Sunday, August 30, 2009

Golden Pearls and Green Camels

These bells are from the Meiringen Lutheran church in Switzerland,where my grandmother was baptized. Meiringen is famous for the Reichenbach Falls where Sherlock Holmes met his "death" and for creating meringues, those lovely confections of air, egg white and sugar. In the town, they are often served with ice cream and raspberry sauce.

I was reading Jane Pettigrew's Tea Companion - the first edition that came out in 2004. It is a wonderful book, sparely full of great information about a wide range of teas, how to make tea, a brief history of tea, etc. Something I really noticed was that PuErh tea was given only a partial sentence. Five years later, it is a very hot topic. Such a short time for it to have achieved such eminence, in the western world. The New Tea Companion, put out the next year [2005], with Bruce Richardsoon of Elmwood Inn Teas had a great deal more to say about PuErh, but certainly not up to the standards of most conoisseurs. This covers a few of the same teas, but is much broader in scope, covering more teas and more countries. Someday I am going to pusue PuErh, but not yet. I have enough with just thinking about Greens, Oolongs and Whites.

First, there was morning tea - Golden Pearls from Teas Etc. $19.95/3oz. Really a beautiful tea from Yunnan, China - rolled multi-hued golden balls that smell of toast, a good
Chinese restaurant, a citrus edge. The balls unfurl quickly into a deep rich liquor still with the toasty, Chinese smell and that unique malty Yunnan tang with a hint of smokiness. There is also a vegetal smell, something like summer squash cooking on the grill. It has a mellow Yunnan taste, but there isn't the spice you get with a true Golden Yunnan, it is more both laid back and somehow hearty. There is a nice lingering taste in the back of my mouth that I can't really describe. An excellent morning tea for special times - because it is pretty expensive. As it cools, the flavor seems to come out even more and it's even fuller than before.

Afternoon tea was a green gunpowder - Camel brand, imported from China - I think it was one of my Asian Market buys. I compared its looks to some Twinings Gunpowder, as well as the smell. No comparison. The Twinings had few actual rolled balls and smelt rather flat - I may have had it too long. Anyway, the Camel brand looked and smelled the way a gunpowder should - tightly curled small balls giving off a nice fresh green scent. I brewed 3 teaspoons in 2 cups of 170 degree water for 90 seconds, stirred it around and poured it out. It is surprisingly brownish with atinge of yellow and nice bubbles around the edges. It has a pleasant, almost jasmine, floral scent with a good full feel in your mouth and a warm vegetal flavor, almost toasty but not quite with a little lingering bit of floral. A very nice, probably quite inexpensive green tea. I made it in a small tetsubin pot, to hold the heat - it's my green tea pot.

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