Oolong Tea Crafting

The Art

Our Camellia Sinensis selections come from a vast array of countries and regions (most are from India, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Taiwan). Each area has its own specialties when it comes to the art of tea processing. One thing we have always valued is supporting “old-style” tea making methods, seeking to offer handcrafted teas that highlight the work of regional tea artisans.

Supporting Traditional Skills

Handcrafted teas comprise less than one percent of all tea production in the world. It is rare to find teas that are produced entirely using traditional skills (e.g., made completely by hand from start to finish). Examples of these special teas include our Dragonwell, Jasmine Pearls, Silver Needles, White Peony, among others. Some of the special skills employed by tea makers include hand roasting and rolling techniques. Teas can also be hand sewn and naturally flower scented. In some cases, these talented tea artisans will experiment with applying cross-cultural techniques in their work, developing new flavor profiles along the way.

Rolling technique shown in Taiwan

An Evolving Art Form

Making purely handcrafted tea has become less common over the years as we transition to more modern, mechanized methods. In China, the roasting of green tea leaves in a wok over a fire has given way to industrialized ovens. In Taiwan, the rolling of oolong tea leaves by hand is now often done by mechanical presses that mimic these movements. The most sophisticated modern methods can probably be found in Japan, where color sorting of leaves is done by laser-guided machines. Many teas are now a hybrid of handcrafted and mechanical processes; for example, teas may be plucked in an orthodox manner but roasted in an oven, etc.

tea production in vietnam

Handcrafting methods, with their beauty and raw tea spirit, may be rarer these days, but they do still exist with variances across cultures and landscapes. We focus on offering some old-style teas every season, and we attempt to infuse energy into these artistic methods, providing channels where these traditional skills can be recognized and appreciated.