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T is for tea by Cynthia Salaysay | 1 2 3
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In India, the district of Assam produces the main tea used in blends like English and Irish Breakfast.  When brewed straight, it is rich and full-bodied, pungent, and yummy with milk. Other Indian teas, such as Darjeeling and Ceylon, are also used in the British tea blends. Darjeeling is regarded as the finest of Indian teas, with a complex flowery fragrance, while Ceylon is the lightest-bodied of the Indian teas. All of these teas go well with dairy, making them perfect for brewing a cup of spiced chai.  

I think the teas grown in China are best without milk or cream. Their black teas, such as Keemun and Yunnan, are both very full flavored, with Keemun known for its smoothness, and Yunnan for its flowery aroma.  For a flat-out weird tea, thereís Lapsang Souchong, its unusual flavors probably not for everyone. The leaves are smoked with pine, producing a pronounced smoky bacon-like smell. It's kind of out there, but worth trying just for the novelty of it. And, who knows, you might even like it.

The green teas are produced in China and Japan, with Dragonwell (Lung Ching) the most popular of the Chinese green teas.  Its bright green freshness shocks the mouth, but it finishes with a warm mellow aftertaste. In Japan, Sencha is the most popular, with its delicate flavor. Other good ones are Genmaicha and Jasmine. Genmaicha is a blend of green tea with roasted rice, and it has a lovely toasty nuttiness to it which adds a little depth to its flavor. With jasmine tea, the aroma of jasmine flowers wafts out on its steam.  Itís as if the sweet flowers were on the breeze of a hot night, and not a teacup in a kitchen somewhere on a cold one. Just beautiful.

There are many more, of course, than those Iíve already mentioned. Iíve barely scratched the surface of the different varieties of tea in the world. There are teas that are hand rolled, picked first of the season, rolled into pearl-like balls that unfurl when you brew them, steamed with flowers, you name it. There is so much out there to explore. So be a little adventurous. Sip slowly. And please, enjoy.


Cynthia Salaysay lives quite happily in Berkeley, California with one fat cat, a poster of bjork, and someone else's shoes at the foot of the bed.

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