Friday, September 11, 2009

Indonesian Teh

My tea friend Nicole* recently returned from several weeks in Indonesia and she brought me a little bit of Indonesian tea as a gift! It came packed in this sweet little box with a bird on it.

This is what Nicole told me about this style of tea: "This is Indonesian tea (teh). I've been brewing it like a black tea but the Indonesians usually add lots of sugar (teh manis). It can be hot or iced, but traditionally it's hot and really sweet."

The box lists three ingredients: Teh Bubuk, Aroma, and Vanili. The tea itself looks brown and powdery with lots of "husky bits." It has a potent vanilla scent.

The Teh:

I believe that all tea is good (yes, even Lipton) if you drink it with the right people and/or the right attitude... so in hopes of making this tea taste better, I decided to take an imaginary journey to Indonesia (a place I've never been) while brewing and sipping this tea.

In my mind I am sitting in a breezy outdoor cafe surrounded by many new sounds and smells. I am waiting for a cheap, delicious lunch of fresh fruit and nasi goreng. I have become very thirsty and hungry from an unforgettable morning spent exploring old temples and lush jungles. After lunch, I am both excited and nervous about visiting an orphanage for orangutans. While I wait for my food a server brings me a steaming hot cup of sweet local tea. I savor its heady aroma and make small talk with a friendly old fisherman. He tells me proudly that Indonesian tea is the best in the world... and even though I have a few ounces of a (much preferred) high mountain oolong in my backpack, I agree with him, because right now this is the only cup of tea that matters.

The Brew:

While I was never expecting to be blown away by this tea, I did enjoy it. I used about 1 teaspoon of dry leaf to about 8 ounces of boiling hot water. I steeped it for about 5 minutes before stirring in a heaping teaspoon of raw sugar. The resulting brew was pleasant, though the vanilla aroma was a bit cloying. I'm sure it would go well with spicy food. I won't be drinking this often but I'm happy to make some space on my tea shelf for this cute little piece of Indonesia.

*Nicole is the same groovy globe trekker who introduced me to Ba Bao Cha and Tibetan butter tea. Xiexie Nicole!


somcak said...

Any leads on where to buy it in the US? It sounds amazing, and I'm a fan of super-sweet teas when I get ear infections - the season for that is coming up!

Brett said...

Hi somcak, Thanks for the comment :)

I'm not too sure where you could buy it here in the US, but an Asian market might carry it.

Personally, I do not believe that ear infections have their own season... but in those rare cases when I do get a bug I stay home, sleep, drink lots of water and tea and nix white sugar. That usually works for me.

Anonymous said...

I too dream of these distant lands when drinking their tea. Was this tea grown in Indonesia and processed there? I'm in agreement that all tea can be good with the right attitude approaching it and especially in the right company. And often the origins of the tea are good company to drink it with. --Spirituality of Tea

Brett said...

yep, this tea was grown, processed, blended and packed in Indonesia.