Saturday, October 2, 2010

One of the ceremonial robes of Hapsburg Royalty in the State Museum in

I was reading one of the many tea blogs I like to keep up with and on there are pictures of a couple of interesting new tea things - a yellow submarine tea infuser - always appropriate to use when listening to the Beatles - and some bracelets made from tea cups, which are very pretty. You will need to scroll down a few entries to see them, but they are worth a quick look-see.

I was also reading Tea and Coffee magazine this am. There is an article in there about sustainable coffee manufacture, from farmers to vendors shelves. It was quite interesting, as I know the tea industry is also working in that direction - that of caring for the land and the growers well-being. I have to applaud this movement, as I care about what I eat and drink and about the people who produce it. I have noticed that organic tea is a little more expensive - generally about $1 more per quarter pound. That comes out to about 1 1/2 cents a cup. Not nearly enough to make a fuss about. If you are already paying a higher price for top quality tea, another dollar is not nearly too much. Organic does not necessarily mean the end product is better, you still need to taste and discover for yourself what you think is best.

I got an order from Aura Teas earlier this week and they kindly sent me 4 samples to try. They are generous samples - enough for about 3-4 cups of tea. Today I am trying their Formosa Nostalgia Dong Ding. A few days ago I tried one from Life in Teacup. I cannot really compare them as this one I decided to infuse for 2 minutes. I used nearly boiling water and the whole sample, which was a bit over a teaspoon per cup. The tea is smallish rolled green balls, with a stem, as is supposedly typical of this tea. It is a high mountain tea, sometimes also known as Tong Ting. I first washed it for a few seconds and then drained it, which is much facilitated by using one of those nifty pots that drains from the bottom when you place it on a cup. Several teashops carry them such as Teavana and others.

The tea brewed up to a lovely golden color, smelling of roasted orchids, with a sturdy green underpinning. It smelled so good that I almost wanted to just do that. The leaves unfurled to be about 2 or more inches and there were anywhere from 2-4 per stem, which is where the Nostalgia comes in as this is an old style of this Oolong. What was surprising was how quickly they unfurled, less than a minute. But on to the taste. At first, there was a strong roasted one, but as the tea passed over my tongue it became floral - very interesting. Then there were hints of nuttiness and greenness and a little bit of astringency. Towards the end of the cup it acquired something of a roast veggie scent and taste.

The second cup, which I brewed for about 3 minutes, is a pale gold and smells distinctly nutty, but still has a very nice orchid overlay. While something of a pale shadow of its former self, the nuttiness really comes out, with the floral and astringent parts as the tail end of each sip. As it cools, more floral scent comes out and the nutty taste becomes more orchid-like.

It is so fascinating to me to have cups of tea give up so many tastes and nuances and how much they can change, even in one sip, let alone a cup or two or three. It is what keeps me wanting to try more and more new teas as well as appreciating the old. Sometimes you just want a "cuppa", one that doesn't require thought or seeking to identify an aroma or flavor. Both are equally worthwhile. One may appeal to one person or both to the same person, depending on mood or circumstance. Tea is wonderful in that it accommodates every bit of that spectrum. Hooray for tea!!

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