Sunday, October 2, 2011

Turks and Tea News

These are Swiss mountains near the tiny hamlet if Nidflue in Kanton Bern and look!  the sun is shining.  I wish it would here.

Did you know there is a man aged 110 who is still actively involved in growing tea?  Neither did I.  Arthur Njuguna Komo lives and works in the Kamunyaka Valley in the foothills of Mt. Kenya.  He has been farming tea since 1959, following in his grandfather's foot steps, and personally supervises the training of the teapickers.  He is also heavily involved in workers' rights, supporting and training other farmers, growers and processors.  Through his efforts, the KTDA - Kenya Tea Development Agency was established to work towards increased quality both in the tea and for the people involved in growing and producing it.  One of his grandchildren, Joy Njuguna has created a tea blend to honor him, named "Grandpa's Anytime Tea".  A fitting tribute.  It is available from Royal Tea of Kenya, although only to wholesalers at the moment.  Jane Pettigrew rates it highly.  I am going to keep my eye on them, as their website says it will become available to online buyers soon.

The Tea Spot, some of whose teas I've reviewed here, has received a $460,00 grant to do researrch on biodegradable tea bags/filters for the commercial trade.  Apparently cups, lids and stirrers are, but for some reason, teabags and filters used commercially, are not.  Hats off to them and may they have great success.  I know this is all possible, as one of our biggest farmers' markets has almost every container imagineable biodegradable.  Now, if someone would only do that for paper/styrofoam plates...

Today I am trying 2 more Turkish teas.  One of them I will give to my favorite Turkish restaurant, because they are such good cooks and such sweet people.  I misread the amount of tea I was buying and got 500 grams of each, instead of 50!  I am not brewing it the most traditional way, as I do not have a traditional Turkish tea pot.  See for these directions.  Mine is the western version of one cup, 1 teaspoon, boiling water, three minutes.
My first infusion is of Cayku Filliz Cayi, Special Turkish Tea, Filliz region.  It comes in a big! red bag and the tiny, slivered leaves smell of good clean earth with a hint of floral.  The brewing aroma is much the same, with a bit of leaf mold thrown in. It is a good plain, sturdy tea.  Best, I think in small amounts and perhaps, for mornings.  If you're not aware of it, the Turks usually serve tea in quite small glasses, maybe 2-3 ounces and traditionally, with sugar.  I added some sugar, from Austin Sugar Works, but this is not my cup of tea.  I like it plain better, or with a touch of cream.

The second, in a yellow striped bag is Cayku Rizi Turist Cayi, from the Rizi region.  I brewed both of these the same way, as they both have the same small, slivered leaf configuration.  This one seems to have a much gentler aroma, although definitely in the same earthy, leafmold, floral family.  The taste is somewhat gentler as well and I think I prefer it to the first.  I didn't bother with sugar, but went straight to a dab of cream and liked it very much

As sometimes happens, the taste of the tea follows directly in the foorsteps of the aroma, which to me, is one indication of a good tea.  Although I would not rank either of these in the top standings, they would both be good breakfast tea and would also go well with sandwiches and something like gingerbread or chocolate cake.  Oh gosh, now I made myself hungry and I haven't got either one in the house.  Must be I have to bake, right?


Steven Knoerr said...

Hello, Marlena!

It's been so long since I last spoke to you. I had a friend who brought back a Turkish tea set and samovar and made the most delightful, strong, sweet tea with it. He would make an intensely strong tea concentrate, which would sit in a receptacle on top of the water heater, and then mix it with hot water from the samovar as he served. Great stuff.

SOME LANGUAGE. I always thought that there's a distinction between mold, which is the word for fungi, and so on; and mould, which means the semi-decayed organic material you find on forest floors.

Obviously, you'd never drink tea that has actual fungus or mold on it, so you must mean that your leave have some twiggy stuff thrown in along with the leaves, right?

Steven Knoerr said...

Steven Knoerr said...

Marlena, where did you find the Turkish tea? Is there a source with a website?

Alex Zorach said...

That's amazing about the 110-year old man.

Now I want to try more of these Caykur teas!