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Beyond the Leaf

  • TeaSource & Public Television

    A fabulous documentary about Chinese tea called Leaves of Change has been produced by Indianapolis Public Television. TeaSource founder Bill Waddington was involved and ended up being featured throughout this film. This documentary is available to all public television stations for broadcast- so call up your local public television station and ask them to carry Leaves of Change.

    In the meantime, everyone can view this documentary online, for free, at this link:

    What a great film. They got all their facts straight, but more importantly they captured the feeling…the spirit of tea. And it is just a gorgeous, beautifully made film; although it is very disconcerting to see my own face up there. I’m way too Minnesotan to be comfortable with that.” - Bill Waddington

    The film is succinct, only 30 minutes long; mostly shot in China (and a little in Minnesota) and an absolute joy to watch. It focuses on the role of tea in daily life, and how tea serves as a link to bring people and society together.

    So check it out. We’re confident you’ll enjoy it. And please share this with your friends!

    *At some point in the not too distant future this link will no longer work, so don’t forget to call and support your local public television station and request they broadcast this film.  

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  • History of Tea Blending

    Tea blends came about for two reasons; first to introduce new and unique tastes, aromas, and textures to a cup of tea. This is the fun, creative, and/or medicinal aspect of tea blending. 

    Secondly, tea blends make it possible to have absolute consistency in a pot of tea; from cup to cup, year to year, decade to decade. Since tea is an agricultural crop it can vary from year to year. It is only through blending various ingredients to balance the blend that this consistency can be achieved.

    Purists may turn up their noses at tea blends; but the enjoyment of tea blends is almost as old as the discovery of tea itself. The Chinese have been making tea blends for 2500 years. The first book on tea, The Classic of Tea, by Lu Yu published around 760 A.D. talks of many items (mostly herbs and medicinals) that can be blended with tea. Two of the most famous tea blends are Jasmine tea and Earl Grey tea, both going back hundreds of years.

    Traditionally, a given geographic area would blend into their tea whatever was produced or available locally. Southeastern China would blend in orange peels from their citrus groves. Tibet would blend in yak butter and salt. Indians would blend in local spices like cardamom, pepper, ginger. Eastern Europeans would blend in local fruits and berries.

    To get a deeper look into Chinese teas, be sure to watch owner Bill Waddington in the PBS documentary about tea "Leaves of Change." Watch it here.

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  • The Story of Dan Cong Oolong

    Our Dan Cong Oolong is hand-made by a very small tea company located in eastern Guangdong province of China. They call themselves Propitious Clouds Trading Co. and they are dedicated to making regional specialties and super-high quality teas. These folks own their own tea fields and small factory and have won many awards in tea competitions throughout China. 

    This tea is grown at an elevation of 2000’ and is hand-processed in very small batches. Here is the tea during the oxidation step.

    Owner Bill Waddington met Brian, the general manager, at a tea festival in Xiamen, China last year. Here they are sharing a cup of tea together. 

    Dan Cong literally translates as “lone bush” and refers to a high grade oolong that comes from a single tea bush or wild tea tree, as opposed to a large plantation of uniform commercial tea plants. Here the tea leaves are being picked from the garden.

    This is a very special oolong that goes through unique sun-drying, followed by multiple courses of rolling, fluffing, and oxidizing the leaves.

    Sun withering of the tea leaves.

    Rolling and shaking the leaves leads to the complexity and texture of this tea.

    Don't miss out on this incredible tea! Limited availability.


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  • 2017: The Year of the Blend

    In 2017 TeaSource is shining a spotlight on tea blends, both in-store and on the web. We’ll feature and discount tea blends throughout the year. We’ll have workshops on blending your own teas. We’ll be posting numerous blog posts throughout the year on tea blends and blending, and we’ll introduce 8-10 new tea blends throughout 2017.

    So, what is a tea blend? A tea blend is a combination of a straight tea (from Camellia sinensis) and something else. It can be a combination of straight teas, all from Camellia sinensis, like English Breakfast. Or it can be a straight tea blended with almost anything else: fruits, flavors, spices, herbs, candies, roots, vegetables, ad infinitum.




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    1. Exclusive deals!
    You like free stuff, right? Every month members can take advantage of an exclusive promotion. Enjoy perks like $10 off your order, free shipping, and discounts on teas and accessories.

     2. Learn more about tea.
    It still amazes us how much there is to learn about this one little plant. You’ll receive educational material, handouts, and tea tips throughout your membership.


    3. Geek out to your heart’s content.
    We wear the title “tea geek” around here like a badge of honor. Every new member receives a FREE professional cupping journal so you can build your own catalog of tea notes and impressions.


    4. We do all the work.
    In a world of infinite choices, we carefully select the two teas you receive in each package. You’ll get amazing teas delivered right to your doorstep without lifting a finger.


    5. Become part of a community.
    We have members in over 20 states across the U.S. and are still growing! Join us in our quest to discover and experience new and exceptional teas from all over the globe.


    Click here to view membership details and prices.



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  • What is Organic Tea?

    The word or label “organic” is the only one of those food marketing terms that by law has a specific meaning and defined usage. It is the only one of those food marketing terms that has teeth.  If a food is labeled “organic” there are some things, by law, you should be able to assume:

    • the food was grown without synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, or sewage sludge

    • those crops cannot have been genetically engineered or irradiated

    • any facility coming in contact with that organic food follows strict guidelines on storage, cleanliness, sanitation, handling, other materials that may come in contact with the organic food (e.g. only approved cleaning products) etc.

    • and perhaps most importantly there is a complete paper trail of that crop from the field and seed to the final consumer product. This includes a complete unbroken train of paperwork, encompassing multiple inspections, certifications, documentation of that product to ensure that every step of the way it has complied with the legally mandated organic standards and practices. In other words, you are able to trace an individual product all the way back to its very origins; with inspections and documentation all along the way.


    So when TeaSource labels a tea organic, that means:


    • TeaSource has a complete paper trail following that tea back to its origins: that certifies and documents that any entity (including the grower, the shipper, importers, etc.) responsible for that tea has been certified and inspected as a certified approved organic facility, and is strictly following organic standards and practices.
    • the main TeaSource warehouse in Roseville, MN, goes through an extremely thorough annual inspection by federally approved organic certifiers. In our case it is the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association.

    • TeaSource has a very detailed, documented and approved handling and tracking process for organic teas, which is very strictly adhered to. And then all that paperwork is inspected, annually, sheet by sheet, to make sure we are following are the rules.
    • within our warehouse the organic products are stored only in segregated/approved organic storage/holding locations.

    • within our warehouse the organic teas are opened, handled, blended, and packaged only in a specific approved manner and areas, so they never come in contact with other non-organic items (for instance non-approved cleaners), or even in contact with other teas that are not certified organic. This is one reason we can no longer weigh out organic tea bulk in the stores.  We are required to weigh and package all organics only in our approved warehouse.  We are not allowed to weigh them out to order in the retail stores and still call them “organic.”

    • every single package of TeaSource organic tea, is individually marked with the date that tea was packaged at TeaSource and a code number that gives us the history/traceability of that tea.

    • every package of TeaSource organic tea also specifies who has certified (and inspected) TeaSource.

    TeaSource is proud to support the USDA organics programs. Yes, it’s a lot more paperwork and hassle for us, but we don’t mind (too much), because that’s the only way the program can have some teeth and integrity.

    Bill Waddington,
    Owner TeaSource


    Shop Organic Teas at TeaSource


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