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teatips.info :: types of tea
After tea became trendy, a great number of tea experts and material on tea have appeared; it is accustomed to start the telling of kinds of teas with the words “There is a pretty great confusion in the classification of teas…”
…i want to make two remarks. First, estate teas are very rare in our supermarkets. Second, these teas are not for daily use. They are not to wash down sandwiches with them, not to drink in passing, not every guest can understand them. These are teas for infrequent pleasure. And they require some prior knowledge and training.
Darjeeling is a general name for a group of tea estates located at the foothills of the Himalayas, at a relatively small height above sea level, in cool (comparable with hot Assam) climate. When in the 19th century the British laid tea plantations in this region, according to one of the versions, they planted the Chinese variety of the tea shrub — this fact, along with climate, determined typical characteristics of Darjeeling tea.
I like them a lot, these very North-Indian teas, Darjeelings. I like the whole variety of them — from exquisite and delicate teas from the Tukdah estate to rather plain and even coarsish Nepal teas (they are grown at the same foothills of Himalayas but in another country). When I leave home for different conferences where I have to live on tea bags and begin to miss good tea — I miss Darjeelings.
Comparable to Yunnan tea, Keemun tea is much simpler. However, unlike most other kinds of tea, almost everything is known about Keemun for sure — the place of cultivation (Qi Men district, Anhui province), the Chinese name (Qi Hung Mao Feng), and even the ‘birth year’ — 1876. The Chinese produce this tea exclusively for Europeans, in accordance with their tastes and habits. And since the main Europeans for the Chinese for a long time were the English, they made Keemun very English.
I do not know how it can be possible, but Kenyan tea smells of Africa. I have never been there, and do not know how to describe this smell — it is not very strong, and there is something dry and hot in it. And it is very pleasant. I do not fancy tea with milk much — but Kenyan tea goes with milk perfectly. Maybe, it is all about this very dryness, or, maybe, something else — but this mixture is smooth, tasty, and peculiarly fragrant.
Very often on the pack of Russian Caravan there is an image of a camel (a hint at Middle Asia and the fact that part of the way tea made on these phlegmatic animals) and a story which says that this very tea was extremely popular among Russian aristocracy. And that is a doubtful point already — no doubt that Russian aristocracy did drink China tea (there was simply no other tea), but it was absolutely different from the one blended in Russian Caravan. Moreover, tea which had the word ‘Russian’ in its name was long unknown and unavailable in Russia.
Russian Caravan Tea (which was described in the previous article) and English Breakfast Tea — are the only two tea blends, one may say, whose tastes do not depend much on the producer. The matters with other tea blends stand differently. The point is that any respectable tea producer, when forming a range of drinks, wants to offer something special, some zest, along with traditional and approved teas — mostly, tea blends play the role of such specialty.
Speaking about flavored black teas I will touch upon only more or less traditional kinds — and completely exclude a huge amount of drinks with incredibly strong flavor. These drinks can hardly be called tea — tea leaves are used there more like a basis which holds smells well, than like the source of its own taste and flavor. Experts call such drinks ‘colognes’ or ‘compotes’. By the way, the fact that I will not speak about ‘compotes’ does not mean that they are distasteful or low-quality. It’s just that this article is about tea.
Tea bags can be good and bad. This is trite — but the recognition of this fact prevents one from such categorical statements as “Only those who understand nothing in teas can use tea bags”.