Artisanal tea (or artisan tea) is typically defined as tea which was produced by a skilled artisan. There are many teas which are marketed as artisan tea which may or may not genuinely be made by a skilled artisan. However, you can find out if a tea is really an artisan tea by inquiring about its origins. What is generally considered to be a true artisan tea is made by an individual or a small team (such as a master tea maker and a few assistants) with many years of experience in tea making. It is usually partially or entirely handcrafted. And it is often from high quality plant material, such as the buds of the tea plant, leaves from old tea trees or buds and leaves of a special tea varietal.
For example, the Bao Zhong Oolong pictured above was plucked by hand and made by a skilled artisan who has spent almost his entire life making tea. His teas and tea-making skills have won him numerous awards and he takes great care to produce very high quality teas each season he produces tea. For these reasons, it qualifies as an artisanal tea.
You can learn more about artisanal tea in the tea glossary.
Happy Hot Tea Month!
Photo (c) Lindsey Goodwin
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