NEW! Kenyan Purple Tea

kenya purple tea

This exciting new tea is unlike any the world has seen before!  Selectively bred from wild mutations discovered in China and India, Kenyan Purple Tea is a new varietal created by a decades-long public/private partnership seeking to improve the productivity and profit of Kenyan tea farmers.

This tea is different in two closely-related ways.  Kenya produces lots of tea – today it is the #1 cash crop, beating out coffee! – but it is not easy.  Much nearer to the equator than traditional tea-growing regions in India and China, estates must climb up to higher altitudes to find temperatures suitable for tea bushes.  Higher altitudes lead to higher ultraviolet radiation, and these plants adapt by shielding their leaves with deep purple anthocyanins, the same powerful antioxidants that give blueberries their famous health benefits.  In fact, an equal measure of Kenyan Purple Tea has 15x the amount of anthocyanins as blueberries (by weight – one cup of raw blueberries is much more than the approx 2-6g of dry leaves used to steep one cup of tea).

Combined with other powerful protective antioxidants like catechins and other polyphenols, this means that the second difference is that Kenyan Purple Tea boasts significantly more health benefits than ordinary green or black teas.

Fans of Purple Tea claim that its rich palette of restorative polyphenols have even more cleansing and invigorating powers than regular green teas.  By cleansing damaging “free radical” oxygen atoms out of the body, these healthy chemicals reduce effects of aging and also combat cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, while generally improving nervous system and dental health, reducing inflammation, and clearing cholesterol and plaque out of arteries.

When steeping this whole leaf tea, you will be impressed by the colossal size of the leaves, and charmed by the pale purple-tinged liquor and lovely faint aroma.  Lingering behind the big chlorophyll flavor of this premium green tea, there is a hint of malty and nutty tones reminiscent of black teas, and some delicate apricot notes, similar to a lightly-oxidized oolong.  The astringency level is perfect, feels good in the mouth, dry but sweet.  Distinctly leafy (high chlorophyll content) but not grassy, the novel but mild flavor profile of this fantastic specialty tea will be appreciated by any tea connoisseur!

Steeping Time – 3 minutes

Water Temp – 180 F

Whole leaf Kenyan Purple Tea

Buy Kenyan Purple Tea

NEW! Indian Assam: Sessa Estate’s “Best & Finest” Black Tea

Indian Assam from Sessa Estate

We are pleased to offer an Assamese tea from a famous estate dating back to 1897.  Named after nearby Sessa River (“Cold” in Assamese), the Sessa Estate is in Darrang District on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River. The river valley stretches all the way across the isolated region of Northeast India, as does the state of Assam, with western borders shared with Bangladesh and eastern borders touching Myanmar. It is a place of incredible beauty and rich biodiversity, home to many endangered species including the Indian rhinoceros.

Further from ports and travel destinations than famous mountainous micro-regions of Darjeeling and Sikkim, the low-lying state of Assam is less well-known in the US. However, its tea tradition is unrivaled –it is the origin of Camellia sinensis var. assamica, the sub-species of tea that was cultivated on enormous plantations by the British in the second half of the 19th century, not only in India but also Sri Lanka and Kenya, and that now supplies most of the world’s black tea.

In Assam, tea is grown at low altitude in the abundant alluvial soils of the Brahmaputra River valley. With steep Himalayan mountains just a few miles to the north, Assam receives drenching monsoon rains coupled with intense heat that create a greenhouse effect in which tea bushes thrive, while relatively cool winters protect them from pests (in most other places, tea is grown at higher altitudes).

According to state sources, the total tea harvested and processed in Assam is 650 million kilograms, or about 1.4 billion pounds, each year! Assam is considered the global leader in tea production, but we are less familiar with it here in the US because the majority goes to tea-lovers in Russia and the Middle East. However, “Irish Breakfast” tea is typically made with Assamese tea leaves, and it is loved for its bold malty flavor. Most tea connoisseurs prefer the “second flush” Assamese teas, which are usually “tippy” and have full body and rich sweetness.

Assam is full of tea estates; Sessa is known as one of the best, receiving excellence awards from the Tea Board of India. This selection is their top lot, a beautiful tippy assamica, very small whole leaves tinged with orange. The liquor produced is also a pleasing warm amber color, with malty aroma reminiscent of fresh baked croissants. Overall relatively mild in flavor, this is an exceedingly refined Assamese tea, with a perfect dryness that lingers on the palate after the initial sweet and malty flavors fade. Detectable in this delicate astringency are grapefruit and almond notes, but mostly you will be charmed by the up-front molasses sweetness and silky malty body of this flawless second flush tippy black tea.

Steeping Time – 3 minutes

Water Temp – 212 F

Assamese tippy whole leaf black tea

Buy Sessa Estate’s “Best & Finest” Assamese Black Tea

Coffee Grinders: Selecting the Best One for Your Home Roasted Coffee Beans

buying and using a burr coffee grinder

Imagine waking up in the morning, eager to drink your first freshly brewed coffee of the day, only to disappoint your eager taste buds with a stale and flavorless liquid. You can avoid this scenario with the right coffee grinder.

Before you even take your first sip, the absence of the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee will likely be a huge letdown as well. This could become a reality for you if the ground coffee you purchased from a retail outlet is past its prime. Ground coffee loses its flavor more quickly than roasted coffee beans. You may find it advantageous to invest in a high-quality grinder if you are a home coffee brewer.

Why do I need a coffee grinder?

Consider how much money is wasted when throwing out stale ground coffee.

Having a grinder at your disposal will allow you to grind only the amount of beans needed for each batch of coffee, greatly decreasing your chances of wasting unused coffee grounds.

How do I choose the best one?

Let’s start off with the types available – blade and burr. 

coffee grinding
Blade coffee grinder

Blade grinders are the most cost-efficient and their movement is similar to that of a blender. The blades spin at a high-speed chopping roasted coffee beans and not actually grinding them. These grinders are also known as coffee mills.

Burr grinders get their name from the two revolving rough surfaces (burrs) that grind the coffee beans. Moving between the burrs, the coffee beans are ground a few at a time. There are many options to consider if you are interested in purchasing a burr grinder and they are sold within a wide price range. Things to consider are the size, power source (manual vs. electric), and the shape of the burrs (conical vs. flat).

So which type is better when comparing blade vs. burr coffee grinders?

Here are some things to consider when choosing between blade and burr grinders:

1. Price

Blade grinders would be your choice if you are looking for the least expensive option. In most cases, you get what you pay for when price is your main criteria. Blade grinders come with fewer options and tend to have a shorter lifespan.

Some may find blade grinders to be an attractive option if they plan on using theirs to grind other things such as spices, giving them more bang for their buck. However, without a thorough cleaning, grinding other things with your grinder will likely affect the coffee taste.

When it comes to burr grinders, consider purchasing a manual one which will give you a consistent grind without the higher price of an electric version. However, what you don’t pay in dollars, you pay in labor.

2. Grind Size

With blade grinders, you cannot adjust the grind size as you can with burr grinders. In fact, blade grinders chop up the coffee beans into pieces of varying size. On the other hand, the grind size from burr grinders is more uniform.

Coffee Grinder infographic

You might be wondering why coffee grind size even matters.

The grind size will affect the overall flavor of your coffee. To get the most flavorful cup of coffee, the optimal grind size will depend on your brewing method. Pairing the wrong grind size and brewing method may result in coffee that is under- or over-extracted. You can use this guide to help you find the right combination.

There is even more to consider when you are looking to produce a finer coffee grind.

Producing a finer grind requires the coffee beans to be ground (or chopped) for a longer period of time. The high speed at which blade grinders rotate generates heat, ultimately resulting in a brewed coffee with a scorched or burnt flavor.

Bottom line: A burr grinder will produce a more flavorful cup of coffee.

3. Preparation Time

Undoubtedly, self-grinding your coffee beans will increase your total coffee preparation time. Coffee lovers would likely agree that it is well worth the extra time to optimize the flavor from your coffee beans.

As you make your purchase decision, it’s important to consider how much coffee you make on a regular basis. Blade grinders and electric burr grinders will grind coffee beans more quickly than manual burr grinders. The time difference may not be a significant issue when grinding beans for a single serving of coffee. However, your coffee prep time may increase considerably when brewing larger batches. 

Manual coffee grinder
Manual coffee grinder

Considering all the factors, most coffee aficionados will agree that burr grinders give them the highest return in flavor on their investment in high-quality coffee beans. The adjustments available with burr grinders also allow devoted coffee drinkers to more easily experiment with flavors by adjusting the grind size and brewing methods.

If you’re convinced a burr grinder is the optimal choice, you may be wondering…

What’s the difference between Conical and Flat Burr Coffee Grinders?

Besides the shape of the burrs, differences between the two types of burr grinders include: 

  • Grind Size Consistency – Flat burr grinders produce a more consistent grind size, but the difference really can’t be detected without the aid of a microscope. The less consistent grind size of conical burr grinders is desirable when brewing espresso.
  • Cleaning – Their shape makes flat burr grinders more difficult to clean as more grounds become trapped in the burrs relative to the conical shaped ones. When grinding different types of coffee beans, trapped grounds from previous grindings can affect the flavor of your next cup of coffee. 
  • Price – Conical grinders are more cost-effective than flat burr grinders due to their slower motor. A less powerful motor results in less heat and noise generation.

Conical burr grinders are more commonly used with home coffee brewing. 

There are many other “bells and whistles” you may consider when selecting your grinder including the number of settings/adjustments, timers, and digital displays. 

If you are interested in investing in a conical burr grinder with advanced design, the Baratza Sette 30 AP is a great option to consider. Its revolutionary design allows it to operate more efficiently at a reasonable price. 

See all of our Best Coffee Grinders here.