A friend wanted to share some tea that she was given. I said I would host a tea party. In our house, any excuse will work for a tea party. I invited some friends over. They brought snacks: cucumber sandwiches, lemon bars, scones and clotted cream. We never decline snacketto’s.
In attendance to this soiree was a certified Tea Master, Nicole Armstrong. If you don’t know Nicole, you should. She knows tea, and loves to share that knowledge. We were enchanted by her enthusiastic manner and knowledge of these particular teas.
In Pursuit of Tea is a tea business out of Watertown, MA, with pure, full leaf and organic teas, when possible. I love the way that rolls off the tongue……Watertown. I think there’s a Frank Sinatra song by that name as well. Even Frank liked the sound of Watertown.
Nothing is needed to brew In Pursuit of Tea, therefore, nothing is added. No flavorings, no inferior quality lots of tea mixed in. We first sampled White Peony, or Bai Mudan, from Fujian, China. It’s a white tea: delicate, subtle, with a nice mouthfeel. The aroma of the initial steeping was sweet, like honey and melon. The taste matched. I love White Peony, which by the way, has nothing to do with the flower. The Chinese just like the sound of peony in a tea name. Maybe they like how it rolls off their tongue. We steeped this tea four times, and each time, the flavor was subtly stronger, and still eminently drinkable.
Second tea brewed was Tieguanyin 16-Year Aged, also from Fujian, China. Ok, I love Oolongs as well, and this tea had a wonderful roasty smell that was an indication of the taste to come. No disappointment there, but by the third steeping, I was beginning to taste the tannin in the tea.
Third tea was a Darjeeling First Flush, from the Steinthal Estate, in West Bengal, India. A black tea, it has floral overtones, and the passionfruit taste slurps around in your mouth. Darjeelings are a wonderful introduction to black teas. It spoils you right away.
Experimenting with loose teas is a different adventure than bagged tea, not that there’s anything wrong with bagged tea. I grab a bag of tea when I am running out the door, or in a hurry, or want a particular blend (and there are several that I like) but if I have more time than usual, I choose loose leaf. It’s a signal to my brain to slow down, put my feet up, and take some time to relax.