Friday, September 17, 2010

Who's Your Favorite?

A German street scene in Bacharach, a Rhine River town.

Cold and gray today, perfect for tea. I have some samples from Gingko at Life in Teacup to try and I thought I'd do her 2010 Red Tea Dan Cong. The leaves are huge and wiry, about 2.5 inches long. In the packet they have a rich strong grain-like smell, with some tree bark thrown in.

I covered the bottom of my Vietnamese mug's infuser with leaves and then threw in a few more, as I wasn't sure at all of how many to use. I brewed them for about 2.5 minutes, with boiling water. As you might expect, they barely unfurled. But they are wondrously large and some are only 1 bud and a leaf, while others are the more usual 2 leaves and a bud.

The brew is an old gold color and there isn't a lot of scent. What there is still smells of grain with a bit of floral and citrus. The taste is unlike any tea I've had, it is very light, again with a grainy taste and a little bit more of the citrus/floral coming through. Intriguing. It almost doesn't taste like tea, but with the next sip, I think, definitely a China tea. As it cools, more of a woody flavor comes through.

I brewed this a second time, for about 3.5 minutes. The color remains the same, but the scent seems to have faded. This one's taste is definitely woody-floral with just the barest hint of citrus. Definitely a really interesting and very good tea. I would not serve it with food, as its nuances deserve to be noticed all on their own.

A while ago I was trying to name my ten favorite teas and failed miserably, as there are far too many of them. But I can do my 10 favorite merchants: Upton's, Simpson and Vail, Life in Teacup, Aura Teas, Culinary Teas, Thunderbolt for Darjeelings, The Tea Spot, The Tea Smith, Harney's, Damman Freres. There, only 10. I won't mention the others, since I said I would do 10. Now it is your turn, I would really like to hear from you, dear readers, about your favorite teas or tea merchants.


Alex Zorach said...

I really liked this tea and I found it to be very complex. I found this tea to be a bit stronger and was able to make three fairly aromatic infusions. (my review) but I think I may have overdone it on the temperature.

Dan cong I find can be very hard to brew, and I need to experiment a lot with each particular one to figure out how to do it. Sometimes I wish I could get larger sample sizes of tricky teas like this!

And perhaps I'll post a "favorite tea merchants" post sooner or later, that's a good idea. Life in Teacup has quickly become one of my favorites, and Upton is as well. I also love Rishi Tea, and for its inexpensive Taiwanese oolongs, Ten Ren. There are a few companies that I've had one or two outstanding teas from but don't have a huge selection--for example, Hampstead tea, and Fresh Darjeeling Tea (which provided my with my favorite Darjeeling oolong I've tried yet).

Marlena said...

As soon as I finished with that list I thought of all those vendors that have one or two I really, really like, Like Adagio, Ten Ren, etc. So much for for getting too organized! LOL