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A RADICALLY DIFFERENT APPROACH
Did you know that True Teas - even the ones from the most prestigious houses, are actually blends?
In order to obtain an aspect, an aroma and a constant taste season after season, year after year, most brands - including luxury tea houses - create blends, complex associations to achieve the continuity consumers usually seek. This can be understandable for mass-market products. For more prestigious teas, this is more questionable.
A True Tea is a controlled appellation, emanating from a terroir and that each year gives a particular, unique vintage.
This vocabulary is clearly borrowed from the world of wine. For example, an excellent Medoc: Saint-Julien, Château Saint Pierre, Millésime 1995, premier cru. The tea equivalent would be: Oolong, Da Hong Pao, Zhengyan, 2017, First Flush.
Most tea brands do not feature any of this. Simply “Oolong”. It is the equivalent of a bottle of wine that only states “Bordeaux”.
But mindsets are evolving, the world of tea is transforming just like the coffee world has over the last few years. Everywhere in the world, more and more amateurs go online to get hold of these nectars originating from Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka or Nepal... This practice is still reserved to a dynamic minority that’s very active on social media.
Much remains to be done to make these marvels more accessible in a simple and affordable manner. EEDN offers an intentionally limited selection of these wonders, available to all, an affordable luxury. It is also the gateway to a fascinating universe.
INDISPENSABLE AND ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENTS
Did you know when and how tea leaves are washed? Answer: in your cup, when you pour in the hot water, right before consumption. Never before.
That is why it is indispensable to only drink 100% natural or organic tea.
Even better: only high altitude teas. The higher we get, the fewer insects and the fewer pesticides we encounter. We benefit from the mountain streams, without draining water from a well - moreover the mist allows the plant to absorb less water from the ground.
The Eedn tea Nepal Guranse, for example, comes from the highest gardens in the world. The 2019 harvest is remarkable and it is a First Flush: a first spring harvest. The leaves have benefited from the rise of nutrients concentrated in the ground during a particularly harsh winter. It is naturally protected from pollution and the steep mountainous grounds forbid any intensive production. It is handpicked, steamed and rolled in an artisanal manner.
These aren’t just details - but indispensable requirements.
A TRADITIONAL AND RESPONSIBLE PRODUCTION
At the root of the practice of Tea sharing is an absolute value. Welcoming friends, making them discover new tastes and sensations and surprising them.
Rare teas come from afar - for example, the little “cake” of white Pu Erh imperial harvest originates from China, but more precisely from Yunnan in the region of He Beng. It hasn’t been harvested on bushes but large wild tea trees that are often a few years old. People from the village say there’re over a thousand years old, but that’s probably an exaggeration. They also claim it used to be gathered by monkeys trained to pick up the best leaves, fifteen meters from the ground.
This all keeps the legend alive. What is true, however, is that each family owns its corner of the mountains where tea trees grow freely, in total symbiosis with the forest and can be climbed for the picking. What is also true is that these conditions for cultivation and harvest are rare and these artisanal methods need to be protected.
At Eedn, we donate 1% of all our sales to 1% For The Planet and more particularly Navdanya, a non-profit organisation based in India created by the Dr Vandana Shiva that we have chosen for its extraordinary contribution to the protection of the environment.
Our packaging is made of simple materials and is easily recyclable: paper, mulberry paper and PLA, a corn-based plastic.
We are aware of the importance of local organic certifications: many small farmers from poor countries do not have the means to afford Ecocert’s services, even less so USDA. We must encourage small local farms with invaluable savoir-faire. One must remember the uniqueness of a miracle, a fragile balance. This is what keeps the magic alive.
OUR EXCLUSIVE AYUVERDIC RECIPES
For me, it all started with bad news. Persistent abdominal pain and the discovery of a pretty serious renal issue. I had to change many things like my eating habits and introduce many little constraints. Water was the only drink I was allowed.
Over time, with regular control, it was possible to re-introduce infusions and decoctions. Some were particularly beneficial.
I discovered these Ayurvedic recipes in Sri Lanka first. I was ordering them by 10 kilo bags.
I have probably consumed thousands of liters over all these years. However a problem remained, I still struggled to get used to it. I felt no pleasure in drinking. There was another issue: none of the ingredients were organic.
I went back and collaborated with local herbalists to create efficient blends that were also delicious. I wanted to prepare everything on site but sadly, this was a failure. It is still very difficult to control the quality and organic origin of local plants.
I almost gave up when I finally found a solution: while holding on to the original recipes, my Ayurvedic blends are assembled in Germany, in total transparence regarding their organic elements.
These six blends do not claim to cure, heal or even treat diseases. But it doesn’t make them any less effective for everyday well-being.
And they’re delicious.
They’re still a part of my daily life.
OUR SPACE IN THE HEART OF PARIS
I wanted a welcoming space to host, to share and unveil these teas coming from the other side of the world. We’re a few steps away from the Place des Victoires and the Palais-Royal.
In this spacious, airy and calm apartment, we organize informal encounters where everyone can touch, smell and taste these living natural treasures. Sometimes a tea master initiates us to Cha-Do, the Way Of Tea. We share magnificent bright green Matchas. Often, friends come by to enjoy an hour of calm while they’re introduced to rare teas and forget everything else in a moment out of time.
There is a philosophy to Tea that’s ancient and of great simplicity. It asks us if we want to live the instant fully. The name Eedn refers to a lost paradise, an ideal eternal garden.
I want to believe that we can create this garden wherever we are and this absolute simplicity can live with us everyday if we free up an hour or two to settle down and appreciate silence and calm. For me, this interlude often comes with a cup of tea.
Nothing lasts forever, except the permanent renewal of days and seasons. The illustrious transience of Spring with the first harvests of Sencha and Gyokuro, Summer with the late harvests of Muscatel and Darjeeling, Autumn when we discover the first Oolong, Winter with its voluptuous and invigorating Pu Erh...
This is why we only offer some of our teas for a limited period, in perpetual movement. Some are so precious, their production is limited to a few dozen kilos at most.
When I come back from my travels with my treasures, I always invite the same group of friends and devotees. Together we open the big bags that are sometimes still hessian, the Pu Ehr tea cakes in their banana leaf “tongs” and we infuse together for hours until we’re “Tea drunk”.
Tea can be an experience, a journey, a study, a ritual but also a festivity, a celebration of friendship, of the love of simple things and the present moment.
We open our door, heat the water and the adventure begins.
A BELATED PASSION
I have come to my new passion relatively late in life. Before however, I was lucky enough to travel for work, often, far away and sometimes for long periods of time.
I have lived in Asia. Japan first, for almost two years, then travelled often in China and Corea and for five years in South-East Asia. Early on I discovered the mountain trails where altitude teas are cultivated. There, I was enthused about Pu Erh. Back then in the nineties, the large kettle of Tuo Cha was always hot and following me all day.
But it is much later, following my first attempt at producing my Ayurvedic recipes in Sri Lanka and entire weeks in tea gardens witnessing the sun piercing though the morning fogs that I started to dream. A little farm was for up for sale, there was already an infrastructure and I just had to hop in... Of course, it was a terrible idea and my friends luckily managed to talk me out of it.
But the desire for a new life was already growing inside of me and I started marking tea gardens on a map. I rediscovered the Yunnan, Sri Lanka, the Uji region near Kyoto, the mountains of North Burma and Vietnam.
This is where I started my education. I met a community of enthusiasts who were all willing to share their knowledge and their travel memories. Some would save up all year to spend a week at a small producer’s, to test and compare rare teas, bringing back less than a few hundred grams in their suitcase... Their excitement was contagious and most importantly, they made me aware of a desire that’s ultimately pretty universal and contemporary: the search for an exceptional product with its history, its legends, its traditional preparations and its artisans with invaluable knowledge.
A new definition of luxury, one that isn’t ostentatious but accessible, a luxury one doesn’t wear but shares with a friend or a stranger.
This generosity is at the very heart of the practice of tea. It is beneficial and even necessary and has conquered me completely.
It gave a new meaning to my life.
François Rotger, Eedn founder, September 2019.