Wine and tea have, since the advent of human civilization, been recognized for their ability to ignite aromas, stimulate flavours and amplify the palate potential of a dish.
For centuries, wine and tea have evolved – perfected through the endless pursuit of blending and craft by dedicated, passionate makers. But it is only recently that the potential honed by tea has come to fruition. Tea Sommeliers are increasingly commonplace, informing and informed by their counterparts in wine. The caretakers of these respective arts and rituals have long known and respected the deep-rooted connections between tea and wine.
As in wine, the pedigree, color, aroma, and taste of a tea reveals its full expression.
– Lana Sutherland, Co-Founder and CEO of TEALEAVES.
The similarities in craftsmanship are best exemplified through their mutual care for palate and terroir:
Tea and wine both define palate as the confluence of color + aroma + taste. Palate is both the summation as well as contemporaneous expression of terror and blending skill, experienced firsthand. Both these great traditions are grounded in ritual, informed by culture and heritage.
Many people don’t know this, but the technique of tasting wine and tea yield many similarities.
– Lana Sutherland Co-Founder and CEO of TEALEAVES
The concept of terroir describes the complete natural environment in which a particular wine or tea is produced, and all of the factors that affect such an environment. For both wine and tea, terroir is all-important to the resulting quality of the product.
Master Blenders of tea, for which there are few left, formulate teas and botanicals for the truest expression of the highest quality teas, herbs, spices and fruits of each harvest. The goal is not palate consistency from year to year, but rather to find and interpret terroir through flavour. Especially in the past decade, tea blenders bear witness to the noticeable and accelerating deterioration of quality in their ingredients procurement program. Alongside the decline in biodiversity in Nature, so goes the palate of raw ingredients. Increasingly, tea blenders must rely more and more on technique and skill to correct for ingredients that are pressed by the environment.
These same challenges are faced by winemakers. Those at the highest level prefer a title akin to winegrower, understanding that the quality of wine is determined during the growth of the grapes themselves. This crucial connection to the environment yields the importance of biodiversity, bringing innovative techniques to Old World methods.
TEALEAVES x RUDD
TEALEAVES and the Rudd Estate leadership met through years working together in the luxury Food & Beverage industry.
Rudd Estate exists in the heart of Napa Valley, and is home to winegrowers who act as “stewards of exceptional land [who] seek to create wines that reflect the ultimate expression of our world-class terroir — respecting the traditions of the past, challenging the present, and imagining future possibilities.” Their products are a testament to craftsmanship. “Truly great wines are a result of place, season and know-how.” – Rudd Estate
TEALEAVESis the tea purveyor and the blender of choice for five-star hotels and Michelin chefs worldwide. They earned their unmatched reputation in blending through creating innovative blends for some of the world’s culinary leaders, utilizing the extraordinary art of blending: harmonizing single origin tea leaves and botanicals into one blend that brings out the best characteristics in each ingredient.
They bonded over the mutual love of wine and tea; Kindred spirits in the belief of championing quality and technique. They were inspired to partner in a new endeavour, and create the first wine barrel aged tea blend.
Where tea and wine come together: Barrel Aged TEALEAVES
With this project, we wanted to celebrate tea’s connoisseur status by paralleling it to that of wine…
– Lana Sutherland Co-Founder and CEO of TEALEAVES
Continued: “As in wine, we are not concerned with matching last year’s vintage; instead we seek to capture the best expression of each year’s terroir in a teacup. This blending philosophy has made TEALEAVES a cult favorite among the world’s elite in Food and Beverage, from Michelin-star restaurants to five-star hotels.”
Blending terroir, ingredients, and techniques from the Old World, New World, and Ancient World, they created the TEALEAVES x RUDD Cabernet French Oak Tea. The blend draws parallels between tea and wine, resulting in an “ultimate palate” for wine and tea connoisseurs.
The tea is aged in a used French oak barrel gifted to TEALEAVES by the Rudd Estate. The “memory” of the wine has been translated to the tea, resulting in a wine tea of great complexity and superior palate.
Marrying traditions of First Growth winemaking techniques with fine tea blending has never been done before. The result of aging the tea in a French Oak barrel is beautiful.
To truly understand this unique marrying of flavors, one must try the blend. Now available at TEALEAVES.com.
In order to share the experience and inspiration that comes with visiting Rudd Estate, TEALEAVES created a virtual tour of the Estate. Watch the tour to be immersed into the world of wine:
For those looking to learn more about this unique symbiosis, enjoy a Virtual Tasting & Talk that took place as part of the Nature X Design Virtual Festival.
The event entailed a design-centric roundtable among makers as they discussed how methods, influences and ingredients—be it Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, imperially-scented jasmine white tea, sustainable practices, or the framework of inclusive design—impact the way a physical beverage is expressed by its maker or grower.