Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Me and My Dragons

This surfeit of bagged herbal tea just wasn't doing the trick. My pesky cold was still lingering, even prostrating me for most of the day. So despite my own exhortations to my own patients, -to stay away from all things caffeine in order to avoid dehydration when ill- I was not ready to heed my own advice. My attachment to real tea was too strong.

A bag of fresh longans awaited me in the fridge, recently procured from the Asian supermarket in Chicago. A longan, when peeled, has a thin white translucent membrane through which one can espy the shiny black seed. It is thus aptly named, as the word longan translated from Chinese, means dragon's eye.

A treat, as a child for me, would be to have a bowl of these fruits, chilled, sometimes with several cubes of ice added. The ice cubes were especially welcome when the longans themselves were just scooped out from a tin can stored in our dank basement and thus were quite tepid, not to mention overly sweet from basking in heavy corn syrup for who knows how long.

So with my current cache of the fruit, I was anxious to give them their proper due with an accompaniment of an equally special tea. The juicy sweetness of the longans called for a delicately scented green tea, and my waning supply of Jasmine Dragon Pearls fitted the bill.

This tea, from the Fujian Province of China, is culled from the buds of the tea plant. The jasmine flowers are used to scent the buds multiple times prior to the tea being rolled into the coiled pearls that give the tea such as unique look.

As I brewed the tea in the glass teacup on another consecutively rainy day, the pearls unfurled with majesty, yielding a golden yellow liquor. I sipped the tea, now redolent with the scent of jasmine flowers on a pleasant green tea base.

The longans, now adequately chilled, were ready.

As I bit into one, its tender membrane yielded a tropical sweetness, falling away from the hard black center, while the dragon's eye stared back at me, twinklingly.


Anonymous said...

I have to say it: they don't just look like eyes, they look like eyeballs! I need to get some of these things for Halloween.

cha sen said...

I know, they're a little macabre-looking. But trust me, they are scrumptious!