Black Tea from Georgia


Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.

Black Tea from Georgia

Postby Janine » Apr 26th, '09, 13:13

Way back when, someone around here mentioned some teas they bought which were from a small private farm in the country of Georgia (not the state of Georgia, USA but the country near the Black Sea).

If I recall correctly there was mention of two varieties from different small private farmers; something like an "old man" and an "old woman" tea. I've probably got that wrong - but whoever you are, if you have any idea about this, could you please enlighten me as to where to find them and what they were like?
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Postby Proinsias » Apr 26th, '09, 13:36

There's a great guy by the name of Proinsias who wrote an article about this a while back on his blog here.

He's not updated his blog since but I hear he might be getting back into the swing of it once his exams are over.
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Postby Janine » Apr 27th, '09, 15:28

Oh thank you! Nice blog post, i enjoyed reading it. And now I am more than ever wishing to find this tea. I wonder if there's anywhere in the US that has it. Maybe I will send an email to the company that you mention.

Hmm... I wonder if your US friend is anyone I know... not in NYC by any chance?


Edit: browsing the Nothing But Tea section on the Georgian Teas is fascinating. Tea is truly amazing.

(Good luck with exams.)
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Postby TokyoB » Apr 27th, '09, 15:40

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Postby Janine » Apr 27th, '09, 15:41

Thank you too, TokyoB

I will have to check out their shipping to the US
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Postby teashionista » Apr 27th, '09, 17:16

When I was growing up in Russia, teas from Georgia (a former republic), albeit abundant, weren't held in high regard :shock: They cost 2-3 times less than mid-range Assams (and 5-6 times less than Darjeelings), and my tea-obsessed parents never bought them.

But now I'm curious :) Please share your reviews if/when you buy them!
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Postby Janine » Apr 27th, '09, 17:48

Hello Teashonista, thank you for your post.

What kinds of teas did your parents buy? I have seen teas sold as "good for use with samovar" and often these seem to be what I call a "Persian type" (scented with bergamot I think, like an Earl Gray). But perhaps as we are on the subject, you could say more.

From what I read of these particular Georgian teas, it seems they are considered wildcrafted, so that adds to their desirability in certain senses.
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Postby teashionista » Apr 27th, '09, 19:45

What kinds of teas did your parents buy? I have seen teas sold as "good for use with samovar" and often these seem to be what I call a "Persian type" (scented with bergamot I think, like an Earl Gray). But perhaps as we are on the subject, you could say more.


My parents (who still live in Russia) drink exclusively Assams, Ceylons, and (in lesser quantities) Darjeelings. The latter is by far the preferred choice, but it's much more difficult to obtain :( Tea is the most popular drink in Russia (after vodka of course lol), but good quality teas are becoming more scarse, much to my father's dismay (lack of demand--people are switching to teabags). Black tea is by far the most popular, although green tea is now available as well (it wasn't as recently as 10 years ago). Again, to my father's dismay, people prefer scented teas (Earl Grey, etc.) We always had a bag of EG in the pantry, but it was used only for guests. Our household may not be very representative though: my parents were as gourmand as you could get in the Soviet Union. Today my dad makes special trips to stock up on teas. As part of my daughterly duties, I ship a selection of teas on a regular basis as well :)

As far as samovars go, my grandmother had (and probably still does) a "real" one--the heating element uses wood. I only saw it used once,-and that was over 20 years ago--it's just not a thing people do any more. And no, contrary to the common belief, not every house in Russia has one. I'm in the minority (mostly due to my parents' obsessive love of tea)-I'm a proud owner of one :mrgreen: It's an electric model (essentially an electric teapot in the shape of a samovar), and I've never used it. I'll post pictures of it in Teaware.

I can see how smokier/stronger teas, such as Lapsang Souchong, Georgian tea, Russian Caravan would work for a real samovar--heating water over wood in a samovar would definitely impart some smoky flavor, which would completely throw off more delicate teas.

What spiked your interest in Georgian teas (besides their obscurity)?
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!

Postby Janine » Apr 28th, '09, 10:24

Thanks for the description, teashionista!

My husband's uncle in Greece has an antique samovar that we've never transported to the US, but I dream about using it someday (they had relatives in Odessa and his grandparents were from Trabezond on the Black Sea coast).

My interest in the Georgian tea was sparked by what I guess was Proinsias' description. I had no idea that homemade, wildcrafted teas were a product of Georgia or the region thereabouts. I am a fan of such teas anyway from China, and lately I have become a black tea fanatic (that would be Chinese hongcha or "red tea"), so I really was intrigued to see what these teas taste like. I also appreciate the wildcrafted or wild bush puerhs and the Chinese notion of goodness because of those elements of nature absorbed by the tea as it grows - and lack of heavy pesticide use.

Finally, my own background is Armenian. I have never been to Armenia, but my grandparents were born in Eastern Turkey (what was historically Western Armenia). I am curious about tea traditions in the region even though my grandparents were coffee drinkers. So I'd really like ot find out more.

Although we in the West might associate coffee traditions with the Middle East, tea is a popular drink. I've had Persian Tea at a Persian Food restaurant and seen it in a Middle East grocery. One thing I learned recently as a Middle Eastern tradition is the use of sugar. A cube or lump of sugar is placed on the tongue, and tea is sipped while keeping the sugar on the tongue. So the tea passes through the sweetness of the sugar sip by sip until the lump is gone. I thought that was interesting although I don't use sugar myself.
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Re: !

Postby Proinsias » Apr 28th, '09, 10:47

Janine wrote:My interest in the Georgian tea was sparked by what I guess was Proinsias' description.


Mary R is the one who should get the credit. It was her who tracked down this lovely tea and I think a few other teachatters benefited from her mad teafinding skillz.

Damn, I've just ordered 2 lots of tea over the past few days and now I'm looking over NBT's site with itchy fingers.
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Re: !

Postby Janine » Apr 28th, '09, 11:43

Proinsias wrote:Damn, I've just ordered 2 lots of tea over the past few days and now I'm looking over NBT's site with itchy fingers.


Ah, the tea lover's dilemma!!

(Let us know what you order :-))

Remember, there are discussions around here about aging black teas -- another intriguing idea...
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Postby Rainy-Day » May 5th, '09, 05:09

teashionista wrote:
As far as samovars go, my grandmother had (and probably still does) a "real" one--the heating element uses wood. I only saw it used once,-and that was over 20 years ago--it's just not a thing people do any more. And no, contrary to the common belief, not every house in Russia has one.


Neat, my grandma also still has a very old samovar, and she used it (rarely) when I was growing up.

While looking in google images, I found this neat samovar: http://karisimby.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/yarel-yair-samovar-concept/, but I couldn't find one that looks like my grandma's.

Indeed georgian tea was very common in soviet union but indian tea was considered to be better quality. I didn't notice any difference myself back then.

A few years ago on usenet someone was offering samples of high quality single-estate georgian teas and I got a sample, and it was really great. I don't remember the name of the tea, if it had a name.. I would definitely order that tea if it was available for sale. It was similar to a good keemun or a good sichuan black tea. Really not at all like indian teas I expected.[/url]
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Postby Janine » May 5th, '09, 12:43

Thanks for this information.

The white ceramic samovar is fascinating. I can't quite figure out how it works.
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Postby Rainy-Day » May 6th, '09, 04:33

Janine wrote:Thanks for this information.

The white ceramic samovar is fascinating. I can't quite figure out how it works.


I'm guessing like any electric samovars work.. by the way the picture seems like a cgi. I wonder if he actually built it. The way the post goes, it sounds like he did but, who knows.
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Postby Julis » May 12th, '09, 14:13

teashionista wrote:
Tea is the most popular drink in Russia (after vodka of course lol), but good quality teas are becoming more scarse, much to my father's dismay (lack of demand--people are switching to teabags).


Where is Russia do your parents live? Nearly any kind of tea is availabele in every major city in Russia now. Take a look at "teatips" site - I am sure, they can find a store not far from them
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