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We are a small tea company, based in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia. We specialise in Chinese tea, especially puer tea, and produce our own range of teas each season, from material we source in the tea mountains of Yunnan.
KUURA is primarily the passion project of one individual, created as a natural progression of excessive consumption of puer tea. All 'businessess' exist for a reason, usually to create profits. For sure, this company exists as a way to earn a livelihood, but the primary directive is to find and secure teas that we personally want to drink. The selling and sharing is because, like everyone else, we are held hostage by capitalism, and the constant need to pay rent, eat food, and go about our life. We long for a day where we can just share and drink tea in free association, and not have to sell it. For now, we too must be bastards and try to sell you products, to keep the machine going. Sorry about that.
We get asked this often. The name was chosen not for the meaning per se, but almost the opposite; we wanted a single word, short and vague, that would come to be imbued with our own meaning. This option had the extra quality of being a nod to my Finnish grandmother, as it translates to 'frost' in Finnish. But that meaning isn't why we chose it.
We used to, in North Melbourne, but during the Coronavirus pandemic we were forced to close indefinitely due to government restrictions. We made the difficult decision to move out of the store, closing permanently. We are on the lookout for a hopeful KUURA Tea Store 2.0 sometime in the future, bigger and better than before.
We do. We currently work with a selection of cafes, restaurants, bars, and other retailers supplying tea as well as information and advice.
We specialise in Chinese tea, and especially tea from Yunnan province. Our primary focus is puer tea, but we also sell white, green, black and oolong tea.
Puer tea, also called 'puerh' or 'pu-erh', is a category of tea that comes from Yunnan province, China. Think of it as a style, alongside white, green, black etc. There are two main kinds of puer tea, raw puer (also called sheng), and ripe puer (also called 'shu', 'shou', or 'cooked').
Raw puer is similar to a strong green tea, generally with some upfront bitter flavours that transform into a sweet aftertaste. Raw puer can be stored and aged for long periods of time, slowly transforming 'green' flavours into more smooth, dark and 'aged' flavours; think wood, incense, dark sugar.
Ripe puer is made by taking loose raw puer leaves, and fermenting them in a big pile over a period of weeks. The fermentation turns the tea very dark, and also very smooth, removing all bitterness. Ripe puer tends to have earthy, woody, rich flavours and a very smooth, thick texture.
Basically, there's no wrong way to brew tea. Think of tea brewing as a continuum.
We have more in-depth guides in our education section, but the simplest way to drink any tea with no equipment is as follows:
1. Boil the kettle (100C).
2. Grab a mug, cup, or other decent vessel.
3. Cover the bottom of the vessel in a thin layer of tea leaves.
4. Fill with boiled water.
5. Wait until cool enough to drink.
6. Sip and enjoy. Most of the leaves should have sunk to the bottom.
7. When you've drunk down to the last bit of tea, just enough to cover the leaves, fill it up again with boiling water and repeat. You can do this until there's no flavour left.
In general, if your tea is too bitter, you might need either less tea, or to brew more tea for less time.
If the tea is way too weak, you are better off adding more tea rather than brewing for longer.
It's easiest to always use boiling/100C water, and play around with how much tea and how long you brew it for. If you don't get good results that way, then you can start to use cooler water.
We travel in-person directly to China, usually twice a year, for the spring and autumn tea season in Yunnan. Whilst there, we spend several weeks in the tea mountains, visiting farmers & producers, inspecting tea forests and gardens, sampling and testing tea, and purchasing material. The final stage of the season is spent organising most of our teas to be pressed, wrapped, and packaged, before being shipped from Yunnan all the way to our warehouse in Australia. Many people are involved in this process, and it is a lot of work; it wouldn't be right to not acknowledge that this all wouldn't be possible without the help and labour of many friends and workers.
We often get asked if our tea is 'direct trade', or if we 'pay the farmers a fair price'. If you are used to these terms applying from other commodities, like coffee, or tea from places like India, it's understandable why you might ask. Tea in China is not so much a commodity as a luxury good, and it is a free market. There is no central 'auction' system, and therefore no set commodity price or futures trading. The price we pay to a farmer for their tea depends on what the farmer and the market at large thinks the tea is worth. This price varies drastically depending on factors such as the quality, scarcity, and demand for the tea.
The most common unit we deal with is an individual or family who owns tea producing land and works it themselves (or with hired labour), selling direct to tea traders in the mountains. We generally do not buy tea from markets, factories, or companies.
It's also important to note that the 'Western' tea market is a drop in the ocean for most Chinese tea producers, as they rarely produce tea for export, but rather for internal consumption. People within China are usually willing to pay more for quality tea than foreign consumers.
So, is our tea 'ethical'? Well, if you consider free-market capitalism as 'ethical', then I suppose so.
This is a complicated topic; but the short answer is that you'll never find an 'Organic' stamp or certification on any of our products.
This requires some explaining. The best quality tea is produced in a forested, biodiverse growing environment, with no agricultural intervention, i.e pesticides, fertilisers, or other chemicals. These teas are worth more money and are more sought after by most tea traders and consumers, precisely because of their quality and cleanliness.
Farmers who produce these teas have no need or reason to spend the (often significant!) amounts of money to have their teas certified 'Organic', since the demand already outpaces supply. Even if they do, it's incredibly unlikely they would pursue a foreign certification, considering their primary focus is domestic customers within China.
However, you can rest assured, that almost all of the teas we sell are going to be either completely clean of any agrochemicals, or incredibly close to completely clean. In the past, we have personally conducted independent testing in line with EU 440 MRL on some teas, and found them to be completely clean.
Running these tests for every tea we sell is financially infeasible for us at this stage, but part of the reason we spend time travelling directly to farms and tea forests in-person is to verify the quality and integrity of the growing environment.
Unfortunately, a common knee-jerk reaction of some people is to assume that because our tea comes from China, it must be covered in every nasty chemical available, or grown in some high-pollution area. This couldn't be further from reality, and often highlights some problematic underlying perceptions about China.
Most tea products you find that have an Organic certification or label, are produced by much larger companies, where it serves a marketing purpose.
Finally, it's important to note that personally, we really don't want to drink teas that are covered in pesticides, and so we don't buy ones that are. Simple.
All the teas we sell are 'true' teas, meaning they are made from the plant Camellia Sinensis, which contains caffeine.
We are often asked if x or y tea has more or less caffeine. The short answer is all kinds of tea are roughly the same. The caffeine content depends on too many factors from tea to tea, such as how old the plant is, the soil, weather, and processing. It's best to consider all kinds of tea as being functionally the same.
We do not sell any tisanes or herbal teas.
If you are worried about excessive caffeine content, try to limit the amount of tea you brew with.
You may have come across a piece of paper inside or ontop of the leaves in your tea cake. Do not fret! It's there on purpose.
In Chinese, it's called a neifei, roughly meaning 'inner ticket', and it's there to prove that the tea material is from the producer on the wrapper, and the tea hasn't been re-wrapped.
No one is exactly trying to fake our teas just yet, but it's an extra assurance that it's our own material and has been pressed to our specifications.
Most people remove it at some point, but if some ends up in your tea, it's totally harmless, and will not affect the tea in any way. You can even brew it up; sometimes there's bits of paper that end up in the teapot. It might alter the taste a slight bit, but It's printed on food-grade paper with soy-based non-toxic inks.
The most important things to do when storing any tea is:
1. Keep it away from sunlight
2. Avoid exposing your tea to strong smells.
Almost all the teas we sell can actually be stored for a very long time and aged, so do not worry about the tea 'going bad'. Try to avoid large swings in temperature or humidity, and keep the tea somewhere stable.
Please note, most teas we sell don't need to be kept airtight or away from oxygen.
If you are trying to age tea long term, storage is a bit more of a consideration. We have some more in-depth guides in our education section, but for most people, just follow steps one and two.
For the enthusiasts out there, you're probably wondering how our tea ageing is going in temperate, dry Melbourne.
Of course, we built a controlled storage, designed to keep things warm and pretty humid. All our tea is kept stable and monitored. It's taken a while to tweak, but we're confident the results long term will be to our tastes, which are pretty middle of the road; hot and wet enough to see a lot of change, but not enough to taste any 'wet' notes.
We ship almost anywhere on Earth. Some countries may have restrictions on tea importation or postage in general, due to disruptions or regulations. If you can checkout on the site, we can ship there. If you have any issues, contact us directly via our form.
We most commonly ship via Sendle, a courier company. The cost to ship your parcel is automatically calculated from real rates depending on the size and weight of the package, and the location. This price will be displayed at checkout.
We offer free shipping for orders within Australia above $50AUD.
We offer free shipping for orders to New Zealand above $90AUD.
We offer free international shipping anywhere in the world for orders above $140AUD (approx $100USD).
We occasionally run promotions or sales with free shipping for a lower threshold, which should help make things easier if you're sitting on the fence about ordering. The best place to hear about these is our email newsletter, which you can sign up to here.
Please note, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, current shipping times are out the window. Delays of weeks or months are common, especially Internationally, but rest assured your package will arrive eventually. Unfortunately, it's outside of our control.
This depends greatly on where you are located as well as the time of year.
Within Australia, you can expect normal delivery timeframes to be approximately 2-3 business days.
Overseas customers can generally expect 2-3 weeks during normal circumstances, sometimes much quicker, sometimes longer. Depending on your countries customs policies and workload, packages can sometimes be held up for a while.
All our packages include tracking and insurance, so if something goes wrong, we can either refund you or send another package.