Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weeds in a Vase, Weeds in My Tea

Last week, when I commented that weeds can make a nice flower arrangement for your tea table, Alex asked me what I have in my yard. Today was the first chance I've had to do a survey. I have lots of white clover, which I do not consider a weed, since I planted a lot of it myself. It draws honey bees and is a good "nurse grass" for other types. And it smells wonderful. If you don't use pesticides on your lawn, it can add a pleasant note of sweetness to a light tea. If you have little kids, you don't want it, but it can be charming in a small bouquet, along with some equally tiny blue heal-all and some barren strawberry, all of which we have.

I extended my yard to the woods in back and the edge of the road in front, so I could include buttercups, daisies, daisy fleabane, evening lychinis, trefoil, Queen Ann's lace, elderberry, black-eyed Susan, great mullein, wild roses, purple loosestrife, crown vetch , bind weed and a magnificent purple thistle which is tucked up against the house. As soon as it blooms, I will cut it down, but I love its flowers, one of the many Scottish emblems. Many riches, although none do much for turning into tea. However, they add some beauty to our days, whether in situ or on my table. Oops, almost forgot dandelions - there is one lone flower blooming at the edge of the flower bed. Lemon verbena could probably be considered a weed, as it happily seeds itself everywhere and then some. That, however, does make a very nice tea or addition to other teas. We also have several mints, which next year I will probably call a weed, as it is also invasive, but also great in tea and other things.

At the moment, however, I am very taken with my first blooming day lily, a particularly pretty double peach. Did you know you can fry the buds up and eat them as a snack? Many Asian countries do just that. They would certainly be a novelty on the tea table. I have had them before and by themselves they are rather bland and a little sweet. You just stir fry them quickly and sprinkle on whatever seasoning appeals to you, draining them on paper towels. You can also dip them in a tempura style batter. They are very last minute.

I have so many teas in my"to be tasted" drawer that I couldn't decide, so I closed my eyes and grabbed. What came up was Upton's Kenya Black Tea, Kaimosi TGFOPl, which translates to Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First plucking. This tea is similar to an Assam. The leaves are longish, black, with gold buds and brownish tips. It smells fresh and smooth, with hints of tobacco and hot sand. That last may be a bit fanciful. I brewed the tea for 3 minutes, as Kenyans seem to take less time to reach their potential.

The tea is a medium amber and the smooth tobacco aroma appears to linger, along with a definite fruitiness, maybe something like grape. Umm, nice tea, very smooth, sweet, a hint of acorn, a hint of grape. Not spectacular, but quite good. It takes milk and sweetener quite well, if that is how you like it. I am happy to support Kenyan teas on their road to becoming better. About ten years ago they were producing some excellent tea, but then they went in a slump and turned out some awful stuff. I am glad to see they are recovering.

Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of our country and the many wonderful freedoms we have. As you celebrate, remember the reason, drink tea and have a good time! Here's to freedom fighters wherever they are in the world, from whatever nation!

1 comment:

Alex Zorach said...

I also loved white clover. I was stung by a bee twice as a kid but I don't think that makes me like clover any less. One of them was a yellowjacket, and clover primarily attracts honeybees which are much less aggressive.

I also recently tried this same Kenyan tea, Kaimosi Estate TGFOP1; I also enjoyed it. I found it had honey-like qualities. But maybe that was because I have been thinking a lot about honey recently.

Overall, I've actually been pretty impressed with Kenyan teas. I've now tried 5 Kenyan teas, all from Upton, and I'll say I've liked all of them, and some have been among my favorite black teas that I've tried.