Ana Dane at in pursuit of tea, founded in 1999 (www.inpursuitoftea.com), recently gave me tea tasting at her Manhattan office. They were two Japanese Sencha, one Japanese Hojicha, two Chinese teas and two fermented British teas.
I have done quite a research on the Japanese tea for my book, The Sushi Experience, but did not know much about Chinese tea. Ana gave me a wonderful lesson on this subject. By the way, The Sushi Experience covers Japanese tea culture, Japanese tea varieties and how to brew each type. I even included information on how to cut the caffeine and the miracle use of old tea, so please check them out.
White Peony (Bai Mu Dan): The dried tea leaves have white and fluffy appearance, and are not shaped. This is very different from the Japanese Sencha leaves, which are steamed just after the harvest and rolled & dried into tight, thin, deep green strips. Ana pointed out to me that the White Peony tea leaves are harvested with very young leaves attached. Young leaf, which is covered with fine downy hair, gives distinctive white hue to the dried leaves. The brewed tea was slightly sweet and beautifully aromatic. I am sure that I have tasted the White Peony tea sometime in the past, but Ana’s tea tasted the best. The grade of her tea, method of her brewing, her knowledge,…everything contributed to a cup of perfect White Peony tea, which I may drink daily.
Oolong from Nantou: The oolong tea from north central part of Taiwan. According to Ana, the tea leaves come from high elevation, where there is a big temperature difference during the day and night. This contributes to produce tougher and best tasting leaves. Oolong is slightly oxidized tea and its dried shape resembles tiny ball. Ana first hydrated tea leaves with little hot water, as she did for White Peony, before full infusion. The flavor of Nantou Oolong was green, a hint of sweetness and pleasant astringent at the end. This is a tea which I drink after meal.
One comment, which Ana mentioned, made me to think about tea in tea bags. Every day I drink several cups of tea packed in tea bags. Today conscious companies, including in pursuit of tea, sell their tea leaves in tea bags, which does not use a chemical glue to close it. On my next tea purchase, I will choose the right product and, if I am not sure, I will switch to loose tea.
If you are looking for good quality tea foryour business contact Ana.