The Tea Database was created in 1995 and was one of the first websites dedicated to tea. Back then it was called “The Tea Site and “The Way of Tea”. This site is dedicated to provide information about the best teas and the people and companies who makes them.
I do not work professionally within tea trade and the knowledge I have on the subject is acquired by reading available literature and visiting tea plantations and factories. 1999 I became the first Swedish member of ITMA, the International Tea Masters Association. In recent years I have also given lectures on tea and tea culture.
This page is not connected to any company or organization and the opinions and reviews that are, if not objective, at least impartial. It happens that I receive free samples from various stores and suppliers, but if so, this is clearly desribed.
I understand that it may seem odd that there is almost no information on the most common teas on this page. Neither flavored teas, tea bags, herbal teas, or red tea (Roiboos) are described. It may also seem strange that I hardly write about tea from eg Kenya, which is one of the largest tea producers today. The reason is simply that there are so many really good teas in the world that a lifetime is not enough to try them all and I therefore do not feel any need to drink, let alone write about all the bad tea sold in the world.
It is free for all link to this page (http://www.teadatabase.com) but not to the single images. You are also free to quote shorter pieces of content on the page as long as the source is clearly stated.
The information contained on this site come from a variety of sources, including other websites and various books. A major problem with writing about tea is that much of the information comes from single sources. These sources are often difficult to verify, especially when they are written in countries that have a dated idea of source criticism. I have put a lot of work to try to verify the information provided on this page but is grateful for comments and constructive criticism.
The images on this page are either taken by myself or licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Many of the images are downloaded from Flickr and Hudong.
Restrictions and definitions
A large part of the contents of The International Tea Databse is the reviews and descriptions of various teas and we must of course ask the question, what is a tea sort? As I see it is a tea is a product of finished tea leaves made from Camellia sinensis with similar properties. These properties shall be:
- They must come from a single location that also should be relatively limited.
- They should be harvested at the same time.
- They should be made of same type of tea plant.
- They must be produced in the same manner and at the same time.
In addition, the finished product must have a name, made in reasonably large quantities, at least more than a few kilos and preferably manufactured continuously. The properties should not be changed over time. A tea could be unique without a name but it makes it hard to define. Imagine a Chinese farmer who produces some kilos of tea each year in the same way he always has. Certainly this is a unique tea sort, but without a name, it becomes a product that is very difficult to distinguish from any other tea in the neighborhood.
Based upon this definition, it is not enough just to give a pile of tea leaves a name to make a unique tea sort. That means that I do not consider blends like Lipton Yellow Label as a tea sort.
There are a few problems with this definition, for example different kinds of Pu-erh. These teas come from a distinct factory and have unique names. The leaves, however, come from different places and contents of the cakes can differ a lot even if the taste and appearance are similar. This means that they should not be regarded as unique teas but pretend I simply do not care.
This definition works best for Chinese teas. Teas from other countries are better defined by the place where they are made, i.e. factory or estate, and individual ‘invoices’.An invoice often consist of two to five boxes of tea but can be as small as a few kilograms. The famous chinese tea varieties are not protected and they are manufactured by a variety of individuals and companies on very large areas. This means that it is hard to see Lung Ching as a tea sort according to my definition. It is more like a collective name for a variety of teas with similar appearance and taste. Why is this so important then? Well, if you do not know where, when and how the tea is made, how can one buy more of it? A more complete definition of chinese teas can be found here.