tea lovers.
Our Tpatch-grown Camellia Sinensis are still cloaked in organic coffee burlap bags at the snowy TPatch as we wait to see if they can thrive in temperatures dipping in our Zone 6 and lower winters in Pemberton, B.C.. We are testing to see how the Canadian winter and RootDown Thérroir develops slow grown flavor in these hardy evergreen Camellia Sinensis. We made our first nano batch of Oolong tea from our tea plants last spring that was surprisingly pleasant for our first ever batch of Canadian Oolong. Our trimmed lemon verbena shrubs are also overwintering indoors as they are much more delicate than Zone 7 hardy Camellia Sinensis evergreens. Delightful honey sweet Lemon Verbena is more comfortable in Zones 8 to 10 but with a little helping hand, they will grow well again this summer in the warm sunny Pemberton micro-climate.
Light spring rains are welcome at our newest partner farm Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden in the Himalayan region of Nepal in gardens at 1800m elevation, in the slope sides of Hile in Dhankuta District. We are so excited to add these Single Origin teas to our upcoming summer 2014 collection. Their quality standards, aroma, taste, along with progressive ethical principles, empowers women small plot owners, growers, harvesters and processors of the quality leaf of the gardens. Jun Chiyabari means Moon Tea garden in Nepali, a beautiful name for such beautiful artisan handcrafted teas.
Namasthé only sources from tea gardens with the highest ethical and sustainable standards in the whole tea industry. Single Origin loose leaf teas are aligned with our foraging, sourcing, growing and TeaCrafting philosophies at Namasthé Tea Co. I look forward to trekking the Himalayas with my brother Sébastien, visiting Jun Chiyabari gardens and also visiting our partner tea farms in Taiwan on a tea and teaware sourcing trip this year. As I watch the snow come down, it is time for a slow Gaiwan of Sheng White buds Pu-erh tea as I contemplate the busy upcoming week of fresh TeaCrafting. In Nepal and India, "Namasté" is the greeting with hands pressed together at the heart where we honor ourselves and the other as One.
Why does ethical and sustainable organic and Fair Trade tea matter? Read this story from The Guardian, India's tea firms urged to act on slave trafficking after girls freed.