Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Tea Thought of the Day, and some fruitiness

‘The progress of this famous plant has been something like the progress of truth: suspected at first, though very palatable to those who had the courage to taste it; resisted as it encroached, abused as its popularity spread, and establishing its triumph at last… by slow and resistless efforts of time and its own virtues.’ Isaac D’Israeli, cited in Alan Macfarlane and Iris Macfarlane, Green Gold, p.42.

Apologies for the text-heavy posts lately – I would like to break them up with more pictures but am hampered by a number of factors, including my mediocre photography skills, poor lighting at home, cold weather (which means lack of opportunity to take nice pretty photos outside).

I am working my way slowly through Green Gold, which is proving a most interesting read, full of information which I would never have guessed, much of which is disturbing at the same time that it’s fascinating. For example, I never knew that the tea and opium trades were closely linked during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when the demand for tea in Europe exceeded the amount of silver available to pay for it, and opium was traded instead (somewhat illegally). Gripping stuff (no, really, it is).

Today I am drinking some Berries of the Forest, another tea brought up from Tea Leaves for me by my friend. This, as its name suggests, is a fruit tea, containing dried blackcurrant, strawberry, blackberry, bilberry, elderberry, hibiscus blossoms and rose hip. It really is worth photographing, and I will remember to do so on the weekend, because it produces a most amazingly vibrant tea of a deep cherry red colour. It has a wonderfully rich flavour as well, not too tart and not too sweet but a pleasing balance of both. Another plus is that so far as I can tell there are no added flavours (whether artificial or natural); the taste is all from the actual ingredients.

Berries of the Forest is really good hot but when the weather is warmer it would also be a wonderful iced tea – perfect with some sliced strawberries and maybe some mint leaves in it too. It can take quite a long steeping time as well (five minutes minimum, I reckon), which makes it a good option for work where I can make it and forget about it and then drink it and it’s still delicious!

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