Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tea,Tulips and Panda Poop

My Swiss grandmother's church on a rainy day.

Ya know, people think tea folk are weird for paying $40-50 a pound for good tea. That’s about 240 cups of tea. Really good coffee is at least $15 and that’s only 60 cups. Do the math. And then there are K cups. Unless you got a good deal, it is 75 cents to $1.00 per cup. That's the equivalent of $60 a pound.

However, I just heard about this odd tea in the Nov 25 issue of The Week magazine. A Chinese entrepreneur is going to make tea from panda poop, claiming it will have more antioxidants than green tea, with “a mature nutty taste and a very distinctive aroma.” I bet it will. Supposedly this will retail for about $3,400 a pound. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a review of it here.

The world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak, hails from Indonesia, and passes through the Asian Palm Civet's digestive track. The civet looks like a golden rat and feeds pretty exclusively on coffee beans. It sells for about $600 a lb. or $50 a cup in some exclusive restaurants. [Civet kitty/rat poop]

People can be very silly. Not this this is new. During the height of Tulip Mania, in the mid 1600s fortunes could be made and lost over one tulip bulb, which could equal the sum of a craftsman’s yearly income.

Let us turn to more prosaic pursuits, a cup of easily purchased tea.  I just ordered a huge bunch of samples from Upton's.  This one is TB30, Kensington Blend, made from Assam, Ceylon and Keemun tea.  The varied brown and black leaves are about 1/2 inch long and give off a very nice malty, woodsy aroma, with a hint of smoke.  I brewed it for about 4.5 minutes - maybe a bit too long.    It is a pleasant dark amber, smelling very much of the Assam, which I assume is its main component.  Uptons says it is a bit lighter than their River Shannon blend and that it is best with milk.  It is a breakfast tea, which I would heartily agree with.  Unless, of course, you are really dragging in the afternoon,

By itself, it tastes, to me, like acorns or what bottled essence of crisp-fall-day might taste like.  It is a bit astringent and certainly strong.  I like my tea with milk, so it is no hardship to have it that way.  I must say the milk mellows it considerably.  I do think this would be ideal for breakfast, standing up well to hearty dishes.  It might be good with a hearty lunch as well.  It is going just fine with a gorgeous fall day.

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