About

About Tea Journeys

The tea journey is the life of the tea leaf from a seedling in a tea field all the way to your cuppa. We’ve been on a 15 year (and continuing) tea journey with tea farmers and drinkers. This enables us to bring single origin sourcing and a small-batch artisan approach to you, your staff and customers.

Tea can be like a yoga session for your internal organs and state of health, tea can be a bringer of peace and support to a friend in need and tea can also be such a wonderful provider of conversation to a group of people.

Home is where the heart is and where the best cup of tea can be found. We secretly think this is actually the best place to be with a cup of tea. Why? Because you are not in a rush and because you can choose the company.

Actually everything Tea Journeys does is about promoting the enjoyment, connection and health aspects of tea. Tea is considered an art as much as a science. As a consumer of tea, you’ll continually learn and like us you’ll start to enjoy the learning process connected to tea as much as the taste. With every sip you are promoting good habits of health, hydration and mindfulness.

Whether you might be purchasing tea for yourself or for someone else. Make sure it’s a gift of tea, because you are adding years and offering health to a friend.

If you’re considering purchasing tea as a gift think seasonal teas:

  • Green – Spring/ Summer
  • Oolong –  Autumn
  • Pu’er – Winter
  • Black –  Winter
  • Yellow – Spring and Autumn
  • White – All year round

When selecting teas, learn to trust your source, who should be able to tell you where it is from and how it is produced.

Learn to read about the company code of ethics and their values. This will always tell you more than a generic logo of “trust.”

Read ingredients not to be shrewd but to know what you are consuming.

Learn what the body likes and start to inhabit the places the products are grown, bringing mindfulness and consciousness to your well-being.

Tea is so much more than what is in the cup. To learn what comes before the kettle starts to roll and rumble is often overlooked. Tea Journeys continually returns to the small tea villages to witness the artisan methods that go into producing this fine beverage that gives the world such pleasure. We delight in bringing these tea stories to life and sharing them with the tea drinker.

Tea Journeys has a simple mission. To take you on a journey with tea.

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The Beginning

Tea Journeys began with one sole Australian adventurer taking off to China as a tour guide back in 2001. What began as a curiosity in traveling such an incredible country along with further study into an auto-immune disease that had effected the same curly-haired, sandal wearing, cycling enthusiast, for all his high school years, ended up being a journey into understanding health in a much more holistic way, albeit, through tea. That journey began in 2001 which has now helped Mark share his understanding on tea, its healing health properties and a whole study into the simple but boundless experience in every cup of tea with thousands of happy tea drinkers.

It was through this window of opportunity in being a tour guide for those first few years in China, travelling and learning all there was to learn about China that Mark Thirlwall became somewhat fascinated by the gnarly little tea bush. With the task of leading his first assigned trekking group to the top of Yellow Mountain in Anhui Province, Mark famously became separated from the group in the fast amassing mist that was descending over the mountain tops to the valley floors and eventually found himself stuck in a misty saddle between two sharp rocky peaks. Not being able to see his hand in front of his face, he sat down on what he was assumed the track. In an attempt to gather his thoughts. Or perhaps attempting to memorise the company’s emergency evacuation procedures. In that very moment of truth he felt a rush of air pass across the crown of his head.

It was like a scene from a movie set unfolding. ‘Athletic monk meets young man on cold mountain top and leads him one hour down slippery treacherous mountain path to his monastery. Young man is served cup of freshly harvested Yellow Mountain greet tea. Young man never forget cup of tea or mountain ever again.’ (Oh and yes the group and lost boy were finally reunited down at base of mountain with sighs of relief!) Now as older man, he now continue to drink same cup of tea in homeland with friends.

Infusing Education in Every Cup

We provide the best products to the food service industry. To do this we carefully balance our time between sourcing the very best in teas, while also carefully sharing our resources offering education to our customers to ensure that its just not the flavor in the cup passed onto the customer but also where these teas come from and who produces them. This service helps our clients connect to the teas and pass this information down the consumption line, which ultimately improves the customer experience.

Tea Journeys has now grown to a team working together to continue the exploration and sharing of great teas with consumers. Our values in our business carefully continue to direct us towards best business practice. We value the collaboration we have with customers as much as we value the connection to the growers and the farmers that produce our goods. When you come to Tea Journeys you are sharing in this relationship.

Single Origin Sourcing

Communicate to your customers about going to the farms and buying directly from the sources. This does two things:

  1. Brings about a greater appreciation for the product and lifts the value we have on the tea experience.
  2. Ensures you are aware of what goes into the product. Consumers are now more than ever aware of what they put into their bodies. By tracing products to their source you are also ensuring a maximum health benefit to your customer.

Make no excuses – tell your staff and customers with confidence that you only stock tea sourced from farms, sourced direct from farmers. It’s not a price difference. It’s a CARE difference. Increasing speciality tea appreciation takes more effort, but how you deliver the “tea experience” will bring unparalleled results in customer satisfaction and retention.

Artisan Approach

Sipping on a cup of tea is an experience. It takes you away from what you are doing and transports you to another world. Tea Journeys farmers tend to their tea bushes like artists – every step of their processing from planting to growing to harvesting and processing is performed by their skilled hands.

Training in the art of tea production typically begins from the early years growing up in the tea fields alongside mum and dad and their local community. We have witnessed so many weddings, births and celebrations over the years from the famers we go back to year after year to bring you these teas.

The tea leaf’s journey from picking to rolling becomes second nature to these old stewards of this beautiful craft of producing these wonderfully exotic teas all with their bare hands.

Picked by hand

Withered by hand

Tossed by hand

Rolled by hand

Roasted by hand

Picked by hand

Tea leaves are picked early in the morning when the dew is still covering the leaf and they are often picked by female or younger hands due to the dexterity required. Depending on the tea, leaves plucked might be just the “tooth” or bud, two leaves and bud or three leaves and a bud depending on the season and/or the type of tea a farmer processes. The leaves need to be plucked at 180º to the growing of the stem to ensure the sap does not leach back into the pluckings causing any undesirable taste characteristics that will surface later.

Withered by hand

These leaves are left to wither which is a process that reduced the moisture content of the “fresh leaf.” It is a natural way of desiccating the leaf while also allowing the oils in the leaf to settle before firing.

Tossed by hand

This process is often commonly done using a large wok. The best tea makers often don’t use gloves. As tea is so sensitive to heat, they use human temperature control. If their hands are burning. So are the leaves! In producing tea with our partners, our unpractised hands have suffered burns on all too many digits over the years. When the leaves have been satisfactorily heated, the room smells sweet and fragrant. The leaves are then quickly pulled apart using all the fingers to ensure the leaves do not clump together.

Rolled by hand

Rolling occurs when the leaves have been heated to the point of softening the cell walls within the leaf. This process is like kneading dough. The kneading breaks the small vascular bundles of the leaf open which releases all the oils, polyphenols and chemical compounds that give tea the enormous vernacular of its tasting profile as well as all the beneficial health benefits that we have come to enjoy. This process is described in Chinese as “opening the floodgates to the full character of the botanical”.

Roasted by hand

Cooking is the final lock-and-seal process for tea. This is the time when we prevent any further oxidisation or fermentation from taking place. It would be like taking a hammer to your favourite big juicy red apple and banging it up so it was all bruised then placing it in the oven to turn it into a sweet apple chip. Tea when dried offers its final tasting profile. All these steps take careful watch and special attention. For some of the homes of our Mountain Oolongs we know of tea makers making up to 800,000 USD for 60 days of work.

What makes tea… tea?

Tea must come from the Camellia sinensis plant. This is the Chinese version (Sino) of the genius Camellia from the family Theaceae. All true tea is from this plant. Many people confuse peppermint and Chamomile as teas when these are actually herbal infusions or tisanes.

The origin and season in which a tea leaf is picked as well as the amount of rainfall and the soil condition throughout its lifetime are factors that shape its aroma and taste. Your choice of selecting teas through Tea Journeys ensures you are getting your teas direct from the farmers who harvest and process according to the seasonal shifts, producing their artisan teas in small batches. Every tea you see here is single origin meaning that every batch gives you the purest, most natural taste for a given season and geographical location.

Green Tea versus Black Tea

We like to say all tea is like a green tea. It’s the processing that makes the ultimate difference between a green and a black, an oolong or a white.

Think of an apple. A red one versus a multi-colored one versus a green one. They are all apples but being grown upon different soils in different spots on the earth will bring about different flavoured and different looking apples. Tea is just like an apple in terms of its origin and how and where it is grown, however tea is even more complex as it undergoes processing that alters its state before it can be consumed by us.

This processing of: Withering, Firing, Rolling & Drying, will ultimately effect its final look and taste which is altogether different from the way it looked when it was picked.

One can pick a tea leaf from different plantations from across the globe and process it to look identical and even the flavour when brewed could taste very similar. Hence when processing teas, we can do so much during these stages to fashion the look and the taste of the final tea product.