November 20, 2012
by Cinnabar

Camellia sinensis

Every so often I see Camellia sinensis written incorrectly, with a capital “s,” or not italicized, or in quotes. It always registers immediately as incorrect for me, but I needed more background on what is correct and why, so I did a little bit of research. The term “binomial” is used for this kind of scientific taxonomy and indicates a two-name system (obviously). We can credit the botanist Linnaeus for developing this system.

From the article, “What’s in a name? A history of taxonomy:”

The binomial names were so much easier to remember that people soon started using them in place of the ‘correct’ names. Eventually they replaced the polynomial names completely, and became the correct names. The binomial system is the same one we use today–it’s how the scientific names of all organisms are constructed. The first part of the name is called the genus and is always capitalised. The second part of the name is called the species epithet and is not capitalised. In the correct format of a scientific name a person’s name (sometimes abbreviated) appears after the genus and species name, and this refers to the person who first coined the name. So the scientific name for the raspberry, Rubus idaeus L., can be broken down like this: Rubus (the genus name) idaeus (the species name) Linnaeus (the botanist who coined the name, often abbreviated). Taxonomists have formulated sets of rules for naming; all botanical naming begins with Linnaeus’ Species Plantarum in 1753 and animal naming with his tenth edition of Systema Naturae published in 1759.

Long story short, there is only one correct way to write the name of the true tea plant: Camellia sinensis. Additionally, the names of the two primary varieties should be written Camellia sinensis var. sinensis and Camellia sinensis var. assamica.

Another interesting fact about the name of the tea plant is that until Robert Sweet recategorized it into the Camellia genus in 1818, it was identified with the genus Thea, so the true tea plant was called Thea sinensis. There are some sources which still use that antiquated term even today.

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October 4, 2012
by Cinnabar

The Northwest Tea Festival is this weekend at Seattle Center

puer at the Northwest Tea FestivalThis weekend tea people from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond will gather at Seattle Center for the 5th annual Northwest Tea Festival. The festival has gotten larger and better each year, and I am confident that this year will be one you will not want to miss.

Unlike many of the large scale tea events held across the country, the Northwest Tea Festival is consumer focused, rather than a trade show for the tea industry. There are many vendors on hand with a wide range of teas and tea-related items, and many opportunities to taste and experience new teas.

Throughout the two days of the festival attendees will find a broad range of events and activities, from educational workshops, talks, and demonstrations to limited seating tea tastings. I will be presenting two of these tastings on Sunday: “Caked Black Teas” at 10:30am, and “African White Teas” at 11:00am.

Here are a few specific recommendations for what to do while you’re there:

An American Pursuit of Puer Tea,” Saturday from 3:00pm – 4:00pm, presented by Jeffrey McIntosh

The Art of Tea,” Saturday from 3:30pm – 4:30pm, presented by Guitian “Becky” Li

Hei Cha – Chinese Dark Teas (Complete Survey),” Sunday from 11:30am – 12:30pm, presented by Charles & Laurie Dawson

Tea Chemistry – Reactions in Leaf and Cup,” Sunday from 12:30pm – 1:30pm, presented by Michael Coffey

Tea 101,” Sunday from 12:30pm – 1:30pm, presented by Brett Boynton

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