Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Those Monkeys Need More Training!

I truly love mountains, hills, sand dunes, anything that goes "bump" in the geography.

Since it is so grim and gray out, I thought I would go to California for today's tea. It is from TBar part of the Far Western Trading Company. It is Lou's Leaves, Monkey Picked Chinese Black Tea. It originally came from Nan Ping County in Fujian Province, in the heart of the misty mountains. To break down the name a bit for you, apparently Lou, whoever that is, selects certain teas as being of better or more distinct quality. According to legend, monkeys were trained to pick tea leaves from the high branches of very old tea trees or from ones that had grown out of cliff faces. I have never seen any real proof of this, but some Chinese seem to think if something is monkey picked it is better. I have some herbal remedies that sport this claim.

When I opened the packet, I was pleased to see some nice long twisted black leaves, with an abundance of gold buds and gold dust from the fine hairs on them. The tea smelled very similar to a Yunnan - that special combination of fresh, wind-blown wash and old wood in the sun. I brewed up about a teaspoon with boiling water for almost 4 minutes. The taste was smooth and sweet, with a subtle, almost Yunnan taste, minus the pepperiness of a really good one. Sadly, it was on the thin side and really no better than ho-hum.

Some legends have at least a kernel of truth in them. In our Scottish family, those of us who have the legend of "Matchless Martha" Mansfield McDuffee as saviour of Londonderry, N Ireland when it was under siege in 1695ish have so far proven to be the descendants of her and her husband, John McDuffee. She allegedly had squirreled away a quantity of meal that she brought out at just the right time to carry them through until help arrived. If nothing else, it's fun to think we have a heroine in the family

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