Don't take that the wrong way - I have simply been having too much fun to feel regret. Case in point: The Summer Fancy Foods Show in DC. Unlike the previous year, when I went solo, this year Poppa Trix got press credentials and came along as my photographer (so all of the photos you see are his). As for me, I was in journalist mode - taking notes and eating lots of goodies. For research, you understand
One of the highlights of the show (there were many, as I'll discuss in future posts) was an invitation-only tea tasting hosted by Rare Tea Republic. Just a year old, the company curates rare tea varietals from tea gardens around the world. Tea buyer Sarah Scarborough, who led the guided tasting, travels around the world scoping out the best teas.
|Tea buyer Sarah Scarborough (front); media liaison Eva Wong (rear)|
|courtesy Rare Tea Republic|
The tasting couldn't have come at a better time in the show - Poppa Trix and I had been running ourselves ragged over the two huge convention floors, and we had eaten an absurd array of things - meat, cheese, booze, hot sauce, pizza, crackers - that just weren't meant to go together in one's tummy. The tea tasting was a welcome and refreshing respite from all of the noise and hubbub.
We were guided through eight teas from six regions. Before sipping the tea we were offered both the dry and the wet tea leaves to smell:
First we tried three teas from Darjeeling: a Sungma Turzum first flush Oolong 2012, a Tumsong second flush 2012, and a Castleton autumn Oolong from 2011. First flush tea consists of only the top two leaves and a bud from the tea plant, and it must be hand picked. According to Scarborough, it pays to pay the tea pickers well, not only from an ethical standpoint, but also because better paid workers will be more careful and do a better job. In fact, a number of the Rare Tea Republic's teas are Fair Trade certified.
|Jungpana Estate teal pluckers, courtesy Rare Tea Republic|
|Kangaita (Kenya) tea pluckers, courtesy Rare Tea Republic|
We subsequently tasted teas from Sikkim, Kangra, Nepal, Assam, and Kenya. The most surprising sip to me was the Kenyan tea, a Kangaita White Needles 2011 - creamy and full, it was reminiscent of custard and shortbread.
Even the best tea, though, can be ruined by improper steeping, and to help you not muck it up, each bag of Rare Tea Republic Tea tells you not only how much tea to use per cup and how long to steep it, but also the proper water temperature:
Yes, those are two bags of tea from the gift bag we received at the end of the tasting. Were you waiting for a giveaway? Sorry, kids, this stuff is too good - I'm keeping it all for myself. But if you are a tea connoisseur - or if you're looking to become one - you can order Rare Tea Republic teas on their Web site. They're actually not as expensive as you might think.
In the meantime ... happy sipping!