Our Tea Blog | Camellia Sinensis


Da Hong Pao: Legendary Tea

30 January 2019

at 17:35 by Social


Harvested and produced in the Wuyi Mountains (Fujian, China), Da Hong Pao tea is considered by many aficionados to be one of the most prestigious in the world. Its reputation is such that some vintages are sold at higher prices than their weight in gold. As is the case with many famous Chinese teas, Da Hong Pao finds its origins in a myth. Legend says that during the Ming Dynasty, a very important character (some talk about the Emperor’s mother, other about the Emperor himself) was cured of a rare disease by drinking an infusion made from leaves growing on bare rock in the heart of the Wuyi Mountains. Thankful for this miracle, the Emperor sends big red robes to cover the plants where the leaves come from. The name Da Hong Pao means « Big Red Robe » and references the blankets used still today to cover the surviving bushes (dated from the Song Dynasty) in the Wuyishan National Park. Today, these bushes are protected as part of the country’s important cultural and patrimonial heritage and their use is forbidden. In 2002 their last harvested leaves were sold, 20g were bought by a private buyer for 180 000 yuan (35 000 $).


On today’s market

The legend, however, is not the only source of such reputation. The whole region presents perfect geographical and climatic conditions for growing tea: the soil is rich in minerals and irrigation comes naturally from the mountain streams flowing down the limestone gorges. Wanting to take advantage of the name but halted by the impossibility to harvest the original bushes themselves, farmers from Wuyi region tried transplanting cuttings from these trees elsewhere in the park. Cultivation of these cuttings proved difficult and the results were rather disappointing. For the name to still remain alive today however, its meaning had to shift from botanical descendants to the particular type of tea it produces: a dark roasted wulong with rich and complex taste. Quickly, the market’s demand brought producers to name Da Hong Pao many different teas from Wuyi produced in that style. In 2007, the Research Center tried to control the appellation by demanding that production exclusively comes from Qi Dan cultivar, but pressure from the market was too high and in reality, the name designates various recipes of cultivar blends kept jealously secret by their producers. Today, with as many different Da Hong Pao as there are producers of this prestigious tea, the quality of the tea itself varies greatly from one to another according to the garden’s location, richness of the soil, the finesse of plucking and the ability to transform the leaves.

Mr. Wu Yong Peng

Our Da Hong Pao this year comes from Mr. Wu Yong Peng. His recipe is a mix of 6 different cultivars (Rou Gui, Huang Guan Yin, Qi Lan, Mei Zhan, Shui Xian and Bai Rui Xiang). The trees themselves, averaging 15 years old, grow on the mountainside neighboring Wuyishan National Park. This slight dislocation, far from diminishing the tea’s quality, allows us to bypass the crowded speculative markets and offer a product of exceptional quality at a more than decent price. To produce his Da Hong Pao, Mr. Wu roasts twice every cultivar separately before blending and roasting for a third and final round. In the Wuyi universe, teas often undergo six to eight rounds of roasting. Making this batch a “light” roast, ideal to showcase all the aromatic complexity of a terroir so often hidden behind the nutty and caramelized character of this kind of transformation. With every steeping, the tea reveals new nuances in taste: notes of sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), candied cherries and licorice, a soft floral scent and a warm mineral finish (limestone, flint) typical of Wuyi rock teas.

Halloween Chai

24 October 2018

at 14:37 by Social


On almost every street corner in India you will find somebody selling hot spicy tea, they are locally known as chai wallahs . For many Indians stopping for a chai is an important part of their daily routine. In each of these kiosks, the chai wallah will create an atmosphere conducive for discussion, sharing and tasting.

Inspired by such unforgettable moments enjoyed while being in India, we have developed our own original range of recipes to honour this culture: five spicy chais, each with a unique personality.

Here’s a recipe created by Gabriel Svaldi, Bristol Chai‘s owner, with our Arthur mix. Perfect for celebrating Halloween!



Recipe for pumpkin whipped cream

Dilute 1c. of pumpkin puree in 100ml of hot water. Add 2 cups whipped cream and mix with a spoon or whisk.

Recipe of Pumpkin Chai Latte (1L)

  • Heat up 500 ml of water in a pot ;
  • Add cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise to 10g of chai (4tsp) ;
  • Cover and simmer 5 – 10 minutes on medium heat ;
  • Add 5 – 10 g of sugar (2 – 4 tsp) and 500 ml of milk ;
  • Heat up and simmer 5 – 10 minutes ;
  • Filter and serve ;
  • Add whipped cream to pumpkin, sprinkle with ground cinnamon or add a cinnamon stick.



Tasting Notes: Meghalaya Lakyrsiew

16 October 2018

at 12:53 by Social

Capture d’écran 2018-10-16 à 08.44.08

For many tea drinkers, autumn is a special moment, a time where infusions seem to harmonize time and space as well as temperature and mood. Whether you are outdoors watching the falling leaves, or in town enjoying the quietness of the streets or even at home watching the rain fall on the window, there is a tea to enhance the experience. The Meghalaya Lakyrsiew Autumnal, a tea with colourful leaves stands out for its versatility and the seasonality of its aromatics.

Laurence, tea advisor at our Quebec City store, shares his thoughts on the Autumnal Meghalaya Lakyrsiew. Known as a Pu er expert, he was pleased to give us his tasting notes for this unusual Indian black tea.

The region of Meghalaya extends to the of Assam, in a mountainous chain extremely favourable to tea culture, but unfortunately sparsely populated and difficult to access. The tea that comes from the Lakyrsiew Garden is of exceptional quality, distinct flavour profile and often one of Kevin’s favourites each year.

Laurence prefers drinking it in a gaiwan, because when infused in small volume, it reveals a surprising aromatic complexity.


Infusion settings

The Meghalaya is very versatile: it is great in a teapot (according to the recommendations – 2,5g / 250ml), but we prefer it in gaiwan (4,5g, 20s, 20s, 30s).
Tasting notes

Nose: tomato, leather, tobacco, dried fruit.
Notes: cocoa, spices, candied fruits and ripe tomatoes. Beautiful tannic structure that mixes astringency and softness, refreshment and comfort.
The second infusion is more focused on grapes, dried fruit and acidity.

From the first few infusions to the very last, its evolution is remarkable. It starts from the sweetness of cocoa and spices to the acidulous notes of raisins, tomatoes and dried fruits. Its supple tannic structure and sweet body make it a refreshing and comforting tea, suitable for both difficult awakenings and slow moments of relaxation and introspection.

To quote Kevin: “The Meghalaya Lakyrsiew is an exceptional black tea: unexpected ‘completeness’ and finesse-solid structure and definition – light, ethereal delivery”

Tasting Notes: 2018 Ding Gu Da Fang

19 August 2018

at 14:47 by Social


Alexis, tea advisor from our Quebec City store is happy to share his tasting notes for the 2018 Ding Gu Da Fang, a green tea from the beautiful terroir of the Yellow Mountains.
Gaiwan infusion , 4g., 85C

Dry Leaves

Beginning with the dry leaves – with their trade mark flat-pressed, uniform leaf – varied tones from pale yellow to dark green proof of the local and ancestral know-how behind this tea. The Ding Gu Da Fang tea comes from a mixed harvest of buds some with one leaf and some with two leaves.

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Infused Leaves

Liquor is light green, bright and slightly opaque. Aroma of pleasant toasted and fruity notes (roasted sunflower or sesame seeds) with a sweet, vegetable broth flavour. The sweetness develops with a pleasant brisk vitality and finishes with an edge of melon.

A tea for lovers of Long Jing Zhejiang (green tea) with similar rolling style, Meng Ding Huang Ya (yellow tea) for its notes of grilled sesame/sunflower or Sencha Koshun (green tea) for the hint of melon in the finish.


The competition wulongs

15 August 2018

at 10:04 by Manuel Legault-Roy

Juges at the Luku wulong competition, Taiwan

In Taiwan, in most growing areas, there are tea competitions every year. The most renowned region is definitely Luku, for the famous Dong Ding (Tung Ting). Every year, for over 35 years, thousands of teas are analyzed by a team of experienced tasters, all producers of tea.

For the spring 2018 competition, more than 6,000 teas were presented. The purpose of this competition is to preserve the style of “Dong Ding”, which is a wulong oxidized between 20% and 30% and subjected a final roasting which has become the signature of these producers. (see article Dong Ding (Cooked): traditional regional flavour)

How is the winner selected? There are numerous steps, here are a few: Initially the producer submits 22 Taiwanese pounds (22x600g) to the Luku Farmers Association. Some is used for the competition and 20 pounds are set aside to be packaged by the association with a seal of protection to ensure the authenticity of the product.

I have attended and participated in tastings at the contest several times over the years. Each time, I was amazed by the hard work of the judges at the centre. The assessment is made according to several criteria. Five groups of five judges will review the tea gradually to classify and determine a winner. They will analyze both the appearance (10% of score), colour (10%), flavors (30%), taste (40%) and infused leaves (10%).

After several tests by the judges, the winner will be selected. Only one lot will be designated Top Grade the price of which will exceed several thousand dollars a kilogram (always 600g!). An honorable mention is also given for the next 10 best lots, from a First Class 1 to First Class 10. Then come First Class (only 2% of the lots), Second Class (5%) and Third Class (9%). There is also a designation 3 Plum blossom given to 20% of the lots and 2 Plum blossom to other lots (34%). Over 30% of the teas will also be eliminated by the judges and returned to producers.


Who buys these teas? Is the quality worth the price? The first lots are often bought by Taiwanese companies that want to treat or impress their important clients. These precious teas are vacuum packed in 5g amounts and offered as gifts. This year, we bought a first class lot (part top 2%  of lots), as well as a lot from the honorable mentions (the 5th one). These tea leaves have gone through over 5 analysis by experts at the centre So how good is it?

This is a great opportunity for lovers of wulong to improve their tasting proficiency. We have a limited amount of the Competition Dong Ding vacuum packed in 10g. I invite you to taste it alongside the Dong Ding M. Yu Nen cooked, which, every year, offers a very good Dong Ding, roasted with both passion and expertise.

Enjoy your tastings!

Tasting Notes: Dan Cong Wulong

14 August 2018

at 11:06 by Social

Jiang Mu Xiang

The Feng Huang ‘Phoenix’ Mountain range of Guangdong province, is home to some really old tea plants some claiming to be as old as 1000 years. They are part of a deep ancestral culture that spans many centuries. Old tea plants like this hail from a time, prior to industrialization, when all cultivation and manufacture was done manually: from the seed to the finished leaf.

As a plant, Camellia Sinensis has the ability to mutate quite easily resulting in single trees from the same garden having their own genetic nuances. Naturally the taste and aroma chemistry of the leaves also has its own unique make up from one individual plant to another. Over time certain tea plants exhibiting interesting flavour profiles were pampered and named by their owners. These unique, precious tea trees are highly respected and sought after by both producers and consumers. The title Dan Cong meaning “unique tea tree” is given to plants that reveal such specific character. Harvesting is done individually so that no plants yield is blended with the neighbouring plants. Teas of this style originating from this region are called Feng Huang Dan Cong. A blend of the plants genetics and the techniques used to finish the leaves results in each batch having a different signature.

This year, we have two of these single tea tree Dan Cong that both originate in Da An in Wudong village (in the Feng Huang Mountains). They were harvested in mid-April and processed by Mr. Huang, who is also our Chi Ye producer.

Mi Lan Xiang Wudong Daan

From the first seconds of steeping this wulong releases captivating fragrances and a real explosion of aromas. Scents of citruses (tangerine, grapefruit) mixed with warm traces of caramelized sugars from its light roasting over wood fire. Blended in its creamy texture are some more fruity notes (exotic, litchi, guava…) and sweet, silky finish. A tea with exceptional persistence, and lively brisk vitality.

Jiang Mu Xiang Wudong Daan

Translated as « ginger fragrance », this wulong shows rare complexity and balance even amongst other teas of this quality. No matter where you put your nose, you breathe scents of fruits (peach, melon), blooming flowers (orchids) and baked cookies. Evolution in the mouth is remarkable, with a delicious fruity attack that develops into renewed depths. An accessible rarity with its bold and enticing flavours, subtle perfumes, creamy textures and a lively hint of acidity lingering pleasantly into the aftertaste.

Our favourite teas, served ice cold

20 June 2018

at 12:54 by Social


Summer is getting nearer and our freezers are ready with fresh ice, be it at home, in cafés or even restaurants. To beat the heat, there’s nothing quite like iced teas and here are some great ideas to make your summer just a bit cooler:

Our ‘must try’ line of iced teas: three aromatized blends that are both tasty and refreshing. You can get them in bulk or in convenient pre measured 20g teabags (for 2L servings) with easy to follow instructions on the label. You can even get them on the go at our boutique if you’re up for a bubbly version!


As much as Japan is known for their rich tea cultures and traditions they have also mastered the art of bottling tea. In fact a large part of the tea consumed in Japan comes directly from vending machines, be it green tea, wulong or jasmin teas.

To infuse these teas at home use: 15g per liter (of cold water). Infuse for 6-12h with optional sugar (to taste).

Our suggestions :

  • Green tea – Organic Kukicha (vegetal, sweet and fruity), Organic Gyokuro Shizuoka (intense chlorophyll flavour, gentle and marine).
  • Wulong – Shui Xian Lao Cong (Hazelnut, sweet grilled), Si Ji Chun (floral and buttery)
  • Jasmin tea – Perles du Dragon (floral and refreshing)



If you’re in a hurry, infuse your tea with hot water as you normally would and simply cool it off. How? Ice cubes are handy for this so make your infusion a little more concentrated so water from the melted ice balances out. If this hot infusion method makes your brew a little bitter, add a small amount of sugar.

Suggested recipe: 2.5 g of tea in a 250ml cup of hot water, infuse 5 minutes and pour into a tall glass with ice and add sugar as needed.

Our suggestions :

  • Black tea – Sikkim Temi organic 1st flush. Very thirst quenching with hints of wildflower and bark. Add honey or sugar!
  • PuEr teas – 2006 Bulang Shan (shou). A tasty surprise if you’d like to try something different. Hints of dry earth and cocoa bark.
  • Matcha latté – Prepare the matcha as you normally poured in a cold glass. You can also do this with a cocktail shaker.

Summer is served!

Tea 101: The Perfect Teapot Infusion

18 June 2018

at 11:03 by Social

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What makes a great infusion? Well everyone has there own personal preferences, so it is important to judge your own infusion with the confidence that ‘you know how you like it’. Here is a very simple guide to help you move towards brewing your perfect teapot infusion every time. Don’t forget that though teapots are the most common and practical tools for brewing tea, experimenting with a Gaiwan, Gong Fu Cha or Senchado can often enhance your tasting experience even more.

White tea

  • Dosage: 3g/250ml (2 tsp)
  • Duration: 5 to 7 minutes
  • Temperature: between 65 and 90 degrees Celsius. A lower temperature is recommended for teas with unmolded buds (Bai Hao Yin Zhen), and a higher temperature for buds with silver to black buds. (ex: Darjeeling Avongrove)
  • Tips: try drinking white teas in a small volume of water, in a Gaiwan for example, to appreciate all the subtleties.

Yellow teas

  • Dosage: 3g/250ml (1.5 tsp)
  • Duration: 4 to 5 minutes
  • Temperature: between 75 and 85 degrees Celsius.
  • Tips: Prepared in a Gaiwan, yellow tea will have the strength of a green tea, and in teapot, it will rather have the sweetness of a white tea.

Chinese green teas

  • Dosage: 2.5-3g/250ml (1 tsp)
  • Duration: 3 to 5 minutes
  • Temperature: between 75 and 85 degrees Celsius.
  • Tips: Try Chinese green teas in a Gaiwan!

Japanese green teas

  • Dosage: 2.5g/250ml (1 tsp)
  • Duration: 3 to 5 minutes
  • Temperature: between 60 and 85 degrees Celsius.
  • Tips: The senchado technique is recommended for the highest grades.


  • Dosage: 3g/250ml (1 tsp)
  • Duration: 4 to 5 minutes
  • Temperature: 95 degrees Celsius.
  • Tips: It is suggested to rinse the leaves so they unfold more easily, and to use a brewer large enough for the same reason.

Black teas

  • Dosage: 2.5g/250ml (1 tsp)
  • Duration: 3 to 5 minutes
  • Temperature: between 85 and 95 degrees Celsius.
  • Tips: The more the leaves are broken or crushed, the lower the brewing time should be.

Pu Er

  • Dosage: 2.5g/250ml (1 tsp)
  • Duration: 3 to 6 minutes
  • Temperature: between 90 and 95 degrees Celsius.
  • Tips: It is suggested to rinse the leaves for at least 5 seconds.


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China: Francois brings back an exceptional tea!

11 June 2018

at 13:20 by Social

Every spring, François Marchand scours various tea producing regions of China in search of ultimate quality leaf. This also gives him the opportunity to meet producers, who are his longterm friends, visit their gardens and discover some new teas.

Being a tea taster sometimes means spending entire days tasting hundreds of teas to find THE perfect one for our catalogue. As part of his research, François frequently uses “comparative tasting”, where he sequentially tastes several grades of the same tea, infused with the same parameters. He first examines the dry leaves, then the infused leaves, and then finally tastes the liquor. It’s a lengthy process that often involves several infusions in order to to note a degree of persistence.


Last April, during a comparative tasting of Wei Shan Mao Jian (one of our most beloved teas over the last 7 years), François was struck by their grade 1, a small batch of very prestigious tea. When he tasted this year’s batch he simply couldn’t resist bringing it home for us to taste it.

This sublime green tea comes from Mr. Wang’s certified organic garden where his son, a graduate of the Tea University, recently took over the garden. A complete, harmonious tea to enjoy through many infusions. We recommend using a gaiwan or a beaker to discover all its nuances.

Note: this tea is offered online and only in very limited quantities (500g in total were produced). Do not miss out on tasting such an exceptional tea! It is also a perfect opportunity to compare it to our regular grade Wei Shan Mao Jian, more frank, but just as delicious.



Tasting Notes: 2018 Wei Shan Mao Jian

10 June 2018

at 18:00 by Social


Alexis, tea consultant at our Quebec boutique, recently shared with us his tasting notes for the 2018 Wei Shan Mao Jian, a Chinese green tea from Hunan.

Specs: Gaiwan infusion, 5g., 80 °C

First and foremost, beautifully twisted, dark green leaves and plenty of buds. A subtle hint of hay, wild flowers and pollen.

First infusion (40 seconds)

The infused leaves transform from dark to pale, with uniformity. Powerful notes of toasted-buttered, hazelnut, snow peas and vegetable sugar begin to release. Bright and slightly hazy, the liquor is of a lovely pale emerald colour. On the palate, its silky texture offers a vegetal scent, slightly tannic with sweet persistence.


Second infusion (1 minute)

The second infusion offers more floral and zesty notes with a slightly toasted edge. On the palate the liquor is more rounded like a floral style Japanese sencha.




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