Thursday, March 31, 2016

Shades of Black

Tea is a wonderful beverage. It can soothe as well as inspire. It's wonderful to drink when you're alone, but it's fantastic when shared with friends.

I spent last evening sharing tea and conversation with my friend Niraj at his tea studio. We drank a flight of black teas, four from China and one from Nepal. It's so interesting to taste these teas side by side so you can really see the similarities as well as the differences.

We started with the Yunnan Gold, and also ended with it! Such a smooth sweet tea (and no-we don't add any sweeteners, it's naturally sweet!). Yet with this sweetness, you also get pepper and some spice. It's quite malty. From there we moved to the Himalayan Imperial Black from Nepal. Although the tea is similar, I got a totally different aroma from the steeped leaf, moist green earth. Of course these teas are from two very different areas. The Imperial Black is very creamy with a complex taste. We had to have my Lapsang Souchong and this time I noticed a slight menthol note. It's interesting how different notes can emerge.

Next up was the Keemun Mao Feng followed by Kickin' Keemun. What was most interesting to me was the difference of the leaves. Both Keemun, but totally different looking leaves. The Kickin' Keemun (Keemun Hao Ya B) is on the left (I had moved the cups for the picture) and the larger leaf of the Mao Feng is on the right. Both are slightly smokey (so you know I like them) with the Kickin' Keemun having more "a taste of fire" than actual smoke. It was quite malty with some pepper and an earthiness about it.

It's great to be able to compare taste and notes with someone. You can bounce ideas off each other and perhaps sense nuances you hadn't noticed alone. Find a friend and taste some teas together. You can open your mind to new possibilities and great conversations!

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