Article-growing tea near Seattle

Wow! Wonderful read! Hopefully we'll see more coverage of their product. Just curious - has anyone here had a Washington State grown tea? They do produce some decent white wines................... Shen
Reply to
Shen
i read bout this too. they mention about black tea needing more $$$ to produce compared to white and green tea :)
Reply to
Jazzy

At Teacraft we keep an eye on all the fringe tea growing projects around the world (and advise on many of them) and I must congratulate the Sakuma brothers for getting their new tea to market. I haven't tasted this one yet but I visited the bushes up on Puget Sound four years ago when, just as the article mentions Richard Sakuma couldn't decide what to do with them as they conflicted with his berry harvest. I am never surprised now at where tea will grow, provided it is given its basic requirements of a well drained acid soil and plenty of light, high humidity and temperatures between 50 and 100 degrees F, though WA is for sure as far North as any tea growing in the world. There must be a thousand other places in the USA where tea would grow commercially (Lipton investigated this in the 70's) - the savvy US tea grower faced with labor input at 100 x the African wage must automate his harvesting and manufacture, and identify a high value market niche.
Nigel at Teacraft
Reply to
Nigel
Depends on how you do it, what type of tea, which equipment you select, and what your labor costs. Japanese green is a higher investment cost than Sri Lankan black. Malawi white tea is higher investment cost than China white. Within a country the machinery investment for black tea and green tea is just about the same. I think the point in the article is derived from Richard Sakuma's own "home spun" manufacture of tiny amounts. He ignores his labor cost and then can make white tea in the sun free of cost, green tea in his kitchen microwave oven effectively free of cost, but would need to invest in equipment for making black tea.
Nigel at Teacraft
Reply to
Nigel
I am finding all this incredibly interesting, although much more from a hobby-growing perspective than out of commercial possibility. Nigel (or anyone else) - do you know what kind of winter temperatures tea can tolerate?
Alex
Reply to
Alex
All I know is that up in Darjeeling it can get pretty cold in January, with temperatures down to ~--5°C [20F?]. The bushes seem to be OK with it, even the old, "original" ones ["China" bushes], some of them more than 100 years of age. These days however you´ll find more and more clonal bushes in DJ and elsewhere. Among other desirable features those clones could also be selected by their resistance to cold climates or e.g. salty coastal conditions.
Karsten
Reply to
psyflake

I have grown mature China type tea (ex seed and clonal) with winter temperatures dipping at night down to -5°C [= 23°F] and even last year in one place to 18°F, though young plants of some clones were killed at this level. Really cold (freezing) weather kills plants by freezing sap under the bark of the mature wood and causing the bark to peel off. Assamica type plants (ex seed or clonal) are intolerent of any cold (truly tropical), keeling over below 3-4°C [38°F]. All tea ceases active growth and becomes dormant below an average night time temperature of around 50°F moving storage synthate down to the roots.
A scientist named John Vendeland was actively selecting tea bushes for cold tolerence on a farm up in Oregon ten years ago and had a hand in planting bushes these near Seattle. I have not heard from him for a few years (John, if you are lurking on r.f.d.t please get in touch).
Nigel at Teacraft
Reply to
Nigel
I happen to live about 30 miles north of this tea farm. I somehow missed word of it until I saw this thread here. Another valuable reason to keep watching this group!
I'm heading to their roadside stand after work today and I'll report back on what their teas are like. It doesn't sound like they're selling any online yet. -Charles
Reply to
Charles Dawson
I visited the Sakuma Brother's Farms tea fields this weekend and it was slightly disappointing.
We could see the five so acres of tea fields behind their produce stand but they didn't have time to talk to us about it -- they were closing almost two hours early so the family-owned business could attend the local high-school football game! Still, it was a treat to see actual tea bushes grown commercially in person.
The poor guy behind the counter knew nothing of tea (the farm is known for their greenhouse strawberries, pumpkins, apples, and raspberries) but told us to come back and talk to the owner, Richard, whose pet project the tea fields are.
They were sold out of their green but they did have some packages of white left from their first harvest. As promised the leaves were only FOP and OP, but they were neither rolled nor twisted, and there was little white-tea fuzz present anywhere. They were packaged horribly -- in clear plastic bags, folded over and "sealed" only with a computer-printed label. I can only imagine that they'll see lots of light, heat, and moisture damage and it will go stale quickly.
The resulting brew was different than expected -- almost no tea flavor but a very present fruity tone that was somewhere between dried apple and strawberry. We're not sure if they were just not careful about aroma contamination during processing or if the tea bushes themselves picked up some aroma from the immediately-adjacent berry fields.
At $8.95 for 1.1 oz (about $135 per pound) it's not unreasonable for a high-quality tea (and certainly not for fresh tea), but I'm not sure the flavor quite qualifies as truly high-quality.
Still, I give the farm some slack as this is their first harvest. I'm hoping to become involved in next year's harvest, volunteering to do some of the picking and perhaps even give my 2-cents worth regarding the curing and packaging. A unique learning opportunity!
In article snipped-for-privacy@news.ispnetbilling.com>,
> In article snipped-for-privacy@50g2000hsm.googlegroups.com>, > > > > A family is growing tea near Seattle Washington. > > > > > >
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> > > > > > -Melinda > > > > Wow! Wonderful read! Hopefully we'll see more coverage of their > > product. > > Just curious - has anyone here had a Washington State grown tea? > > They do produce some decent white wines................... > > Shen > > > I happen to live about 30 miles north of this tea farm. I somehow > missed word of it until I saw this thread here. Another valuable reason > to keep watching this group! > > I'm heading to their roadside stand after work today and I'll report > back on what their teas are like. It doesn't sound like they're selling > any online yet. > -Charles
Reply to
Charles Dawson
To achieve success in agro tourism you must match or exceed expectations - this often causes a packaging dilemma for the specialty producer: does my target audience want an understated eco friendly approach or a svelt up market pack for its $135 per lb product? Unless Richard Sakuma's clientele has changed in the five years since I visited the farm I would think they are looking for "farm shop simple". Which is not to say that the simplicity should not meet the functional requirements of excluding ingress of moisture, light and taint and egress of tea aroma.
The fruit flavor of this new origin tea really is interesting as i) it's not a taste I have ever found in China Whites, nor Ceylon, yet b) it's a taste we get in some African whites - though not our Malawi White Teas (these have a delicate floral aroma and taste - a little like wild rose) but we certainly do get the fragarant apple aroma in our Pearl rolled Malawi teas (there isn't a category for these teas yet - they are hand rolled white teas but whites cannot by definition be rolled, not green teaa as the enzymes are not zapped, not black teas as there is no oxidation - closest I can get so far to a definition (by taste and form) is a White Oolong but that's sure to upset the purists. I have also found this distinct fruit aroma in the Kenya whites (unrolled) that I have tasted - but not in them the floral notes of the Malawi's. We also find cedar wood and wintergreen in a few of the Malawi Whites - there are more than 30 cultivars to try all with different nuances. These are teas looking for a home.
Washington State grown tea is rare - and rarity sets its own price - our special Antlers d'Amour which are the tender velvety stems of the finest flush - yes, White Tea tea just made from only the the juicy stems with the leaves and buds removed(!) are selling retail in the USA at $12 per half oz ($384 per lb) - but to my certain knowledge this product (which concentrates the aroma in the stem and the superfluous bud and leaves would just dilute the effect) is unique in the tea world.
Nigel at Teacraft
Reply to
Nigel

Hey Nigel, who is carrying all these African white teas, any idea? I was going to check Nothing But Tea but wondered if you knew of any others. Thanks.
Melinda
Reply to
Melinda
in message
In the USA Tea Embassy, through their website Tea Treasures, is selling the Antlers - Google "Antlers d'Amour" for the link. Metropolitan has an inferior Kenya White from Nandi Hills and will soon have two of the Malawi Whites in stock. Full range of seven different Malawi Whites is available from Nothing But Tea Ltd
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- order any and mention r.f.d.t and we will throw in a few samples of some of the not yet listed cultivars and types.
Nigel at Teacraft
Reply to
Nigel

in message
Nigel,
I notice that Nothing But Tea sells samples of most of their teas, but not the wildcrafted teas. Last time we were discussing Malawi teas, I e-mailed them and asked about samples, but didn't hear back from them. Do you know if this is a possibility? It would be nice to be able to compare some of the Malawi teas and get a feel for the variety, without breaking the bank or having way more white tea than I could drink before it's past it's prime.
Blues
Reply to
Blues Lyne

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