Sunday, 7 August 2011
1st annual Tea Trade gathering
Although we'd met separately over the weekend, the whole gang finally got together on Sunday afternoon and we went through a nice selection of tea. There was a wonderful surprise organised by Robert, and he wrote about it over at It’s a mad, mad world…
The other not necessarily tea-related surprise was that I invited my bass player friend Jarrod, about whom I've written here periodically, and we started the afternoon out by playing some of my tunes and some lesser-known covers. It hadn't been announced, and the music was well received.
Jarrod was interrogated at the beginning of the festivities about whether he even drank tea, but I quickly assured everyone that he was one of the people I'd lured partially over to the leaf-side. Many of my tea-related experiments have first been tried on Jarrod before I've launched them on the general public. He seems no worse for wear.
Before anyone arrived, I'd brewed the Gu Zhang Mao Jian that I wrote about in yesterday's post, as well as some Nilgiri Thiashola 'Carrington'. Both got nice comments, but the Nilgiri especially seemed to impress. I wrote about it in tea choices for marauding teenagers or Zombie Apocalypse, but you have to read through to near the end of the blogpost to get to the part about the Nilgiri.
In addition to the strong black and earthy green, I wanted to have a decent Darjeeling to offer people as they arrived, so I chose a first flush from the Snowview Estate. Although it's a tea from 2010, it's still remarkably crisp and fresh.
But because the darker tea got such a good reception, I decided to make a strong but not too malty/bitter Assam. I'd written quite a bit about Assam Mangalam, so I decided now was my change to showcase it. If you look in the comments to my blogpost Waking up in Mangalam, you can see what interesting things Jackie found out about this estate and their distinctive clonal Assam. Here's the best part:
“The Mangalam tea estate is named after Kumar Mangalam Birla, once the son of the estate’s owners and now one of its managers. The estate is owned by Jayshree Tea & Industries, a large company that incorporated in 1945. Jayshree is heralded in the Orthodox world for its special clones that produce a big golden leaf tip, which no one is able to replicate, making Jayshree Assams easily identifiable.”
I couldn't miss an oppurtunity to serve some Flugtee, so I brewed a pot of this year's Singell Darjeeling first flush. From my perspective, this was probably the best tea served today and it certainly got the praise it deserved. One person who nearly always drinks any black tea with milk said that this was the first tea she'd had that was just fine all on its own. That alone made my day.
As good as the tea was to be, the quality of the cake was of extreme importance. Jackie made it clear that good cake was absolutely essential. From what I could tell, she was anything but disappointed.
As people started getting ready to leave I quickly started brewing multiple infusions of my nicest high mountain Oolong from Taiwan. It's called Alishan Zhu Lu Oolong and it really was the perfect tea to wrap up an enjoyable afternoon. Even after six infusions, the taste was vibrant and blooming. No wonder many serious teabloggers spend so much time talking about high mountain Oolongs.
The weekend has been fantastic, and I can only hope we actually do another annual gathering. Maybe Adelaide next year? Or everyone make a pilgrimage to the Chicago Tea Gardens? I'm sure we can find a place centrally located.
Here's yours truly, Jackie, Peter, Sheila, Sabine and Xavier. We were too busy drinking tea and listening to music to take a lot of photos, but there were a few.