Our sparkling fermented teas are very special in that they aren’t flavoured. We’re so passionate about our brewing and fermentation process, we believe we can get the very best kombuchas through a combination of know-how and high quality, loose-leaf teas, handpicked from small tea gardens in China and India.
For these reasons, our drinks are naturally fermented, with no additives or flavourings. We select exquisite loose-leaf teas with the same respect that a winemaker affords their grapes, and ferment with the same care and passion as a fine wine. Champagne makers would never flavour their lovingly-crafted produce, and we believe the same approach can be taken at REAL.
All tea comes from the same plant: Camellia Sinensis. But as with grapes, not all teas are equal. The quality of the tea depends upon the soil, the situation, local climate, and how the tea is processed.
First flush Darjeeling, India
Known in India as The Champagne of Teas, we work with a single tea garden in the Lesser Himalayas, near Darjeeling, India. North-facing, and in sight of the world’s third highest mountain, Kangchenjunga, frosts in winter chill the plants, and shade in spring allows for slower growth.
The first flush is just the first tips of the tea that emerge in spring. We pick just the bud and the first leaf from the plant within the first 3-4 weeks of the beginning of the growing season. Withered, rolled, gently oxidised and dried with great care, this ensures that the leaves are young and fresh and produce delicate fruity notes.
The tea is richly fragrant and creates a brew that is fresh and floral. The tea alone develops notes of rhubarb, white peach and a touch of blackcurrant. The fruit and spice flavours round out the acids to make it soft and delicate. Delightful to drink freshly brewed anytime of day.
But it is in fermentation that the first flush really comes alive. The delicate floral notes of the tea develop into fruity notes of rhubarb, gooseberry, white peach and a touch of blackcurrant. Like a diamond cut from its raw stone.
Lonjing Green Tea, China
Also known as Dragon Well, this is the highest quality pan-roasted green tea from Hangzhou, Zheijiang province and ranks as one of the finest teas in China. The region is particularly famous for its natural beauty nestled to the side of West Lake.
Dragon Well tea originates from just eighteen tea bushes that were given special imperial status by the Qianlong Emperor during the Qing dynasty. These eighteen original tea bushes are still being picked today.
In order to make green tea, the leaves must be baked just after being picked to prevent oxidation and the transformation into a black tea. Unlike the steamed Japanese Sencha green teas, often used to make kombucha, Longjing tea leaves are hand fired in big handfuls in a large open wok. This is a highly skilled process, the operator delicately controlling the level of bake to ensure he or she develops the best flavours in the final leaf. Processed in this way, the Dragon Well leaves have a distinctive, emerald-green, flat leaf and a delightfully unique fragrance of nuts and straw.
Very mellow, sweet and rounded in taste, the tea after fermentation produces citrus notes of sweet lemons and grapefruit, but with a delicate leafy undertone.