Thursday, February 27, 2014

Take a Moment To Save Persian Princess

Persian Princess. Photo courtesy of The Devotea

My dear friends,

It has come to my attention that my daughter's most treasured tea-of-choice, the one that we've bonded over, the one whose name lights up her beautiful face, is in danger of disappearing forever.

I can't let that happen without a fight. 

For those of you who have been on this tea journey with me, I'm asking you for your support. Yes, it may cost a little bit, but you'll be doing two things: supporting one of the most treasured members of what I lovingly refer to as the Underground Tea Syndicate, and discovering a tea that may well become your "comfort tea," too.

You're intrigued! Excellent. Let me tell you more:

Persian Princess: A strong black tea designed to be drunk in the old-fashioned Persian court manner, with a lump of sugar held between the teeth and the tea sipped over it. A great heart-starter kind of tea. Start your day with a Princess.Full-bodied and feisty! Designed to be drunk with a sugar cube between your teeth. Almost savory without sugar. We recommend as little (including none) or as much sugar and milk as you would like.Food Pairing: Enjoy with chocolate. Pears in red wine. Nougat. Pashmak.
 This is the moment that started it all for my own little Princess. It's one of my most precious moments. And it was facilitated by this beautiful blend, Persian Princess.

To help Save Persian Princess, please purchase it for yourself or a friend. I guarantee you won't regret it. I believe in the power of this tea community. Let's show a fellow member of this community a little love for one of his finest creations:

U.S. Tea Enthusiasts - Purchase your Persian Princess HERE
Australia and European Union - Purchase your Persian Princess HERE

And once you've ordered, please share this blog with 2 or 3 of your tea enthusiast friends. Together we can introduce the tea community to a very special tea and support a very special tea blender. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Rosie Moment

It seems that becoming the proud owner of a goldfish is some sort of rite of passage in the U.S. We already have a dog, so requests for a puppy have been pretty minimal. There was the phase of being begged for a water snail, but we discovered they are extremely prolific and require a larger set up than what we were willing to invest in. And so the request turned to goldfish.

Well, why not?

We packed up the car, drove to the local pet store, chose a small but functional aquarium (with colorful decor and gravel) and then Edie selected two tiny goldfish. The white one with black speckles was named Daisy. The bright orange one was Rosie.

There was great excitement about setting up Daisy and Rosie's new home. A lot of time was spent watching them swim around in their new environs, and every few minutes Edie would say, "Can we feed them again?"

The love affair continued into the next morning, where Edie burst into our bedroom (as per usual, way too early) climbed on the bed and began giving me the goldfish update. Daisy was swimming around and having fun. She seemed to really like her home. She thought Rosie might not feel very well, though. She looked... "tired." 


Gene went down to investigate, and, alas, Rosie was more than tired. She had expired. And so, father and daughter sent her to her watery grave in the age-old tradition of goldfish send-offs: via the toilet.

Edie took it rather well, but I could tell it was something she was sorting through. So when Anne Marie went down for her nap, we turned to tea. And not just any tea. Her comfort tea, Persian Princess, by The Devotea.

We discussed how goldfish in general don't live terribly long. She wondered if Daisy might be lonely.

She asked for another sugar cube and another sandwich.

In the end, we decided that Daisy may indeed like another friend. We thought about what the new fish should be named. She decided the new fish could be Rosie II. 

Her dad did one better. On his way home from work, he stopped by the pet store once more and brought home, not one, but two new friends for Daisy.

From left to right: Daisy, Rosie II and Bengal
Welcome to the family.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Moment of Tea and Intrigue

As a child, I often dreamed of being an archaeologist. The idea of hacking my way through the jungle and discovering ruins of an ancient civilization seemed incredibly romantic. I've always been a history buff, to the point that each summer from the time I was 10 or so I'd pick an historical figure or civilization and research them. Cleopatra and ancient Egypt was an obsession that lasted a summer or two. The Roman Empire. The Mayans.

It should come as no surprise that "The Secret Garden" was and is one of my very favorite books. The discovery of something beautiful and precious being brought lovingly back to life is a point of fascination. So, it makes sense that Nudo Darjeeling is a bit of a new obsession for me.
Nurbong Tea Garden. Photo courtesy of Nudo Darjeeling
In a world where there is such a thing as counterfeit cheeses, extra-virgin olive oil and caviar, there is also such a thing as counterfeit Darjeeling. In one company's crusade to combat such, Nudo has come in and partnered with locals to "restore deserted tea gardens which were until now unsustainable, through its Adopt a Tea Garden program. Using biodynamic and organic farming practices, local farmers can now reopen those tea gardens, creating more jobs for the local tea pickers and growers and creating the opportunity for the younger generation to learn the skills that their families have practised for centuries."

It almost feels like a spy novel - young crusaders rally the local tea artisans to combat the greedy and corrupt tea mafia.

Okay, I don't know if there really is a tea mafia, but it could make a pretty cool story....

I was fortunate enough to receive four small tins of Nudo Darjeeling: First Flush, Second Flush, Monsoon and Golden. Don't know much about "flushes?" Don't worry, neither did I. So here's what I found on the website (It's on the internet, so it must be true!):

First of all, "flush" refers to a growing season in Darjeeling. First Flush is typically from mid-March to May. Second Flush is typically from June to mid-August. Third Flush (Golden, in Nudo terms) from October to November.  There can also be "minor flushes" as well, and in this case, Nudo offers a Monsoon Flush between the 2nd and 3rd flush typically during the month of September.

It was rather fun exploring these flushes side by side (Darjeeling purists may shudder at the thought of tasting flushes that may not be from the most recent flush, but I'm enjoying the moment so I'm not at all concerned!)

First Flush:

Two things surprised me about the First Flush: 1. The sunny yellow liquid. I think of Darjeeling as being a strictly black tea, so I expected a more amber tone. 2. Grassiness! Green tea lovers, this may be a fun crossover flush for you. It had a lilt of fresh cut grass and an astringency that I associate more with Japanese green teas. Very intriguing. (And yes, Tea Setter, your lovely Tea Set tray strikes again. I love it!)

Second Flush:

This flush had a smoother flavor and more closely resembled the flavor profile I most often associate with commercial Darjeeling. With just a hint of nuttiness, I again detected a Japanese influence.

Monsoon Flush:

Note the dark amber tones, and it's probably no surprise that this was my favorite. In addition to the color, this had the most robust, serious character and could probably stand up very well to milk and sugar. I drank it too quickly to experiment with that option, though.

Golden Flush:

I also loved this flush, but in a different way. You'll notice the liquid is a little less intense but definitely leaning toward an orange brightness. By the way, the best word to describe this flush is, "bright." The color, the flavor, it has a brightness that the others don't. It also had notes of orange, which made me wonder if this particular flush came from the Sivitar Tea Garden, which is set among orange groves.

Kind of exciting to think I could be a part of the underground tea growers' army, discovering and adopting a tea garden that is being lovingly brought back to life, and supporting a region and a people who I respect and admire. And in return, I get the fruits of their labor: the tea from that garden. Perhaps I'll never uncover a lost civilization, but I can help revitalize a re-emerging one steeped in a rich and embattled history.

Whether for yourself or as a gift for the Tea Lover in your life (Isn't Valentine's Day approaching?), this is one of those rare gifts that truly does keep on giving.