The most common place we see the word heirloom attached to food is probably with heirloom tomatoes. You see those fun, one-of-a-kind-looking tomatoes at the store during summer. But any plant or tree can be an heirloom if they are produced through actual natural pollination of uniquely different trees.
Sadly, this is a dying practice because it yields very low production. But we still find heirloom trees in historically famous tea regions, as many of these locations value these trees. This method of production still is what gives the highest level of complexity to the tea.
The most prized teas in the world are still largely produced from heirloom tea trees.
With the old age of ancient tea trees, today's heirloom tea has not been planted by this generation but by those before. Heirloom teas give us deeper roots demonstrating a better representation of the terroir and adding complexity to the taste. They are planted by seed, with a more natural, longer early growth cycle, leading to a hardier and more complex plant. Since this is an ancient practice with seeds planted by generations before us, these trees are older, which is already a prized trait as this correlates with the tea's value, complexity, and depth. But the benefits don't stop there. They give us a rare opportunity to drink the same tea as emperors, poets, scholars, and many more from generations past. What a wild thing to consider, right??
This rare connection to ancient nature and a historical past are the most significant and sentimental factors making heirloom tea so beloved and valued. Suppose we are reviewing past tasting notes left to us by connoisseurs of generations before; without being an heirloom tea, what you are drinking is very different from what they had. For example, if we're reading a romantic expression of how a Long Jing inspired someone 100 years ago, and today we're drinking a Long Jing 43 or Wu Niu Zao (the most common clone varietals), that expression isn't quite there. But heirloom teas allow us to drink the same tea at a drastically different time in history, so the sense of connection is much stronger. This sentimental connection to the tea connects us better to our ancestors.
Today, it's a rare treat for anyone to experience the depth and excitement of a tea made from heirloom trees. It's beyond words to honestly explain how special this is to be able to consume the heirloom version of any product but even more so tea. It is unclear if, even as soon as twenty years, people will have the opportunity to enjoy heirloom tea. Since this is no longer a farming practice done by most farmers, as the heirloom trees die out, so does the chance to taste their splendor.
Tea Drunk prides itself on bringing access to teas of this importance and caliber to the world!
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