tea with lemon and catching up with a good friend

First Annual International Tea Trade Convention summer 2011

Xavier and I haven’t known one another for such a long time, but we’re fast friends. Not sure where that term comes from, but I don’t know of any faster friends.

We met last year in the summer when he came to Munich for the First Annual Tea Trade Convention, and I saw him at New Year’s when he and Sabine came to Nice at the same time my wife and I were there.

I’ve documented all of this here on my teablog, but I thought I’d give you a quick synopsis of our backstory. Xavier and I have spent much of our time together either drinking or talking about tea. He’s one of the many tea people I’ve found as a result of teablogging, and he quite possibly might be the most important.


He’s just some French dude, right? Not exactly. He’s one of the best teabloggers I know, because he does a niche thing that no-one does quite the way he does.

Xavier writes about tea and business. It’s intriguing what he writes about. Every single time I read one of his posts, I learn something I’d never even considered before. Every. Single. Time.

If you don’t know TeaConomics, you should.

What’d we drink when we met yesterday? Here:

I’ll write about the tea another time, but I can tell you that it’s going to be available soon. If you like the things that they do over at the Le Palais des Thés, you’re going to love what I have to tell you soon. It’s an entirely new line of tea blend. Four blends this year and then two more next year and two more the next.
That means that by 2014, you can get one of eight exceptional tea blends from Le Palais des Thés. I’ll review the four that’re coming out this year as soon as they’re available.
Xavier and I had le Citron yesterday, and we both liked it quite a lot. More on that soon.


that wet earth smell

Am on a bit of a blogging tear right now, but it’s hard not to be when there’s so much going on around here. There was a nice mix of sightseeing and tea drinking today, but I wanted to quickly talk about a tea that Xavier brought along with him.

It’s a green tea from China that he got as a sample from Le Palais des Thés, which is a tea seller we both like quite a bit. The tea’s called Gu Zhang Mao Jian, and the package says that it has, ‘the aroma of wet earth after a storm that is so popular in China.’

We spent an inordinate amount of time trying to detect that wet earth smell. But now that I have a bit more time to think about it, I wonder if the Chinese really have such a fondness for this scent of damp soil. If so, why?

But enough about that. Here’s how the leaves looked before they got all earthy wet:

I thought it looked almost like a Darjeeling, but it tasted like anything but.

The first infusion was nice but alas, as you might’ve expected, no wet earth smell. Maybe it’d materialise upon further brewings (it didn’t). There was a freshness to this Gu Zhang Mao Jian that I almost want to call grassy. Nothing like a Japanese Sencha, but very vegetal.

There was something that almost tasted of asparagus in there, and that sent us down the rather confusing yet enjoyable path of finding the French word for asparagus (it’s asperge by the way). The asparagus-like taste only became stronger on the second infusion.

The smell of the leaves afterwards was so delicious. Almost wanted to go search for something about cooking with green tea leaves. Almost, but not quite.

Here’s how the leaves looked after the thorough workout we gave them:

Unfortunately, you can’t smell the asparagus in a photo. Use your imagination, ok?

There’ll be plenty more about the weekend that all these tea people came to visit, but I wanted to include this tea review before things got under way in earnest. There will be a bit of earnestness, after all. You don’t believe a word I’m saying, do you?

tea choices for marauding teenagers or Zombie Apocalypse

So I was watching the opening scene of the 1966 British film Blow-Up this evening, and there were packs of wild (even insane) teenagers romping through the streets of London. I think it was supposed to signify the Swinging Sixties, but it served a different purpose for me.

It got me thinking.

About the Zombie Apocalypse, of course.

Whether it’s marauding British teenagers in clothing styles that really can’t be described as flattering or zombies in full-scale apocalypse mode, there’s an obvious question that I haven’t seen discussed by the more reputable teablogs. Well not yet at least.

What tea might you serve to these eerily similar groups of people? The object of serving them tea wouldn’t be in any way to dissuade them from their brain eating goals. Simply put, a nice tea would at least slow them down. And potentially make the whole experience just a bit more civilised. If only a bit.

But which tea for this most delicate of situations? Be honest. It’s a more difficult question than you first thought, isn’t it?

My first choice was a decent first grade Keemun. Seems like this is the sort of tea many blends include to temper the boldness of a strong Assam. If it’s good in that capacity, then why not here? But something about that choice just seems too easy. The zombies may or may not go for the Keemun, but I have serious doubts that the teenagers would have anything to do with such a tea. It’s just a hunch.
What about a tea from Kenya? My friend Neil introduced me to Everyday Kenya from leaf tea. I wrote about it in I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. That’s interesting enough to please the teenagers and strong enough that the zombies might even be able to taste it. But still…I don’t know. It’s simply not the perfect choice.
Oh wait. I have it. Why’d it take me so long to come up with this one?
Another tea sometimes used in blends to tame an errant Assam is a good Nilgiri. The one I’m thinking of has all the attributes of the above-mentioned teas, but it’s got an extra dose of zombie-halting flavour. It’s one I found at Le Palais des Thés and, as you can see, I can recommend it for the most unlikely of occasions.
The name of this delicious Nilgiri is Thiashola ‘Carrington’, which really cannot be recommended more highly. As much as the teenagers will enjoy the actual taste of the tea, they’ll get as much fun out of the name ‘Thiashola‘ as I did when I first read it. My thoughts ran wild at the thought of a girl named Thia and her anatomy.
If nothing else, this tea’s name can be employed in their sophomoric poems to rhyme with Pensacola or Indianola.
Only the most crucial of questions are answered on this teablog. I feel as if I’m providing an important service.