We had a grand turnout on Monday evening despite the continuing rain and drizzle. Attendees included adults and children, men and woman, regular customers and new friends. Our hosts at the Library, particularly Cassandra Troini, were gracious and accommodating and helped us get organized. We featured four Teas:
After providing a brief background on both Silver Tips and the manufacture and origin of Tea, we began our sampling. I mentioned to the audience that I had specifically selected teas that were not the usual Breakfast, Earl Grey or other well-known blends. Here was an opportunity for everyone to venture beyond their traditional cups and explore new tastes.
Da Hong Pao Oolong: The classic 'black dragon' shape and tight twist to the leaf was appreciated by everyone. When asked, attendees remarked on the 'peat' quality of the aroma, the mellowness of the taste, the comforting aroma of natural smokiness. They asked if all Oolong leaf styles were similar and I took the opportunity to describe the other very well-known Oolong style of Ti Kwan Yin - rolled in style and lighter in oxidation.
Mint Jasmine: This was a crowd favorite. They were interested in how Jasmine was manufactured (scented, not flavored), that Jasmine Teas are on a Green Tea base, that Moroccan Mint was enjoyed in many parts of the world as the preeminent beverage and that Peppermint was not of the Tea family but a herb.
Turmeric Citrus Zest: Easily the hands-down favorite of the evening - this was appreciated for its taste and unusual ingredients. We explored in depth the various nuances of herbal blends vs. Tea, the different benefits from botanicals, the increase of nontraditional ingredients in Tea, case in point being Turmeric, and the bright citrus flavor of the blend. Of particular interest to all was the difference between caffeinated, decaffeinated and non-caffeinated Teas. I was not surprised to hear that many in the audience had thought that Chamomile and Peppermint provided all the benefits associated with Tea. I took the opportunity to point out the clear difference between real Tea and Herbs such as lemongrass, echinacea and hibiscus.
Peach Fairies: The beauty of a Flowering Tea was appreciated by everyone. We showed the ball in its original form and then allowed the attendees to watch the ball unfurl into a flower before their eyes. I described the painstaking detail that went into the manufacture of each ball and the astonishing result when put in water.
We left each attended with some treats - a coupon for a Free Petite Scone at the Tea Room down the road, some Jasmine recipes and, of course, a hand-out describing the origin and specific characteristics of the 4 teas we sampled. The sign-up sheet asked each attendee to write down their favorite tea. The results were surprising. We expected Earl Grey and Assam but were pleasantly surprised at some of the others - Green Tea, Wu Yi Oolong, Smokey teas, Fruity & Dark, Lychee Oolong...
Yes, Tea has come a long way indeed from the early days of just plain black tea in teabags!