Thursday, May 31, 2012

Is It Assam or Keemun?

Today's tea is Winey Keemun English Breakfast from Grace Tea Company.  To me, it doesn't smell very winey, more a cross between tobacco and pickles. The leaves are small, black and chopped.  I brewed it, per recommendations, for 3 minutes with boiling water.  The resulting brew is a lovely yellow amber, not quite what I was expecting.

The tea isn't, either.  It smells like an Assam, malty.  There is a spring vegetal edge to it as well.  None of this is unpleasant, just not what I would call a Keemun.  To me, it just doesn't have a winey Keemun presence. Assam, yes.  Drat, I love Keemun.  I like Assam as well, it's just my mouth was ready for Keemun.  Maybe I just got some that wasn't mixed as well as it could be, as it is common for these 2 teas to be blended for English Breakfast.

The big news this weekend is the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas  Korean has sent it's largest delegation ever and there will be a big emphasis on Korean tea, which is generally of very high quality.  They've been making it since at least the 7th century, so they ought to be pretty good at it by now.  They are working to increase the tea world's knowledge of them, increase production and farmer's wages and benefits. Excellent goals.  Almost half of their tea farms are organic, always a plus, as far as I am concerned.

India is also going to be major player, with emphasis on its 4 major growing regions, Nilgiri, Darjeeling, Assam, and Kerala.  They are working towards brand recognition in the world market, emphasizing quality.  They are also pushing for an open route into Pakistan, which would ease delivery to one of their best customers.  Tea producers are also working towards having tea declared India's national drink.  At the moment, India only ranks 53rd in  per capita consumption, about 1 pound a year.  Compare that to the United Arab Emirates folk who, (are you ready?), drink 14 pounds per capita, per year.  I can't imagine drinking that much tea.

I have been very busy in the garden, establishing a lavender bed, planting roses, daylilies, miniature bearded iris and enough annuals to make it look less bare until things are established.  I've also been appreciating natures bounty, as the daisies and garlic mustard are blooming away, the may apples are fruiting and everything is so beautifully green.  Did you know you can make jelly from may apples?  You need a lot more than I have been able to find this year, but it is a lovely delicate confection, highly suitable for elegant tea parties.

On the bird front, there is nearly a daily riot at the feeders, as grackles, blue jays, red wing blackbirds, regular blackbirds and those awful starlings compete.  The woodpeckers come earlier and later, so they have a relatively easy time.  Our turkey population has grown to 3 and the Ernster kitty has been stalking them.  They totally ignore him, walking right past on their way elsewhere.  The first time that happened, he sat down very casually, as if that was his intention, and washed his tail, then bounded for the house for a snack, as though this wasn't a great blow to his hunter's ego!  LOLOLOL.  As if he was not the one doing the stalking.  Cats!

Here we are at Ballenberg Museum in Switzerland.  The woman is hauling a cart of bread from the bake house to the shop.  On the right is a barn with corn stored under it for the animals. Above it are the living quarters.  It is typical of Swiss farmhouses to have house and barn as one - winters are just too severe, otherwise.


Alex Zorach said...

Wow. That 14 pound figure seems almost unbelievable. With the typical strength that I brew my tea, that would amount to brewing 7 strongish cups of tea every day. What's the source on that?

I've noticed a change in the birds here too...notably, all the migrants seem to be gone. A week ago there were still blackpoll warblers coming through, but the past few days, the only birds I've been seeing and hearing are summer breeding residents. Migration seemed a bit off this year, the blackpoll warblers, usually the last migrants here, arrived early and left early. Other migrants, like blue-headed vireos and hermit thrushes, were still showing up well after their usual departure dates.

Steph said...

Pickles and tobacco - what a combo!