Thursday, 24 February 2011

this tea lark

Lately, I've been writing a lot about attracting people to loose-leaf tea, and I've been pondering how difficult it is to convince someone not only to eschew teabags, but to order tea online, as well. I'm sure those of us obsessed with tea will continue to see the benefits of ordering tea from as wide a variety of places as possible. And the possibilities with the internet are vast.

But how about someone who's just not that far along on the tea journey? Why not just send him to the shops for whatever loose-leaf tea he encounters? Yes, why not?

One solution to this I've found is to assess what teas are available in the shops. Have recently been introduced to Hampstead Tea, and it's exactly because of them that I bring up the subject of what tea you can easily obtain.

Well, I went into an Alnatura shop here in Munich, and found these teas alongside the Alnatura brand. I like the idea that if someone asks where to get decent tea, that this is an option.

And calling this tea decent is an understatement. Seems all of their Darjeeling is grown in the Makaibari Tea Garden, which is a well-known and respected source.

I'm so excited about the coming year's first flush teas, that I was thrilled to try theirs (from last year). Here's how it's described on their site: Hampstead Tea first flush. And here's what the leaves look like:

The tips are a much brighter yellow than the photo shows. The smell of the leaves was so delicious as I broke open the bag. This isn't a proper teanote, but there was a wonderful butter taste to this tea. I've been alternating between this and the tea that they simply call Darjeeling all week. Here's how it's described: Hampstead Tea Darjeeling.

So Neil from Neil's Yard came over last night and we went through some tea he had, as well as one of mine. I'm going to write about what he had to offer another time, but it was this Hampstead Tea Darjeeling that he liked so much. The muscatel and fruit tones are definitely there, but Neil said he could even detect a hint of vanilla.

I love it that this guy who was measuring his steeping times with how long it took to smoke a cigarette a few weeks ago is already noticing these subtle flavours. This tea lark just gets better and better, doesn't it?

1 comment:

  1. When I saw your photo I thought "This is the kind of habitat where I might expect to see a lark." I have only ever seen horned larks in large open fields in winter. Meadowlarks I've seen in summer, again, in open areas, farmland, etc.

    I haven't tried Hampstead's first flush but presumably it's the same or similar to the Makaibari First Flush from Arbor Teas, which has two very favorable reviews. I personally love their straight "Darjeeling" too. Every time I've had some it has quickly vanished from my cupboard as I drank it and served it to lots of people, all of whom loved it.