Our Tea Blog | Camellia Sinensis


The Darjeeling’s Annual Flavour Cycle

17 April 2017

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The First Darjeeling harvest is upon us! As we wait to get our first taste of its exciting and complex flavour, here is a guided tour through each of the production seasons – a small preview of what’s to come.

Spring or First Flush (March – April)

The cool, dry Himalayan Spring offers an optimal balance between the sun’s heat and rainwater which awakens the plants from their dry winter dormancy and enhances the quality of the harvest. This slow, yet progressive growth that the crops are picked, according to the region’s standard, which is from the bud out to the two first leaves.

The transformation begins with a long withering, known as a ‘hard-wither’ which removes a large quantity of moisture in the leaves (often more than 60%), this explains why the First Flush is often quite green in appearance. The subsequent oxidation on the partially dried leaves, captures the precious aromatic chemistry that is the trade mark of these Spring teas. The final leaf composition is a blend silver buds with light, dark and green leaves.

Whether lightly rolled, for sophisticated and supple new taste trends, or tightly rolled for a more classic and full-bodied flavour profile, they are renowned for their vibrant, floral and fruity liquors, embodied by that greenness best suited for that early Spring thirst for aromatics. It is also the season that truly reflects the flavour diversity of the region as each garden’s specific signature flavour is more apparent at this time. Each tea is a reflection of its terroir: the type of plant, the know-how and the pre-harvest climate which inevitably have a unique impact from one lot to another.

Summer or Second Flush (May – June)

The Summer harvest is generous and offers beautiful, bright and juicy leaves. The rolling process induces the release of its luscious juices while the oxidation benefits from the heat and humidity to transform its flavour and darken its shine.The liquor is coppery, woody and generally structured. Black teas lovers rejoice at the accents of ripe fruit, citrus and muscat, all are at their peak. Warm hints of spice and brown sugar are also typical of the Second Flush.

Monsoon (July – August)

The next growth cycle occurs in the midst of the warmest and rainiest period of the year, resulting in an abundant harvest from accelerated growth. The juices and flavours are therefore concentrated and thus naturally diluted. As such, the teas produced during the monsoon period, are often full-bodied and darker, mainly serve to feed the production blends of the “morning teas”.

Autumn (October – November)

During the Autumn harvest as dry climate and cold nights dominate, the growth of plants is greatly slowed down. This slight “climatic stress” can help produce exceptional teas, similar to the ones from the Spring season The brown, ocher and silvery leaves, offer soft and woody liquors, with caramelized and floral aromas are quite appealing.

So shine up your teapots as Kevin travels through India – he’s sure to bring us some unique teas, often referred to as “the champagne of teas”.

Pu Er Sheng & Shou : Characteristics and Differences

9 April 2017

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Aged teas such as Pu Er, Liu Bao, Liu An, Fuzhuan, and Hei Cha are some the most ancient teas known to mankind. The Pu Er family is said to have the unique ability to not only actively fight cardiovascular illnesses but also reduce excess fat and lower bad cholesterol levels. In fact, the Pu Er Shou and Sheng that are aged over 10 years seem to be the ones that have the strongest effect on our health.

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To help us clarify the difference between these two Pu Er’s, here are their main characteristics:


One of the oldest teas to come out of China, the Pu Er Sheng (“raw”), can be identified by its richness and its healing properties. According to tradition, the way to produce this tea is by picking fresh leaves, heating them, rolling them and drying them before being compressing (into a cake shape) and storing them. That will begin the slow fermentation process, which can last up to 50 years.


Due to a growing demand for Pu Ers during the 70’s, the Chinese tea industry put together a new quicker fermentation process which only lasts between 45 and 60 days. By accelerating the transformation of the leaves, this alternate type of fermentation gives birth to a new type of tea, which is now referred to as Pu Er Shou (“boiled”).

As opposed to Pu Er Sheng, these types of leaves are rarely preserved due to the simple fact that their taste doesn’t improve over time.


Additionally to having a distinct production process, these two Pu Ers have many more features that can help you differentiate them. The main one being their shape, here are some more examples:

  • The bing cha cake, normally weighs 357g, but is also available in other formats (100g, 250g etc..);
  • The zhuan cha brick, 250g;
  • The tuo cha “nest” normally weighs 100g or 250g and is also available in the 5g format;
  • The jin gua “pumpkin”, also available in various formats;
  • The 5g cube;
  • Various recognizable shapes (buddha, pig etc..) as a mean to celebrate a specific event;
  • In bulk etc..;


If you fancy the 10 years aged Pu Ers, our team has the following suggestions when it comes to quality/price ratio:

- PuEr Sheng , 10 years: Yiwu Jing Long 2007 ($18/50g) – fallen leaves, fresh mushrooms, fresh, foresty.

- PuEr Sheng, 20 years over : Menghai Hou Gen 1992 ($19/10g) – Deep, mineral, vegetal (lichy).

- PuEr Shou: Macao Scenary 2006 ($18/50g) – Mineral, beets.

- PuEr Shou: Bulang Shan 2006 ($12/50g) – Dry and soft earth, cocoa, potatoes.


Follow our tea tasters on their spring 2017 travels

2 April 2017

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As they always do this time of year, the four expert tea tasters from Camellia Sinensis will go scour Asia’s soil in hopes to bring back some of the finest grand cru of teas, meet their priceless suppliers as well as set up some new exciting projects.

Jasmin Desharnais

From March 31st until April 25th, Jasmin will be going around many of China’s provinces. He will first visit Yunnan in order to replenish our « tea cave » with some new Pu Er we will age. Second, he will be developing a new green tea project in Guizhou – stay tuned! Third, he will visit the M. He’s new garden in Zhejiang for some grand green teas, then white teas in Fujian, and finally, Dan Cong wulongs in Guangdong. His fourth and last stop will be in Hong Kong for his aged Pu Er.

François Marchand

From April 13th until May 4th, Francois will mainly be in the province of Henan, in China in hopes of discovering new teas and projects. He will also visit the lands of Tai Ping Hou Kui on a mission to find aged Liu Bao in the province of Guang Xi.

Kevin Gascoyne

From March 31st until April 17th, Kevin will go through Darjeeling and Kolkata in India before heading to Nilgiri for a new special project (we will announce what shortly). His trip will take him to a final stop in the U.K. where he will give a class at the UK Tea Academy. He’ll also stop by Fat Duck, a three star Michelin restaurant that just happens to serve some of our teas.

Hugo Americi

From April 28th until May 14th, Hugo will go through Japan in search of new Shinchas, a tea that is hand picked on break of spring. He will also visit M. Sugiyama, our Sencha Mobata supplier, to hand him our Camellia Sinensis Award for  Excellence that is offered to craftsmen that stand out by their effort and consistency. Amongst many other visits at our various suppliers, Hugo will go meet new potters in the Tokoname and Kobe regions in hopes to find new talent and what they have crafted.


special collection

Welcome to the Special Collection
Here you will both find Teaware and Teas created by some of Asia’s most talented craftsmen.