Tea brings people together.
That is why we believe that tea is often the perfect gift for any occassion.
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.
Not only is tea from small family farms a powerful expression of friendship and hospitality, but it also reaches back to the people who made it, making lives better, raising up whole villages. Our mentor and partner farmer Mr. He of Laoshan Village shares the candid story of tea transforming his life and bringing hope to his family:
So, where do you start in picking out the perfect tea and teaware for gifting?
Never fear – the 2019 gift guide is here!
We’ve been busy tasting through all the fresh harvests from each of our partner-farmers across China, and of course, thoroughly field-tested our biggest teaware collection ever to bring you our top picks for every occasion.
Every gift you give this season helps our partner farmers reinvest in their communities and support their families, giving tea a brighter future for generations to come.
Six kinds of tea & six passionate growers – these are the iconic classics that really represent what we and our partner growers stand for: True sustainability and transparency and the taste and aroma that come with the impeccable terroir and craft of the best growers in China.
Gifting to someone new to direct-from-farm? This kit comes with a shiny new postcard introducing each of the six featured farmers – all friends of ours that we hope inspire the passion for tea in you that they have for us.
New to looseleaf tea?
No problem – the best tea in the world is a lot easier to brew than it is to pick and finish!
Our partners in China finish all of our teas to make them impossible to mess up. They are less fussy than tea bag teas! Sweet, rich, and complex no matter how you brew. Share our top brewing tips with your friends and family to take the mystery out of the process.
OR – get them started right with a tea set of their very own!
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 an upgrade, consider adding a tea board
like the Black Slatted Bamboo Tea Tray.
Tea boards aren’t strictly necessary if you use a mat or plate, but they do help catch drips, and make for a stunning way to frame off the whole set. A good-looking set-up always inspires more tea drinking!
Share the gift of tea!
If you already have your own favorite teas or farmer whose work you love, shop all our new tasting kits, put together to show off each partner or style of tea, all at a special discount.
Want to keep it simple? We believe so strongly in the power of word of mouth to get new people drinking tea that we actually put together a sampler meant just for that purpose. For $5, you can send 5 samples from 4 farms to give your friends a broad introduction to the best of the best.
Need an extra incentive? How about an instant $5 gift certificate sent to your email towards your next purchase as a little thank you, and a printed $5 tea cash voucher in the gift box for your friend.
Why go without the joy and nourishment of daily tea when you travel? Our good friends at Xiangfu Design Studio have put together a beautiful all-in-one tea board and full brewer set.
This set has a stylish carry case that transforms into a reversible runner when unfolded. The slats come out and actually make for a generously large tea board – big enough to accommodate the four cups and the unique brewer with plenty of room to spare.
You could easily fit a few more people at this board if you bring extra cups. We can even fit a handful of 5g samples of tea in the box when it is folded up so that we are ready for anything!
Master Zhang is one of the most skilled tea masters in China, and his work up front means that no matter what you have to brew or what water you have to use when travelling, this fresh stunningly sweet and rich oolong tastes incredible every time. It’s like packing a little sunlight and mountain air.
Plus – the rolled oolong style means this is compact to pack and impossible to crush or break the leaves.
Just drop one of these pearls in a mug or a travel thermos and let it slowly infuse and open up.
Keep topping it off through the day and you’ve got a foolproof travel-ready black tea that brings the wild flavor and incredible texture of the oldest tea forest in the world.
Travel has its downsides.
Sometimes even when we ready for the next adventure, our stomachs are not.
That’s why we always bring along shu pu’er. Its thick rich flavor is always settling, and it is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its digestive properties. Plus, as an added travel benefit, this cake of tea is compressed so it can’t break and doesn’t waste space in luggage.
There is something special about a hand-made piece of art that lasts for a lifetime. We are lucky to represent incredible artists like Lai Xiaohong, who personally sources and ages her own clays, bringing modern lines and bold details to ancient forms.
Not only is yixing beautiful for display, but it actually grows more lustrous and gives back better flavor after each brew session.
JIAN ZHAN from Master Lin Xi
Jian Zhan is a stunningly beautiful link back to the Song Dynasty. The art was nearly lost to time, but masters like Lin Xi are working to revive the tradition, using natural rock from the same ancient sites to mix his clay and glazes.
Like Yixing, Jian Zhan grows more lustrous over years of use, making it a perfect lifelong tea companion. Lin Xi is one of the only artists who hand builds and glazes every piece he makes without assistance. His tiny output is winning him awards across China, so we are excited to be able to work with him and offer his incredible craft while we can.
For people that appreciate something truly special how about the most singular provenance you could ask for in the world of tea? This cake is pressed from leaves hand-harvested from one particular over 1000yr. old tree in Qianjiazhai by the Li Family. This year’s harvest was pressed in three forms: 100g cakes, 250g xiao jin gua, and individual 5g dragon pearls.
It’s ludicrous that we can even bring this in.
What a cool story! How many teas come with a GPS coordinate read-out? I mean, come on!
Here’s another tea that deserves the “ludicrous”label. This is true tieguanyin varietal high-elevation rolled oolong, actually hand-finished by Master Zhang in 1985, and meticulously re-roasted for almost a decade after initial finishing to control moisture and bring out incredible depth without roasting over the flavor of the tea.
It is momentous to even come across a Tieguanyin with this much age, let alone one that has been continuously roasted and cellared by the actual craftsman who originally finished the tea. That’s how long Master Zhang has been shaping the industry, to be able to offer something like this from his personal reserve.
With the recent work by the local government to bolster environmental conservation and keep the Wuyi Ecoloigcal Preserve as the biodiverse paradise that it is, well over half the tea bushes in the area have been torn out for reforestation. This makes true Wuyi tea, not export grade imitations, extremely rare. Luckily, the Li Family has always practiced responsible low impact farming, preserving original forest cover, so there old stock tea bushes have been left to flourish.
Yet within an already rare and in demand region, Tongmu is an even more protected micro-region, a preserve within a preserve, and the home to the world’s first black teas. The LI Family’s ancestral home is within Tongmu, which gives them the right to cultivate bushes on their land and wild-forage in the forest. Each year they make a tiny lot of black tea from one of the most famous and coveted micro-climates for tea in the world available to us. There is truly nothing like the texture and aftertaste of Tongmu.
At some point, tea ceases to be about flavor and aroma and becomes an escalating game of texture and aftertaste where you start seeking out crazy cooling notes, electrical sparkle, deep minerality, and lingering building sweetness.
This is easier to find in Sheng Pu’er and Old Tree Wuyi Oolongs, but how about a surprise out of left field? This Special Grade Designation from Master Zhang uses Rou Gui cultivar and gets a crazy revival-style finish researched from old techniques. The result is packed with all that texture and sparkle that keeps tea exciting.
We have a real weak spot for Shui Xian- it truly embodies the thrilling textural joy that tea can bring, complete with its forest coling notes, smoldering spice and luscious aromatics. This offering has been aging since 2007, gaining even more depth and nuance.
The Li Family is already respected throughout Wuyishan for their award-winning traditional hand-firing. This firing is a 12-16 hour process using special Fujian hardwood charcoal and bamboo baskets to slowly add depth to their finished tea in tiny batches. Now imagine that process repeated yearly for ten years, and you can start to get a sense of the intensity packed into this Shui Xian.
We’ve known the He Family for well over a decade. Visiting their farm in Laoshan feels like returning home. Yet, in all the years we;ve worked together, this is the first year that they’ve been able to offer a special grade harvest, including Laoshan Black,m Laoshan Green and Osmanthus Black.
Imagine the rocky mountain slopes of Laoshan, baked in the summer sun, finally catching the cool ocean breeze with the fast-changing temperature, and the crisp aroma of leaves turning across the Laoshan National Forest preserve. The teas picked in the perfect window of autumn have the “texture” of autumn; they embody that crisp clean air and the rocky slopes of Laoshan.
This year’s tea is especially precious because rainfall was so scarce through the summer that the yields are all much lower than usual, but much sweeter and richer for the slower growth. You won’t want to miss the chance to try this texture and aroma driven special grade offering from the He Family.
How do you end up with the choicest high elevation old growth Dancong plot in Wudongshan? How about by being declared a living cultural treasure for a lifetime fo work honing the craft of Dancong and setting the standards for taste texture and aroma? That’s how Master Huang Ruiguang ended up as the caretaker for this incredible and unbelievably rare tea.
This old stock Wudongshan Huang Zhi Xiang varietal oolong is hand-finished by Master Huang’s sons over 24 hours to bring out the deep, almost electrifying aromatics. Huang Zhi Xiang is an incredibly rich spiced varietal with natural cooling notes that come through with striking intensity with the perfect microclimate, careful hand-picking, and 24+ hour continuous hand processing and finishing. This is an incredible opportunity to try the Dancong that sets the standard for all others.
Know someone who has tried every tea?
How about something that isn’t exactly tea?
This wild yabao comes from the close tea relative Camellia crassicolumna, which grows wild in the oldest tea tree forest in the world. This crazy budset tea is packed with deep spice and a building lingering sweetness. It delivers unbeatable complexity, and as an added benefit, does so without caffeine
When you are seeking out teas of the quality of these mentioned above, it only makes sense to hone in the absolute best brewing style. If you want to taste these teas the same way they were tasted when they won awards across China, you’ll want Jingdezhen porcelain.
Jingdezhen has the highest firing temperature of any porcelain and is the most vitrified, making it completely non-reactive, and non-porous. It is the most honest and bright way to reflect the true aroma of a tea, and have full control of temperature and steeping.
We are lucky to work with master potters who sculpt every piece by hand to get porcelain so thin they are translucent in the light. You won’t be disappointed to brew your finest teas in the most professional and widely used material at Chinese tea competitions for tasting evaluation.
This simple tea brewing kit packs down small and comes with just what you need to brew any tea. The striking milky porcelain and bamboo pair together for a stylish piece that anyone would be proud to bring out for tea time with friends. Stylish and simple enough to inspire even skeptics to try brewing loose leaf tea.
The He Family’s tea is what first won us over and inspired a lifelong passion. Their teas are so approachable and friendly that they are impossible to brew incorrectly. If you wan to show someone how different real tea can be, the He Family’s work stands out as sweet, rich, creamy, and full of flavor, all without the slightest hint of bitterness. You just can’t go wrong!
For folks who don’t drink tea because they are sensitive to caffeine in the afternoons, we have the perfect solution.
No, not decaf! How about two awesome herbals teas that are hand-picked, and finished using tea making techniques for deep complexity?
Gan Zao Ye from Laoshan is finished as a green tea and tastes like Genmaicha, complete with green bean and toasted rice flavor.
Crassicolumna Black is finished as a black tea and has big fruity notes, malt and spice. You can’t go wrong!
They invent new teas every year, invest their proceeds back into the village cooperative, teach other villagers how to grow tea and raise up the whole region. The He Family’s quiet activism has helped Laoshan gain protected status and brought hope to the next generation.
The Zhenyuan Dongsa Cooperative is all about education. The current leader of the Cooperative, Mr. Zhou, is a middle school teacher on the weekdays, and after school goes to each remote family to help share and exchange methods for picking tea and finishing teas between members.
Slowly but surely, the cooperative is helping people move from a foraging subsistence to actually saving up enough for their kids to go to college and bring back more knowledge to the area. Cooperative members reinvest in roads to connect people and make it easier for kids to get to school, and in school supplies for the most remote classrooms.
Try the cooperative’s full Tasting Kit.
Li Xiangxi leads the Yangxian Tea Institute to teach tea ceremony and tasting, all while working as an advocate for environmental protections to prevent overfarming. She and her family stand against development in Tongmu and the Wuyi Ecological Preserve through careful lobbying and grassroots education of the next generation of tea professionals.
Master Zhang is an award-winning teacher and farmer responsible for leading his neighbors in Daping Village towards a sustainable organic farming model over the last 40 years.
He reinvests in the land by converting land back to original forest, and encouraging biodiversity. He seeks to build a responsible model for the next generation that puts the land first while yielding even better tea.
Try Master Zhang’s full Tasting Kit >
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.