photos and curation by Stephanie Cameron
All tea comes from a single plant: Camellia sinensis. Whether black, green, or oolong, all teas are different varieties or treatments of the same plant. Just like wine, a tea’s growing conditions and soil makeup have a bearing on how it tastes. Herbal teas (tisane) consist of herbs like mint and chamomile and, technically speaking, are not tea.
Green and white teas are barely oxidized, oolong tea is partially oxidized, and black tea is fully oxidized. Less oxidized tea tastes like the pure leaf: crisp, fresh, and green. More oxidized tea leaves develop rich, dark, and malty notes.
Japanese Sencha comes from handpicked tea leaves immediately steamed to retain their vibrant green color and lively green flavor.
Formosa Oolong is semi-oxidized and falls somewhere between a green and black tea.
Kukicha is composed of the carefully aged stems and twigs of the tea plant.
Houjicha tea leaves are freshly picked and slowly roasted to a warm brown color, shortening their fermentation period.
Gunpowder green tea leaves are hand-rolled into small pellets resembling gunpowder.
Jasmine Pearls are delicate leaves that are hand rolled into tight pearls and blended with unopened night-blooming jasmine flowers.
White Peony is hand-harvested in the first few days of spring from only the youngest, most tender downy buds and first two-sprouted green leaves.
Yunnan Pu-erh tea is aged underground for six years. Unlike black teas, which undergo an oxidation process, pu-erh is the only tea that experiences both oxidation and fermentation.
Forest Floor is a tea.o.graphy blend made with pu-erh, lapsangsouchong, organic cedar tips, organic Sichuan peppercorn, organic kukicha, organic blue cornflowers, and organic cypress oil.
Lapsang Souchong tea leaves are smoke-dried over a pinewood fire.
Loose leaf teas can be sourced from these local New Mexico businesses:
- tea.o.graphy in Taos tea-o-graphy.com
- ArtfulTea in Santa Fe artfultea.com
- New Mexico Tea Company in Albuquerque nmteaco.com
- Old Barrel Tea Co. in Las Cruces, Ruidoso, and Albuquerque oldbarreltea.com
- Figments Tea Shoppe & Gallery in Albuquerque figmentsteashop.com
- The Teahouse in Santa Fe teahousesantafe.com
- WAO Tea in Taos waotea.com
Stephanie Cameron was raised in Albuquerque and earned a degree in fine arts at the University of New Mexico. Cameron is the art director, head photographer, recipe tester, marketing guru, publisher, and owner of edible New Mexico and The Bite.