Our third tea was a Raspberry Scented Black Tea. We learned about the difference in scenting versus flavoring teas. Scenting teas means leaving them to absorb the scents of whatever they are being flavored with--herbs, flowers or fruit. The process takes longer and is much more labor intensive than flavoring teas which is done by applying a extract or oil to the tea. Usually with flavored teas, the aroma holds loner than the flavor. Scented teas tend to hold both aroma and flavor longer. (After going home I looked at my flavored teas and most said "infused" so I need to ask Dave in which camp that lies. I am hoping it it the same or similar to scenting!) This tea had a very strong fresh raspberry scent in the dry leaves. The wet leaf and the aroma of the tea was not quite as strong. Both the aroma and flavor were of real raspberry, not fake tasting. The taste of this tea was sweet and fruity, not too overpowering. I really liked this Raspberry tea.
Next we moved on to Indian black teas--we tasted teas from two out the of three areas that form the "triangle" or triad of teas: Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiri. The latter tea Nilgiri we did not taste, it is most commonly used for flavoring or blending. The leaves of the black teas from India (camellia sinensis assamica) are broader than those from China (camellia sinensis).
The class ended with our final tea, a Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka. Tea production started there after a fungus wiped out most of the coffee crops in the 1800s and now Sri Lanka is the third largest producer of teas globally. Ceylon teas are used by themselves and in blends. (Lipton Tea is one of the largest growers and exporters of teas fro Sri Lanka). The tea we tried was from the Lumbini Estates. The tight rolled dry leaves have a white tip and have a light citrus aroma. The tea's liquor is a coppery red and it has a spicy, sweetness and some briskness.
Another full and interesting class. We end the series this week with Oolong Teas.
Chai at Home
I make Chai often at home and drink it with hot milk, iced milk and sometimes even shaken with a bit of vodka or gin and some half & half for a delicious Chai Martini. I usually make the Chai tea liquid and keep it in the fridge for up to a week--adding milk and sweetener as I drink it. I switch around my spices depending on my mood, (I fancy myself quite the Chaiwalla or Chai Tea Maker!) but I usually come back to the following recipe and ingredients:
Homemade Chai Tea
4 cups water
1-2 star anise
6 green cardamon pods (split open)
2 cinnamon sticks
12 peppercorns (white, black or mixed)
1 tsp powdered ginger or 1 tsp fresh ground ginger
2 Tbsp Black tea (preferably Darjeeling or English Breakfast)
Bring water to a boil and add spices, boiling for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and steep spices for 10 minutes. Bring water back to just at a boil, add tea and simmer about 4 minutes. Strain and reserve Chai liquid.
When ready to drink, get your favorite cup or glass, add the tea to the milk of your choice and add your sweetener of choice to taste. (I usually use honey or raw sugar) Proportion milk to your taste (I do about 2/3 Chai to 1/3 milk). Enjoy!