Friday, August 21, 2009

Two from The Tea Table

This is the pulpit of a church in Obernhof, Germany from which my ancestors emigrated in about 1710, part of the great Palatine movement to this country.

I just got a box of teas from The Tea Table, a new vendor to me and I thought I'd try 2 of their teas.

The first was their Champagne Formosa Oolong. which they described as completely hand made, tending toward black and quite sweet. When I opened the package there was a very strong smell of dark oolong and the dry leaves were very attractive with a mix of palish brown and greeny almost black. There were quite a few twigs, which surprised me. I followed the inadequate instructions and the tea brewed up very dark, with a pronounced earthy, toasty smell with a hint of something perhaps floral. It was a very strong oolong, with few nuances and I really could not get even a hint of sweet. The second brew was pretty much the same. Not worth it, I decided. However, I am going to try it again, without following their directions.

The second offering for today was Emperor's Seven Teasures, described as an exquisite blend of black and green teas with a peachy taste. If I had not seen the picture, I would have assumed the peachy part came from the tea. Alas, it was from flower petals and dried peaches. The dried fruit was from very fresh good quality stuff, however. The dry tea was pretty and smelled very strongly of peach, not peach flavoring. It's a very nice tea and I would reccommend it to anyone who likes flavored teas. I would like it on an occasional basis. In the end I combined the 2 and had a very nice cup of tea.

About the Tea Table - they seem to be a good reliable company, but a little short on accuarate descriptions of their teas and their directions for making the teas would leave newbies with some yucky stuff.

In Ballston Spa, NY, near Saratoga, [which is much better known] there are 2 tea emporiums - very very different. The Whistling Kettle is a small tea and lunch establishment with many, many types of tea to choose from. The food is excellant, the service the same and if you choose a tea you don't like, they'll give you something else. They are most noted for their sandwiches and soups and the winter squash soup is superb. Every sandwich I have had there has been very very good, as are the scones and desserts. The sandwiches are substantial enough so that the guys can't quibble. They have all their teas in small glass containers so you can sniff them all, which doesn't do a lot for the tea, but it's a fun thing to do while waiting for lunch. Most of them smelled like my father's tobacco, according to my cousin, but we did try their wild strawberry tea. I was really leery of it, as I know what wild strawberries taste like. Amazingly, it did and it was good. They also have a very nice Prince of Wales, which is hard to find, I think. If you go, go early or late, as it is a very [deservedly] popular spot.

The other shop "Wild Thyme Natural Foods and Tea Company" is primarily a natural foods store, with a small but excellant selection of organic teas. They had the best BaiHao I have ever had, at a fairly reasonable price. They have a few herbals, including a nice before bed tisane and a small selection of Yi Xing pots, some obviously for the American trade. Their tea master is knowledgeable and quite happy to spend time discussing tea with you.

So, if you are in Saratoga for the races, make a little side trip to Ballston Spa and have some nice tea and good food. Just be careful going through the roundabout - it's very peculiar coming from the South.

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