Friday, July 22, 2011

Tea on the Grill and in the Medicine Chest

No pictures today, the blogger thingy seems to be on vacation.

Oh my, it is definitely hot again today, upper 90's. The humidity is low, so it is not as bad as it could be. The Ernster cat is stretched out on my dresser where the air conditioning can blow on his tummy. Maybe I should try that.

If you are thinking of grilling, why not try marinating your meat in some fresh-brewed black tea? Add whatever herbs and spices you like and let it sit for an hour or so. The tea will tenderize it somewhat and if you use a meat fork to poke it all over, the marinade will penetrate more of it. Lapsang Souchong would be good, as would a Keemun or Assam. For chicken you might try one of the greens or a Darjeeling. If you use the Lapsang, make up a bit of bleu cheese butter for your steak, as the tea and bleu cheese go very well together. For dessert you could have grilled peaches or nectarines with some green tea ice cream. You could probably make your own by whizzing some vanilla ice cream with some matcha in a food processor until it is pale green and refreezing it. Do it quickly, so the ice cream doesn't melt too much.

Tea is also good for summer's mishaps, like bug bites and poison ivy. It helps stop the pain and itch and speeds along the drying of the ivy rash. If your eyes are tired and red, a cold wet tea bag does wonders. I can remember my grandmother using them that way very effectively, over 50 years ago.

Today was just cool enough that I could decide on a tea. But I am still not up for adventure, so I selected Upton's ZK17, China Congou, Keemun Hong Tao. The tea is organic, produced by a small group of Chinese farmers dedicated to organic farming. Upton's also says it is in the style of Anhui Province Keemun, which leads me to believe it is from another area. The Chinese say only Keemun from Anhui is authentic. I am all in favor of keeping these distinctions and I applaud Upton's for indicating this. For me, Swiss cheese, for example, comes from Switzerland, all others are Swiss type and simply don't have the same flavor. I am not enough of a tea person to know the differences, but I am sure that others are. It is a matter of terroir, the infinite variables of soil, water, air, that are only found in one area, whether it is French wine, Swiss Cheese or Chinese tea.

I followed instructions of 1 teaspoon, 5 minutes, boiling water. The dry leaves were quite small, an equal mix of tan and black. They gave off a subtle aroma of smoke, sweet and earthy. As it brewed, the scent shifted into a roasty, earthy one. The tea pretty much tastes that way. It is gentle, but a definite Keemun, with a solid earthy base, overlain with some sweetness. Those of you who don't like smoke, will like this one as that disappears. A very pleasant drink.

1 comment:

Alex Zorach said...

I also like this Hong Tao tea, which I've tried. I agree about the distinction between Anhui Keemun and teas in the style of Keemun from other provinces. Keemun is both a style and a region.

I have also tried Hubei Keemun, and I like it very much, and think of it as a type of tea in its own right, interesting and distinct, recognizable as different from other Keemuns, but similar in some ways. On we also list a Keemun from Taiwan (from Upton), and of course, you had reviewed a Jiangxi Keemun from AuraTeas. I wonder if the Jiangxi Keemun comes from an area bordering Anhui, and similar in climate...and I'm curious exactly where that Hong Tao tea from Upton is from. I often find myself wanting to learn more about the origin of these teas.