Thursday, May 23, 2013

"A Tale of A Two Tea Faux-Pas" or "Why I Cannot Drink Green Tea"

I thought it would be fun to tell a semi-embarrassing story about myself, and my endeavors into the different kinds of tea and preparation methods. I should mention I have a very high sensitivity to everything that goes into my body, and I have an especially sensitive stomach. I am also very 'obsessive' about things when I first discover them. So when this story takes place, I was doing a lot of experimenting with the teas that were available to me in my local area.

I happened upon a large box of oolong tea at the thrift store, of all places. The box had been opened and the package pulled apart slightly. But most, if not all, of the tea was still there, and kept fairly fresh. I took it home as my first oolong tea, and experimented with preparing it cup-by-cup, and the 'kung-fu' method. For those not familiar, the kung-fu method is a method of preparing oolong tea of a more gentle and subtle flavor so that the flavors can be experienced in a slightly higher concentrated infusion. It is done by filling your teapot up to half with oolong tea, pouring on the hot water, and infusing for 30 seconds before pouring off. Then, the process is repeated with a longer infusion time, such as 1 min. Then again, and as many times as it will hold flavor, the process is repeated, each time increasing the brewing time. It is an excellent way to prepare oolong tea if you want a lot of flavor, especially if it is a high quality oolong of very delicate flavor, and you are feeling impatient.

Several days later, I was in a local Indian-type grocery store and looking at their selection of tea. They had a decent Darjeeling that I had tried before, but I noticed a large bag of tea that strongly resembled the oolong tea I had been drinking. I was excited because I couldn't find this tea locally anywhere, and the bag was really large, maybe a pound, and was cheap! The bag did actually say "green tea" on it, but I thought to myself that surely it was oolong tea, but for some odd reason they had it marked 'green'. Convinced that it was oolong tea, I bought it, took it home, boiled up some fresh water and got busy preparing my teapot with a nice handful of my newly found supposed oolong tea. I allowed it the 30 second infusion that is normal for the first infusion of kung-fu style tea, and poured into my teacup. I blew at my first sip and cooled it enough to where I could actually have a taste of my Indian Grocery store bought... so I thought... but it's not... oolong tea. And when I took in my first big drink, my eyes lit up, mouth watered and I knew then that the label was right! This was no oolong tea, this was a strong, loose gunpowder style green tea, and green tea does not taste good prepared kung-fu! Several minutes later, I could feel the antioxidants shooting through my veins, pushing poisons and all sorts of uncleanliness out of my body. It felt horrible, even though I'm sure it was a grand detoxification process. It tasted terrible, and I could never bring myself to drink that tea again.

I have stayed away from green tea, for the most part, because I enjoy other tea's flavor more. But I have realized that green tea does not do my body good. Maybe it is too strong in antioxidants, or maybe its the astringency, but every time I drink green tea, it makes me sick, so I have to stay away from it. Looking back, I can laugh at myself, and I can still feel that green tea plunging its way through my toxified body. I still enjoy kung-fu style preparation, but with real oolong tea ONLY!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Recent Tea Excursion with Belseri Estate Assam CTC

Have a look at the little tea ball pellets from Belseri Estate! They are all very uniform and tiny, like a tray full of pachinko balls funneling into the shooting lever. I ordered them from Upton Tea last week, with my usual Keemun. Since I haven't done a tea review in a long time, I wanted to make sure I used some good water and gave it a fair chance. I've had a few cups of this at home last week using my very unoxygenated tap water, but today I tried it out at the office, where our water has enough O's with its H's to serve up a bright cup of morning tea! When I opened the bag, there was a nice aroma to it, but it hasn't really sustained so well into my Beehouse tea canister, even though it still smells nice and fresh. The tea did a decent job of foaming at the top of the strainer basket, but there wasn't so much aroma coming from the teapot. There is an absence of the floral scent that good teas have, and it doesn't carry a brisk aroma. It does give off a caramel type scent from the dry leaf and when you bring your cup up for a sip, and the tea has somewhat of a caramel-y smoothness and taste. It has a maltiness that I like, and even though it's not real complex, it has a really nice flavor that makes a good morning or afternoon drinker, holding its weight against milk or sweeteners.

The little balls stay formed after the infusion, and they still smell nice, just not really pungent. Belseri Estate Assam CTC, TA03, is priced low enough to buy a 1/4 pound and really give it some good test runs. I think the smoothness of this tea might be attractive to people who, like me, can find some teas to be a bit too astringent for them. My stomach is oversensitive to everything I eat or drink. But with just a splash of milk, it was relaxed enough for me to drink easily. Its non-complexity does not impede it's ability to produce a appealing flavored cup of tea. I have had more impressive CTCs several times, and I have found myself going back to those that are my favorites. But I think its possible I might get this one again since it is a really nice cup. It seems to lean towards the malty side of the black tea spectrum. I rate this tea with a "thumbs-up" because of its smoothness on the palate, its flavor, drinkability and its ease on the wallet. Happy sipping!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tea Blog Rises From The Dead, Witnesses Say It Was 'Divine Intervention'


How are you all doing?

Sorry I've been missing our little get-togethers here. Well, instead of making up excuses that probably aren't true, I will just let you all know that it's not serious. I have been writing two other blogs, Righteous Metal, and Questions Make You Smarter, and I am pretty zoned in on those. Therefore this blog is now going to be sacrificed to some really eclectic and unpredictable tangents that enter my thoughts, ignoring the guards at the gate.

This is probably not a good idea, Sean. Turn back. TURN BACK!!

But I just cannot resist. I began to share my blog post on how to make a good cup of tea, and then suddenly... THIS happened.

Well the urge has hit me, and at a time when I so happen to have a really nice CTC type of Assam on hand. I have been really happy with my first two cups, so ... well... here we go again!

Next thing you know I will be having a tea party on the ceiling!!