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mbanu

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  1. mbanu

    Boiled tea?

    A video on making boiled pu'er courtesy of Foreign Languages Press via TEARoma: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VjfN_el6SQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbcPXsD-RI8 Bulk of the actual tea-making process is in the 2nd video.
  2. Another oddity... In the early 1800s, 48 Charing Cross was the home of "Thorpe & Grey", grocer and tea-dealer. I'd be curious to know what Mr. Grey's first name was...
  3. Just a thought. I suppose the idea that a Chinese official would send a Hakka medicinal tea as a gift does seem like a bit of an odd story. Apocryphally, the blend was originally released by tea-maker George Charlton of 48 Charing Cross as "Earl Grey's Mixture" in 1836, and bought up afterwards by Jacksons of Picadilly (who was then bought by its main competitor in the Earl Grey trade, Twinings, in 1990). However, the idea of adding bergamot oil to tea was a trick of earlier origin. Here, for instance, is a helpful hint from 1824: I suppose then that another alternative might have simply been that the Earl was cheap? Interesting that the teas mentioned are all green... (maybe the use of non-green tea was the key distinction in Earl Grey's Mixture?) I believe that Twinings claim to fame in regards to Earl Grey is that they were the first to make use of Indian tea in their mixtures.
  4. I've recently learned about a type of tea popular in certain parts of China, where oolong is stuffed into a hollowed-out pomelo and allowed to age. Might this have been the style of tea the Earl was trying to have replicated by his English tea blenders? During the time period when Earl Grey was developed, I believe that Europeans had yet to make a distinction between a heavy oxidized oolong and a black tea. Thoughts?
  5. Anyone have any pointers for discovering more on the history of kombucha? The internet so far has been less than helpful, either pointing to Japan (this is a mistake based on the fact that Japan has its own kelp tea named kombucha), or to a mythical past in North East Asia going back thousands of years (despite the fact that black tea was not invented until the 1600s). I suppose kombucha could have originally been made with green tea, but that's not the way I typically encounter it. I've also heard that the drink originated in Russia in the 1800s (teakvas), which sounds a bit more plausible, but am at a loss for where to go from there. Any help?
  6. According to a helpful paper from A. Loconto over at Michigan State University, Typhoo apparently sources some of their tea as direct purchases from Tanzanian tea factories.
  7. Well, they must be doing something right... their sales in the UK are up 53.3% over 2009, although they are still stuck firmly in 4th place in the UK tea sales ranking, behind Tetley, PG Tips, and Twinings, according to Nielsen ratings. Simply advertising? A fairly cryptic quote from the July 2010 issue of Independent Retail News from the Typhoo brand manager: "Driving up consumer basket spend in place of a pure price-reduction strategy"... so that means relying on volume sales to make up the difference in reduced price instead of using poorer-quality tea?
  8. What would you say is the "Typhoo" flavor that distinguishes it from other British teas? Any idea what sort of teas they generally blend to achieve it? The internet suggests that it's a mix of Kenyan, Ceylon, and Assam, although the actual Typhoo website seems to be a bit silent about it. Given that the U.K. has been the biggest importer of Kenyan CTC tea for a while, I'd imagine that CTC Kenyan is the backbone, or at least a major component... On the other hand, Typhoo is owned by the Apeejay Surrendra Group, which has 50,000 acres of tea in Assam, so maybe Assam is the main sort. Thoughts? I've noticed that steeping Typhoo has the most disconcerting aroma... an almost faintly spoiled funk, although this doesn't seem to get into the brewed tea. Has anyone else noticed this? Intentional, or one of the dangers of constantly adjusting the blend to take advantage of low tea auction prices? I'm also curious if they use the same blend worldwide, or will you get a different Typhoo depending on if you buy it in the UK, the U.S., India, etc.? (I suppose I should email them about that...) Also, would you consider Typhoo to be a fannings or a dust grade CTC tea? Those pellets are very small, and when you "uncurl" them the actual tea particles are even smaller...
  9. mbanu

    Boiled tea?

    I've always thought of boiling tea as a major no-no as far as flavor is concerned, something to be left to people who see tea simply as a source of caffeine. However, recently I've come to understand that this is both a standard way that Pu'er is consumed, as well as the usual route for making Indian chai, the basis of the tea concentrate (zavarka) used in serving tea Russian-style, and the original method for consuming tea in China back in the Tang Dynasty. When tea is boiled, what is lost in flavor and what is gained? Are there certain types of tea that take to this sort of treatment better than others?
  10. Has China ever had its own black tea culture? Every time I look into the history of various black teas from there, I seem to discover some sort of foreign impulse. Fujian, once famous for compressed tea, fell on hard times as tastes moved to loose-leaf. Attempting to imitate the pan-fired green teas of Anhui, monks in Wuyi supposedly created some of the first Wuyi oolong-style teas by accident. As an outgrowth of the oolong-style, more heavily oxidized "xiaozhong" (souchong) process tea (withered and dried using pinewood charcoal instead of bamboo charcoal) from Tong Mu in Wuyi seem to have been some of the very first black teas. This was happening in the late 1500s/early 1600s, I think. Was Wuyi black tea consumed locally? It seems like this was right around the same time that the East India Company discovered tea, isn't it? ("Bohea" is a bastardization of Wuyi, while "Lapsang Souchong" is Lei Xun Xiao Zhong - i.e. smoke-tainted xiaozhong process tea, most likely from damaged ovens.) The Western thirst for souchong also lead (I think?) to the more sophisticated "gongfu" (congou) process of manufacturing black tea. Keemun was created in 1875 in Qimen, Anhui to cater to the unquenchable thirst of the British for Fujian black teas. Yunnan black tea was started in 1939 after Qimen was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. Somewhere along the line, the British started their own traditions in India and Sri Lanka, while the Dutch did the same in Indonesia. But what about China? Any info or helpful sources of info would be greatly appreciated!
  11. mbanu

    Victorian tea?

    Doing a bit more digging, the double-steep method seems to be a variant of the Chinese method of putting a small amount of hot water on the leaves to allow them to unfold before putting the rest of the water on. However, the amount of time this is done in is much less than the 11 to 19 minutes (!!) suggested by the 1866 example.
  12. The entertainingly non-metric old British taster's method is to put as much tea as a sixpence weighs in a one gill (Imperial) tasting cup. (~2.83 grams per 142 mL fluid). This makes a fairly agreeable cup of tea. However, when I scale everything upwards, such as using 23 grams of tea in a 40 oz. teapot, the tea comes out very strong, and a bit too much even with milk. Has anyone else noticed this effect? Any suggestions for how to adjust the weight of tea used when making large batches?
  13. mbanu

    Victorian tea?

    I was curious about how tea was taken by the English during the Victorian era, so I did a little bit of digging on Google Books. One surprise was the number of works that suggested a "two-part" steep, namely steeping the tea for a few minutes in a very small amount of boiling water, then filling the remainder of the pot with boiling water and steeping again. It seemed to be a popular competitor to the more standard three to five minute steep, all-water-at-once method used today. An example from The Dictionary of Daily Wants, circa 1866: I get the impression that the dual-steep method is the older one, as it is mentioned more frequently in the early part of the era (Leigh Hunt mentions it in his London Journal in 1834) and less as the 1800s draw to a close. Does anyone have any idea why it fell out of favor? Was it due to the switch from Chinese teas to Ceylon and Indian teas? Something else? Does anyone out there still prefer the double-steep method? It seems as though it would make tea that was very bitter... a milk-only method, I assume? Any thoughts?
  14. It seems like organic & Fair Trade tea are more easy to produce in countries that follow the "plantation" model of production (India, Sri Lanka, etc.), because it is easier to monitor the crops and the workers. Kenya and China (state farms excepted), seem to both follow the "small holder" model, where a bunch of small farmers produce tea that are then pooled at the factory. This seems like a bit of a regulatory headache when it comes to getting proper certification... On the one hand, in Kenya at least, there is a push towards consolidation of tea production (http://www.emoinvestments.com/News_inner.php?id=21), however, there has also been a counter-trend in the past towards more small-holder work, as tea from small-holders is usually less expensive to produce (because of the ability to side-step expensive environmental and labor regulations). In China there are a few people trying to produce Fair Trade tea under the small holder system (Yi Select under Wang Geda, Dazhangshan Organic Tea Farmer Association, etc.) Do you think this trend will continue? What about dealing with the Chinese State Farms? Bureaucratic nightmare? I'd be really interested in hearing from someone more familiar with the situation in China... What about Kenya? Most of its tea goes to the UK, which has a keen interest in Fair Trade... I've seen news articles saying that they're making it work, but I'm not quite sure how... Thoughts? *Edit: Ah, through legal loopholes, apparently.
  15. 3/4 Noilly original dry, 3/4 carpano, 3/4 Macallan Cask Strength, dashes angostura. Well, it is quite a different drink than the subtle pleasure of the affinity with the Asyla. A bit more heat and maybe less body. Still, it's one of those, "Hm, that's interesting, maybe I should have another sip. Oh oops, it's gone. Another please!" kind of formulations. Thanks again for this. Really impressive.
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