bah humbug…give me a white monkey

It’s almost Christmas, which means I should probably be writing a holiday-themed blogpost, but that’ll simply have to wait. This is NOT a holiday-themed blogpost.

I’m irritable and frustrated and don’t want much to do with either the holidays or humanity in general. So, how am I going to spend the next little while?
< With a bit of White Monkey tea that I got from Claus Kröger in Hamburg. Why?

Because I’m assuming that monkeys enjoy themselves even when the going gets rough. And I’m curious why there are so many monkey-related things when it comes to tea.

Oolong-picking monkeys have already played a very central role on this blog when Lisa Galaviz went to the Galleria in hopes of setting the monkeys at the tea shop free. Here’s Don’t tell her it’s not tea for your reading pleasure.

And here’s Lisa’s update on the topic in How can they still be out of monkeys?

Just rereading her gem of a blogpost and even a few moments of mine have put me in a bit better mood. Maybe this tea lark isn’t so bad, after all.

do I really have to like white tea?

the perfect ride for white tea drinking

Not only because I keep saying that I write this teablog partially for tea newcomers and the tea curious, but also because I interact with so many non-teadrinkers, I get asked a lot of really good questions about tea. Andreas Heinakroon (@heinakroon) asked about white tea recently. Though I can’t remember what his exact question was, I’m going to write this post as if it was, ‘Hey, what’s the best white tea to start with?‘ See? That’s not such a bad question, is it?

Well, Cody Lynn Clark (@codylynnclark) certainly thought so. Her response when I asked the question was, I want to be a jackass and say that my advice to newcomers is to not try white tea at all… but, maybe you’ll like it. I don’t.’ Then she continued, It always tastes a bit… musky? to me. And it’s finicky.’ Please, Cody, don’t hold back how you really feel, ok? That is a certainly one way to look at it. Actually, I understand this position quite well. 

Musky? Not the first word to come to mind when I think white tea, but I get it. Finicky? I definitely see this one. Normally, these are some incredibly sensitive leaves. Very finicky.

The first several times I brewed white tea, it didn’t taste much different than hot water. It’s exactly what Jarrod said about it when I served it to him. You don’t remember him? I talked about him in luring them over to the leaf-side. He’s always eager to try something new, but this clearly wasn’t to his liking. 

What did I serve him? A tea called China Snow Buds that I got from Claus Kröger in Hamburg. I find most white tea to be rather subtle, and this is far from an exception. It certainly didn’t taste remotely like hot water to me. It’s certainly not a bold tea, but there’s a light, sweet flavour there. Here’s how Claus Kröger’s website describes the China Snow Buds

‘An exquisite white tea from the slopes of the Taimu Mountains. This tea has not only a clear and fresh taste, but especially nice is a certain sweetness.’ (my translation) 

If I had to say, I’d admit that I liked the China Snow Buds, but I wouldn’t go for it first thing in the morning. I have to be in the right mood for this sort of tea, but it’s not unheard of that I brew it. Really. 

Although this isn’t a tea review, I’d like to show you the leaves. They’re beautiful.

China Snow Buds leaves

If you look really closely, you can see a white furry substance on the leaves. That’s not a bad thing. In this case, that stuff provides tasty goodness.

Here’s my question for you gentle readers: how would you introduce someone to white tea? How would you deal with the observation that it practically tastes like hot water? What’d you say in that situation? 

As always, comments are welcome. They’re very much appreciated. (Was that clear enough?)

A green tea you might try (or maybe not)

I started this teablog lark in January of this year, but the truth is that I deliberated about doing it for nearly nine months. When I finally decided to stick my neck out, it was after looking at other blogs and sites that were out there. It was disheartening at first.

I wanted to be knowledgeable, but there were people out there who knew so much more than me. As a matter f fact, some people said that my lack of expertise could be used to my advantage. That my readers would increase their knowledge of tea while I did. That’s sort of how it happens here, incidentally.

I wanted to make a beautiful site, but I’m neither a web designer nor a graphic designer. I’m limited in how much I can pretty it up visually. Really limited.

My focus has tended to be on my writing. I get a lot of compliments on my writing, but I assure you I don’t believe any of them. To be candid, I wouldn’t put myself out there if I didn’t think I had a voice. But I almost feel as if I’ve been becoming a writer for so long. I hope I never arrive.

The tea reviews here are nothing special. I know that. It’s not what I’m best at. It’s ok. I do want to talk about a green tea I’ve been drinking, because I’m almost out of it and I’m not sure when/if I’ll get it again. Have mentioned it in passing once while reviewing a string of greens, but never given it its due.

China Sencha Dong-Bai

From Claus Kröger (in Hamburg)

Here’s how he described it:

Der Tee zeichnet sich durch ein langes , dunkel grünes Blatt aus, sehr milder & bekömmlicher Grüntee.

This is not the nicest tasting green. Actually, it’s got that bitterness that makes some
not like green tea so much. Definitely ‘grassy’ and not bad if you like strong green teas, but this was only the first infusion. We’ll see how the tea improves in the second and even third infusions.

As expected, the second infusion was far superior. This is a much nicer tea than I first noticed. Might be getting more of it soon enough, after all. It’s no longer at all bitter. There’s more of the nice green tea taste now and I’m pretty sure that this tea’s taste will mellow as it cools.

This is something I’ve learned about green tea thanks to Sir William and Asiatic Fox. I used to make green tea once and pitch the tea immediately afterwards. I wasn’t knowingly wasting tea. I didn’t know.

These days, I really infuse green or Oolong every single time. It’s rarely better on the first infusion. Tea almost always improves the second or third time around. Not true with black tea unfortunately, but you can’t have everything, can you?