Continued from yesterday’s post Smoked Exotica – Part 1
I found the directions a bit ambiguous, and they could be foreboding for a novice tea drinker. After I chiseled off a chunk of the solid disc, it said to soak in water for 30 minutes, then take that infusion and boil it for five minutes. Yes, a bit unusual to say the least. However, upon further inquiry, I learned that this is an ancient practice, so I did some research. I found this on the Tea Leaf Theory website:
“The Singphos, a tribal community residing in parts of Northeast India, Myanmar, and China, are believed to be among India’s first tea drinkers. To this day, they continue to process tea by first heating the leaves in a metal pan until they brown, and then sun-drying them for a few days. To make the more flavourful, smoked tea, the sun-dried leaves are tightly packed in bamboo tubes and smoked over a fire. After a week of storing these bamboos, the processed tea hardens to take the shape of the tube. It can then be preserved for up to 10 years, with small portions sliced off with a knife to brew a fresh cup of tea. Like wine, the smoked flavour of the tea matures more with time and we choose to pick up the ones which were aged for 4 years. When processed and brewed correctly, a cup of Singpho tea, which is had without milk or sugar, is a lovely golden-orange colour. The leaves can be reused to brew two to three cups, the flavour getting better with each infusion. According to locals, the tea’s organic production and traditional processing retain its medicinal value. The Singphos say a cup after every meal aids digestion and believe it has kept the community relatively free from cancer and diabetes.”
This is the magnificent color of the cup after simmering the cold infusion for five minutes.
You will also find this tea as Bamboo Falap Tea: a traditional and natural tea of the Singpho Community (Hilly Tribe of Assam).
Because the leaves are so tightly packed, there can be numerous infusions from a small piece of the dried leaves. After steeping several times, in cold water, and in boiling water, I found the small chunk of leaves had still not opened fully. For the serious tea enthusiasts, you can “play” with this tea many times and have a new experience each time; and that is why we love tea!
For a new and intriguing tea experience, Bamboo Falap Tea is worth a try. The Smoky Exotica will soon be available in America but you can order sample packages from avetea.com.
As is often said, “What is old is new,” and this certainly applies to this ancient method of tea preparation. Just because it is not “my cup of tea” does not mean others will not enjoy it. I found the infusion of the cold steeped leaves was good as it was: cold.
For those of you that wish to learn a bit more about our sense of smell and our memories triggered by those scents or tastes, this is an informative article that may help you understand your customers better.
Season’s Greetings one and all! Happy Sniffing and Happy Sipping!
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