In general, I take pride in the fact that at least to my knowledge we have never shipped out a nasty tasting tea that makes you wrench your face in pain and horror. But let's be honest - when you are just starting your tea maker career, you will not hit a jackpot every time you step into the factory either. And even as you learn and your skills improve, you are still progressing more like a turtle, rather than an antelope.
Me and Tomas at the beginning of our tea master's careers
From 50 different teas to 18
But now that we are approaching the end of our 4th season, our range of teas has finally started to settle. When in 2018 we produced almost 50 different names and none of them more than 10 kilos, then in 2021 we have cut it down to 18 distinct teas and quite a few we produce more than 200 kilos.
Since day one we have always talked about that whenever we take a sip of our tea, we should be able to immediately recognize which one it is. In 2020 it was still a problem sometimes. Some of the teas lacked character, others were too similar to each other. So, when the season of 2021 started, we had different ideas we wanted to test out and I was optimistic that it’s possible to move at least 2-3 more teas to where we would like to see them.
We have spread our wings
But season 4 has somehow miraculously exceeded my expectations. It seems that the experience we have accrued over the past seasons has enabled us to spread our wings a bit more. Previously, we often had an idea, what we want to taste and feel in the tea, but in the factory we were groping in the darkness, trying different things and hoping that some of it will take us closer to our goal. Sometimes it worked, often it didn't. Probably the disappointment of the occasion sometimes did not let us see the value of all those failures. Often those experiments did not take us closer to our goal at the time but gave some other valuable input that would come in handy later when combined with other failures and successes.
Long story short - at the end of season 4, I am finally quite happy (and even a bit proud) with our full range of teas. Yes, there are still some details we should improve. And the variations between the different batches are still sometimes bigger than they should be. But when I have 18 cups in front of me in a blind tasting, then I would most likely assign the right name to each cup, all of them having their own colour-aroma-taste profile. I am also happy, that with all those improvements and adjustments I have also some new personal favourites among our teas, but this is a subject for another time :)
Blind tasting session with Tomas
Transparency in pricing
As we are getting closer to our final range of teas, we also looked over how we price our teas. As our principle has always been to be fully transparent and "no bullshit" in our approach, then our prices have to be fully transparent and "no bullshit" as well. For example, if we can make two different teas from the same fresh leaf and in the same quantity, their price should be the same as well, because it costs us the same to produce it. If some of the teas can be produced in limited quantities, as they require specific weather or leaf conditions or their process is very complicated, they should cost more.
More specifically our pricing logic can be summarized in 4 main points:
- White tea is the most expensive because the harvests are almost 70% smaller compared with our standard "2 leaves and a bud" plucking.
- Spring teas cost more than summer teas and our spring green and black teas should have the same price because it is the same limited quantity of May leaf that we can use for all those teas.
- Oolongs are more expensive compared with green and black teas because due to the more complex process we can only make 5-6 kilos at a time, whereas in others we can make 10, 15, or even 20 kilos.
- And last - we have some special teas - for example, Viridi Veritas which is hand-rolled or Smooth Jazz, that is oxidized at room temperature while jazz is playing… Well, as said, those teas are special, so they also have a special price ;)
Anyway, the season is slowly approaching its end and from mid-September, most of our teas will be available in the e-shop. We will hopefully still produce a good amount of teas until the beginning of October. For sure, it will be by far the strongest vintage we have so far presented. I will be eagerly waiting for your feedback and thoughts, once you get the opportunity to taste them.