Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I don't know how I developed this tea obsession I have. It started when I was a teenager. I think it stared with my tendency to want to exhaustively explore variations on things, especially culinary things -- the same urge that led me to plant 11 varities of mint this year-- combined with a standard-issue sense of Anglophilia and a dollop of naive romanticism. Later, I stumbled upon an early version of the Upton Tea newsletter (in Factsheet 5, of all places), complete with their then-modest offering of quality tea, and my imagination was captured. I went to Europe when I was 21, and returned home with fond memories of the breakfast Assam I had taken to drinking in Ireland. Tracked down a decent ctc Assam at a local Indian grocery, then remembered the Upton Tea newsletter and finally placed an order. It was all downhill from there. My first apartment was lined with National Geographic maps, and I would sit and stare at them and think about the faraway places and the tea they grew and drank there. I wanted to taste it all.

I still drink Assam in the morning-- I'm pretty picky about this, I don't want Keemuns or Ceylons in the morning-- I like bold single-estate Assams, the maltier, the better. Right now it's Zaloni Estate, but my all-time favorite is Nahorhabi (followed closely by Boisahabi). In the afternoon I go for a Yunnan, when I can get it, or Spring Dragon jade oolong, or a good quality sencha. A second-flush darjeeling if I'm having a snack, first flush if I'm not. Or in the summer, iced tea (sweet, please, and this is one time I'm not too picky as long as it hasn't gone off). At night, white tea or a light jasmine or After the Snow Sprouting or Moroccan mint, or a champagne oolong. In the fall, Lapsang Souchong or a Pu-erh, or sweet, milky chai. I don't much care for Earl Grey anymore.

Right now I'm drinking some white tea to which I added a liberal pinch of my homegrown spearmint (actually, apple mint and spearmint both-- I have an abundance). Pretty tasty. Hits the spot.

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