Thursday, May 13, 2010

In the Sweet, Sweet Summer

Another Swiss mountain, near Interlaken.

I was again looking through my teas and came across a sample from Gingko at Life In Teacup, Taiwan Sweet Summer Oolong. Great name, and for once, it is sunny and almost warm. I brewed it at almost boiling, with a bit over a teaspoon for my cup, for about 2 minutes. The leaves were tightly furled, so I rinsed them off for a few seconds. For some reason, Oolongs tend to do better if you add this step. The scent of the brewing tea reminded me of summer long ago - the smell of hot rubber - a good one to me, it brings back those wonderful, endless days. That, however, was fleeting and the main scent was that of orchid or osmanthus with a hearty understory of vegetal. The liquor was a lovely medium lemon orange color. Once again, Gingko has gotten some good tea. The taste is delightful, thick, lingering, slightly sweet, floral, very fresh. I am sure this will be a summer standby, once I move and start ordering teas again. It is so appealing I can picture myself on the back porch, listening to the birds, first thing in the morning.

It is interesting that Alex should comment on yesterday's post about another new "tea bag". I have to say I agree with him. I grew up on a farm, in the days before organic vs non-organic and I think on the whole we were organic. It was cheap, it worked and our animals , fields and gardens flourished. My grandfather and father were founding members of the Cooperative Extension and I have records of their experiments growing crops under many conditions. We have also spent a number of years in farming communities and can attest to the advisability of sustainable practices. The land simply does better and improves, rather than getting worn out.

We have seen the overuse of chemicals and it truly is a scourge on the land. It is also a scourge to us. It is no secret that there are more and more problems with breathing illnesses and behavioral illnesses that can be traced to widespread chemical ingestion. Forensically, scientists are discovering that bodies take longer to decay, due to the ingestion of preservatives. Ick, why hang around?

I am not 100% organic. If I am mad enough at the beetles, I may spray them and I don't always buy organic. But I have had many gardens that were wrested from heavy nasty clay soil and within three years they had wonderful tilth and fertility. How many of you can boast a small marigold the size of a bushel basket? I admit, I was surprised and give all the credit to horse manure. If I care about my food, I need to care about the people who produce it and try to make sure that neither them nor their children are exposed to too many chemicals.


Alex Zorach said...

I love oolongs that have a natural aroma of orchid, osmanthus, or other flowers.

My family has a similar perspective on organic farming to what you express here...if you go back a few generations, both sides of my family have a history of farming, and all generations have been active gardeners. My mom always remarks about how a lot of the "all natural" and "organic" approaches are just the way things were done for hundreds of years before chemicals were invented or became mainstream.

What bothers me the most is not when people use the occasional rare application of chemicals to control an unusual outbreak of a pest...what bothers me is the regular, systematic application of pesticides and other chemicals, and the designing of agricultural schemes around pesticide use. For example, "roundup-ready" corn, genetically modified to resist the herbicide so that you can spray massive amounts of it. Or...chemical lawn's completely aesthetic and serves absolutely no purpose in terms of yield, output, or utility...and in my opinion it diminishes the natural beauty of the lawn by making it uniform.

I also think that you're right that many of the health problems we are facing nowadays are due to chemical exposure. We don't fully understand the health and environmental impacts of many of the chemicals that are used. I've seen people spraying herbicides on weeds like dandelions, growing around the edge of a playground where children in grade school play. Why would people even do that? Why are people not absolutely terrified to use chemicals in such a manner?

Marlena said...

What people forget is that once corn, for example, is big enough, the weeds won't bother them and you can always harrow the corn until it is big enough.