Monday, October 16, 2006

Havukal Silver Tips

Been working through some samples in the Andrews & Dunham tea tasting lab - today's selection: Havukal Silver Tips. For those of you who don't know, Havukal is a estate in Nilgiri, which is a mountainous region in southwestern India, which is a great big country on our planet. I'd never heard of Havukal either so I had to do some frantic internet research so I could pretend to be smarter than Eric and know all about it. it's OK, he does this to me all the time. It's something we do.

So the tea... To be honest I had no idea what to do with it. The dry leaves are big, pretty straight, fuzzy and pale like a white tea, but also had some darker colors like a Darjeeling black so I brewed it up a couple of ways. First try was with water at 180, steeped for 2 minutes. This was accidental, as I thought the water was warmer than it turned out to be but it worked fine - very subtle, round taste with a hint of that malty sweetness you get in a Darjeeling. Second try was with hotter water and a 3 to 4 minute brew - didn't seem to lose anything but didn't gain much other than a darker color something like apple cider. Still pretty damn subtle. I'm either a loser who can't appreciate subtlety (this is highly possible) or this tea is not quite there. I chugged through it, felt briefly contented and now can't remember much to recommend it.

This is not unlike the chick flick I watched with my wife the other night (because I'm so thoughtful and caring) which had plenty of plot and dialogue and good acting (no nudity), made me feel happy, then sad, but left me unable to determine whether I could recommend it to a friend or not. No matter, we'll just talk about sports & tea instead.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Spent the week out at the seaside with my lady and decided to forgo my usual nerdly ways by not taking a bunch of tea along with me. Instead, I chose to rough it and trust providence to steer me to the right hot beverage at just the right moment. My report from the field is as follows:

-it's hard to get a good cup of tea these days

-beer makes an excellent substitute

-hot donuts are always nice

-can I go back to the beach now?

Really, living cup to cup is hard these days. The best thing I found was from Revolution tea. They make appealing one-serving boxes that contain pretty fine tea in deluxe sachets. Plus: Most of the goodness of loose tea, all the convenience of a tea bag. Minus: hard to find. Mostly what I found was Tazo, which is like pretend real tea. It's OK when brewed with really scalding hot water - that seems to bully it into having some flavor, but otherwise it has no character. It makes me sleepy it's so boring.

The real find was a little chain of Donut shops called the Fractured Prune that serves up extravagantly adorned, lovingly hand-dipped, hot donuts. Screw the tea. Here's a picture of me with an unsatisfying cup of Tazo tea and an extremely satisfying hot donut (note the empty plate, evidence of its departed brethren):

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Good News, Sort Of

Good news: A new study informs us that consumption of green tea can have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular health. Bad news: Only if you're Japanese. Also bad news: Because we eat too much pig fat here in the West. More bad news: Pig fat consumption is on the rise. Related bad news story: To many, pig fat is so damn tasty. Tonight: America: Killed by flavor.

Does anyone really care that much? I stand by my belief that the best reason to drink tea, green, black, or otherwise, is because it tastes good and it makes you feel good right now. Live in the now, buddy. As Van Halen once said, "Right now."

Think about it.

Yeah, now you begin to see. The wisdom of Sammy Hagar is as powerful today as it was in the early '90s, my friend. Peace out.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tea Bag Machine

the Fuso tea bag machine:

Iced Tea Round-up

I'm very lazy so I pretty much never make my own iced tea. Too much effort required - multiple containers, ice cubes, you know, all that business. I'm pretty well-trained around the house so using ice cubes means refilling ice trays (old school!) which just pushes the whole project over a line I'm not willing to cross. I do, however, love to drink the stuff and have found that the tea has to be "OK" but not too good or else the whole thing is crap. For this reason I really like the iced tea at Starbucks which, I believe, is a newish offering. Their tea is OK - not great - but they make it really strong and add ice and it's pretty fine on a hot day. Even better, it's priced comparably to a Big Gulp which makes it one of two or three things you can order at the Buckstar that won't make you feel like a money-wasting chump. Also, the process is hidden so you never see the tea bag which means there is no chance of accidentally reading the clever tidbits of copy on the package (hint: not clever).

So the Starbucks iced tea is pretty good. This is what I'm trying to say. Here I am, all loving Starbucks, humming along to the compilation CD I impulse bought at the counter, trying to decide whether to get the current logo or the original logo for my next tattoo. Meanwhile, across town these Honest Tea people are making a difference with their wholesome, organic, good karma-enhancing, ethical corporation-style bottled teas that I find myself buying at the hip, urban eateries I sometimes visit and you know what? I don't like them. I want to like them, I want to cheer them on and feel good about where my money goes but I don't like the tea. It's weak and I'm confused by the sweetening. Is it sweetened? if so, make it sweet. Otherwise, don't bother. It tastes like maybe there used to be a sweet drink in there and they forgot to rinse out the bottle before filling it with weak tea. Oh, I thought you were going to wash those. You didn't wash them? Damn. I always forget to do that. Come to think of it, I believe they got their start in a garage filling old snapple bottles with weak tea so I may not be that far off the mark.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

blah blah Tea blah blah

Yunnan tea seems to be cathartic, for me at least, and so three solid days of the stuff has me jonesing to write some crap on the interweb about tea. Yeah, it's been a while but I talk to all three of the people who read this once, maybe twice a day and I live with one of them so it's no big deal, really. Really. So I'm on the Peet's Yunnan again. Yunnan is rumored to be one of the oldest varieties of tea, perhaps, in fact, the very most oldest of them all. It's so damn good I can see why it would be the alpha tea and if it's not I'm willing to revise history as needed to make it so. News flash: It's still good. Hasn't changed any. Just fine, thanks.

Anyway, now is a prime time to revive this writing habit as I am on the cusp of becoming a fledgling tea entrepreneur and I feel the need to document the process - watch this space for sensitive industry secrets! Watch as I undermine our profitability! Watch me blow the whistle on Erik's ethical lapses! The shock & awe of the 2006 World Tea Expo in Vegas is slowly wearing off and has been replaced by a comfortable sense of inevitable success and fortune through tea sales. In fact, Erik & I have been so slack about getting our crap together to do this that it has started to feel a little like a real job, which in a way makes me feel like we're already well on out way to grand achievement. Less is more. Yin and yang. Trust me on that.

Oh, and just to prove we really were at the World Tea Expo for at least some of the time we were in in Vegas (wives, take note) here's a photo of me with a clearly insane person who is a) not a stripper and b) sort of has something to do with tea: