18 October 2005

My consuming passion

Carol and I had a tea party a couple of weeks ago. Theoretically, it was a "tea tasting," which is to a tea party as a wine tasting is a to pub crawl, maybe. Anyway, we used lots of little tea pots (Carol has some truly amazing tea pots, I just have quite a few) and tried mostly green or white teas with names like "Drunken Concubine." It was a very successful day outside of the learning curve for using the little spoutless pots, which involved pouring nearly-boiling water around in the place in a rather profligate manner, and much tea was enjoyed.

It turns out, by the way, that the way to use the spoutless teapot is one of those important life lessons - you pick up the pot in one hand, pull the lid back slightly with the other, and pour with an outward appearance of confidence. No hesitation! No half-measures! Commit! This is your choice and your have chosen it! She who hesitates wears hot water.

The most amazing part of the tea-tasting (for me, anyway) was that Carol brought this tea that unused looks like a large hazelnut, but once it is droped into a (preferably clear glass) tea pot it opens into what looks like a lotus flower.

We're going to have another tea tasting sometime soon and we're going to invite Chris. Chris is a Jasmine tea kind of guy, so I'll get to try some teas I don't usually drink. It is good to step off the usual path.

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Someone asked me once what teas I like. The short answer is that in general I prefer teas that are named for people or places & meals (King Richard, Irish Breakfast).

Earl Grey is an exception because usually teas named for people don't have orange oil in them and I'm not big on citrus in my tea. Then again, for years I wouldn't drink Constant Compost and now I like it, so, you know, things change. I still call it Constant Compost, of course, because let's face it, "rind of oranges" is compost.

I like black teas, green teas, and white teas. I don't like flavored teas, especially fruit flavored tea which, if it were colder and thicker, would be appropriate to spread on toast. I don't drink tisanes, which are herbal infusions that contain no tea, (Or as I like to call them: boiled weed water. Heck, "tisane" is from an Old French term for barley water - what does that tell you?) so most of the Celestial Seasons catalogue is absent from my tea cabinet. Rooibos, or "red tea" is not tea. Tea is Camellia sinensis, Rooibos is aspalathus linearis - see how they aren't the same thing?

* * * * *

But the best tea news of the day is that thanks to some unflinching scientists who were willing to go the distance in pursuit of hard knowledge over casual cliché , Carol, Chris, and I will be spared the mistake of using the Chocolate Teapot.


Casey Jones said...

I for one will not repeat the mistake of bringing you lemon tea...

Hjalti said...

From the Hitchhikers Guide:

Oh, suuuure! This unearthly voice came and solved my problem for me: why someone should want to drink dried leaves in boiling water? Answer: because he’s an ignorant monkey who doesn’t know better.

I like Boston's Mint, but what do I know?

Liza said...

I like tea, and share your opinion of place-name teas. I also like many tisanes, especially if they involve ginger, and not so much when they involve mint or camomile.

Since becoming pregnant, I've transferred my coffee addiction to chai, since it involves more milk and less caffine. But I like the "less sweet" version that one of my grocery stores offers.

But Rooiboos is a noxious weed. Rooiboos tea tastes and smells like what I imagine would happen if you put a cigarette into a teapot and poured boiling water over it.

scotte said...

Couldn't resist pointing out: using Camellia sinensis still results in boiled weed water, just a matter of what weeds :) And surely barley water (ref Mary Poppins at the least) is what you ADD to tea on cold winter days.


Carol Kocian said...

Hi, this is Carol of the tea party!

Chocolate teapot - at first I was concerned that there was confusion between a teapot and a chocolate pot, but that was not the case. There is chocolate tea (sorry Leta, that would be a flavored tea), a term I first read in one of Andy Looney's stories as tea's answer to mocha. I made a good one once starting with Earl Grey and lots of milk. Earl Grey is very different than most flavored teas (like huckleberry butternut).

Anyway the tasting was great fun, and I am grateful to Leta for her hospitality, including such luxuries as table and chairs and, of course, the tea tray. And I figure out why Chinese tea supplies include a bowl. :-)

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