Wednesday, June 27, 2007

White Tea and Infinite Regress

Hey, this is a post about television - not about what I'm watching on television, but what I'm drinking when I'm watching television. And, maybe more important, what I'm drinking when I'm writing about what I'm watching on television. Come to think of it, what I'm drinking right now - when I'm writing about what I'm drinking when I'm writing about what I'm watching on television.

Infinite regress....

Whatever I may be doing and watching, I usually drink it at the end of long, tiring days - actually, even long days that are not tiring. It has enough caffeine to keep me sharp, without keeping me awake, unless I want to be.

A long time ago, I used to drink coffee. But it had the strange effect of turning me into a real grouch the next day. Some people said this was a complete reversal for me.

I can't recall exactly when I switched to tea.

It's a touchy thing. It's not that hot in northern New Jersey, and I'd guess that's because of the water. It's almost always good in London, probably the same reason. In New York City, and close by, it's usually good. A lot depends upon the tea, too, and how you prepare it.

First, white tea is a kind of green tea, best prepared not by boiling but steaming water. Best of all is water that just starts to steam. But if you forget about this and the water starts to boil, wait until it cools down just a bit.

I have seen white tea in bags, but do yourself a favor and get some sort of tea maker. You can use a tea-ball and chain, and they sell contraptions for $15 or so which make excellent tea from loose leaves.

I sometimes put white tea leaves in a cup, add water, and let the tea brew in the cup. Most of the leaves settle to the bottom, and they're fun to suck on.

White tea comes from the tips of green tea leaves. Which means they are the most tender part of the leaf. Unlike black tea leaves, green and white leaves are not aged.

White tea is said to have powerful anti-oxidizing qualities. That's good, but I'd drink it anyway, because I like it what it tastes like, and how it makes me feel.

It comes in lots of varieties. I'd recommend Mutan - it's sweet and smooth. If you want a white tea with a little more tingle, try Silver Needle.

The age of the tea leaves - how long they have been stored - is extremely important. We're not talking wine here. The fresher the tea the better. I bought some white tea in an old Chinese shop in London a few years ago. I had the idea that maybe I was getting a taste from some secret, delicious, ancient stash.

The tea itself was very old, that was certain. It tasted like it came from the Manchu dynasty - which means, it tasted awful. Old tea tastes like some kind of wood shavings, which, although I've never tasted, can't taste too good.

White tea has become one of my favorite off-beat beverages. It also seems to be attracting a lot of public interest - I have more listens on my White Tea episode than any other piece on my Ask Lev podcast. If you'd like to hear it - it's about 3-minutes long - just scroll down on the right-hand column of this blog.

All right - you saw this coming. I've got some water on the boil that's starting to steam ...

I'd send a cup to you right through the Web, if I could, but java script can't process tea - not even java - just information, like this...

The tea merchants below are quite good. The tea maker on the right works like a charm - we use it instead of more traditional tea-strainers...
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