Elm Brook tea company

EBF Teas

Enjoy the Flavors | taste the difference

The delicious tastes, engaging aromas, and health benefits of fresh, high-quality tea make it a wonderful beverage to enjoy throughout your day. What makes tea so interesting to us also is the wide variety of geographies where it is grown and the unique history and traditions that have developed in those cultures around tea. We aim to share with you our knowledge of teas that we have learned over the years from living abroad and drinking a lot of tea.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough
or a book long enough to suit me.”
― C.S. Lewis

Our Blends ~ Our Commitment

After settling in Vermont, we decided to put our passion to work in creating our own distinctive blends using teas directly from farmers in tea producing countries. We add our own natural flavors, scents and ingredients to create a completely unique Vermont tea experience for you. From the sweet flavor of pure maple syrup to the wild pungent flavor of forest blackberries, our flavored teas will remind you of the seasonal aromas of Vermont.

Our small batch formulations pay particular attention to the balance of the fruits, herbs, spices and other all natural ingrediants to ensure that you will brew this tea for your complete enjoyment and good health. Choose among our many delicious signature flavors blended with black, green or decaf tea.

~ Elm Brook Tea blends are in process and will be available soon. ~

Tea Traditions

About Tea | camellia sinensis

The tea plant, Camellia Sinensis, is used to produce tea. Its dried green leaves are used to make green tea. Its dried and fermented leaves are used to make black tea, which increases its tannin, caffeine and stimulant properties. The variety of the Camellia Sinensis; the region in which it is grown; the season it is harvested; and how the leaves are processed, will all influence the quality produced among the six classes of tea: green, yellow, white, oolong, black, and Pu-erh.

  • Can tea grow in Vermont?

    Probably not. It's grown in hot, moist climates. There have been "Tea Gardens", plantations of tea shrubs, in South Carolina since 1744, Hawaii since 1887 and recently in Washington State, but these domestic sources are tiny compared to those from Asia.

    Tea is a shrub that grows over 30 feet tall in the wild. Most cultivated varietys are kept trimmed to an average height of 4 to 6 feet. There are over 3,000 varieties of tea from around the world, and they take their names from the districts in which they are grown. The best tea leaves are small and young, and plucked from the tip of the tea bush. When there is a sprouting of new buds and leaves on a plant, called a "flush", the fresh young leaves and buds are then picked. A tea plant may flush more than three times within a single growing season.

    The tea leaves are spread on racks or troughs to reduce their moisture content, called "withering." Then the leaves are rolled in order to break down their structure and release their natural juices and enzymes. This begins the fermentation process, which occurs when tea is spread on trays in a cool, humid atmosphere to oxidize the leaves. It changes the chemical structure of the leaf, and allows the tea's characteristic flavor to emerge. The longer a tea is allowed to ferment, the stronger flavor it will have and the darker it will become. Some teas are not fermented at all. To arrest the fermentation process, the leaves move through hot air chambers to stabilize the leaves and lock in the flavor, called "firing".

  • What is tea fermentation?

    It is the degree of fermentation that determines the type of tea that is produced. The term fermentation when applied to tea is a bit of a misnomer, as the term actually refers to how much a tea is allowed to undergo enzymatic oxidation by allowing the freshly picked tea leaves to dry. This enzymatic oxidation process may be stopped by either pan frying or steaming the leaves before they are completely dried out. One method we use to classify tea is based on the degree of fermentation:

    • Non-fermented and Very Light Fermentation
    • Green tea processing is non-fermented. After moisture extracted from the raw tea leaves, the rest of the solid portion is ready for transformation into the final tea products. White tea is the least processed among the many varieties. The new tea buds are plucked before they open and simply allowed to dry. The curled-up buds have a silvery appearance and produce a pale and very delicate cup of tea.

    • Semi-fermented
    • Tea which are allowed to undergo 10% to 80% fermentation fall into the broad category of semi-fermented teas. Tea brewed from semi-fermented tea leaves have a slight yellow to brown hue and possess a subtle fragrant aroma. Oolong tea from Taiwan is prepared this way and is best known to most Americans as the tea served at Chinese restaurants.

    • Fully-fermented
    • Black teas are fully fermented. The tea leaves have been withered, rolled, fermented, and fired (or dried). Tea from black tea leaves have a dark red hue and a sweet aroma of malt sugar. Black tea is the most popular tea drink among Americans.

    • Post-fermented
    • Specifically Pu-erh tea is allowed to ferment and then have the processed stopped and later fermented again, this time in the true sense of the word. Historically it is produced primarily in Yunnan province, China. Also called heicha which means "dark tea" or "black tea", it gets this name from the dark brown liquors infused from the twice fermented tea leaves.

  • Herbal tea vs decaffeinated tea: what's the difference?

    Herbal tea is not made from the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis. Dried fruits, flowers or herbs are boiled in hot water to create a "tea" infusion. While these are caffeine-free and generally soothing beverages, they are not technically tea. A classic example of herbal tea is Chamomile tea, which is made from flowers and is said to help you to relax and sleep well at night. It has been widely used to help with an upset stomach, cold, fever, coughing and bronchitis. It can also be used as a gargle to reduce inflammation in the mouth.

  • How are teas decaffeinated?

    Decaffeinated products originally contain a naturally occuring caffeine that is stripped out through a decaffeination process. Some minute amount of caffeine remain. All forms of tea from Camellia Sinensis can be decaffeinated using one of four methods: methylene chloride; ethyl acetate; carbon dioxide; and water processing.

    • Methylene chloride
    • A decaffeination process by which the tea is soaked in methylene chloride (directly or indirectly) so that the molecules of caffeine bond to molecules of methylene chloride. However methylene chloride is considered a likely hazard to human health, so the U.S. FDA bans all imports using methylene chloride.

    • Ethyl acetate
    • Caffeine is removed through soaking in ethyl acetate, similar to the methylend choloride method, however it is considered “natural” because ethyl acetate is a chemical found naturally in tea. Though safer than MSDS, ethyl acetate is difficult to remove after the decaffeination process, and is sometimes described as leaving a chemical taste.

    • Carbon dioxide
    • CO2 decaffeination is also all natural and considered more gentle than the other processes because the tea is “pressure cooked” with this naturally occurring gas. At high pressures and high temperatures, carbon dioxide reaches a supercritical state. The CO2 becomes a solvent with its small, nonpolar molecules attracting the small caffeine molecules. Since flavor molecules are larger, they remain intact, which is why this process best retains the flavor of the tea.

    • Water processing
    • Caffeine is removed from the tea by soaking the tea in hot water for a period of time, and then it's passed through a carbon filter for caffeine removal. Afterwards the water is returned to the tea for reabsorption of flavors and oils. This process can “water down” the flavor of the tea.

  • Health Benefits of Tea

    Studies have found that tea brewed from Camellia Sinensis may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness. Tea also appears to have antimicrobial qualities. That's a lot to ask from a small leaf of tea, but it's worth drinking more cups to hedge your bets. That said, we recommend healthy lifestyle habits (eat right and exercise regularly) to go with your cup of tea and the combination is sure to make you feel great!

Tea Traditions

Tea Legends | and traditions

Tea is among the world’s oldest and most revered beverages. It is today’s most popular beverage in the world, next to water. Tea drinking is relatively new in Western Countries (only a few hundred years old). The earliest records of tea drinking come from China where it has long been an important aspect of Chinese culture. Other Eastern cultures have their own form of appreciation for tea.

  • It is believed that Chinese people have enjoyed drinking tea for more than 4,000 years. Legend has it that tea was discovered in 2,737 BCE by Shen Nang, also known as Van Di or Shen Nong Shi, the second of the three Chinese Emperors of the San Huang Period, (3,000 to 2,700 BCE). He was a scholar, the father of agriculture and the inventor of Chinese herbal medicine. His edicts required that all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day while visiting a distant region, he and the court stopped to rest, and his servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from the nearby bush fell into the boiling water, and a brown liquid was infused into the water. As a scientist, the Emperor was interested in the new liquid, drank some, and found it very refreshing. The tree was a wild tea tree, and so tea was created.

    For a long time, tea was used as an herbal medicine and religious offering. Tea as a drink and tea shops became popular during the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 CE). A major event of this period was the completion of Tea Classics, the cornerstone of Chinese tea culture, by Lu Yu, Tea Sage of China. This little book details rules concerning various aspects of tea, such as growth areas for tea trees, wares and skills for processing tea, tea tasting, the history of Chinese tea and quotations from other records, comments on tea from various places, and notes on what occasions tea wares should be complete and when some wares could be omitted.

    Further refinement occured during the Song Dynasty (960 to 1279) when tea culture was delicate and sumptuous. New skills created many different ways to enjoy tea. The Ming Dynasty (1396 to 1644) laid the foundation for tea processing, tea types and drinking styles that we have inherited today.

  • The cultivation and brewing of Chai, the Indian word for tea, has a long history of applications in traditional systems of medicine and for consumption. However, commercial production of tea in India did not begin until the British East India Company, the world's first multinational conglomerate, embarked on a bold operation to "steal" China’s closely guarded tea secrets.

    Up until the mid-1800's British East India Company thrived on a commercial enterprised that traded opium grown in India for tea grown in China. Although opium was officially banned in China, smuggling continued for generations. Finally in 1839 the leading Chinese court cracked down and the tea trade was threated.

    The “John Company”, as the East India Company was known, hired Robert Fortune, a Scottish gardener, botanist and plant hunter, to acquire tea seedlings and growing know-how from China, so that large tracts of land at the base of the Himalayas owned by the British East India Company could be converted for mass tea production.

    Today, India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, though over 70% of the tea is consumed within India itself. A number of renowned teas, such as Darjeeling, also grow exclusively in India. The Indian tea industry has grown to own many global tea brands, and has evolved to one of the most technologically equipped tea industries in the world. Tea production, certification, exportation, and all other facets of the tea trade in India are controlled by the Tea Board of India.

    Chai is a very popular beverage commonly enjoyed with cream and sugar.

  • During the Chinese Tang Dynasty, a Japanese monk brought tea seeds from Zhejiang Province to Japan. Later in the Southern Song Dynasty, Zen masters brought tea procedures and tea wares from China to Japan, promoting the initiation of the Japanese tea ceremony.

    The essence of the Japanese tea ceremony is harmony or wa. Japanese powdered green tea, called matcha, is ceremonially prepared by a skilled practitioner by whisking the powder with hot water. It is traditionally served to guests in a tranquil setting.

  • Ceylon teas, as teas from Sri Lanka are known, are renowned for rich, brisk flavors, a distinctive jewel-like clarity to the liquor, with color that ranges from golden to rosy red in the cup. Ceylon teas are both wonderful self-drinking teas and also an integral component of distinguished English tea blends.

  • Today, over 50 countries in the world produce tea in varying quantities and for different tea drinking markets. Indonesia, Mainland Southeast Asia, South America and Turkey are some of the largest of these producers.

Tea Traditions

Tea Preparation

Tea preparation can be very formal or casual. Here's how we like to brew loose tea. Ultimately the correct quantity of tea to use depends on your individual taste. These are "more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules".

Fill your teapot with hot water. Replace the lid on the teapot and fill all the teacups with the hot water. After everything is heated, dispose of the water in the teapot and cups. This ensures the serving material is clean and warm.

Scoop loose tea leaves into the warm teapot. As a general guideline, if the tea leaves are tightly rolled, the leaves should fill a quarter of the teapot. If the tea leaves are not tightly rolled, the leaves should fill up to one half of the teapot. Pour hot water into the teapot and allow steeping for about one minute. Fill each teacup to approximately 70% capacity and serve. Take some time to enjoy the color, fragrance, taste, and aftertaste of the tea.

Reheat the water in the kettle if needed. Pour hot water into the teapot with the same previously steeped leaves. Steep for another one minute and serve. The same tea leaves may have 4-6 successive steepings depending on the quality. Lengthen the steeping time an additional 15-20 seconds for each successive steep. The slightly additional steeping time should help to keep consistency in the tea taste without oversteeping. Enjoy with an appropriate food pairings for your mealtime.

Riding Cranrock at Veronica & Pierce's

Tea Enthusiast | Lisa Howe

Our life journey before coming to Vermont took us to England and Japan where we developed an appreciation for fine tea. Lisa's avocation in tea got more serious when she joined the International Tea Education Institute. She earned the prestigious ITEI Certified Tea Master diploma. When Lisa's not working at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, helping David with various facets of Elm Brook Farm, including designing this web site, or participating in one of her many other outdoor activities, you can find her with a cup of tea doing research on this fascinating subject. She wishes to share her enthusiasm for the art of tea with others.

International Tea Education Institute
Visiting Cha Gorreana in the Azores
Ice Climbing in Smugglers' Notch, VT
On Mt. Mansfield, VT