Located in San Rafael, CA., Silk Road Teas has been in operation since the early 1990’s, established by well-known tea master David Lee Hoffman, who sold the business to Ned and Catherine Heagerty in 2004.
The procurement of rare and unusual tea lots is what sets this company apart, with a focus on offering discerning tea drinkers an authentic experience that might otherwise only be achieved via extensive traveling through remote regions in China.
What is The Silk Road?
This tea company owes its name to an ancient network of trade routes that connects Asia with Southern Europe and the Middle East. The lucrative Silk trade used these channels as from the times of the Han dynasty in 207 BCE, which was protected by the Great Wall of China.
Playing a significant role in the political and economic evolution of civilizations which include China, Japan, India, Iran, Africa and Europe, the Silk Road was also used to transport other goods, such as food and spices.
It gave religion and philosophy a way to spread their doctrines, along with other cultural ideologies. UNESCO designated the Chang’an-Tianshan corridor of the Silk Road as a World Heritage Site in 2014, with the Indian section having a place on the tentative site list.
How Silk Road Teas Evolved
The original owner had been travelling through Asia since the 1950’s and before he sold his beloved tea company in 2004, he traveled several times with the new owner, who advises that drinking some of the best tea in China was a thing of beauty, resulting in a unique introduction to the world of tea.
Known for offering rare teas that are freshly created from local-custom, minimally processed botanicals not mass-produced in factories gives their products special appeal. Not intended for export, Silk Road Teas are authentic, hand-crafted, artisanal offerings that are pure and high quality.
Hoffman began importing pu-erh teas from Nepal in the 1970’s and soon traveled into remote areas in China, becoming known as the American Pu-erh Tea King.
Introducing these rare and exceptional teas to the U.S. market started a wave of interest among tea aficionados and he was the first to bring flowering teas to America.
Now running The Phoenix Collection, he was happy to hand over the reins to the Heagerty’s, knowing that they would approach the business with the same sense of integrity and a passion for truly pure and authentic teas.
An Authentic Approach
Silk Road Teas go the extra mile and then some, to bring the artisanal tea experience to their customers. Like fine wine enthusiasts, they seek out rare teas by delving into hidden markets across China. This approach includes:
- Travelling to the Southeastern provinces of China each Spring to source rare teas
- Procuring fine varieties of black, white, green, oolong and pu-erh tea from small farms/markets
- Purchasing most of their teas from small lots that are single origin and handmade
- Sourcing nuanced teas harvested in Spring at night-time, known as “before the rain”
- Ensuring that their teas are grown using traditional methods without harmful chemicals
- Making every effort to find farms using natural and organic practices
Committed to giving back to their community, Silk Road Teas support adults with disabilities, by offering jobs like tea packaging. Ned Heagerty is the older brother of a disabled person, so he understands the challenges that these members of the community face each day.
Honored recently with an Employer of the Year Award from ICS (Integrated Community Services), Silk Road Teas is dedicated to improving the quality of life and achieving independence for those who deal with disabilities.
This company also donates proceeds from their teas to the Ceres Community Project, which builds healthy communities by promoting the restoration of locally-grown and organic whole foods.
This project also teaches teenagers how to grow, cook and eat healthy food, providing nutrition education and support for those facing serious illness.
Silk Road Teas
Selling to well-known tea companies, specialty grocery stores, tea shops and fine restaurants, Silk Road Teas have a wide variety of premium and organic teas, which include loose leaf and tisanes in sachets. Their line won the U.S. Tea Championship for single-service teas 3-years in a row.
Advising that they possess “Not All the Tea in China, Just the Finest!” this company is USDA Certified organic, also selling conventional teas as a wholesale re-seller.
Yunnan Black Organic
This is a Dian Hong style black tea that is single origin and organic, grown in the higher elevations of Yunnan Province. A naturally sweet and creamy tea with malty notes, this full-bodied beverage is known as the “mocha of teas”.
High grade and traditionally harvested, Yunnan Black has a delicate spiciness that’s perfect as a breakfast tea.
Chamomile Flowers Organic Tisane
A gentle herb known throughout the world for its relaxing and calming effects, this Chamomile tea is organic and has a fresh, apple-like aroma.
Premium grade botanicals grown in Croatia create a delicately sweet cup that can be enjoyed warm or chilled, with a light, floral taste without any bitterness.
Rooibos Organic Tea
This is a zero-caffeine tea with a citrus and vanilla flavor, crafted from rooibos sourced from South Africa, where its grown in a highly diverse eco-system.
A rich and unique tea that is refreshing and relaxing, it also possesses hints of hibiscus and becomes earthy when steeped for a longer period of time.
For those who want a finer selection of rare and authentic teas sourced from small, select growers, Silk Road Teas is the company for you.
With unusual, quality tea wares on offer, premium display teas (blooming/flowering), gift sets and samplers, you can also shop by province to hone in on particular flavors and styles.