What makes a tea truly artisan tea? There are many tea companies that sell blooming flower teas as artisan teas as they are hand tied supposedly, but there is another kind of artisan tea I am writing about here. The kind of artisan tea I am talking about is a tea that is handpicked and hand processed. Everything is done by hand. If a tea is cut by machine, which most teas are, it is not artisan tea. When an artisan tea is picked it must be picked with the most utmost care as the leaves and buds must be properly and delicately handled. The reason most of the time for this is, the leaves and buds from these kinds of trees are of higher quality and need expert care. With machine cut teas, they are sold for cheap prices on the market so no care is needed. They are cut with no care, by a machine that rapidly cuts them, thus bruising them and then launching them into a massive storage area where they will be put on an assembly line to be further processed by massive machines and hot air dryers.
Now compare that with a truly artisan tea that is handpicked by a farmer whose family has been on the same land for generations hand harvesting tea. These farmers are experts in their craft. They know just the right time of the day and the right day ofthe month to harvest their tea to produce optimum flavor. They use various picking techniques that preserve the tealeaf and bud’s integrity. They toss the leaves and bud into a small bag they carry on their back.
These artisan farmers in China usually have generations of training and it is an art to them. Once they collect the leaves and buds they go to the processing stage. They may typically use a natural drying process such as sun drying or else wok and coal drying methods. For many white teas the sun drying process is all that is needed. Once it is finished they package it up for sale. Other artisan teas may be processed by hand roasting in a wok over a wood fire or over hot coals in a large pot.
To be a tea artisan can take many years of training and a lifetime to perfect. Lets look at one of Wild Tea Qi’s tea artisans or “tea masters” who handcraft some of our finest tea.
Meet Tea Master Grandma Xue Fang:
Tea Master Grandma Yang Xue Fang is 70 years old and has been growing, and picking tea for over 60 years. She comes from a long lineage of tea artisans as her family has been picking tea for over 200-300 years. They are known as the Yi Tribal People. Ever since she was a small child she learned the art of picking tea so that she could pick it at just the right time giving the tea optimum flavor, energy and look. Grandma and her family specialize in plucking ancient tree organic teas. She has passed down her art to her children as well so they as a family pick tea together everyday.