• 16Oct

    My sister recently went on a trip to Turkey and brought back some tea stuff for me: fruity tea bags and some exquisite traditional Turkish tea glasses.

    The tea itself is a blend of black tea and fruit flavors (possibly including a little food coloring). Plain black tea is more popular among the Turks themselves, and it’s typically drunk with a couple of lumps of beet sugar as opposed to cane sugar that’s so ubiquitous in North America. Turkish tea, or çay, is produced on the Black Sea coast rather than a blend of Asian or South Asian black teas.

    The tea my sister brought – shown above, a little battered from its trip across the Atlantic while squished in a suitcase – came in four flavors: apple, blackberry, orange and pomegranate. I decided to try the pomegranate flavored tea first:

    Without an English instructions for preparation I just treated it the same as I do any other black tea in a tea bag; I brought a kettle of water to a roiling boil and steeped the tea for a single cup for 3 minutes.

    The resulting brew was a pleasure to look at with an oh-so-heavenly scent. The taste was similar to other flavored tea bag teas I’ve had – mild, no bitter after taste and with a sweetness already before even adding any sugar.

    It was especially pretty in the ornate teacups, which required a little different handling to drink from. You have to hold the rim of the cup, rather than the slender portion of the body or else you’ll burn your fingers. In fact, it’s best not to fill the cup up entirely to minimize the heat at the top of the glass where you’ll hold it.

    Though I brewed my tea directly in the glass, traditionally a stacked teapot is used like the one in the back ground here:

    Called a çaydanlık, this is part kettle, part teapot. Water is boiled in the lowermost part of the çaydanlık and then some of it is poured over tea leaves in the upper portion, in the much smaller “tea pot”. The resulting brew is very strong, and can be drunk with milk or, more typically, diluted with the remaining water in the kettle portion according to individual tastes for tea strength. Here’s a cool video on how to use a çaydanlık.

  • 30Mar

    It’s been so long since I acquired this tea, I don’t even remember where I found it anymore. Although, to be honest, I know I bought it just for the lovely printed wooden box it came in.

    The pamphlet inside reads, “Himalayan Highland Tea Company” … out of Lewisville Texas. Regardless of the packaging and unconfirmed origins, it turns out to be a lovely tea.

    Paleswan is a hearty black tea grown in far eastern Nepal. The included pamphlet describes it as “spicy, aromatic and full bodied without a bitter taste”. Interestingly enough, I thought the dried leaves looked a little “paler” than the darjeelings and assams I’ve been drinking lately and there was an abundance of golden color in the mix.

    The box suggests steeping four teaspoons in seven cups of boiling water for five minutes, but I decided to go with my preference for most black teas and steeped only three teaspoons for three minutes in water I’d brought to a roiling boil.

    It brewed up with a lovely cherry wood color, a deep reddish-brown that I makes me want to use it dye some wool for a sweater. The taste is as lovely as the color: smooth and medium-to-full bodied, with a sort of caramel-chocolate taste that I’m having a hard time really putting my finger on. It’s not really as spicy as I would have expected. (Bearing in mind that this tea has sat in my cabinet for probably ten years now, I was expecting clove or cardamom-type spicy.) The after-taste does remind me a bit of nutmeg. There’s a touch of bitter in that after-taste but nothing unpleasant. Malai chiya dinuhos. (Nepali for “Please give me tea”.)

    A bit of Google research turned up one possibility for purchasing a similar tea: Highland Tea. Even the box looks similar. (My little pamphlet says the artwork on my tiny wooden tea chest  is an illustration from The Complete Guide to Ayurveda by Gopi Warrier & Deepika Gunawan, M.D. copyright Element Books Limited 1997.) Unfortunately I could find little else on “paleswan” type teas other than the distinct impression that teas from Nepal are increasingly grown through sustainable agriculture, via cooperative farms and without pesticides. It’s definitely worth investigating a little more.
    नमस्ते (Namaste.)

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