High Tea

I have to start by saying I never ever would have imagined there being a day I would end my long-term and very committed relationship with coffee.

“I love coffee, I love tea
I love the Java Jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

If you know me at all, then you already know how serious I [was] with coffee. I used to work at Starbucks, and one of my FAVORITE movies has always been Coffee & Cigarettes. I actually saw the premier at the Film Festival in…2003(?)

Side note: If you have the opportunity to watch this ridiculous film, you really should. My favorite line is: I drink a lot of coffee before I go to sleep. It makes me dream faster..” I used to say that ALL THE TIME! Fast forward to 2:35 to hear it!

Anyway, November 1st of 2011 marked the beginning of the end with my relationship with coffee… We broke up unexpectedly, and I fell in love with Tea.

High Tea must be the one European tradition that didn’t stick in Hawai’i, because I had never heard of it (except for at The Lodge at Koele, which is known for their afternoon tea!) until living here in Seattle and I absolutely love it!

Just over a year ago I discovered my palates new favorite tea: Raw Pu’er Cha, thanks to one of my Uncle’s amazing tea friend entrepreneur and owner of McIntosh Tea, Jeff McIntosh.

McIntosh Tea

Jeff is a walking encyclopedia of teas and absolutely amazes me every time we talk tea. His knowledge and passion for tea filtrated into his company and he has been dedicated to bringing the highest quality of Puer teas to the market. Through apprenticeships under Lydia Lin of Seattle’s Best Tea and Luo Wan Yu of the Denong Tea Company in Kunming, China, Jeff has devoted his entire life to mastering the art of tea and tea culture, and sharing it with everyone around him.

When I first tried raw pu’er upon Jeff’s recommendation, I was in love. I couldn’t find the quality and perfect taste anywhere else and was instantly sold on his highest quality artisanal pu’er.

For those who don’t know, [Jeff’s] Puer Tea “is a unique tea (camellia sinensis) from the Southern Yunnan region of China (the birthplace of tea–and home of Puer), that stands apart from all other tea for its complex flavors and pronounced health benefits. There, in a patchwork-land of winding ravines and densely forested mountains, ancient tea-trees grow in their native environment as they have for many thousands of years. In remote, mist-shrouded villages built long ago upon ancestral farmlands, the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis Assamica, or broad-leafed tea-tree, are harvested by hand in the traditional way passed down from generation to generation. Through careful processing, these leaves, full of the vitality and character of the very mountains they grew upon, are transformed into Puer Tea: visceral, unique, and elegant. Puer is found in two broad categories: Ripe Puer and Raw Puer.”

Raw Pu’er

My favorite: Raw Puer, “is the oldest form of Puer Tea. After the leaves are picked from trees, material from various mountain ranges are blended together, or left as a single-estate blend. The blended leaves are wilted in the sun and oxidized to the stage of a green tea. Then, after being steamed and pressed into cakes, the tea undergoes a fermentation process catalyzing by enzymes found within the tea leaves, and by external microflora living on the tea. During this fermentation period, sometimes taking upwards of twenty years to complete, the Raw tea develops its unique flavors, aromas, and health effects. Raw Puer is characterized by astringent, floral pungency for young cakes and a smooth, smokey savor in aged cakes, but can also contain vegetal, fruity, camphor, or earthy notes. This tea truly embodies the wild, uncultivated energy of the ancient lands it grows upon.”

Does that not sound like me or what?! It doesn’t get much more raw than that — No wonder I love this tea so much — it’s right up my alley!

Jeff has the utmost respect for tradition, which is a bigger deal [to me] than I can even begin to express merely because I was raised in Hawai’i — a destination rich in culture and traditions. His deeply rooted passion for putting the finest tea in your cup has created this unparalleled quality, which ultimately separates him from all other teas, and has literally made me a tea snob! 😉

At the end of the day, Jeff’s philosophy seems to be, “Be Happy. Drink Good Tea!” and I couldn’t agree more! With the added health benefits and overall positive well-being — I have been 100% on board, and absolutely LOVE sipping my Raw Puer all day, everyday!

Check Jeff out on facebooktwitter, &/or his blog to follow his tea adventures in China! And of course to get yourself some of his amazing teas! 🙂

Are you a Coffee Drinker or a Tea Drinker?
Have you tried puer?
Have you watched “Coffee & Cigarettes”?!


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