Tuesday, 30 August 2011

and I don't care how disgusting it tastes

One of the only reasons I ever bother wandering over to facebook anymore is because of this fantastic tea group there called Teefreunde (tea friends). Although it's primarily in German, there are a handful of English posts and these people are properly obsessed with all things tea.

So one post earlier today was written as such:

Gerade eben: "Ich hätt gern n grünen Tee, der darf auch fies schmecken. Hauptsache er ist gesund und nicht so teuer." (Immer nett lächeln) (My translation - just a moment ago: 'I'd like a green tea and I don't care how disgusting it tastes. All that matters to me is that it's very healthy and not too expensive.' I continue to smile nicely.)

What a funny interchange, right?

I wrote about the curious way that green tea is seen by the general public in: why does green tea taste like dirt?. It continues to astound me that people think green tea has to taste horrible. What an uphill battle to change this supposition.

But here we are again. Fighting the good fight. There were plenty of positive and helpful comments that you'd expect about water temperature and green tea of questionable quality (Gunpowder tea was the one that got the worst treatment), but my question is

Why does green tea continue to be so derided?

Is there something more that we can be doing?

I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

tea for every (phlegmy) situation

(a very phlegmatic statue in Munich)

There's been a lot of talk about phlegmatic people in my little world lately, and although I've attempted to portray myself as such, I'm not actually allergic to anything that I know of. That was the meaning of the word phlegmatic that was used. Someone with a lot of phlegm. Someone whose allergies had got the better of him or her (I think it was a her in this case).

I was thinking of the Four Temperaments meaning of phlegmatic. The one that's '...receptive and shy and often prefer stability to uncertainty and change...', but then I realised that the phlegmatic person in question was coughing and wheezing and generally being a nuisance in the office. Her kindness was not the problem here.

I should really go back to the beginning of this story. Lisa Galaviz (@lgalaviz) describes it all rather concisely in her blogpost How to Create Drama in your Life and Workplace. And if you got down to the bottom of the post, you know as well as I do that Cara in Cleveland (@zippy219) won Drama Day and did so rather convincingly.

So the question now is: What tea is best to mask the taste of Allegra? Apparently it's got quite a bitter taste, and we don't want it to be detected.

I asked Erik Kennedy (@thetearooms) what tea he would recommend for the job. I asked him partially because he's a very knowledgeable chap, but also because he was there. 99% of life is showing up. Let that be a lesson to you.

His answer? A nice Japanese Sencha. Strong enough that you won't even notice the bitter medicine-y taste of the Antihistamine. He actually didn't specify whether the Sencha should come from Japan or China, but I know some of you loathe Japanese tea as a general rule. It's my responsibility to mention it at every opportunity.

Right after his wonderful recommendation, Erik said that for this purpose he'd actually use fruit juice. But this isn't a fruit juice blog. You'll have to go somewhere else for that sort of information. This is a tea blog. We're giving unsuspecting people medication that they may or may not need in their tea, thank you.

One last thing before I leave you and go brew some more tea sans medicine. There's been quite a lot of traffic lately to my teablog from some unsavoury countries and places. I don't know exactly what you're doing here, but it better be tea-related. No funny business, eh? You hear that Newfoundland and Labrador? Don't make me come over there.

Friday, 26 August 2011

drinking tea out of jam jars

Found an interesting article in the print edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Wednesday 24 August 2011), but unfortunately I wasn't able to locate it on their website. You'll have to rely on my questionable retelling of it.

There's not actually much to it. It's an article telling the stories of three different Turkish people living in Germany, and the headline of the first one is 'Tee tranken sie aus Marmaladengläsern' (They drank tea out of jam jars).

Mehmet Kaymaksiz talks of what it was like when he first arrived in Germany in 1964:

'Es gab nicht so wie heute in jeder Stadt Dönerladen oder türkische Einkaufmärkte, die ersten Monate haben wir unseren Tee aus Marmaladengläsern getrunken.'

(It wasn't like it is now. There weren't Kebab stands or Turkish shops in every city or town. The first month we drank our tea out of jam jars)

I thought all three stories were fascinating, but this one glimpse of what it was like to be a guest worker in a strange land stuck out for me. And that no matter how difficult it might've got later, he could always look back and say to himself, 'Well, at least I never had to drink tea out of a jam jar again.'

Maybe not. Tea out of any receptacle seems like it'd still be tea. Delicious and refreshing nevertheless. Might have to go polish off some of my favourite jam jars.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

devouring the Memoirs of a Memsahib

I'd like to go into a bit more detail about The Empire of Tea, which I introduced last week (contemplating The Empire of Tea).

After the book's Introduction, it opens with a description by Iris MacFarlane of marrying a tea planter and her life on the plantation (she's the mother of her co-author Alan MacFarlane). This first chapter is called Memoirs of a Memsahib.

I've resolved to be a bit more concise in my blogging, when possible, so I'll boil down her primary themes. The most important seems to be that the people actually growing and processing the tea weren't treated very well at all. She describes the colonial beliefs with which she was raised and that she brought with her into this new life. She even says near the end of the chapter that the other planters' wives, who hadn't bothered questioning the status quo, had had a far more pleasant life than she did.

But the majority of the chapter has to do with the relationship between the master and his servant, as well as the way in which the tea growing society/company did nearly everything it could to keep things as they were. Those are the main thoughts. Her writing is quite compelling, so I'd recommend you get your hands on a copy of this enthralling story.

She watched her mother keep a very close eye on the cook and his accounts years before she knew she'd be a tea planter's wife. As she writes, '...The cook went to the bazaar every morning and my mother wrote down his purchases in her Mensahib's Account Book. Everything was very cheap but the cook's figures were daily questioned; Indians were "chilarky", a word that covered lying, cheating and a general (innate of course) inability to resist being saucily devious.'

There's much more of this. She's instructed by the other planters' wives in how to avoid the servants stealing silverware. The remarkable thing is that she slowly becomes curious about these people's lives and tries valiantly to do her part to improve the situation. The depictions of these attempts and her awakening to the servants' plight is what makes the story continue to draw me in. It's as if the reader's watching her consciousness develop as the story unfolds.

But I'll leave you with how she describes her initial impressions of her arrival. On page 5, she says:

I had absolutely no idea of the process that turned this perfumed profusion into a drink from a pot. I arrived in July 1946 with all my misconceptions in place.

Then a bit later on page 9, she continues:

I went to bed happily unaware that I would actually spend twenty years in tea; it would be 1966 before I was carried out on a stretcher from this beautiful, vibrant, exhausting, magical country.

Isn't that alluring? Why did she have to go out on a stretcher? We have to keep reading to find out. And how about the phrase perfumed profusion? I'll use that one again, I'm sure.

No chilarky from me. I can't wait to guide you along through the rest of this book.

(Source: The Empire of Tea pp 1-27)

Monday, 22 August 2011

getting into tea in Tucson

Have met quite a few tea people only virtually, whether it be by watching tea videos and then interacting with them on twitter or even using skype for an online tea party. Robert Godden set up one of those several weeks ago and it was a pleasure to hear the voices of people with whom I'd had very limited contact. Whether it be reading teablogs they write or their brilliance on twitter.

Then there are some tea people I've even met as a result of this teablogging lark. Haven't been creeped out by any of those new tea friends I initially met online. Not yet anyway. That's not an invitation for freaky tea drinkers to contact me. Just saying that this has been a very positive social experience with people I'd never have otherwise met.

There are some tea drinkers I know in my daily life. Whether they were already sipping from the dark brown liqueur or I lured them over to the leaf-side, it's nice to have personal contact with others who enjoy tea.

And there's a third category I hadn't thought of until recently. People I've known for a long time who I didn't even know were into tea. You know someone a long time, you get together or see each other at some function and the last thing you think to bring up is your tea obsession. My Aunt Elise found my tea blog over at teatra.de, and told me in the comments over there that she was enjoying reading. That they were 'getting into tea in Tucson'.

In another conversation she talked about a tea I hadn't hear of called Sakurambo Vert. The only tea I found with this name was from the tea company Lupicia, and although I'm not normally a big fan of tea with fruit in it, I'd like to try this one out.

Here's what steepster.com had to say about it: Sakurambo Vert.

Any of you tried this? One person says it's bitter. Another seems to say the opposite. Any thoughts?

Saturday, 20 August 2011

what tea do I start with?

(photo: a new morning-a new tea drinker)

Someone's been interacting with me on twitter or even in the real world. They've politely tolerated my blathering on about tea. How no matter what the topic of conversation is that it somehow veers back to tea drinking.

Finally, the question comes up, 'Ok, enough already. Go ahead and tell me. What tea should I start with?''

What an exciting prospect, but then I freeze up. Hm? What next?

Well, the first thing I ask is, 'How do you take your coffee?' Cream or milk? Sugar or not? What on earth does that tell me? Well, if you drink black coffee, then a delicate subtle tea just won't do. Not at all.

The next question, 'Do you like spicy foods?' does the same thing.

I used to think that a decent Earl Grey was a nice gateway tea. That one might like the Bergamot oil early on and over time want to taste more of the tea and less of the flavouring. I'm not sure if I'd always go that direction anymore. If someone's already enjoying Earl Grey then I won't discourage it, but I'm not so thrilled about pushing someone in that direction. Not when there's so much delicious tea out there.

If someone tends to eat spicier food, I think I'd recommend a malty Assam. If not, a subtle Ceylon. Yes, ok. But which one?

Go to your local tea seller and ask what sorts of Assam they have. Or what about their selection of Ceylon?

Ask to smell the tea leaves. Any decent tea seller will be thrilled that you're interested. Don't be shy asking how much a tea costs and definitely don't assume that a higher price means better tea. It simply doesn't.

I know this answer is very simple. Maybe too simple. But if you're new to tea (or good tea), you'll likely appreciate the simplest of answers. Please let me know how it goes.

What about you other tea obsessives? How do you answer the question posed above? Someone shows even a hint of curiosity about trying decent tea. Which direction do you send them?

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

contemplating The Empire of Tea

Am reading a book by Alan and Iris MacFarlane called The Empire of Tea, and am enjoying it immensely. Have you even heard of this book?

With just the minimum of research, I found out the British title is Green Gold: The Empire of Tea, but that's not the edition I got my paws on. I've got the Yankee version.

I'm in a strange position, because I'd actually like to copy word for word the book's entire Introduction. It's that good. He sets out by asking many questions about the history of tea that I've wanted to explore as long as I've been into this dark, steaming beverage.

As a matter of fact when I started blogging, I thought I'd deal much more with the British Empire and how it was involved in this complex and intriguing tale of the leaf. Instead, I've often been sidetracked by important issues like when my kettle failed me, which continues to be one of my favourite blogposts thus far.

Here are the main ideas he introduces as pieces of a puzzle:

In the Eighteenth Century, a unique sort of civilisation grew in the west. Why did this start in Britain? Why exactly then and as he writes, 'Why at all?'

Not only did the Chinese and Japanese believe it when tea was imported to the west, but European doctors were convinced that there was some ingredient in tea that was beneficial, even medicinal, to the people who drank it. What was in tea that made it so good for you?

How was tea discovered?

Why these specific chemicals: caffeine, phenolics, and flavonoids?

What was the story of how tea went round the world? How did it become so integral to British life?

What were the effects of production on tea plantation workers? And their neighbours?

And the effects of other civilisations that accepted tea or took it on?

Is there a connection between the rise of tea and the growth of a number of great civilisations (China, Japan, and Britain)?

Don't those questions make you want to read this book? Stay tuned. I'm going to be writing about it at length and plan to share my thoughts and questions that arise as I devour the book.

And I liked the way he wrapped up the Introduction so much that I really have to quote it directly:

'What started as a tiny set of puzzles and a scarcely-to-be-noticed leaf has ended up in this story as one of the great addictions of history.'

(Source: The Empire of Tea p.xi)

Monday, 15 August 2011

an entirely new sense of both taste and smell

It's been interesting to go back and look at some of my earliest blogposts and see not only how different my method was then but also the dramatic difference in content. I reported on some relatively early experiences with Darjeeling when I wrote Getting my brain around Darjeeling.

I mentioned an interview with a tea grower called Ashok Kumar Lohia and his attempt to explain what makes Darjeeling tea different from all others. I liked his musings so much that I'll actually quote what I said about it way back then:

The last thing I want to mention is how the interview began. He was asked why Darjeeling tea was so special. So different from other teas. His answer was that because the tea was grown so high in the mountains in the shadow of the Himalayas that there was something mystical about it. That the soil and the air was certainly crucial, but that the god Shiva lived there and his spirit affected the tea. It's easy for me to dismiss that part, but then he said that the people who actually tend to the tea have an important impact on the way every cup of tea turns out. That growing tea takes a patience and dedication that has been honed for generations.

I'm sitting here on a very humid rainy day drinking a cup of Darjeeling Singbulli and I'm contemplating how my tastes have changed. This very delicious second flush is rather good, but it's quite strong and possibly a little overbearing. Early on, I'd have veered away from a first flush because to my taste there simply wasn't enough there to taste. That was then. It's as if I've grown an entirely new sense of both taste and smell.

Don't get me wrong. This has both a floral and citrus taste that I love in good Darjeelings. The muskatel is bold and tasty. But I'm smiling to myself that there was a time I'd want more boldness. Maybe a hammer blow of it. My tongue is begging me to brew a light and delicate first flush Darjeeling next to balance all of this power.

I might just do that.

Here's a blogpost where I went into more detail about Darjeeling first or second flush?

Saturday, 13 August 2011

tippling at the Japanese Teahouse

Finally did something today which I'd been planning for months. See, the Japanese Teahouse in the Englischer Garten in the heart of Munich has very limited opening hours. It's not a teashop actually, so I guess it's not so odd. Nevertheless, they're only open on the second weekend of each month (and I'm doubtful that they open through the winter).

I kept intending to go, and then promptly forgetting that it was the second weekend of the month till Monday morning. Too late. So each time this happened, I had to wait roughly another four weeks.

Before I go into my impressions, here's what Wikipedia has to say about it in the middle of their article about the Englischer Garten:

Japanese teahouse/Japanisches Teehaus KanShoAn

In April 1972, to celebrate the Summer Olympics of that year, which were held in Munich, a Japanese teahouse and a Japanese garden were created on a small island at the south end of the Englischer Garten, behind the Haus der Kunst. The pond in which the island is set had been created only a few years earlier, in 1969. The teahouse was a gift to Bavaria by Soshitsu Sen, head of the Urasenke tea school in Kyoto. Its designers were Soshitsu Sen and Mitsuo Nomura. A traditional Japanese tea ceremony takes place here regularly.

Here's what it looked like inside. My experiences in Japan were so intriguing. I only wish I'd been more into tea back then.

The overall sparseness and simplicity of everything is appealing to me. It's no accident. It's a crucial aspect of the tea ceremony in general.

The four principles of the tea ceremony are: wa-kei-sei-jaku, or harmony, respect, purity and tranquility respectively.

The tea we were served was a simple Matcha (what else?) and as much as I enjoyed it, I got the impression that some of the others there weren't terribly impressed.

The whole experience was like being magically transported to Japan. Although there was a German introduction and explanation about what we were soon to witness, the actual tea ceremony was entirely in Japanese. It was exotic as well as somehow calming.

As much as I'm a Westerner on the outside looking in at this, I'm undeniably intrigued and would like to know much more about tea ceremony. It's something I thought I'd get around to blogging about much earlier back when I started blogging about tea. Instead I was preoccupied with such important topics such as which tea I might drink with former French leaders like I did in Tea with Charles de Gaulle or even better what tea the infamous drink in Celebrity tea drinkers.

But here I am buckling down and attempting some serious tea blogging topics. Don't worry loyal readers. I'll get back to the frivolous soon enough.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

tea on the mountain

Was hiking all day, and the best part?

Aside from the fresh air? And the views? And the incredibly happy dog companions?

Well the flask of tea, of course. The only thing better than an excellent tea is being able to drink it after climbing to the top of a mountain. Looking out over the other mountains and sipping on a delicious Grand Yunnan was the highpoint of the whole hiking experience.

The only problem? Well, there wasn't nearly enough. I had a mug of tea as I was scarfing down my breakfast before I rushed out the door, and the remainder of that morning pot was what went in the flask. That means from early morning until early evening I had exactly one pot of tea.

That's a travesty. A topic befitting a Greek Tragedy.

As I was walking back to the train, I realised I should've taken a photo of the flask up on the mountain, but it was too late. Next time. There'll definitely be a next time. This is the beginning of the best part of the year for hiking. And as we all know, tea drinking is a year-round sport.

(my trusty orange flask in the train with the Karwendel mountain chain in the background)

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

this teablogging lark (x300)

Just realised this is my three hundredth blogpost. Can you believe it? I can't.

When I launched this little baby a year and a half ago, I wondered if I had anything to say. Clearly that hasn't been an issue. Maybe the opposite's been the case on a few occasions. Maybe I've had a bit too much to say.

(My niece Amelia and me...this has definitely been one of the highlights of my tea journey)

A few of you have commented on the fact that I write about everything and nothing. That the connection to tea is sometimes tenuous at best. That's been much more intentional than you might think. I love tea. I love drinking it. I love writing about it. I love having people over and serving it.

I love luring non-teadrinkers over to the leaf side. But you know that.

The thing is that as much as I love all those things, they're somehow not enough. I have to write about other things, and I love to find that link to tea. It's often a kind of a puzzle to find the connection. I like to think I find it more often than I don't.

So, I'd like to use this occasion to explain the origin of the name lahikmajoe. It's a convoluted story, but I'll try to be concise.

My grandmother was a Comanche Indian. Because she saw plenty of discrimination in her surroundings, she wanted her children to have better opportunities. She gave each of her seven sons very anglo sounding names.

The way the two names she thought sounded quite classy went together were borderline comical, and the one she paired with Kenneth was downright embarrassing. It won't even be repeated here. I was given my father's name, and not only Kenneth but the other one, as well. It began with the letter 'L', and I loathed it from as far back as I can remember.

So when I was a bit older, I started to imagine what my grandmother might have named me had she gone with an Indian name. The one I came up with was lahikma. The 'joe' part came later.

I'm sure I could have an easier to explain web identity, but this one's very personal and a bit quirky and actually fits me perfectly. If you met me in person, I can say with certainty that you'd chuckle to yourself, 'My goodness, he really is a lahikmajoe'.

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:

From Steepster:
“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.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

that wet earth smell

Am on a bit of a blogging tear right now, but it's hard not to be when there's so much going on around here. There was a nice mix of sightseeing and tea drinking today, but I wanted to quickly talk about a tea that Xavier brought along with him.

It's a green tea from China that he got as a sample from Le Palais des Thés, which is a tea seller we both like quite a bit. The tea's called Gu Zhang Mao Jian, and the package says that it has, 'the aroma of wet earth after a storm that is so popular in China.'

We spent an inordinate amount of time trying to detect that wet earth smell. But now that I have a bit more time to think about it, I wonder if the Chinese really have such a fondness for this scent of damp soil. If so, why?

But enough about that. Here's how the leaves looked before they got all earthy wet:

I thought it looked almost like a Darjeeling, but it tasted like anything but.

The first infusion was nice but alas, as you might've expected, no wet earth smell. Maybe it'd materialise upon further brewings (it didn't). There was a freshness to this Gu Zhang Mao Jian that I almost want to call grassy. Nothing like a Japanese Sencha, but very vegetal.

There was something that almost tasted of asparagus in there, and that sent us down the rather confusing yet enjoyable path of finding the French word for asparagus (it's asperge by the way). The asparagus-like taste only became stronger on the second infusion.

The smell of the leaves afterwards was so delicious. Almost wanted to go search for something about cooking with green tea leaves. Almost, but not quite.

Here's how the leaves looked after the thorough workout we gave them:

Unfortunately, you can't smell the asparagus in a photo. Use your imagination, ok?

There'll be plenty more about the weekend that all these tea people came to visit, but I wanted to include this tea review before things got under way in earnest. There will be a bit of earnestness, after all. You don't believe a word I'm saying, do you?

Friday, 5 August 2011

meeting old friends for the first time

Several months ago, I mentioned how excited I was to host some tea folk in my adopted hometown of Munich. The day has come and this weekend different people in the Tea Trade community will descend upon the Bavarian capitol.

What a joy not just to show off the surprising variety of tea shops here, but to be able to walk through the small passageways of the old city and remark on what's left of the medieval city.

We met up at the Tushita Teehaus, which I wrote about in a general sense of well-being.

In some ways, you'd expect seeing people you've never met would be unquestionably awkward. Nevertheless, the strange reality of virtual friendships means that some people you 'know' online have a much better picture of you than you'd first think. Meeting the Tea Trade folk was like reconnecting with old friends.

There was good natured ribbing that whatever was drunk and talked about would find its way onto my blog. All in good time. We did laugh about how terribly seriously we sometimes take ourselves. Or at least I did. Laugh at myself, I mean.

In the next several days, there's going to be plenty more of the same. There are a few surprises planned for the weekend and I'm sure in the next few months you'll hear both here and over at teatra.de what things are being cooked up in our corner of the tea world. You've been summarily warned.

the Theatine Church (Theatinerkirche) viewed from the Hofgarten.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

all this tea and I'm still thirsty

Die deutsche Version findest du unten.

Drank this whole pot of tea and I'm still thirsty. It was a smoky Grand Yunnan, and as much as I enjoy the taste, it somehow didn't affect how thirsty I am. As if I hadn't actually drunk any tea.

Yesterday I noticed that I was rarely satisfied after drinking a Bancha, and Verity Fisher responded with 'I never find green or roasted teas to be thirst quenching, but Indian/African/Ceylon blacks are. Odd, isn't it?'

It was such an interesting comment, and I've been pondering it ever since. Why do some teas simply not quench my thirst? What an intriguing question.

There's probably a scientific answer for this, but I can't begin to assess it. It's beyond my understanding.

But my personal experience? My objective opinion? I have plenty of that.

As much as I love the taste of a smoky Lapsang Souchong, it doesn't make me any less thirsty. And I seem to respond similarly to other smoky teas. I can't make a blanket statement about all green tea, but there are certainly some I can think of that fit in this weird category.

Many strong, dark teas do quench my thirst, so it has no direct connection to that. I know I was a little rigid about milk in my Darjeeling in my last post, but I still put milk in some tea. When I drink those (an Assam Harmutti or Ceylon BOP Uva) with a bit of milk, I know I won't be thirsty afterward.

Maybe you know of a chemical or physical reason why some teas are like this. If you do, I'd love to hear it.

But otherwise, have you noticed that certain tea quenches your thirst more than others? Which tea?

Eine ganze Kanne Tee habe ich getrunken und ich bin immer noch durstig. Es ist ein Rauchtee und obwohl ich den Geschmack mag, hat er irgendwie mein Durst nicht gelöscht. Als ob ich gar keinen Tee getrunken habe.

Gestern habe ich bemerkt, dass ich selten zufrieden bin, nachdem ich ein Bancha getrunken habe. Verity Fisher hat geantwortet: ‚Ich finde grünen oder gerösteten Tee nie durstlöschend, obwohl wiederum Tee aus Indien, Afrika und Ceylon (Sri Lanka) den Durst stillen. Komisch, oder?’

Die Idee war so interessant, daß ich seitdem immer noch darüber nachdenke. Warum löschen manche Tees überhaupt nicht den Durst? Was für eine Frage.

Wahrscheinlich gibt’s eine wissenschaftliche Antwort, aber ich kann damit überhaupt nichts anfangen. Das ist wirklich mehr als ich wissen kann.

Aber meine persönliche Erfahrung? Eine Meinung? Das habe ich natürlich.

So sehr ich ein rauchender Lapsang Souchong gern trinke, er mach mich nicht weniger durstig. Es ist ganz ähnlich wenn ich andere Rauchtees trinke. Ich möchte nichts über alle Grüntee-Sorten sagen. Trotzdem kenne ich viele grüne Tees die auch in dieser merkwürdigen Kategorie passen.

Viel starker, dunkler Tee löscht meinen Durst, so es hat nicht direkt damit zu tun. In meinem letzten Blogpost war ich ein bisschen rigide über Darjeeling mit Milch, aber manchmal trinke ich Milch in meinem Tee. Wenn ich Assam Harmutti oder Ceylon BOP Uva mit einem Schluck Milch trinke, weiß ich, daß ich nicht mehr durstig sein werde.

Vielleicht weißt du einen physicalischen Grund warum das so ist. Wenn ja, dann würde ich das gerne hören.

Andererseits, hast du bemerkt, daß spezifische Tees deinen Durst löschen als andere? Welche speziellen Tees?

Monday, 1 August 2011

Who would put milk in their Darjeeling tea?

There was a lively discussion this morning about polluting Darjeeling tea with milk. Robert Godden (you might know him as The_Devotea over on twitter) mentioned in passing that his wife insisted on drinking her Darjeeling with milk and sugar. It's Australia. They don't necessarily stand on convention in the distant reaches of civilisation.

For a few brief moments we had a Beasts of Brewdom situation. Almost immediately after the offhand remark about milk and sugar in Darjeeling, there was shock and dismay coming from up in Portland, Oregon. Lazy Literatus, who's also known by his given name Geoff Norman, could be heard spitting up his tea upon hearing how the Darjeeling was being mishandled.

Well at this point, another Australian (Verity Fisher also known as @joiedetea) quietly admitted that she'd uncharacteristically added milk to her Darjeeling that morning because she'd over-steeped her tea and the milk cut down on the bitterness. I was worried Geoff might have an aneurism at this point. She assured him that it wouldn't happen again, but I'm not entirely sure he believed her. Only time will tell.

I have an Irish friend who's been ordering Darjeeling in bulk for decades from the Tee Kampagne, and he's been putting milk in his tea since he was small. Or smaller. He wouldn't give a damn what these tea obsessives on twitter thought about how he took his tea. He doesn't idealise this high mountain delicacy like we do. It's simply another black tea for him. Simple.

So what about you? Are you more like Geoff, whose precarious health status seems to have recovered from the original shock, or me even? Would you sooner pour used motor oil in your Darjeeling than destroy it with moo juice?

Or are you a bit of a Philistine on the whole 'milk in my Darjeeling' debate? It's just tea, after all.