Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tea Time: Please Join Me For A Cup of Tea!

I begin each day with a triple (or is it quadruple?) expresso, followed by a large draught of ice-cold water. I do not eat any food before noon, at the earliest. Every afternoon I recaffeinate, in one way or another, and nearly every single day I drink tea, whether as a part of my caffeine regimen, or at night for the opposite "medical" effect.

Tea is a source of great comfort and joy to me, partly because of its exquisite scent. In fact, the range of tea scents rivals that of perfumes, though the former are not usually thought of as "composed". Teas are harvested and prepared, however, and the best teas are accorded every bit as much care as a well-composed perfume. 

For these reasons, I've decided to start a little tea corner here at the salon de parfum, a place where you can pull up a chair, take a look at what I've brewed up, and hopefully share whatever you may have enjoyed on that day. The festivities will begin tomorrow afternoon, but I wanted to give everyone a head's up.

I do hope that you'll join me at the salon de parfum's tea corner and bring your tea stories to share!


  1. I'm not a connoisseur by any means, but I do like tea. It doesn't really count (because there is no actual tea in it), but lately I've been drinking kobucha.... and I just ran out. I am of the view that if a liquid does not contain caffeine I might as well drink water... and that includes alcohol.... but I don't think kobucha has caffeine in it... just seaweed. I like it anyway. But the Japanese put -cha at the end of a lot of things which don't actually have tea in them.... I guess English is like that, too.

    1. Hello, Furriner!

      There are many levels of tea appreciation, and the true connoisseurs (who shop exclusively at Upton Tea Imports, eschew all bags (even Tazo full leaf!), and can distinguish by taste and scent alone first from second flush Darjeeling, and FTOP from FGTOP, lol ) are few and far between. Most Americans believe that Orange Pekoe is a type of tea, not a size of tea leaf cut.

      After your time in Japan, you know a lot more about tea than the average American, I am sure. They have awesome Sencha in those cute little hotel rooms fully equipped with tea centers! Basically their hotel industry Sencha is much better than most high-grade grocery store tea in the United States--especially the green...

      I believe that Kombucha ferments to produce alcohol. In fact, I have a couple of old bottles in my fridge which I'm afraid to open because they may explode! ;-) I was definitely into that drink for a while, but I seemed to have hit a vinegar wall.

      What about kukicha? Also not really tea, I think, although there seem to be two kukichas: one is brown stems; the other is green? Is that right?

    2. I had written a long reply... which kind of got lost somewhere.... Anyway.... Jpanaese kobucha and the kombucha that you find at the grocery store are two entirely different things. Japanese kobucha (昆布茶) is this powder made from kelp you mix with hot water and drink. It is sometimes flavored with ume -- that Japanese plum/apricot -- or with mushrooms. Kombucha is a fermented drink, which has nothing to do with kombu (昆布 -- kelp). Don't ask me where they got the name. If you can find Japanese kobucha, give it a try! It kind of tastes like a salty broth.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Chloe! I look forward to your contributions to the tea talks! ;-)

  3. Great! I'm a total tea fan, both for a sip and for a spray! My latest love - Earl Grey sencha! I drink coffee, as well, but not as often as the tea!

    1. Greetings, Lyubov!

      Yes, tea and perfume are perfect partners and can be equally olfactorily delightful!

      I have not tried Earl Grey sencha, but to be honest, I am a sencha purist who eschews any and every adulteration of that fine yet simple tea. More this afternoon on sencha, which will be the first cup brewed at the salon de parfum's tea corner!

      I should say that I do like a good Earl Grey, and I recently ordered some Earl Grey white, which I'll brew up and discuss here in the not-too-distant future as well...

      I, too, drink more tea, volume wise, than coffee. If I drank that much coffee, I'd overdose on caffeine! Fortunately, there are many fine teas and herbal infusions with low or no caffeine content, so I can imbibe all day--and night! In the winter it's hot tea; in the summer it's cold. I think that it is safe to say that I am well hydrated. ;-)

  4. I'll have tea with you Sherapop! I've just finished a cup of Madura (an Aussie brand of home grown tea). There is no crisis, misfortune or ailment that cannot be alleviated with "a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down" or so the saying went during my childhood (I do believe that Bex were withdrawn from the market - too many zombie mothers...). I drink a lot more coffee these days but .tea is the comfort drink, a refreshing cure all, and it's making a comeback! No more tarry tasting Bushells in a tannin-stained teapot; it's all designer tea shops and special blends these days. Boutique tea - who would have thought? The teapots, the china cups, the hand-knitted tea cosies, so much to celebrate!

    1. So true, Clare: so much to celebrate! Tea culture may be even richer than perfume culture. Somehow it has not succumbed to the evil forces of corporatized marketing. Perhaps tabloid celebrities don't drink tea?

      I have never heard of Bex. I assume that it is some prescription med used to make people believe that their lives are perfectly fine as they are?

      "There is no crisis, misfortune or ailment that cannot be alleviated with a cup of tea..."

      Who needs prescription meds, when we have tea? ;-)

      What is Madura? Sounds like a black tea. Please tell us more!

  5. Sherapop,
    Madura is an Australian tea brand, widely available in supermarkets here. It's a family owned company that grows tea on a plantation located in the beautiful Tweed Valley (on the New South Wales/Queensland border). This is a glorious part of the country, close to the coast and surrounded by sub tropical rainforest. They make a variety of teas and blends: black, white, green and so on, but supplement their home grown supply with imported stock from India and Ceylon (funny how "Ceylon" and not "Sri Lanka" is still used when talking tea - romantic tradition I suppose)
    I'm currently drinking the Premium blend, a black tea as you rightly guessed, but I also have green tea on hand. Not the lovely Sencha you describe in your next post, but more the finely ground green stuff in a bag.
    I tried to insert a graphic from one of the old Bex ads - the sort with a swooning fifties-style housewife in a head scarf, back of hand pressed to forehead in a state of mild despair. Didn't work, alas. Anyway, Bex, along with Vincents, were sold in supermarkets and chemists as boxed powders encased in little paper envelopes. The formula apparently did not, as I had assumed, contain any of the good stuff (as in recreationally desirable) but comprised a hefty dose of caffeine, aspirin and another analgesic drug. The latter was the cause of all the strife, at some point being identified as carcinogenic and also causing kidney failure. The phrase about 'a cup of tea,a Bex and a good lie down' is so firmly entrenched in the Australian vernacular that people still use and recognise it - well, not young people - despite Bex not gracing our shelves for many a decade.
    For future engagements, please note that I have my black tea STRONG with a flat teaspoon of sugar and dash of milk. Green tea is drunk unadulterated. I do not drink fruit flavoured or chamomile teas, but admit that I've not really explored that area much - it sounds so blechhh..
    I would just like to share one other beverage related tip with you. It is a sure fire trick that works for those occasions when social convention dictates that you offer guests a "cuppa" but really couldn't be faffed making them one (for example, if someone drops by inconveniently and unannounced and you want them to be on their way quickly, or perhaps at the end of a dinner party when you're a bit drunk and don't think you could manage all the brewing intricacies and carrying of cups etc). Asking guests "Would you like a boiled beverage?" almost always results in confusion and polite refusal, invoking as it does, images of something vile,watery and perhaps with a scrag end of of beef or turkey neck floating about. Rarely do they ask for clarification, thus denying themselves a nice tea or coffee. Perhaps they're concerned that the explanation might be worse than imagined and declining the offer would then be ruder than rude...

    1. I love it, Clare! "Boiled beverage!" I know that I would steer clear. ;-)

      Thanks for explaining what Madura is and also Bex. Maybe Madura is to Australia what Stash or Tazo are to the United States? I believe that Stash is still a private company, but Tazo was bought by Starbucks. Fortunately its products did not suffer in the exchange. In fact, Tazo now offers some excellent full leaf and loose leaf teas which I'll certainly be brewing up here at our little tea corner soon!

      Stout black tea with milk: yes. I do prefer half and half, because I don't like a watery brew, so it stays richer that way. The green tea you describe sounds like most of our grocery store greens, usually sourced from China. They brew up brownish or even gray and are sometimes fully impotable to me. (Hmm... is impotable a word?)

      Despite their arrant mediocrity, many people drink the grocery store green teas because we had a "green tea is good for you" craze here for a few years, so the idea really stuck in people's minds. Allegedly green tea is packed with antioxidants, which "they say" stave off cancer.

      I believe that nowadays even Stash premium green is available at grocery stores, come to think of it (I usually order it online). So it's the one readily available green tea which I would endorse. Most Americans have never been to Japan or tried Japanese tea except at sushi bars, where I believe bancha is served (not sencha). It's probably easier for you Aussies to make a trip to Japan. From here, it's a twenty-four hour flight to Hiroshima, including a couple of connections.

      Sugar in tea for some reason has never really worked for me. Only in chai, but lately I've been making it with honey instead. In truth, chai is more like a dessert than a drink for me. Or maybe a meal replacement beverage. ;-) Similar to Thai iced tea, which must pack a mighty punch of calories, given how sweet it is. I believe that it is prepared with sweetened condensed milk. As a matter of fact, I was on a kick for a while where I used sweetened condensed milk for chai, thereby ensuring that it was a meal replacement beverage. I brewed the tea quite strong and then stirred in some spoons of sweetened condensed milk. A decadent tea dessert!

      A propos of fruit-flavored and chamomile teas: I recently underwent a conversion to chamomile appreciation. For years I thought that it was gross and eschewed it. Maybe I just finally tried a good chamomile blend, or maybe my tastes changed. Anyway, these days I enjoy it as a late night brew!

      The fruit-flavored teas are touch and go for me. Some work; others do not. Herbal infusions I tend to appreciate, but, like chamomile, they are not really tea but boiled beverages!

  6. Hello again, Furriner! For some reason Blogger is acting up and not permitting me to comment on your comment, so I do hope that you'll see this reply, as it will post at the bottom of the page.

    Thank you so much for the clarification about kobucha! I have definitely not had it before, but I am familiar with kombu, as I eat these Japanese Delight kits which come with dried kombu and a sauce. They are prepared with vegetables or some meat in a wok. It tastes really good and is purported to have health benefits--just like all of Japanese cuisine! ;-)

    The way you describe kobucha, it sounds a bit like miso soup. But miso is fermented soy beans, right? By the way, I once watched a YouTube about how to make kombucha and saw that it involves this sort of bloblike thing--I believe that it may be related to mushrooms? It convinced me never, ever to make my own at home. The thought of being taken over by The Blob was just too scary!

    Thank you also for inserting Kanji in your post! ;-)


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