Ladies and gentlemen: Here is a premium Japanese sencha sitting beside a sencha with rose petals and cherry blossoms; a straightforward black tea beside an Earl Grey and next to it a Lavender Earl Grey; next to these is a Yunnan and, beside it, a Yunnan with jasmine. All are wonderful to me because they are all high quality loose leaf teas. I am a tea lover, not a tea snob. If the tea tastes amazing, I’m good with it.
I’ve heard people over the years call themselves tea snobs, which seems to mean drinking only unblended tea and being able to tell what estate it was grown on, what flush, and the entire story of the tea qualifies them as a ‘tea snob.’ Putting anything in the tea is verboten and pollutes it to peasant, unworthy status.
To me, that’s a lot like handing a talented chef a Kobe steak and telling him to add absolutely no seasoning to it. The flavor of the naked Kobe is premium, but it can be enhanced by just the right amount of the right seasoning.
I can appreciate the earthy, grainy flavor of oxidized Rooibos, but I also am happy I was open to tasting the beautiful addition of organic blueberries. Chamomile has a rich, golden goodness on its own but the blender who thought of adding orange peel and oxidized green Rooibos hit a home run.
Maybe too many amateur blenders have given tea snobs good ammunition. In the hands of a gifted artisan blender, even amazing teas are often enhanced. I can appreciate the bold, rich smoothness of the Golden Yunnan and believe it is a black tea like few others. However, the beauty of something I never would have imagined with it – jasmine – in a Yunnan less oxidized, ‘took my breath away.’ If a less talented blender had used a different black Yunnan and a different jasmine, it could have been disastrous.
A free range chicken’s egg with bright orange-yellow yolk from Grandma’s farm is the best. For most of us, though, adding a little salt and pepper and basting it now and then in butter while frying brings out even more of what the egg has to offer our palates.
Food, beverage . . . for me, it’s all about two things: Health and flavor, and not always in that order.
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