Ben's Pick of the Best

Here are my desert island teas. I enjoy drinking a wide range but these typify the height of artisan tea making. They deliver the most distinctive flavours and would be the pride of any tea making country's output.

  1. As low as £30.00
    This high grown, hand picked tea is grown on the Ali Mountain in central Taiwan. The special processing that increases the health giving Gamma Amino Butyric Acid content also changes the flavour of this tea too. It is very soft and mellow with a honey like quality that, health benefits aside, make it worthwhile drinking. To qualify as being a 'gabaron' tea and to give the required recommended dosage it must have 150mg per 100g of GABA, this contains over twice that amount.
  2. Anji Bai Cha King April Snow Green Tea
    Out of stock
    Grown in a remote mountain area near the Bamboo forest featured in the film 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', this is currently the most sought after tea in China, where most of it is kept because it is considered to be unique. It is grown from cuttings of one of the only four surviving giant white tea trees. Whilst it is a 'White' tea it is processed as a green tea. This gives it a deeper flavour than Yin Zhen for example. The leaf looks slim and feather like with an almost white colour just prior to picking in the spring. This is expressed as the distinctive pale yellow-green in the dry leaf, not the more usual green seen in most green teas and in lower grades of Anji. It has a wonderful fragrance and pale lemon, crystal clear liquor. We buy the finest grade, which has more amino acids than other green teas and the best flavour we have experienced in any green or white tea.
  3. As low as £18.00
    This very distinctive tea grown in the renowned Itakhooli garden is made from a clonal bush known as K1. It is unique for its natural hint of fresh raspberry flavour and aroma. When taken builder's style with creamy milk and two sugars, it is almost like having a scone, cream and jam! One of my favourite teas of the year for breakfast toast and jam or afternoon tea accompaniment. It has a beautiful tippy appearance which helps to deliver a rich, sappy infusion that is very smooth. Previously listed as Itakhooli.
  4. As low as £9.00
    A real speciality, this rare tea has a smooth, malty character and richness reminiscent of the finest Assam with a very elegant leaf, edged with silver and gold. The sweet honey-like aroma, with tones of apricot and exotic flowers, lifts Precious Jewel above the ordinary realm of Ceylon teas. The honey character transfers into the cup, enhancing the full and well-balanced creamy flavour, which also carries nuances of chocolate, vanilla and blackcurrant.
  5. As low as £21.00
    This high quality tea, known as Black Ruby, grows on La Cumbre, Valle del Cauca, situated in tropical western Colombia. This variety is a small tightly twisted leaf, which offers notes of cocoa, honey, sweet raisins and plum. The garden is reached by narrow, winding, dirt roads that lead to a subtropical cloud forest. The farm is entirely organic and each lot is bordered by wild forest, and great bio-diversity.
  6. As low as £18.00
    A luscious, silky infusion made from Yunnan golden buds tea and fresh bergamot. The buds are produced in Yunnan and have a complex flavour with notes of caramel, sweet tobacco, malt and warm honey.
  7. As low as £14.00
    This very high-quality tea is grown in the volcanic soil on the island Kyushu in an area called Kirishima which means island of fog. It has a lustrous green leaf, rich fragrance and sweet, almost umami flavour. It is one of, if not the most distinctive of all Japanese Sencha teas and whilst not cheap I believe it offers the same quality as teas four times its price. Super high in antioxidants.
  8. As low as £15.00
    This very rare tea grows wild in the woods of Georgia, near the Mtirala National Park, just a few kilometres from the Black Sea. These hand-produced teas have the quality of some of the finest teas in the world grown in Taiwan and are similar in complexity. The soft, infusion almost without any bitterness has nuances of wild berry, maple, pine, malt, raisins, honey, cocoa, caramel, apple, chestnut and spice. The long, wiry matt black leaves also look like those of Taiwanese teas, the larger leaf size reflecting the fact they are produced on tea trees rather than bushes. Many of these tea trees were planted in the 19th century and until recently were not harvested. The rich forest soil, the surrounding trees offering shade mean that these wild trees produce naturally high quality material for artisan tea makers to express.
  9. As low as £17.50
    This tea, Takeru from a garden of Kirishima, is one of Japan's very best Gyokuro teas. The tea bushes from which Gyokuro is made are shaded for a month before picking. This has the effect of increasing the Chlorophyll levels in the tea and gives Gyokuro its distinctive character. It is an organically produced tea, which is very rare in Japan. It has fine, feathery leaves of an emerald green hue. It has a rich, sweet, velvety infusion and beautiful, lemon green colour. The tea is so full of essential tea oils that the infusion is cloudy, as the oils emulsify in the water.
  10. As low as £25.00
    Without a doubt, my favourite black tea. It is delicious without milk but more so with! This hand picked tea is also processed skilfully by hand to produce its elegant spiral shape. Just 500kgs are made a year due to the fact it is made from leaves that have been bitten by tiny insects. This only happens for a couple of weeks in the early summer. It is the damage done to the leaf and the secretions from the leaf to repair itself that give the tea its sweet, honeylike flavour. Most of this type of tea is made into the famous 'Oriental Beauty', also known as Dong Fang Mei Ren.
  11. As low as £22.00
    I had often imagined a tea being made that could combine my two favourite oolong teas into one. I also imagined it would be impossible. I'm sure you will imagine how thrilled I am that someone has done it! Our supplier in Taiwan made this tea in the summer as an experiment. Needless to say, it is a resounding success! Whilst, not an 'Oriental Beauty' tea it has much in common, sharing the need for insects to bite the leaves. Naturally, it too has the beautiful honey, fruit and floral character found in 'Oriental Beauty' but also some of the buttery, green and cooler flavours found in a top 'Jade' Oolong. It differs from other 'Oriental Beauty' teas for some important reasons. Firstly, it is grown in a different place and much higher up the mountain at 1500 metres.
  12. As low as £19.00
    This is the finest grade of this popular hand-rolled tea. Each kilogram in weight is made up of 14,000 pearls. Just eight will make a half pint of tea and you can use the same leaves again for at least another brew. If you do the maths you'll find it works out at just six pence a cup for one of the finest and rarest teas in the world! The tea buds that make this tea are hand-picked in gardens found among the chains of mountains, hidden in mist close to the Fujian border with Jiangxi. Each leaf is skillfully hand rolled into a tiny pearl size ball. The tea is then wrapped in silk mesh and carefully dried.
  13. As low as £25.00
    This prizewinning tea from Taiwan was as a result of a tea cultivar breeding scheme started over fifty years ago. I have to say it has the most complex flavour I have come across in a black tea and has become my equal favourite type. It is a broadleaf tea cultivar yielding a tea infusion with a natural cinnamon fragrance and a rich, malty flavour. As with all Taiwanese teas, this manages to combine complex floral and fruit flavours with the rich, malty body to make every sip taste different to the last.
  14. As low as £11.00

    This special white tea, grown in the high mountains of Zhen He, is our most popular variety. It comes from the heart of the very small white tea harvest. It first came to our attention twenty two years ago after research published in Germany claimed it to have an energising, revitalising effect peculiar just to this type. Our research in the field since then would seem to back this up! It is mellow and honey sweet in the cup with a lovely pale amber appearance. Many people have noticed a lovely flavour of Violets in it too. I think this is very pronounced when the tea is brewed perfectly and in cooler water. This is picked between March 15 and April 10 but not on rainy days or if there is frost. (For our scented Tea of Life, please look at our Chinese Scented Tea of Life section)

  15. As low as £19.00
    Thailand is a relative newcomer to the world of tea production but due to the use of fine Taiwanese tea stock and expertise is making big waves in the high-quality tea market. This rarity has a fruity, caramel-like bouquet with a cup that shines in amber tones. It is very aromatic with a subtle sweetness and hints of honey on the palate.