Thursday, February 24, 2011

Maples and Frogs and Orchids, Oh My

An Italian port, Sorrento

I should have saved yesterday's picture for today, the grays in the picture would match today's sky color. But I don't really care as nature has begun the wild swings of temperature and weather that say very very early Spring is here. Bertie is already trying to find frogs in the ditch. I wish him well, as I am sure they are well buried in the mud under the 18 inches of snow.

Very soon the maple syrup folks will be festooning the trees with buckets and lines and the boiling down of sap to make that wonderous sweet confection. We are fortunate that we live where it is produced. In fact, friends of ours make it and have won countless awards for the excellence of their product. You can find them at It is never cheap, as it takes boiling down, day and night, 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. After the sappers are done, then they turn to making maple sugar, maple candy, maple-covered nuts and other yummy sweets.
Today we are turning to Aura Teas for our daily cup. It is Formosa Alishan Jinxuan Oolong. Some of the best Oolongs in the world come from Formosa. Dry these leaves have a sweet, orchid like smell. They look as though someone sort of pleated them and then twisted them into a ball shaped pellet. I brewed up my whole sample in a large gaiwan, with water cooled a bit from boiling. I then quickly rinsed the leaves to awaken them. The first infusion, of a minute was a delicate pale yellow, smelling and tasting of orchids and hay. The second was darker in color and more of the orchid came out. The third was definitely an orchid flavor, with the hay back again. It was smoother and rounder tasting than the other two. I am sure if I had continued I could have gotten about 3 more infusions fom the leaves, which did not fully unfurl until the third. They are fairly large - a bud and 1 or 2 leaves, with the leaves having little delicate bug bits along the sides. The tea plant gives off an enzyme in reaction to this, which results in the lovely orchid aroma and taste. In this case, we can say Hooray for bugs!

1 comment:

Alex Zorach said...

I love how insects are important in the production of some of these teas. The same is true of certain Darjeelings!