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The Business of Blends
One area we have been diving into more at The Tea Table is the craft of blends. While we have always offered our own flavored blends, in the last couple years we have ventured further into unflavored ones.
Chun Mee Tai Pan Superior Tea
"Tai-pan" was the name given to an influential foreign businessman doing business in Hong Kong and China during the 19th century. The life of a Tai-pan in those days was often exciting and luxurious, as undiscovered trade routes were opened and they quickly gathered great fortunes on the frontiers of world commerce. Like many wealthy businesspeople in any time period, the Tai-pans of old China enjoyed the splendid accessories of wealth: sumptuous feasts, fine wines, racehorses, and the like. In fact, they were most likely very influential on the development of the luxury market for most products in the Far East.
In an effort to reach this market, a tea grower at the time living in Hunan Province decided to create what might be considered the first "luxury" tea developed for Western tastes. The tea maker knew that the Tai-pans had tastes for the finer things in life and therefore had highly refined palates. So, he was determined to make a tea which was sweet and smooth. He also surmised, based on their apparent appreciation for Eastern art, that the Tai-pans must have an eye for beauty and understood that the leaf style would need to be very fine and evenly graded. It was named "Chun Mee," meaning "precious eyebrow" to describe its lovely shape. The Tai-pan businessmen loved the tea and quickly added it to their steady diet of Cuban cigars, caviar, Cognac, and the like.
The days of the old Tai-pan may be over, but this fantastic tea remains. Still manufactured according to the old techniques, Chun Mee Tai Pan Superior Tea has a very fine, emerald leaf that infuses to produce a mild yellow-green liquor. The cup is sweet, with hints of an almost Sencha-like clover butteriness, grassy notes, and a long exceptionally smooth finish. Use one to two teaspoons per cup and steep about 3 minutes in 180-degree water.