As a gardener, I am awaiting Spring with ill-concealed impatience. It all started before Christmas, when the first catalogs arrived and the dreaming and planning started. Then came the ordering of some seeds, and a few plants and then Agway had the first of its seeds in and then, I just HAD to plant something. The basil is doing nicely, but it is soooooo tiny. Hard to believe it will someday be a foot tall. There are some orchids blooming and 3 are throwing out blossom stems and there is one hyacinth from the bulbs I forced in the fall. I am not bereft of flowers and color and there is all that lovely snow.
As a tea drinker, I find my self in that same agony of anticipation. In China and India and Japan, the teafields are preparing to awaken and soon, in the beginning of April or, in some parts of China, the end of March, the first leaves will be plucked and processed so that tea lovers the world over can rejoice in the wonderful first flush or pre Qing Ming tea. There is nothing like them for freshness and lovely flavor.
The only draw back to all this is the rise in prices. In both Darjeeling and much of China, prices are expected to rise by as much as 15%. Some has to do with weather, some is greed and some because tea is rapidly gaining a very secure and sought after place in Western countries. Even so, tea is a very cheap luxury. You get at least 240 cups of tea from a pound, more if you infuse the leaves more than once, so even a very expensive tea that is perhaps $100 or more per pound, comes out to 40 or 50 cents a cup.
We usually think of re-infusing only green or Oolong tea, but I have found that really good black teas can also be re-infused. To do that, I usually use half the water and about 1 1/2 times the brewing time. If it doesn't work, you've not really lost much and you can water your plants with it.
Having said that, today I am going with Eastern Shore Tea Company's Ginger Pear Tea, which is a tea bag. It was a gift and it smells wonderful, full of both the fruit and the herb. I took the tea out of the bags and put it in a trusty tea sock so I wouldn't have to fish it out of the pot, as there are no strings attached. (For those of you who don't know, a tea sock is made from fine stockinette, shaped like the toe of a sock and attached to a ring and handle, which keeps it out of the pot or cup. It is washable, reusable and cheap. Utpton's carries them in both cup and pot sizes). Due to the size of the leaves, I am only brewing this for 2.5 minutes.
Hmm, this is quite nice. They have managed to capture both pear and ginger, the sweetness and the spice into a very pleasing whole. But it makes me want to have gingerbread with it, perhaps with some dried pears cut up in it or some Swiss pear bread. Hmm, it would be nice to add this to the bread while it is being made. Guess I had better make some.
While we were having all our tummy troubles, I made a very quickie soup that went down very well - chicken stock, lots of ginger garlic paste - or chopped ginger and garlic, diced veggies. Simmer until veggies are the way you want them. The ginger and garlic helped ease our tummies and it all was very comforting.