Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Springing into Oolong

Ballenberg - A corner stove used for cooking and heating. The wood
would be shoved in from the woodshed to the left of the stove, being very efficient, as well as tidy, two Swiss national characteristics. These stoves were excellent warmers and would heat the whole house - a small one, of course.

It's another beautiful Spring day in the neighborhood. My fiddleheads are up, so I guess I know what tonight's veggie is going to be. Fiddleheads are the unfurled leaves of some ferns and they look just like the head of a ddle or violin. Ours are ostrich ferns – quite large. You need to pick them before they unfurl, when they are about 4 inches tall. You either boil or steam them and serve with butter and lemon juice. They taste a bit like asparagus and so much like Spring!

It is so springy today I am having Dream About Tea's Tie Guan Yin Oolong. I really like black teas when it's cold, they seem heartier, but as it warms I get more interested in the lighter teas. This traditional Tie Guan Yin is from AnXi County, Fujian Province, China. It is considered a medium roast, medium oxidation tea. The dry tea smells faintly of green and very faintly floral. It is composed of tightly-wound green leaf balls. I brewed up about 1 teaspoon at 205 degrees for 2.5 minutes, after I first rinsed the leaves. While brewing it smelled strongly vegetal with only a hint of floral, but when it was cool enough to drink there was a decidedly more floral note, with perhaps a hint of seaweed. In spite of my dislike of that, it suited this tea very well and I liked it very much. This is a fairly sturdy tea, almost brothy, and definitely smooth, with a very pleasant after taste.

The second cup was my favorite, as more of the floral came out and the third was almost as good. I often find that the second cup of a good Oolong is tastier than the third. Dream about tea says you can get up to 5 infusions, but three was enough for today. I found that when the leaves had completely unfurled, my cup was completely full. Some of the leaves were about 3 inches long, others appeared to be chopped. The edges of the leaves were slightly bruised. Very interesting to look through them. At $7.50 for 2 ounces, this is not an expensive tea, but it is more than worth the price.

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