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Three Teas of Christmas

DSC_0350-1 Green, black and oolong. From the Harney and Sons Book Gift set. Three teas, picked as characteristic to their type.

Lung Ching.

Assam.

Ti Quan Yin.

My brother and I have enjoyed tea since we were little. At the time, it was just our mom’s Lipton. A new habit lately, when my brother visits, is to share tea.

Earlier this year, we picked up some puerh. We sat around discussing brewing methods.

This book set was his gift to me. We tried one tea, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Split a couple pots each night. We’re both big on tea, so it really worked well for the both of us. We’re both interested in getting equipment for gong fu style brewing, which just goes to show the emphasis on the social element of tea drinking. No, you really don’t need much equipment. It’s mostly about the process and the small amounts.

Lung Ching is different from the usual green tea, at least from a U.S. perspective. It has only a slight edge of the vegetal, grassy flavor. Mostly, it’s citrusy and slightly nutty, a little spinachy, and so light you’ll think you didn’t steep it long enough, but the flavor fills your mouth, coats your tongue. This is a happy tea, bright and lemony. It’s an extremely common type of Chinese green, according to the book, which explains its inclusion.

We brewed this up after returning to my place after dinner on Christmas day. It was a very relaxing drink to end the day.

The Golden Assam has a nice mix of golden tips, adding a light honeyed sweetness. We all know assam. It’s in Lipton and English Breakfast blends. As far as American tea drinking goes, it’s wallpaper. And of course it’s one of the standard teas of India. This version isolates it and gives you something worth tasting again. Comfortable and familiar, but it’ll make you rethink black tea if you’re a little burnt out on it.

We brewed this in the early evening, before meeting my friends for dinner on Saturday. It’s by no means especially strong, but it was a good wake up tea.

The Iron Goddess. Oolong is certainly not common here. Generally halfway between a green and black. This one is a bit on the lighter side, very floral; reminded me of jasmine at first. Best on the second or third steep. The book lists gardenia, buttered toast, and a sweet finish as common to this oolong; mine varies a bit, in that it’s especially light on the toasted side. The emphasis on gardenia confirms my impression of jasmine, with the buttery element coating the tongue; it’s a nice tea, but ultimately doesn’t stand out too much to my taste. Other brands, and other years from the same brand, apparently have a more noticeable toasted character, and I have a feeling that rounds it out to the better. The most broadly popular type of oolong, there is really no other choice for a quality introduction to the tea, although this particular sample pales in comparison to the Lung Ching.

We made this in the afternoon on Sunday. We had no real plans, so hanging out and discussing the tea while winding down was a nice break. Despite how negative I probably make it sound, it’s a tea to take your time to appreciate.

So we track the weekend by tracking the tea.

To paraphrase Mike Harney, if your tea doesn’t make you happy, you’re doing it wrong.

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