There have been bitter debates over the proper way to prepare and drink tea for nearly as long as the leaves have been harvested. This may sound a little melodramatic, but I’m not exaggerating—people take their tea very seriously.
In high school I began drinking. Hold back your judgments for the time being—I’m sure that I’m not the only one who got an early start, and besides, I’m not here to talk about what was in the bottle nor what came out of it, but rather what was on it.
So, last night I was sitting on a friend’s couch, slumped back and in comfortable conversation. Tea came up. This, as I’ve mentioned before, happens fairly frequently. After all, tea is what I do, so naturally it becomes a share of what I talk about. As frequent and usual as these conversations are, however, in this particular tea conversation something unusual occurred. But that couch and that conversation is not where this story begins...
I am, like most of us, a product of my culture. Instant gratification may as well be stamped into my DNA. Over the weekend, a coworker offered me a sip of his tulsi, and I
scoffed at it. “I know it’s really good for you,” I admitted, “but it’s
a longevity-thing. Right now I need some caffeine. And, if what I
drink is not going to make me feel awake, I want it to do something
else—calm my senses, clear up my sinuses, alter my vision—something that
I can notice right away.” This was how the subject of instant gratification came up.
In the beginning, when tea was taken as a medicinal drink in China, shortly after its discovery, people would add all sorts of things to it. Among other spices and strange medicinal ingredients, they sometimes added onions, and salt.
It is the sugar that makes sweet tea. I knew this before I knew how to brew it. It is for this reason that I hesitated to ask my grandmother for her sweet tea recipe. Gran’s sweet tea is amazing. And as with many amazing things, sometimes the recipe is best blissfully ignored.
Like most oolongs, it has that signature smooth feel in every sip; I even over-steeped my cup, and still it was smooth as silk, although considerably richer than I expected.
On my desk are two separate tea mugs and a teapot, all full, and containing two different teas. A flavored black tea with milk. An accidental blend of two oolongs. A full teapot. Is this normal?
I have never eaten passion fruit, so I didn't really have an idea what it would taste like, but the first sip explodes on the tongue like juice! This is a mild, broad flavored black tea without a whole lot of depth, but a well balanced fruity flavor.
The number of times my offer of tea has been met with refusal because
the person in question insists they are a coffee drinker never ceases to
baffle me. I’m a coffee drinker. I’m also a milk drinker, a juice
drinker, and a water drinker. I support and encourage people to drink
liquids of all varieties.
Wow, this tea packs a flavor punch! You wouldn’t think something with only four ingredients would create something so complex, but there it is!
It has been seven years since I’ve been to North Carolina, and many things have changed. I no longer know the town, the streets, or the buildings. But I know the people—and somehow that realization came from neat rows of sweet tea lined up at the end of a buffet.
Guayusa’s flavor is rich, earthy, and remarkably mild—probably even more remarkably mild had we brewed it at normal strength, but this morning my glass of tea came with a warning, which I immediately disregarded. “You can’t scare me off with strength,” I told my co-worker as he apologetically pushed a dark, brimming glass across the desk towards me.
I have been drinking and researching tea for nearly ten years; my employer and the host of our show could easily triple that. We knew going into this podcast project that we could teach tea on the air for at least a year or so before running out of stuff to talk about. We were wrong.
So, I’m sitting here in a local coffee shop, and an interesting tea conversation came up with a random patron. I have interesting tea conversations all the time—interesting for the other party, anyway, as I find myself repeating the same sort of answers about what I do with every new person that I meet.
It is Tuesday morning, and I am hung over. The first order of business was to order in some huevos rancheros from our neighborhood Mexican café, complete with superbly spicy salsa verde. The second, which I am tackling now, is to consume cup after cup of strong black tea.
It was a busy show, this World Tea Expo, and I had a duty: to cover as much of the show as possible, and to sift through the hundreds of displays in search of the newest, brightest, and most awesome. I was thrilled to stumble upon the “North American Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle,” where tea companies were preparing their model iced teas for judgment by the crowd.
There is no shortage of sweetening agents that can make a fine pairing with tea, but most of us use plain white sugar. We all know what it is and how to use it, and for that reason we are moving quickly past it and into the more imaginative sweet options.
Sometimes the last thing we want to do during the summertime is turn on the gas. This week, Manish offers a little relief: three easy and delicious ways to brew iced tea without nearing the stove.
In show five, Manish begins to detail the art of making iced tea at home, so the next time you tune in you can do so with a chilly glass in your hand and a fully satisfied collection of taste buds.