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?