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End of Season Teas

18 March 2019

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You may have noticed some reduced prices on our menus recently. With spring around the corner, these “end of season” teas will shortly be giving way to the all those new lots about to start coming in. They are being replaced by others not because they have expired or gone bad, simply that we need room for the new harvests. For many amateurs of most tea styles, a quest for freshness represents the goal in tasting. Though this goal never lasts more than a fleeting moment. Each year, we renew our efforts to present the best teas, the freshest teas possible, because we know just how much pleasure can be experienced in their tasting.

So what are these “end of season” teas and why are they not as good as “fresh” teas? As we know most tea loses its freshness during a year of storage, does that mean we shouldn’t drink it? Luckily, it doesn’t. As opposed to many other food products, tea never goes bad or stale, even over the years. Its great preservation is due to its very low humidity content. When we talk about tea’s freshness, we mean the intensity of its aromas, its impact on your taste buds rather than on your health. So if ever you find a bag of forgotten tea at the back of the cupboard it is always worth giving it a try. The worst that can happen is that it will be a bit disappointing flavour wise. It certainly won’t do you any harm!

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So why do we reduce the prices of these teas if they are still good? Because with time, the composition of aromatic molecules within the leaves change or dissipate. Even kept in the ideal conditions of a dark, cool and dry place, the most volatile scents cannot be held forever. The same phenomenon can be observed with spices or dried flowers. With time, they lose their aromas. And despite their very low humidity levels, tea leaves still undergo a slow oxidation in contact with air. This process, hardly noticeable at first, invariably leads to changes in both taste and colours. The leaves lose their bright visual aspect and gain smoothness as diminishes their aromatic vividness. Some styles benefit greatly from this slow oxidation. First Flush Darjeeling teas, for example, often reveal their full complexity and potential after a short mellowing period.

If you’re looking for teas to try during this “end of season” (those that have brightly stood the test of time or benefited from oxidation), here are a few picks from our team:

  • Huo Shan Huang Ya : delicate Chinese green tea with longue needle-like leaves. Reveals a superb softness in taste, a smooth caress for sunny afternoons.
  • Pu Bu Long Zhu : another Chinese green tea that, despite months of vacuum sealed storage, kept very lively its green vegetables notes and fresh herbaceous accents.
  • Darjeeling Thurbo 1st flush DJ-41 : a rare find (even by Darjeeling standards) still as good today as when we bought it. Over the months, we avidly followed its aromatic evolution from sharp herbal notes to its now smooth and perfectly balanced floral nuances.
  • Meghalaya Lakyrsiew Autumnal organic : appreciated at first for its bright leather and fresh tobacco aromas, a slow transformation towards a more chocolate/spicy character (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) made it our best ally against the season’s last colds.
  • Jingxian Jin Jun Mei : maybe one of you best chance to experience a grand cru from Jingxian at great price. Deep notes of cocoa and malt softly balanced by time.

Effective now until new stocks come in, “end of season” is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of great prices and experience new teas before the 2019 harvests take over.

Happy tasting!

2019 Travels : Our Tea Taster’s Plans

14 March 2019

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Spring has always been an exciting time for our team and our clients, as our experts leave Quebec for a few weeks to find new gems and bring back some of the freshest tea out there. As of the end of March, Camellia Sinensis’ four tea tasters will travel all across Asia as to meet our beloved producers, set up new projects and return with some world class tea.

Here’s what they can each expect over the next few weeks…

Kevin Gascoyne

Kevin will begin his annual trip in India at the Tea Studio, our experimental tea factory in order to meet the project partners, help produce some tea and collaborate on the development of new products. It will also be an opportunity to enhance the educational and touristic offer, as the Tea Studio will host a group of Americans tourists visiting for a few days. Our team is very excited to develop this side of the Tea Studio over the next few months. Kevin will also take part in meetings to help formalize the creation of a community-based project in which 1% of each sale will go to improve the village’s infrastructure.

Following his stay in the Nilgiris, Kevin will then head to Darjeeling to look for some new teas as well as do research. He will also meet two up and coming industry players from the industry and help improve their plantation operation.

His journey to India will end in Kolkata, where he will visit the Earl Gray factory, meet the Tea Board of India to discuss the Tea Studio. He will make a quick stop in London before returning to Quebec to give a lecture at the UK Tea Academy. Stay tuned!

This year, Kevin will be accompanied by the African producer Alexander Kay (Satemwa, Malawi) with whom he’s very excited to chat about tea factory.

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Jasmin Desharnais

For his yearly spring travel in Yunnan, Jasmin will be accompanied by Laurence Lambin-Gagnon, a tea advisor at our store in Quebec City. Laurence is a huge fan of Pu Er, making him the perfect companion for this trip. They will both go on the hunt for some world class Pu Er which has become increasingly rare in Yunnan.

Jasmin will then head to Guizhou, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian. On the menu: create a new celadon collection in Longquan, acquire some new knowledge about green tea processing in Jingning and Anji, and visit a compostable glass factory.

Jasmin is particularly eager to make tea with producers this year, get a good feel for the leaves and dive into the tea processing techniques.

Intrigued by China? Read our recommendations for a memorable trip!

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Hugo Américi

Hugo will visit Japan between May 6th and 17th along with his son Léo as well as François Marchand. They will visit some of the core research centers in region of Saitama with Mr. Miyano, producer of our Temomicha. The majority of the trip will then take place in Shizuoka, where they will meet our dear collaborators and friends from Sencha Nagashima (a 40 farmers cooperative) and award them with the 2019 Award of Excellence. To complete the 2019 Japanese tea menu, they will partake in many other tastings and visits.

They will complete their travels in Tokoname where they will meet some potters and pick out some of the gems that we will feature on-shelf this year.

On a side note, Hugo is particularly eager to show Japan and all it has to offer to his son!

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François Marchand

François’ trip will be quite different this year as he will accompany Hugo throughout the country of the Rising Sun. He hopes to seize through various photos and videos the beauty of the tea gardens and also to interview producers, artisans to create content for our platforms. He’ll be equipped with a drone and a camera, so he’s surely to have some fun while capturing what we’re sure will be images to makes us all dream. While in Japan, he will take advantage of the opportunity to report on the matcha production in the Kyoto region, with our producer of Matcha Uji.

Do you have questions or requests for our tasters? Feel free to leave a comment under this article!

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7 natural cures to fight cold season

16 January 2019

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Winter often goes hand in hand with catching colds, flus and various other viruses. Thankfully, our team has put their efforts together to give you a few ideas on how to fight these and not get slowed down!

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Prevent

  • The second Josiane sees the first signs of a virus she prepares a good matcha dose to fight it off.
  • If you’re feeling a bit courageous, you can do like Noémie and mix a garlic clove with some L’Éclatante tisane, honey and gin. You’ll scare the cold away (as well as any humans).

Staying alert

  • If you take equal parts Labrador Tea and a Chinese green tea, you’ll get a tasty and efficient beverage to not doze off at work. Veronique-approved!
  • If you want to stay up and dance all night, go for a generous dose of black tea such as Tukdah, a Darjeeling First Flush

Soothe

  • If you’re suffering from a nasty cough or throat ache, go for the Shui Xian Lao Cong along with a good spoonful of honey
  • Looking for next level comfort? Try mixing the Ange-Gardienne and Taïga herbal teas along with honey.
  • Try simply enjoying an earthy Pu Er bien like the 2011 Menghai or Myanmar. Add some honey and wheat milk.

Do you have some natural remedies to share ?

Camellia Sinensis Turns 20: Looking Back

11 November 2018

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November 16, 2018 will mark the 20th anniversary of Camellia Sinensis. Some of you may have been following our “retrospective” photo album on Facebook that follows the great evolution from our humble beginnings – both in decor and haircuts!

An Asian approach to tea…in Montreal!

Hugo Américi opened the first Camellia Sinensis tea room in 1998 on Emery street in Montreal. Having thought to open a coffee-bar, he dropped the idea in favour of a teahouse. The concept would be focused on an Asian approach to tea. He had been impressed by a similar concept the previous year in Prague at the Dobra Cajovna teahouses and was fascinated by the ambiance. At first, Camellia Sinensis offered customers a variety of fifty teas along with a few cakes, all served in a relaxed atmosphere.

Curious to know more about our history? Read more.

A passionate and complimentary team

That same year, two students from the local university arrived on the scene, Jasmin Desharnais and François Marchand both started waiting tables and quickly ended up becoming co-owners of the company. As Camellia flourished and grew, a fourth player entered the fold, Kevin Gascoyne, who had his own tea company, Kyela Teas, focussed on the teas of Darjeeling in India. The four began to take on specific roles within the company. At home Jasmin took charge of HR and Operations he also focussed on the teas of Western and Eastern China. Francois becomes responsible for marketing, content and IT while focusing as a taster on Central China. Kevin handles international conferences, deals with HR in Montreal and uses his experience of India to oversee the Tea Studio. He buys all the Indian, Nepalese, Sri Lankan and African teas. Finally, Hugo oversees the global vision of the company, handles the administration, distribution and acts as taster buyer in both Japan and Taiwan. They find it advantageous to have their own networks abroad for buying while running the company at home.

The enthusiastic energy of the group fuelled them to open stores and tea houses in Montreal and Quebec city, publish various books, open a Tea School, open the first Chai bar in the province as well as launch an experimental factory in India (Tea Studio).

Did you know that:

  • Camellia Sinensis was almost called “The smoking teapot”;
  • For the first 5 years, most clients came to the store for the hookahs (water pipes used to smoke Egyptian flavoured tobacco) now long gone.
  • At first, Camellia Sinensis was a Teahouse. It was following a month long vacation that Hugo came back with the idea of opening a store
  • Camellia Sinensis has two Tea Schools, both in Montreal and Quebec
  • The company now employs over 50 loyal employees in the stores, salons, warehouse and in the offices
  • Camellia Sinensis offers an ever changing selection of well over 200 teas.
  • There are close to 500 restaurants worldwide that offers our teas. Some with Michelin stars!
  • Our tea workshops have been attended by over 10 000 tea lovers
  • Over the last 20 years, our four tasters have tasted tens of thousands of tea samples
  • The Montreal teahouse has served over 700 000 clients since its opening
  • We receive close to 32 tons of directly imported teas each year

Are you a new tea enthousiast? Discover our tea taster kits, a great way to discovering your preferences.

India: Kevin gives us a great vintage of Jun Chiyabari

18 July 2018

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Népal Jun Chiyabari Yabukita bio. édition spéciale

One of the industry’s most recognized Nepali gardens these days is Jun Chiyabari. They are hard to beat. The garden was planted with small plots of various cultivars, making each tea they make a unique blend. It comes as no surprise that this is currently one of Kevin’s favourite gardens, and he selected an exceptional batch from them during his 2018 spring travels.

A truly rare and unique tea

When Bachan Gwayali and his brother Lochan planted Jun Chiyabari, high on the valley slopes they chose to grow some curious tea plants. One was the well-known Japanese cultivar Yabukita. They dedicated a tiny plot to the Yabukita, it is very unusual for it to be growing at 1900m altitude. Instead of the traditional production of Yabukita, which uses steam, this tea is handcrafted with dry heat in Jun Chiyabari’s small machines.

Batch J-21 is a prime example of experimentation and originality. With its unique flavour profile, Kevin could not resist buying the full 400g of this grand cru for you to discover it!

The first infusion reveals a delicate attack, surprising for Jun Chiyabari teas, many of their teas explode on the mouth. The Yabukita makes a gentle entrance, without rushing through the taste buds, with a thicker and creamier liquor. As you continue to infuse the aromas expand in the centre of the mouth (fresh corn, spinach, muscatel, melon) building up to a an prolonged bold finish that seductively lingers for an unexpected time.

A truly rare tea that will be available online only for a very limited time.

Our favourite teas, served ice cold

20 June 2018

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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:
CAMELLIA SINENSIS ICED TEAS

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!

JAPANESE STYLE

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)

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ICE TEA QUICKLY

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!

2018 Travels, from East to West China with Jasmin Desharnais

16 June 2018

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After 16 years of annual buying in China, Jasmin chose a very diversified itinerary this time around. During the month of April, he began further North focussing on accessories and teaware before heading East in search of the Spring highlights of various regions in their green, white, wulong and black teas.
An Early Season

Following a hot and rainy early Spring in China, the 2018 harvest season came 7-15 days early resulting in a yield increase of +/- 15% and a consequent, lack of workers in some of the gardens to harvest the crop.

Conversely, the April 8th low temperatures in the eastern part of the country brought frost damage in some of the gardens. Very special attention was needed as Jasmin tasted the teas the next day, April 9th … they were delicious! The thermal shock had stimulated the aromatic chemistry in the leaves very favourably and he selected a few teas from this precious harvest such as Long Jing Bai Ye and Huiming.

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Discover the Tea Studio

Jasmin also had the objective this year of introducing the Tea Studio, our new project in India, to his producer and tea institute friends in China. The diversity of Chinese teas is such that they rarely get to drink teas from other countries. So Jasmin had a lot of fun telling them about our project, and having Chinese tea friends taste our first 4 teas.

Mr. He, a Chinese producer with whom we have been collaborating for 14 years, will visit the Tea Studio between October 4th and 9th. We are very excited to welcome him! He will be helping train the Indian team to refine their green tea production.
The Taster Develops his Skills

As you may know, 2018 already marks the 20 years of existence of Camellia Sinensis. Having spent 20 years as a taster and buyer, Jasmin is now looking forward to acquiring a more multidisciplinary expertise in the tea industry. In coming years he will increasingly focus on the processing of tea and scientific research. More than ever, he wants to get his “hands dirty”. To this end he will set up his future trips slightly differently. Aside from his buying he will select a few producers where he will spend a little more time to deepen very specific areas of his knowledge for a longer period.
His 2018 Highlight

This year, our Long Jing Jingning Bai was Jasmin’s favourite. A green tea with such rich flavours of flowers and fresh hazelnut.

China: Francois brings back an exceptional tea!

11 June 2018

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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.

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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.

Enjoy!

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Discover our local products

27 May 2018

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Herbal teas are more popular than ever for many reason – they’re low in caffeine, they’re locally sourced and above all, they’re fresh. As we do we our teas, we go through a rigorous tasting process in order to find a variety of blends, aromas and harmonious flavours. Our blends stem from handpicked whole plants that are dried using traditional methods which allows them to preserve their natural oils as well as their benefits.

NORTHERN WILD HARVEST TISANES

Wintergreen

In infusion, its liquor, light and sweet, is strongly marked by the essential oil it carries (methyl salicylate) with its pronounced and characteristic taste, reminding of its use in muscle balms. In the finish, a delicate hint of sweetness is invigorated with a long sparkling sensation, similar to its pain relief and analgesic effects!

Labrador Tea

Composition : Buds, stems and small leaves of Labrador tea

From the peatland of Lake Saint-Jean, the downy leaves of this native plant of the Rhododendron genus disclose, in infusion, a lively and light liquor, supported by strong citrus and camphor aromas. Its vegetal character is reminiscent of lichen and cedar. Anti-inflammatory and decongestant, its essential oil is also calming.

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QUEBEC TISANES

As a matter of fact, did you know that more than a dozen of our herbal teas were created with plants found in our beautiful Quebec forests? These herbal teas blends have been concocted exclusively for Camellia Sinensis with plants originating from Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse. We even have an entire garden dedicated to our plants. This is extremely exciting for our 4 expert tasters as it allows them to apply with more frequency the same tasting process they do when they travel abroad to Asia. The best of both worlds!

L’Apaisante

Composition : Amaranth, agastache, calendula, lemon balm

A colourful flowery herbal tea blending orange (marigold), purple (agastache) and dark red (amaranth) with the delicious green of the leaves of lemon balm. The pinkish liquor is smooth and creamy evocative of myrrh or almond. Its powerful aniseed fragrance is tempered by a fine citrus zest.

La Réconfortante

Composition : Lemon verbena, calendula (marigold), yarrow, mallow, cornflower

The large green leaves of lemon verbena are escorted by a magnificent retinue of whole flowers, white, orange, blue and mauve. The golden liquor is bright and citrusy deploying deeply the intensity of its aromatic oils. Its dominant fruitiness is enhanced in its finish by herbaceous and floral accents.

La Rose Pourpre

Composition: raspberry leaves, purple basil, wild rose buds

Here is a delicate blend of raspberry, purple basil and wild rose buds. The stunning deep violet liquor is lively and has a pleasant suppleness relieved by a fine astringency that gives it body. The intensity of the aromatic oils of basil and rose blend with the vegetal character of raspberry. The long spicy finish (Peppermint) leaves a sense of lightness.

Tulsi d’hiver

This mixture was created especially for the cold season, distinguished by the spicy (pepper) and fruity (blueberry) character of the holy basil (also called tulsi). The rich calendula (marigold) enhances the liquor with a rich and velvety texture. Vegetable and saline nettle notes support harmoniously the ethereal softness and floral bouquet of the rose and oregano.

Three things to know about Tai Ping Hou Kui

10 May 2018

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Our team has ecstatic at the discovery of Tai Ping Hou Kui tea, not only because it is an exceptional tea of great delicacy and complexity, but also due to the heavenly location of its garden. If that weren’t enough having know the producer, Mr. Ye, for many years, we know we have a friendly and authentic partner and that’s why this tea has been one of our favourites since 2007. Here are three things to know about this tea.

No roads lead to its garden

Located in the beautiful province of Anhui, you’d have to travel on country roads before arriving to the edge of a river. You then need to take a boat to get to the garden. The tea is made near the river in the Sanhe region. On the other bank, hidden further back in the rugged mountain terrain is where you’ll find Hou Keng, which is the village in which the original terroir of this tea originates from. It’s been roughly 4 years since Hou Keng is connected to the road. That’s how we can visit Mr. Zhang who produces Taiping Hou Kui Hou Keng, a more expensive, but exquisite tea. The steep and very rocky soil gives the tea a very complex mineral and floral taste.

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Pure craft: a special tea transformation

Mr. Ye, our producer in Taiping Hou Kui, uses an astonishing artisanal processing method to obtain flattened leaves, each on average six centimeters in length. In 2018, he was awarded the certificate of excellence from our team.

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A rare tea

To start off, we only select the terminal bud and its following two leaves. After the harvest, the leaves are then sorted and sent off to get manually desiccated. The leaves are then individually placed on a wire mesh in a way that no leaves touch each other, at which point, a second wire is placed over them. We then apply a cotton cloth on the frame, then, with a quick gesture, we pass a roller over them. We let the leaves dry, gradually and for about an hour, inside the frame over a wood fire. Impressive!

 
 

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