Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Tea

Today is Thanksgiving, so my family and I celebrated the traditional way with a big meal (but not too big) of turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, and more! I was in charge of picking out the tea, so I designed a blend of slightly more than half Earl Grey and slightly less than half lavender. This blend was specially chosen to be strong enough to go well with a big meal, but gentle enough to sit well on the stomach. I just wanted to share this yummy mix with my readers!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Seven Steps of Tea Drinking

  1. Look. What color is the tea? What do the leaves look like -- are they plain leaves or do they include flowers, spices, or fruit pieces?
  2. Smell. Put your nose right next to the tea. What flavor notes can you detect? Write them down or remember them, so you can compare them with the ones you taste.
  3. Drink the steam. Pull a large amount of the steam through your mouth, and compare these flavor notes with the ones detected with your nose.
  4. Sip. Only let a small amount of tea enter your mouth (even if it wants to flow heavily, don't let it!) and by no means allow any air in at this stage. This should help you establish the base note.
  5. Slurp. About an equal amount of tea and air should come in now. This is the step that gets you funny looks in restaurants, but it strongly accentuates the overtones of the tea. After slurping, swish the tea over all areas of your tongue, which detect different flavors.
  6. Gulp. Drinking a large amount of tea with no air determines the timbre, or texture, of the tea. This can be affected by water quality. If you have a small teacup, which is often best for tastings, you have probably drunk the last of it now.
  7. Think. Compare the different notes tasted at each stage. Which one is the basenote, and which are overtones? Are there any 'undertones,' flavors percieved as darker or deeper than the basenote? What foods would complement this tea -- pastries or cakes? Or is it a more savory tea, one that would go with bread or cheese? Maybe it would be perfect with fruit. Did anything else stand out about the tea?
Happy Sipping,
P.S. I've decided to switch to the seven-step model for my tea reviews. Keep your eyes open for more posts!

On the Go Tea

When you're on the road or in a hotel room, it can be hard to get any tea at all, let alone the perfect cup a connoisseur craves. So here are my tips for good on-the-go tea:
  • Bring your own tea along with you. Don't risk having to stoop to Lipton, even while traveling. (I've just made a cup of Chocolate Mint tea, and I'm out of town.)
  • If you're taking a long car ride, try a thermos full of hot water so you can brew whenever it's convenient. Also, pure water stays hotter for longer in a thermos than a beverage containing a bag or leaves. (It's been shown scientifically, in the book How to Fossilize your Hamster.)
  • While in a hotel, run the coffeepot with no coffee in it, then make a cup of tea with the hot water. If you use looseleaf tea, strain it into another cup through a towel.
  • Above all, do not put tea in the coffee-grounds holder of a coffeepot. Tea needs time to sit in the same water, time to release its full flavoring, so don't attempt to brew tea by trickling water through it the way a coffeepot does.
Now you can enjoy your tea anywhere, no matter where.

Happy Sipping,