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Terroir . . . a link between place, taste, and agriculture

The grandfather plants and raises the tea bushes,

the father harvests the tea,

and the son drinks it.

. . . Chinese Saying


Tea being grown at The Charleston Tea Plantation, South CarolinaWith the obsession of foodies (a group in which tea aficionados naturally fall) being "Farm to Table," organic, sustainability, and eating local it seems logical we should take a look at Terroir. I like to think of Terroir as the connection between the earth and the natural taste of food and beverages.

When considering Terroir and beverages one must automatically compare tea vs. coffee. Remembering and realizing that tea begins life as a leaf while coffee begins as a bean/seed. Continue that thought process with a leaf gathering sunlight, its whole orientation is upward, toward the heavens, the realm of illumination and clarity. Coffee, on the other hand, is a seed heading downward, to the earth, building on the fact that in most coffees, these lusty, earthy qualities find their way to the cup. (page 46 of American Terroir, "Goathers and Geishas." Therefore, do we conclude that coffee has a stronger terroir influence than tea? Natures influence to provide us a thirst quenching beverage.

Terroir: "the flavor or odor of certain locales that are given to its products . . . " (The Taste of Place: A Cultural Journey into Terroir, Amy B. Trubek, Darra Goldstein, Editor, University of California Press, 2008.

Whether drinking Darjeeling Tea, Taiwain Oolong Tea, Chinese Green Tea, or Japanese Green Tea each will bring a taste of where they were grown and processed. As in labeling wine, many teas provide a clue of their taste by including the name of their place of growth (the point of agriculture) . . . Darjeeling, Keemun, Dragonwell, Nilgieri, and Wiyi Mountains just to name a few. The inclusion of point of growth (agriculture) re-enforces terroir as a critical part of their taste/flavor development.

In conclusion, no matter if you are a tea or coffee person, one should recognize the importance of terroir (agriculture) and its importance to our food and beverage supply.

Raising my cuppa of earthly consciousness and pleasure,

The Tea and Hat Lady

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