Single Origin Teas

Last Updated: Aug. 28, 2018
Each region uniquely shapes a tea's flavor through the influence of climate and soil conditions. These tea plantations are in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, India, © Thangaraj Kumaravel, CC BY 2.0.
A single origin tea, also sometimes called a single region tea, is a tea that has a single region of origin, usually a specific sub-region of a country, or for smaller countries, the country itself. A closely-related term is a single estate tea, which is a type of single origin tea that has been produced on a specific, named tea estate or garden.

Single origin tea is contrasted with blends, which combine tea produced in different regions. The term "blend" is somewhat ambiguous as it can be used both to refer to blends of tea from different regions of the same country or region, or blends of tea from different countries. On RateTea, we classify the region of teas as blends only if they contain teas from different countries.

Advantages of single origin tea for the tea drinker

The region in which a tea is grown can influence its flavor in profound ways. Even if the production process is similar, geographical factors such as climate and soil can change how the final tea tastes. Single origin tea allows you to experience the diversity of flavors and aromas of tea produced in different regions. You can learn more about tea growing regions by exploring the regions section of this site; the best way to learn about these regions, however, is to sample many teas from them.

Another important advantage to single origin tea is that knowing where your tea is produced enables you to know more about how the tea is produced. This can be important in terms of making purchasing decisions that promote sustainability, such as producing tea that is produced in an environmentally sound manner, or in a way that protects the rights of workers and garden owners.

The now discontinued Copper Knot Hongcha Black Tea from Teavana was grown in Yunnan Province. Photo © A Girl With Tea, CC BY 2.0.

Is single origin tea more expensive or higher in quality than blends?

No. Single origin tea is not necessarily more expensive than blends. In many circles single origin status is seen as a sign of a "gourmet tea" or "premium tea", and, reflecting this, many single origin teas tend to be of both higher quality and price than many of the mainstream blends.

However, single origin tea, like any tea, is widely variable in price and quality, and among teas of similar grade, single origin tea can sometimes be cheaper than blends. There is nothing inherently costly or expensive about single origin tea. In fact, the process of blending tea is costly and resource intensive, as it requires both energy, tasting, and adjusting in order to control the outcome of the tea. Blending also introduces another middle step in the process between the tea garden and your cup.

Locating and buying single origin teas

If you have not yet tried single origin teas, you can locate them in our database by browsing the regions section of the website, navigating to whatever region you wish to explore, and clicking browse teas from that region. Also, in any search results or under the listings of any brand and style, you can see single origin teas marked down to the greatest level of detail available, such as Chinese provinces or counties, districts or states in India, or prefectures in Japan. With most tea companies, single-estate teas are usually labelled with the name of their estate in the name of the tea itself.

You will generally find the largest selection of single-origin teas among companies focusing on loose-leaf, although a number of companies also sell single-origin tea bags as well.

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