Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Gorgeous Red

My palate leans towards heavier teas. Love red teas for the aroma and complexity, especially the Yunnan Dian Hong (滇红). 'Red', as defined by the Chinese, and the same tea termed 'black' by Western perspectives. In the world of Chinese teas, 'black' tea doesn't just comprise pu'er. So in the same breath, some Darjeelings, Nilgiri Frost, and Assams, defined as black teas in the Western terminology, are known as red teas in China, and uh some parts of Southeast Asia.

One of the best Kenyan teas in the like of a Dian Hong is curated by Paper and Tea. Their Royal Golden Safari is impressive. The quality of the Kenyan cultivar and leaves isn't inferior to a good grade Dian Hong. The base flavors are similar, but vastly different when sipped. Malt, chocolate and deeply layered, it's one of the most underrated red teas in the world that should not be drunk with milk or sugar. In fact, it doesn't taste as good. I tried, dohh. The briny Assams go better with milk and sugar.

The best part, my friends seem to have some sort of odd understanding when it comes to buying me tea. Unless you're a close friend, no sane human would attempt to buy me tea. Many, without prior discussion, bought teas from Paper and Tea, and gave them to me for Christmas. They bought them online (yes, P & T ships to Singapore) or in Berlin directly. I was beyond thrilled. These people asked outright what are the teas I like from which tea shops, all over the world. They asked me way back in September and October. So I didn't suspect a thing. Super smart lor. I thought they were getting recommendations to gift teas to others.

Brewing tea for Pekoe & Imp workshops is starkly different from brewing under more controlled circumstances. Even with a carefully crafted algebraic formula, teas served out at workshops aren't as perfect or gorgeous as those I brew for four to six humans at home or at a cosy venue with controlled environmental factors. I still love to brew tea for myself, consider the quality of the leaves versus my expectations, decide on the vessels for the tea, and how they would be used. Then brew up a big cup of gorgeous amber or ochre liquid, sip the blessings of friends and luxuriate in the quietude of the moment.

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