What is a single estate tea and what does it signify?
Single estate tea as the name signifies refers to a tea that originates from ‘one’ estate or tea garden i.e. a tea that is not blended with varieties from different tea gardens. Simply put, it is a pure, whole leaf tea that is not blended with any additives. More importantly, because this tea originates from one tea garden, it tends to have characteristics unique to that particular tea estate. Single estate tea is much like fine wine and its taste and flavour depends upon location, climate, geography etc. Understanding and drinking single estate tea connects you to the environment and culture of that place and over time it becomes an art form. Much like a single malt scotch, a vintage wine or a single origin coffee, single estate tea is appreciated for the same reasons.
The main complication with providing single estate tea is that batches produced on different days can never be the same. A minute change in weather, plucking, withering, fermentation or any other process will change the quality of tea by at least a marginal amount. The quality of tea varies with seasons as well which is why a single estate tea from the first flush is more expensive than a tea from the second flush.
Why are single estate teas more expensive?
To cater to the masses, most tea companies blend their teas in order to lower their packet costs and sell to consumers at a relatively cheap price. These companies blend a cheap, neutral tasting tea with a medium quality tea in a ratio of approximately 5:1 to increase quantities and lower costs. Tea is a substance that acquires the properties of anything kept close to it and therefore with time, the cheap tea begins to acquire some of the aroma and flavours of the medium quality tea. However, the fact remains that this blended tea is made up of mostly low quality, flavourless tea. Single estate teas are more expensive because they are made up entirely of pure, high quality tea leaves. There is no blending or mixing of any sort and therefore the supply is limited. Different grades of teas are sorted into different categories and teas that are plucked and fermented on different days are also sorted into different categories. This is why there might be a slight variation in the taste and flavour of single estate tea.
Why should you choose single estate teas?
A single estate teas is the purest form of tea in the sense that it is brought straight from an estate to your cup. There is no middleman, no blending involved and therefore you can be sure of the quality and origin of the tea. Single estate teas bring out strong taste experiences as they have greater purity of flavour and aroma. As a tea lover, you should try different varieties of single origin teas to understand which ones you like best.
The biggest advantage of single estate tea is that if you are buying from an estate that constantly sells well in the auctions or an estate where the prime objective is quality and not quantity, you can be rest assured that you’ll receive great tea that will be significantly better than any blended variety. If you are looking for a great cuppa, there is no doubt that single estate tea is bound to give you the best bang for your buck!