While at Phoenix Tea, www.Phoenix-teashop.com. in Burien, last weekend, I was led through tea tastings with Brett Boynton, owner of the tea shop. What I know about tea is this…some I like, others I don’t. But the subtlties of tea have not ever been explained to me, even after 50 years of drinking tea. It was nice to have a guide, and Brett is good at it. We tried some ALISHAN, a high mountain Taiwanese oolong. The first infusion smells, to me, like seaweed, but the later infusions lose that smell, and the taste feels buttery in the mouth, or like olive oil. My companion said that it felt like when rain hits a hot desert. Whatever it is, it’s quite pleasant. Water that is too hot, say the standard boiling point, 212 degrees, gives the tea an iron, sulphur taste. Which means; don’t boil the life out of water before using it for tea. Have some respect for the drink. We also tried something called WHITE WHISPER, which is a Kenyan white tea, with huge leaves. Now that I had an idea of how tea should feel in my mouth, and I used water that was somewhere around 163 degrees, I could feel how buttery the tea felt in my mouth. This tea was a little sweeter than the Alishan for me, and had pear notes to it.
Tea tasting is fun. And educational. You can tea taste with Brett at Phoenix Tea 10:30 on Saturdays, and then, when you come to the NW Tea Festival Oct 6 & 7th at Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center, you will have a better appreciation of tea. And maybe meet some tea vendors, like Brett, who know, and want to share, their love for tea.