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With the launch of Namacha, organic cold brewed raw tea leaves, we checked in with tea aficionado Adam Yasmin. A self-professed “student of the leaf,” Adam is a Harmless Harvest demoer who has been studying tea for the past five years.

How did you become interested in tea?

It started when I came upon a tea house in San Francisco called Om Shan Tea and have been entranced with Gongfu tea ever since.  I was quickly able to taste the stark difference between whole leaf tea direct from farm and something that just came in a box... Not to mention there’s a lot of terroir with teas, just like wine. Chinese oolongs taste distinct from Taiwanese oolongs, not just because of their differences in processing, but also because of their terroir (growing conditions, temp, humidity, etc.)

What is Gongfu tea?

Gongfu tea is also known as Kung Fu Tea. Kung Fu is translatable to “skilled discipline”.  Hence, Gongfu Tea is the “skilled discipline with preparation of tea”.  Another way we say this is "ritualized preparation and presentation of tea”.  Yet another way the locals say it is “making tea with effort”.  Clearly there are many ways to say the same thing, but all in all, it boils down to pure reverence and as Harmless Harvest says “creating positive feedback loops between people and plants.”

Do you have a favorite tea?

My relationship with tea runs deepest with PUERH (a fermented/composted tea from Yunnan in Southwest China).  Puerh has minimal caffeine but unique stimulant qualities, for instance monks prefer it for they find that they can meditate more focused and for longer periods of time.  To me the taste can be associated with fertile soil, the forest bed, nature, you name it.  

When I tasted Unsweetened NAMACHA, it immediately resonated with my palate for it reminded me of the purity and profoundness of puerh.  Now, yes, puerh is the same tea leaf  as namacha, and it goes through a very unique process with aging 3-60+ years, but I believe that NAMACHA is a very unique offering.  Never have I been able to try pure Camellia sinensis like this.  I’m humbled by Harmless Harvest and their offering of it to the masses.  I’m excited to witness the specialty tea industry embrace it, as transparency is of main focus at this time.

What do you think the average person does not know about tea?

Hands down the average person doesn’t relate to tea as a plant.  Today we have the sheer convenience and the lack of space to comprehend the profound simplicity in knowing that tea is just a plant.  It’s a plant with a rich history spanning almost 2000 years and yet today we just see boxes on shelves with colors and shapes and typography.  People hold tea as product. Plain and simple, with lots of room for depth.  

If someone wants to dive deeper into tea, what suggestions would you give?

The easiest way to dive deeper into tea can be done just by asking, “Where does this tea come from?”  There’s a lot to learn and consider even for the “conscious" consumer who buys organic, yet buys lifeless inorganic tea in a box.  Though this might come off like a pseudo-conspiracy theory, the best way for companies and corporations to sell you low-grade tea is to flavor it with fruit flavors… so consider that when at the store.

What makes Namacha different than what is available on the market?

Namacha is the world’s first AND ONLY single-sourced organic/raw chilled tea in a bottle.  To the seasoned tea drinker (like yours truly) it is profound.  For those that aren’t necessarily tea drinkers but enjoy an iced tea during the day, they’ll notice the freshness and taste… which is attributed to the way Harmless treats their products (which in itself deserves applause).  For those that are tea drinkers and seek something new and exciting, then their search is over.  For those that are tea drinkers and are on the quest for purity, then this is the holy grail.  

Do you think there is room for innovation in an ancestral industry like tea?

The tea industry is antiquated, yes, but you’d be surprised that current innovation calls for transparency and purity, especially in this time where global demand is rising like clockwork and sustainability/accountability is the only logical answer left to meet the demand.  For it the industry continues to allow GMO plants/seeds to grow and harvest them, they have noted that such plants only yield a few seasons, and then the negative cycle of further GMO manipulation and degradation of soil due to chemical treatment continues and prices go up because there isn’t enough tea to meet demand.  So introducing Namacha at this stage of the game is pretty serious to me.  

Read more about Namacha, the world's first cold brewed raw tea leaves here.

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