Thursday, March 5, 2009

On "Chef's Table"

On Saturday Feb. 7, I will be interviewed by Jim Coleman of WHYY, the NPR station of Philadelphia. It will be on WHYY at noon and will play on various radio stations around the country. This was a fun interview. Jim is a former chef, so he a great point of view concerning tea flavors. We tasted three teas and with each one, he grew more and more excited. His favorite was Ti Quan Yin, and who could blame him. The aromas are an intriquing mixture of floral and elegant fruit flavors, with a creamy topnote.

I adore those aromas that are the marriage special plants grown in traditional areas of China's Fujian Province and ballet of rolling the large leaves by the teamaker. My preferred style is a a lightly oxidized version. This is different than the darker style that was only the Ti Quan Yin made for the last few centuries. Since the beginning, Ti Quan Yin was finished over charcoal embers. this dried out the tea and preserved it. But that was not all, the charcoal imparted a toasty, slightly smoky flavor to the tea. Recent innovations gave teamakers the option of drying the tea in electric ovens. Thus there was not the charcoal aroma, just the delicous aromas of the tea. I like this "cleaner" style, although some still like the darker style of TQY.

So the teamaker has the option to add a charcoal flavor to their oolongs. This is similar to the winemaker who has the option of adding oak flavors to their wine. Both charcoal and oak were used for centuries to preserve the product (charcoal for tea and oak barrels for wine). Now neither is necessary but is a stylistic decision by the maker. Thus some Chardonnay wines are celebrated for the "clean" flavors of just the fruit, while others are adored for the heavy oaky aromas that complement the chardonnay aromas. Please give Ti Quan Yin a try.

HERE Is the MP3 of the interview

It is 3/4 ofthe way through, right after the nutritionist.

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