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):