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Indian Black Tea
Assam tea is the biggest, brightest, richest and most astringent tea made. It is the backbone to breakfast style teas of nearly all brand and quality although it is also used in many blends for body and top notes. Assam is less floral and has more bread or biscuit-like flavor than other origins, and is often described as malty or coppery.
The Assam region is located in Northeast India, bordering Myanmar and China. At near sea level, this region produces teas that are full flavored, rich, and chewy with distinct characteristics of caramel and malt. The best teas from this region are plucked and processed in June and July, a harvest also known as the 2nd Flush.
Known as the “King of Spices,” the best black pepper is grown in southern India near Cochin. The berries of the perennial black pepper vine are harvested when unripe, then sun-dried until they blacken. Quality is determined by oil content and appearance. Black pepper is spicy, pungent and often has a light salty characteristic—an important feature in chai blends. After the black pepper has been harvested, it is steam distilled to produce the essential oil.
Kerala is a state in Southwest India, located along the Malabar Coast, famed for its spices dating back to ancient times. Today it is the region from which we source our black pepper and sarsaparilla.
Seductively fragrant, with floral notes and a menthol bite, cardamom is a bush in the ginger family that grows to 10 feet high. Popular in Persian and Indian cooking, it is also widely used in tea and chai blends. We believe the best is produced by indigenous Mayan farmers in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Its pale yellow flowers turn into clusters of cherries that are dried. These whole green pods or the dark seeds inside are removed to spice tea.
Alta Verapaz Department
Located in north central Guatemala, this area once helped form the core of the Maya Civilization. Now it is home to half of the production of cardamom in the world. Harvest season takes place between the months of June to February.
Often called cinnamon, cassia is a spice with a significantly different flavor profile than true cinnamon. Grown in subtropical climates, its taste varies widely by origin, and quality is judged by the volatile oil content. In Kerinci in Sumatra, cassia bark is stripped and dried year round from a revolving crop of 10 – 12 year old trees that are continuously replanted. Cassia is sweet, hot and spicy and adds fragrance to our chai blend.
Sumatra is located amongst the Sundar Islands in western Indonesia and is the country's second largest island after Borneo. Marco Polo was said to have visited in 1292. The cinnamon trees need to be more than ten years old before their bark is suitable for harvest.
Cloves come from the dried flower of a subtropical evergreen tree that can grow to heights of 40 feet in Madagascar, Southern India, and Indonesia. Dried in the sun, these buds become their signature dark reddish black. Cloves are highly aromatic and are used in mulling spices, cooking, and enlivening various tea blends.
The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar separated from the Indian subcontinent and remained close to Africa after the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana. Unlike the breakup of most superbands, Madagascar retained its uniqueness with over 90% of its wildlife being found nowhere else on earth. The clove harvest happens from March to May.
Ginger, used in many cultures to enliven food and drink, is also known for its healthful qualities. A light stimulant, it can treat cold symptoms and sore throat. Ginger is cultivated most prominently in India, China, Indonesia and West Africa. After the plant flowers and the leaves die off, the roots are dug, washed, peeled and sun dried. Ginger’s spicy-sweet flavor adds spark and complexity to our Big Hibiscus.
India is located in Southern Asia and is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations (Indus Valley shout out). It is a country rich in history, culture, religion, geography and so much more, and has been famous since ancient times as a source for spices that continue to be coveted around the world. Our ginger comes from several regions in India and is harvested multiple times during the year.