Tea brings people together.
There is nothing like telling stories, catching up with friends or geeking out over a new taste experience around a shared pot of tea. Everything about tea is designed to help us slow down and enjoy life to the fullest, from beautiful hand made teapots and cups, to fresh aromatic tea that stops us in our tracks.
The invitation to slow down, taste, connect with friends and enjoy is one of the most powerful gifts that can be given.
Our mentor, and partner tea farmer Mr. He of Laoshan Village perfectly captures the spirit of the people behind the tea, and the reason why gifting tea is such a powerful expression of friendship and gratitude:
This year, we are lucky enough to have a huge new collection of teas and teaware that we have been field testing every day.
We’ve put together our top picks – the teaware and the flavors that make us excited to start each morning! We’ve highlighted some of the most interesting new teaware of the season, and a few of the most exciting offerings from our closest farmer-partners in China.
Taking those First Steps
We love gifting the Xiangfu All in One Brewer to new tea drinkers!
This elegant brewer is a great first step for so many reasons: you can use any cup you want, it takes up very little space, and the brewer has an integrated tea strainer that makes brewing easy.
Simple to use and beautiful to look at, this is the kind of tool that can help anyone imagine making tea a real part of their everyday routine.
Going a little farther…
When our friends are ready for gongfu brewing, we like to get them started with practical, easy to use pieces that don’t get in the way of great tea, and don’t cost a fortune. That is why we put together the Essentials Tea Set – everything we need for great gongfu tea.
The set includes a gaiwan, a glass pitcher, a stainless steel strainer, and two white porcelain tasting cups. Each piece is easy to use and easy to clean, and the simple gaiwan’s small capacity means you get more brews out of less tea – perfect!
For a fun add on:
A tea board is a great add-on to a first tea set!
Not only does it catch spills, it also frames a space just for tea and looks super impressive when it is all set up. A beautiful tea space – even a small one – helps inspire you to brew and enjoy tea every day throughout the day. Tea that stays hidden in the cupboard doesn’t do anyone any good!
We like to get our friends started with the versatile Carved Bamboo Slatted Tea Tray.
The Statement Piece
When we pull up to meet friends and family, we like to share our love of gongfu tea. For an impressive statement this year, we’ve been having a blast unfolding the Wooden Slats Folding Travel Tea Set!
Inside the adorable picnic case is everything we need for gongfu brewing. The fabric satchel makes it comfortable and easy to carry, while the wooden case keeps everything inside protected.
Even better? The simple set up shows our friends just how small and easy gongfu can be, while still impressing with its elegant design.
The Compact Travel Companion
For drinking tea on trains and planes, at rest stops and at hotels, we love having something that fits in our backback. It doesn’t get much smaller or more lightweight than the Xiangfu Mini Travel Tea Set, which includes everything we need to break out our favorite teas and recover from a day of travel.
The all-in-one brewer and two nesting tea cups fit – safe and snug! – inside a compact padded carrying case. Just add leaves and water, and any few spare moments can become tea time in no time!
Safe Travels for your Tea
When we have to check bags, we often worry about our tea getting crushed.
That is why we are loving the Pu’er Tray and Storage Box. We will bring one pu’er cake and two or three bags of our favorite loose leaf teas, close the magnetic locking lid and be good to go.
The sturdy box keeps our tea safe and sound no matter how bumpy the ride. Even better, it helps keep everything neat and organized to help us find our tea at the end of the journey, no matter how jet lagged we may be!
Hand Built Yixing Teapots
We love everything that Lai Xiaohong makes – her meticulous craft, fine clay and great design all come together at a price point that is still approachable for a hand-made piece of art that takes dozens of hours of work.
This year, we have to call out Pan Yang and Zhu Huan, the husband and wife team who took us into their studio and let us film them forming teapots, teaching us about their craft in depth. They have all the bold modern sensibility that we see with Lai Xiaohong, but they tend to use rarer clays, or plan more elaborate and time-consuming designs. This certainly makes their work pricey, but it also makes them show-stoppingly gorgeous.
Yixing is a gift that gets better every day – the clay takes on beautiful patina over years of careful use.
JIAN ZHAN : Song-Dynasty Revival
Master Xiong and his kilk uses the same clay deposits and the same mineral mixture for glazing as his ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Master Xiong is working to revive the nearly-lost tradition of Shui Ji Jian Zhan.
In both a traditional wood fired Dragon Kiln and a modern electric kiln, Master Xiong and his son-in-law produce beautiful gaiwans, cups and more that grow deeper and more lustrous with years of use.
If you haven’t tried or gifted Five for Five sampler special, this is the best place to start – an introduction to our oldest closest tea farmer-partners and their values in farming.
Gift Five Teas for Five Dollars, and both you and your recipient get $5 in tea cash to use on your next order.
From the He Family in Laoshan
We all know and love the He Family for their deliciously sweet and decadent teas. Their innovative, beyond organic farming is leading the way in transforming a whole region, and introducing a cold-climate tea to China.
The two teas could hardley be more different from each other, and each is incredibly delicious in its own way – we can’t stop drinking them!
These two experimental teas were extremely labor-intensive to produce, and we have no guarantees that either tea is coming back after this season, so we want to make sure as many people get to try these awesome innovations as possible.
From the Li Family in Wuyishan
The Li Family has been winning awards for years for the magic they work between their rocky land full of biodiverse tea plants and their impeccable craft.
This year we have been falling in love with their Unsmoked Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, a wild picked tea from their family’s small plot in the Tongmu Reserve, as well as their Gold-Medal Award-Winning Reserve Big Red Robe.
From Master Zhang in Anxi
Master Zhang is all about research and experimentation.
In the past year he has been refining his craft with Original Wulong Revival, a tea we have been crazy about since the first day we tried it. Not only is it singularly unique, but it is the closest you can get today to the very earliest oolongs made in Anxi.
From the Dongsa Cooperative in Qianjiazhai
Master Zhou organizes and leads a coopration of a handful of tea farmers in a remote part of the Ailao National Forest Preserve in Yunnan, home to some of the oldest tea trees in the world.
He collaborates with the wonderful and gracious Li Family to blend together tea picked from ancient trees (800 to 1000 year trees), younger trees (100 to 300 year trees), and wild tea flowers when they are in bloom to press the 2017 Qianjiazhai Tea Flower Sheng cake, a beautiful 100g offering that is perfect for gifting, or holding on to for years of aging.
From the Weng Family in Hulin, Fuding
The Weng Family is cultivating high mountain Da Bai varietal tea, and applying their precision and technical expertise picked up learning their craft making oolong in Anxi when they were younger.
This all comes together perfectly in their Bai Hao Yin Zhen Dragon Pearl, a wonderfully-giftable little ball of tea that opens into beautiful silver needle buds as it brews out.
From Huang Ruiguang in Fenghuang
We are always excited to get to drink any of his teas, but this year King Of Thieves tops the list for its awesome story. Two hundred years ago, this tree was cut down in the middle of the night and stolen, but its root stock was so hardy that it beat the thieves and grew right back. The tea we drink today all comes from that original root stock.
and finally, from all of our partners
our CSA-style Tea of the Month Club!
This CSA-style monthly box is curated 100% by one different farmer each month.
It is our friends’ chance to try out new experimental harvests, share the freshest and latest teas, and reach out to connect with tea lovers across the whole world.
This is a gift that it not only a thrill to drink, but a thrill for our partners to have the chance to provide!
No matter how you choose to share tea this holiday season, we hope you have fun sharing the gift that we all love so much. Tea makes a difference in our lives, and we want you all to know how much your support makes a difference to all of us.
Your support makes all of our farmer partners’ projects possible, from new cooperatives and experimental harvests in Shandong, to tea ceremony schools in Wuyishan and roads and critical equipment in rural Yunnan.
We couldn’t do it without you.
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