Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Differnt Strokes for Tea and Folks

These 90 foot tall windows are in a church in Germany. During WWII they were buried, in order to save them. I am glad they did, as they are magnificent.

I came across two new-to-me teas recently. One is Indian, from Kashmir. It is a green tea flavored with saffron, cinnamon, cardamom and sometimes scented with Kashmiri roses. It is then sweetened with sugar or honey and served with crushed nuts. It is called Kah weh. It sounds wonderful, but I was unable to find a source for it. Guess I will have to go to Kashmir. I only mention it because most people feel it was the British who brought tea to India, but the Kashmiris say this has been traditional for hundreds of years.

While this tea sounds delightful, the other one I heard of did not. It is a blend by 52 Teas and is Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup black tea. Somehow, I just cannot wrap my head around that. I've had several chocolate teas, some of which have been excellent. For me this crosses a food line I don't want to cross. How about you? Would you want to try it?

I am disappointed by the Darjeelings I've had this year – with a few notable exceptions (see previous blogs). And I am again today. I am trying another of the Thunderbolt Teas I ordered – Second flush Goomtee FTGFOP1, Muscatel Valley. It is quite pretty, with a mix of black, brown, tan and gold leaves and buds. It smells very fresh and slightly of chocolate, green veggies and grass. As it brews at 205 degrees for about 3 minutes it continues to smell very fresh, with some nice earthiness. However, to me it just doesn't have anything like a characteristic Darjeeling taste and there is no grapiness to it. There is a bit of a hint of mint and fruit, however. And, as it cooled, a medium amount of a nice floral came to the fore. It is quite tannic, which leads me to believe that I overbrewed it Again! I think I have to take my own advice and play with all these Darjeelings until I do a better job of brewing them.
While there are "standards" for brewing tea, which I and many others have discussed, they really are only guidelines. We need to start there, such as boiling water, 3-5 minutes for black tea, but we need to adjust the time and temperature for the particular tea we are brewing. My experience with many of this year's second flush Darjeelings is they need to be treated more like a green, with a lower temp and shorter brew. I am going to start experimenting and I'll let you know the results.


Veri-Tea said...

Love the sound of the Kashmiri tea Marlena. You could probably find a recipe for it online and try making up your own. Might go on a hunt myself!

I'll be very interested to hear your thoughts about your Darjeeling experiments. I understand that the first flush in particular is often better treated as a 'green' tea, but hadn't heard that about second flush. But it's true, you need to experiment to find the best way for you! Does Benoy from Thunderbolt have any suggestions?

Margaret Studer said...

About who brought tea where, in India, the middle east, some parts of Russia they drank variations of the drink you describe for hundreds of years, that is true. But it didn't have real tea in it, just the herbs, etc. The tea was added afterward. I know tea plants are native to India, though.