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Wild Tea in Wild Las Vegas

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by Naomi Rosen 

I'm on a mission.  You see, I teach tea classes here in Las Vegas.  My partner, Ashanti, also loves to teach and the two of us could talk for hours about tea...if it weren't for some very energetic offspring of ours.  Our tea classes range from informational Tea 101's for the new tea drinkers to formal tasting sessions, pairing sessions, tea cocktail and beer sessions, and cooking with tea demonstrations.  In all, we currently have about 32 classes that we are offering and/or working on constructing.  

While brainstorming format and session ideas for 2013, we began talking about wild grown teas.  Not wild herbs that are harvested and blended into herbal concoctions, but real, wild camellia sinsensis.  We've all seen the pictures of the expansive, emerald hills rife with perfectly groomed tea bushes.  I'm the first to admit that I wouldn't turn down that view for anything!  But for an avid tea drinker like myself, the knowledge that tea is growing wild in a bamboo forest somewhere most definitely piques my interest!  I've had the honor of trying a handful of wild teas and they have been an experience all their own.  

On a whim, I attended a presentation at last years World Tea EXPO that touched on the dying art of yellow tea in China.  The video footage that was shown was moving and fascinating and showed a side of tea that is not commonly highlighted.  It followed a very small tea farmer, tucked away in the mountains of China with very little connection to the outside world, where he harvested his tea.  Some wild, some cultivated in a traditional tea garden.  I was mesmerized and began searching online, in print and via connections for any information I could get my hands on about wild grown tea. That leads me to begging for your help! 

I want to share the “wild tea” experience with our burgeoning group of tea drinkers here in “wild” Las Vegas.  Thus far, I have only managed to find information about wild tea being grown in China.  Certainly China cannot be the only place where tea is grown/harvested in its’ wild form?  Let’s hear it Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Thailand, and the rest of you tea growing regions!  Who’s growing wild tea, how do I get my hands on it, and what’s the back story?

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