Monday, May 3, 2010

My Spring 2010 Tea

One week ago I made 6.5 grams of finished tea from my two backyard tea plants. If you want to read about how it was made click here.

Here's a picture of it:

I thought I was making an oolong tea. Though it is semi-oxidized, I think it is more like a white peony tea. In fact, in many ways, I think I made almost the same tea I made last year... only this time I don't think I baked it long enough because it still had a limp feeling and smelled a bit musty by the time I brewed it. Interestingly, I baked this tea twice as long as I did last year. Maybe this year's tea had a higher water content to begin with? Or maybe (and perhaps more likely) it was the bowl I baked it in this year, which was thicker and deeper than last year's baking dish. It is a good thing I've been taking such good notes. Now maybe if I just start to pay attention to what I'm doing, I can learn from my past mistakes and start to make better tea in the future.

On Saturday morning (5/1/10), my friends David, Gwen, James, Andrew and Chris joined me at Teacup to taste my home grown tea. I chose Vortex to do the honor of brewing my creation. I used all the leaf and started with a 3 minute 190° steep. It was way too weak... but the tasters were complimentary of the brew saying it had potential and a pleasant "tingle" in the mouth.

The second steep was boiling water for 5 minutes. Much better... but still too light. David noted that this infusion had a nice flavor reminiscent of decent quality Assam Indian white tea. He also commented about my tea possessing a certain unique flavor that he has tasted in all of the Washington State teas he has previously sampled.

A photo of the second infusion:

The third steep (10 minutes with boiling water) and the fourth steep (15 minutes with boiling water) were well liked by all tasters. Chris likened the aroma to a brewery he once knew and Andrew spoke of its interesting herbaceous flavors (perhaps from the giant rosemary plant that grows right next to the main tea plant). The fifth infusion (also 15 minutes with boiling water) was pleasant but once again yielded a very weak flavor. After five infusions we called it quits.

In closing, I'd say that this spring's tea was pretty good and that I learned a little bit more about making tea. Hopefully, I'll get another chance to practice in the summer.

It was a very rewarding exprerience to make my own tea completely from scratch!

The beautiful spent leaves:


Sir William of the Leaf said...

Very nice looking leaves!
I do very much want to try my hand at processing tea sometime! Would be a fun experience!

Alex Zorach said... makes sense that it would be challenging to make really good tea...what we drink nowadays is the product of thousands of years of experimentation and accumulated knowledge.

Keep trying though, and you'll keep learning. =) I think this is so awesome that you're doing this and I love reading about it.

Jordan M. Williams said...

I like reading about your process of making tea. How did you come across getting these leaves? (sorry if you covered this already)

Brett said...

Jordan- No problem. I have two tea plants in my backyard garden (I'm not certain of their specific cultivar.) About 80% of the leaves came from my 6 yr old plant and the other 20% came from my 1 yr old plant.

Nicole Manha said...

Congratulations on 6 years of business!!