Does Tea Need Uncomplicating?
Did you know that there are over 38,000 tea estates in India and over 50,000 in China? Not to mention the rest of the tea-producing world, including Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Kenya, Zimbabwe, et. al.
Believe it or not, all of them don’t produce high quality teas. A lot of this stuff is mass-produced and just doesn’t taste very good.
So when I look at many tea retailers in the US offering hundreds of varieties of tea, I ask myself – are they all good teas? Or are these retailers simply buying whats available at the best possible price? No doubt a lot of them have some choice teas – but for the most part, I think many take advantage of what they perceive to be a lack of knowledge by the American consumer.
I recently walked into a new tea bar in Chicago. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “I’d like to take a look at your Assam tea selection.”
Retail Clerk: “Do you mean you want a black tea?”
Me: “Yes, black tea. But from Assam.”
Retail Clerk: “I see. I’d better ask my manager just to be sure.”
Manager: “Hi, I understand you want to look at our Indian teas.”
Me: “Actually I just wanted to see your Assam teas.”
Manager: “Hmm. Well, lets see – we have a Black tea from India – I think its from Assam, but I’m not sure. But it is one of the most premium Indian teas. ”
And this was a specialty tea store where they sell nothing but tea. They did, in fact, have a few varieties of Assam tea, but the staff just didn’t know where to look for it. I opened one package – and it smelled like it had been sitting on the store shelf for several months. No aroma whatsoever. Why even bother to sell a tea without telling your store personnel a little bit about it? And please don’t sell me stale tea.
Why do they do it? Is it because they think the consumer just won’t know the difference?
That’s why we created The Simple Leaf. Because we firmly believe that we’d rather not stock hundreds of teas. Our expert tea taster is a veteran of the tea industry and focuses his efforts every day in sifting through thousands of teas and selecting only the best of the best for consideration. That’s why you can rest assured that when we do pick a tea, it’ll be a really good one.
Tea is complicated because it’s being marketed that way. It’s an everyday drink, not an elitist one. And we want to make sure that you’re getting the best quality possible, every single day, with every single sip.
So go ahead, be simple.
And the next time you buy tea at a retail store, ask if you can smell it. If the aroma doesn’t jump out at you – ask them how long it has been sitting on the shelf.
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