Sunday, December 14, 2008

White Tea

I decided to do something unprecedented this morning: white tea ushered in my day. I usually favor a more potent brew for my first pot of the day; I admit the caffeine content plays a role in this decision. However, this morning, I felt a mellower accompaniment was in order, today being a Sunday, and there was no need for me to get the neuronal synapses to fire with maximal efficiency for work.

I chose the white tea given to me several Christmases ago by my brother which I still have in plentiful supply. It is an Argo brand, from a company based in Chicago. I chose to use my glass teapot which has become the workhorse of teapots in our household due to its beauty as well as its sizable capacity for holding multiple cupfuls of tea. The water was first boiled in an electric kettle (sacrilege, I know, to you tea traditionalists), poured into the glass teapot with its large infuser and then left to cool for several minutes. I then spooned out 2 teaspoons of the multi-hued leaves of tea into the infuser and proceeded to wait for it to fully steep.

I swirled the teapot a bit to permit the longish leaves to submerge themselves, as many of them were quite recalcitrant and floated on top of the water without fully steeping themselves. It is a phenomenon that I encounter often with the white teas. It is perhaps because they are the least processed of the teas and thus the leaves still retain much of their original nature; they are less tractable, following the whimsies of their ways, calling on the tea brewer to be a bit more mindful and resourcelful in the brewing.

I sat at the kitchen table watching the leaves fully elongate and metamorphose. They resemble the autumnal leaves one sees heaped on sidewalks and driveways in the latter part of the season when there are not the riots of bright greens, deep reds and yellows seen in early fall but the more subdued sedate browns, calmer greens. The tea leaves imparted a slightly amber hue to the liquid. I inhaled the brewed tea, now giving off a stronger scent than expected. I then poured the tea into my cup and sipped expectantly. The first infusion yielded a very mild grassy flavor, but was also pleasantly sweet and soothing. It did not have the astringency that sometimes catches me off my guard when I have, say, that first cup of sencha in the morning.

I lingered over my white tea and poured E his cup. I eventually had a pot of the second infusion, all the while conscious of my mind clearing its nocturnal fog.

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