Monday, August 24, 2009

Gyokuro and chai

Today I had some Gyokuro tea from my sample collection. This is the
famous and expensive shade grown green tea from Japan. The sample is from Upton's. I brewed it at 170 degrees for 90 seconds. When I opened the pkg, it smelled wonderful, spinachy and with a slight floral edge, very fresh and green. When I went to pour it out the spinach scent was more pronounced with a stronger green note. The tea looked very thick, almost soupy. So far, so good. Then I sipped it. I hated it! It tasted like bad spinach. I kept sipping it and rolling it around in my mouth. Still awful. So I did another infusion. Weaker, but I didn't like it one bit more. Perhaps it is just as well, as it is very expensive stuff.
Later today I am going to have some no name pinhead gunpowder that I bought in the Asian market in Albany, NY. I know I like that. I say it is no name because I cannot read the Chinese characters. I love to go to Asian markets and buy a bunch of teas. They are usually inexpensive, as these markets usually cater to ordinary folk. The packaging is always colorful and there is a sense of adventure becuase I never know what I am going to get.
I have to say this is not true of the Indian market teas. In the ones I have gone to, there is usually a small selection of Lipton's, red, yellow or green label. I don't think there is much difference between them, although I believe the green label is more expensive -$8 a pound. They usually are in tins. There is also another brand that is more Indian appearing, but the tea is about the same. They are all CTC -crush, torn, curled teas and brew up very quickly. That, however may be their only virtue.
Well, no, they are a good base for chai. The only chai I have ever had has been made by my young friend, Raj Devathala from the Hyderabad area of Southern India - that is the nearest big city we would recognize. It has always been excellent. Some of it's charm has of course, been the company, but it could certainly stand on its own and is a fitting finish to a fiery South Indian meal. The Devathalas tell me that Indians are so fond of excessively sweet things as they are because it is a perfect antidote to the fire. The fire and sweet even each other out to produce a nice sense of well-being after a meal. And this is definately true, as well as delicious.

Today's picture is of the mosaic on the ceiling of one of the churches in Ravenna, Italy, a city famous for mosaics. This particular church was built about 600 AD and the mosaics are still absolutely, jaw-droppingly glitteringly fanatastic! Absolutely superbly beautiful and worth every second you can spare to gawk. I could say this after a huge surfeit of church viewing.

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