A Season of Change at Good Medicine Tea

Dear Beautiful Good Medicine Community,

We are making an evolutionary leap, and we hope that you will jump with us. It’s time for us to grow, and so it is with great joy that we announce the creation of the Good Medicine Center for Healing Arts.

In this transformation, The Good Medicine Lounge is transitioning into a space for classes and events where our Community can come together and learn sustainable practices for spiritual growth, well being, and Vibrant Living! The Healing Arts Center is home to a growing community of physical, mental, and energetic healers; we are going to allow their skills and teaching to come into the forefront of what we offer in the Good Medicine Lounge.

We have built a home for our hearts in The Good Medicine Lounge, now we want to open that home up to our Community so that we can grow and live more vibrantly together! We welcome our community to bring their own ideas for regular meditations and classes, as well as workshops and individual events. Check in with us as our schedule of offerings takes shape in the weeks to come and reach out to us if you have something you want to offer!

Good Medicine Tea is thriving and you can purchase our teas online. We are supported by many local businesses where you can purchase and enjoy our tea as well.

We can’t wait for you all to join us as we move forward!

With Love and Gratitude,
Your Friends at Good Medicine 

Camellia Sinesis, The Mother of All Tea

Although many tea connoisseurs would attest to the statement that “all tea comes from the same plant,” this is never the less accurate.

I was amazed to learn that white, green, black, pu-er, and oolong teas were all products of the same plant. This is fascinating to me so I began to explore what made them so different. Below is a short guide to each and a way to more closely connect to your next cup…

*Disclaimer* – There are many factors which make a tea unique, everything from the process after picking to the location and soil of the roots. These in general are rough guides. What makes tea so unique are the many factors which create the art that is.

White Tea:

This tea is made from the leaves and buds of the camellia sinensis. Unlike other processes, this tea is typically left to wither and dry in the natural sun. Thus is the process that defines White Tea. The name ‘White Tea’ comes from the small, silver-like hairs on the unopened buds and contains the highest amount of antioxidants.

Green Tea:

As mentioned before, it is the process which dictates the classification. This process in particular has a broad spectrum…

Some artisan methods include: Sun-drying, basket, charcoal, or pan firing.

Some more modern methods include: Oven-drying, tumbling, or steaming.

Many believe that a re-firing of the leaves improve the flavor and increase the shelf life of the tea.

Two examples of varying processes include the flat, rolled tea leaves from Japan called Sencha (their most popular tea), and another popular green, Jasmine Pearl, which are tea leaves and buds picked and stored until the jasmine harvest. Just before bloom the tea leaves and the jasmine buds are set to “mate” during the night when the jasmine blossoms open, releasing their fragrance.

Black Tea:

Refers to the process of oxidation that takes place with typically a “stronger” flavor. Also known as “red tea” within China.

First the leaves are withered by blowing air. Next the leaves are either put through the CTC (crush, tear, curl) Method typically used for bagged teas, or the orthodox method which is done either by hand or a more delicate machine. This method is used typically for loose-leaf, a more traditional form. Next comes the oxidation process which occurs through controlled temperature and humidity. This can be done on a conveyor belt, or simply on a tray on the floor.

Finally comes the drying which “arrests” the oxidation process, stopping it in it’s tracks!

Oolong Tea:

What is characteristic about this tea is the unique process of intense withering under the sun as well as the oxidation process taking place before “curling and twisting.” Another distinct aspect of this tea is the wide array of distinct flavors that are presented.

Pu-erh Tea:

What separates this tea from others is the fermentation process that takes place after the leaves have been dried and rolled. Unlike other teas, Pu-erh continues to mature with age and will often have the province and date attached.

So here they are! The main 5 that you are likely to run into in your daily life. Here at the Good Medicine Lounge we carry all of these wonderful variations and would love to share with you a cup.

With a Warm Belly,

Tate

Growing Tea in the Columbia River Gorge - Part 1

For a number of years, I’ve dreamed of growing tea in the Pacific Northwest. Last spring, I took the first steps towards making this happen!

Tea is produced from the leaves and leaf buds of Camellia sinensis, an evergreen tree. White, green, oolong, pu-erh and black teas are all made from this plant, but are processed differently to obtain different levels of oxidation, and a wide variety of flavors.

First tea seeds — a cold hardy seed from Georgia (south of Russia) parented by the cultivar “Kokhida”

First tea seeds — a cold hardy seed from Georgia (south of Russia) parented by the cultivar “Kokhida”

My first step toward growing tea was researching whether it was realistic in the Columbia Gorge area… here are my notes from Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties:

The Soil

  • Acidic, pH 4.5-5.5 is best, this helps the tea absorb nutrients
  • Rich in minerals (nitrogen, potassium)
  • Covered with a deep layer of hummus
  • Central root needs to get a solid grip at depth of 6 ft, so soil should be loose (not limestone or clay)
  • Permeable, well-draining, but with good moisture retention

The Climate

  • Tropical or subtropical (Uh Oh!)
  • Minimum 60″ rain per year
  • Dry season should be no longer than 3 months
  • Average temperature 65-68º F
  • Minimum 5 hours of sun per day
  • Relative humidity 70-90%
  • With the exception of some cultivars, trees are likely to be killed by temperatures below 23º F
  • Growth slows considerably when temperatures are low throughout the year, but climatic variation can help develop flavors

If you’re familiar with the climate in the Columbia River Gorge, it probably won’t surprise you that the things I was reading were pretty discouraging. I knew that if I ever wanted this to work I’d have to find a very cold-hardy variety of Camellia sinensis.

First tea seedling coming up!

First tea seedling coming up!

 

Hopefully, I found it! In the spring of 2015, a shipment of cold-hardy tea seeds were imported from Georgia (country, not state), and I ordered 100 seeds.

In the next installment, Growing Tea in the Columbia Gorge: Part 2, I’ll lay out my method for starting the seeds, and the things that worked well (and that didn’t work so well!).