Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oolong tea ~ Leaf Cup Cuddler

This is the third installment in my series on exotic teas of the Far East.  If you recall, I discovered the rich and savory delight of dragon well green tea while in China.  I've since found that it's a slippery slope from green teas into the complex and intriguing world of oolongs, a tea residing somewhere between greens and black.

An oolong tea can be expensive and is sophisticated and deserving of the ritual and reverence associated with a Chinese tea ceremony.  And while it's best brewed in a small vessel it can be brewed multiple times yielding a surprisingly strong flavor in successive brewings, which makes it more economical than at first it may seem.

The Chinese tea ceremony brings me to the point of the pictures in this post.  If you have ever been in a tea shop or otherwise seen a traditional Chinese tea ceremony tray, you probably noticed that it is often adorned with miniature ornaments such as tiny dragons or buddhas. What you don't realize (and I assure you that not even all American tea importers realize this either) is that these tiny ornaments known as "tea pets" will change color when hot water is poured over them.  I was amazed when this was first demonstrated for me in a tea shop in China.  Of course once the tea shop saw my reaction they proceeded to pour hot water over all their tea pets which became progressively less amazing each time.  But was still fun to see nonetheless.  In these pictures hopefully you can see that my tiny dragon changes from a deep bronze color to a shiny gold.  Whereas the black tea pets will typically change to a brilliant emerald green.  As the ornament cools it returns to its original color.  Isn't that amazing!

If you would like to try an oolong tea, I suggest that you buy loose leaf and the online tea companies that I recommend are Harney & Sons and Mighty Leaf Tea.  For a simple overview on how to brew oolong tea I like this Youtube video.  Here are the links to my previous posts on Far East teas: Chinese Chrysanthemum Tea and Green Tea and China.

And if you are drinking green teas you really ought to knit yourself a cute cozy ~ with green leaves ~

Particulars:  Leaf Cup Cuddler; US 6 needles.  This is a fun and quick project using scrap yarn.  Be warned that this cup cozy is designed for cups without a handle.  To adjust for cups with a handle I simply sewed a button on and used an open eyelet from the leaf as a button hole.

The MisAdventures of Simcha and Classic Apple Pie

I was surprised, and oddly offended, that Simcha seemed more interested in smelling flowers than my freshly baked apple pie.

But don't pay any attention to Simcha as this was a delicious pie!  Apple pies are wonderful year round and, as always, I used my mother's trusty recipe (blogged here Easy as Apple Pie).

Until next time, be well and love well and this Summer indulge your senses by discovering the many varieties of oolong teas!


Monika said...

OMG- I LOVE this picture of Simcha! So cute, tough guy! :o) And also, I love drinking Oolong tea, and green tea, and now I feel sad, that I don't have this lovely leaf ornament for my mugs. I'd love to have some apple pie, but I'm still full from my Mother's Day carrot cake. ;o)

Tracy said...

Oh, I loved this special post, Claudia... as you know my fondness for tea! I think an oolong just tastes better and better the longer it goes...mmm... Your mug cozy is very sweet--what a nice alternative to the usual patterns you see for this kind of thing. And LOVE the photo of Simcha--this one is, I just have to use the word--CUTE! ;o) We're heading to the USA on Monday to visit my family for some days. Online time will be limited, but I hope to be around. ;o) Happy Weekend ((HUGS))

betty said...

I've never seen one of those tea pets before, and I've been drinking tea my whole life.

Have you ever tried the flavored teas? One of my favorites is a lychee flavored green tea. I've also tried a lychee flavored oolong, but I don't like it as much as the green.

Hilary said...

That's so cool! I've never seen or heard of tea pets before...thank you for sharing that! I also know (knew) hardly anything about Oolong tea, so thank you for enlightening me. :)

How on earth could Simcha resist that pie?? Maybe he just decided to be a good boy for the day. :) I thought for sure there would be big trouble when I first read the heading. What a funny guy.

Btw, your Oak Grove mitts from the last post are so pretty!

Prairie Rose said...

I LOVE Oolong Tea!
(green too:)
I obviously use loose tea, and love the fact that you can get a couple of uses out of the leaves.
I try to have a tea time every day, the process of making tea and then drinking it, is like a refuge in the storm of the day.
Simcha is just too cute!
He reminds us all that sometimes we just need to stop and smell the flowers, even when there is Pie;)

Andi said...

I adore tea, so this post was very helpful. Thank you Claudia. My taste stays with black teas, but I have been trying to expand lately.
Your apple pie looks divine!

gMarie said...

hmmm - what to say. I love the tea pet, thanks for sharing. I'm wondering what he's sitting in. You are pouring water over him, I'm guessing he's holding the tea leaves? I didn't quite understand that part.

Do you read 'cozies'? There is a wonderful series about a tea shop in Charleston, SC. Light reading, but lots of information about teas and some recipes.

Beau loves to smell flowers too. But Lucy would have been all over tht pie. I'm glad your beautiful boy just stopped to smell the flowers.


knittingdragonflies said...

I love teas, I'll have to check your links out! Simcha is such a cutie!!
Take care

Renee said...

I didn't know that about the tea pets and changing colour, that's very interesting! Your leaf cosy is compltely adorable :-)

Oh Simcha, you silly boy - you stop and smell the flowers after you enjoy eating pie! What a gentleman you were to not mess with the pie and leave it for others to enjoy!

At Home Mommy Knits said...

That tea cup cozy is the best design I have ever seen!! Love it. This last winter I became quite the tea drinker so I might need to make one or two or three of these...they would make great gifts!!

Mafalda said...

Hello Claudia! I'm so glad I found your blog since we both love tea!

I'm a tea lover and I enjoy drinking all types of tea, being oolong tea one of my favourites. It's so exquisite and smooth!

Which Oolong tea did you drink? There are many interesting varieties but I particularly like Tie Guan Yin. Have you ever tried it?

It's quite delicate and fragrant and as usual, it brings many health benefits.

I drink it often to improve my digestion as it dissolves excess acidity. It also reduces the risks of suffering from cardiovascular diseases, so it's always a pleasure to drink it!

Windyridge said...

I am working with a young Indian kid who has a masters in food something or other. He always has these great exotic, colorful teas and he drinks them all day long. He introduced me to a tea you can only buy in India and will bring me some back in September. It is very relaxing and should only be enjoyed a few times a week. He also introduced me to a clear glass tea cup you can buy that has a litle glass strainer inside it and a little cover for the top of the glass "mug". It's fun to watch tea leaves swirl around. You simply remove the strainer when brewed
and drink. We both use these at work as we have no time to brew in a tea pot.