The 12 Teas of Christmas: The fifth day is golden

On the Fifth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

five golden rings!

Unfortunately, not the kind you wear on your finger. Sigh.

Rather, another gift of food, as in ring-necked pheasant, according to C. Nugent (2016). Which may not be nearly as appreciated by your true love, no matter how sincere your gesture.

But here’s another golden choice: China Golden Yunnan!

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This black tea comes from China’s Yunnan Province, the birthplace of tea. Plucked from ancient plants that have thick soft leaves and large buds, Yunnan is also known as hongcha or “red tea.”

The umber and olive leaves are interspersed with golden slivers, making a very pretty loose leaf tea.

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The dark copper-colored brew yields an intriguing cup. It’s a bit toasty, a bit smoky, with definite tones of truffle or mushroom. It has a smooth finish with an enduring woodiness.

More on Those Pheasants

Ring-necked or common pheasants are native to China and East Asia. It’s not clear exactly how or when these beautiful birds were introduced to England, but Phoenician traders or the Romans are possibilities (Yardley 2015).

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Either way, pheasants are first recorded in 1059:

[with] an order of King Harold who offered the canons of Waltham Abbey a “commons” pheasant as an alternative to a brace of partridges as a specific privilege of their office. (Yardley 2015)

In 1465, the inauguration banquet of the Archbishop of York included 200 pheasants (along with porpoises and seals no less!), and in 1532, Henry VIII “appears to have kept a French priest as a ‘fesaunt breeder'” (Yardley 2015).

Today, ring-necked pheasants are still prized as game birds, golden rings are still prized as tokens of love, and Golden Yunnan is still prized as an intriguing tea.


China Golden Yunnan is available at TeaHaus.

Read more:
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves
and a partridge in a pear tree


Sources:
Nugent, C. “On the fifth day of Christmas,” Hub Pages, December 22, 2016.
Yardley, M. “The history of the pheasant,” The Field, October 9, 2015.

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The 12 Teas of Christmas: On the 4th day, calling all tea lovers

On the Fourth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

definitely not calling birds. Because they don’t exist, now or ever.

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Rather, the Middle Ages had collie or colly birds, or blackbirds—as in black like coal, since colliery meant coal mine (Nugent 2016).

The English actually used both names, “blackbird” and “collie/colly,” but eventually, only “blackbird” was commonly used in America and Australia. The song in these countries then morphed “collie” into “calling,” even though calling birds were never a real thing.

But in the spirit of blackbirds on this fourth day, savor a classic black tea.

Here I have English Westminster, one of my go-to’s when I want a solid black tea.

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A mix of Assam, Java, and Ceylon, it is strong without being bitter, and makes an ideal breakfast tea.

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By the way, if you are wondering why anyone would be gifted with a blackbird, think about the nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Sixpence, with its “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.”

Like the partridge and French hens, this commonly found bird may have been a gift of food; as Nugent (2016) explains:

In times past in Great Britain, pies were a convenient way to serve and eat a meal with the meat, potatoes and any vegetables all cooked together in an easy to handle crust (forks not having been invented at that time, table utensils consisted of knives, spoons and one’s fingers).

Gifts of food remain embedded in our culture—but a terrific black tea will certainly be preferred over those collie birds!


English Westminster tea is available from TeaHaus.

Read earlier posts:
On the Fourth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me . . .
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves
and a Partridge in a pear tree


Source: Nugent, C. “On the fourth day of Christmas,” Hub Pages, December 23, 2016.

The 12 Teas of Christmas: Worth clucking about

On the Third Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

. . . supper?

Well, frankly, I’ll take that in a heartbeat! As long as I don’t have to shop for it, cook it, serve it, or clean up after it.

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Chickens—French hens or otherwise—have been domesticated for centuries but until more recently, served many non-culinary purposes. Think of cock fighting, fortune telling, as symbol of fertility (hen) and virility (rooster).

As the legend goes, the relationship between human and poultry began in the fifth century BC in Greece, when

Athenian general Themistocles, on his way to confront the invading Persian forces, stopped to watch two cocks fighting and summoned his troops, saying: “Behold, these do not fight for their household gods, for the monuments of their ancestors, for glory, for liberty or the safety of their children, but only because one will not give way to the other.” (Smithsonian Magazine 2012)

Okay, that really doesn’t say much for the intelligence of cocks.

But anyway, it wasn’t until the 20th century that chickens became a major source of food. Before that, people kept a few chickens around for eggs and the occasional meal.

At the time The 12 Days of Christmas was written, hens would have been part of feasts—particularly when the hunt for game birds didn’t go so well—with three primary varieties of chickens in France.3-hens-weblavender-webSo in the spirit of France, consider fragrant lavender.

If you love intensely floral teas, brew this French lavender straight up.

For just a touch of floral flavor, add a bit of lavender to another tea blend.

Once brewed, enjoy the intoxicating lavender aroma. This herb yields a pale cup, shown here with lavender foliage.

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Lavender available from TeaHaus.

See earlier posts:
Partridge in the pear tree
Two turtle doves


Sources:
Lawler, A. and J. Adler. “How the chicken conquered the world,” Smithsonian Magazine, June 2012.
Nugent, C. “On the third day of Christmas,” Hub Pages, December 22, 2016.

The 12 Teas of Christmas: Romantic turtle doves

On the Second Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

dove-webtwo turtle doves, of course!

Symbol of love, but perhaps a bit predictable, as suggested by this:

Known as a symbol of love because of its tender mating song and faithfulness, the turtle dove is also a creature of habit: its daily feeding routine runs like clockwork.

I guess faithfulness and predictability may go hand in hand, but still, an unexpected romantic tea by candlelight definitely has its charm.

And what better tea to serve than one with a name evoking romance and the warm, sunny happiness of love: Summer Romance.

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This luscious fruit tea is a mixture of apple, rose hips, hibiscus blossoms, elderberries, strawberry, raspberry, strawberry leaves, and vanilla, which means it is naturally caffeine free.

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The tea brews into an intense deep red cup brimming with fruit flavors, a balance of sweet and tangy.

Share this loving blend of sweet fruit with a special friend, no matter what the season!

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And perhaps spare a thought for those gentle turtle doves.

Illustrated here as a pair, perhaps referring to their habit of mating for life, they are a picture of fidelity and domesticity. It’s up to the male to decide where to build the nest, but both male and female build it. They also share the responsibilities of feeding their babies.

The happily matched doves remind us of tenderness, love, faithfulness—everyday joys that we wish for our true love and for all those we love.


Summer Romance is available at TeaHaus.

Read about the Partridge in the Pear Tree.


Source: “Turtle dove (birds),” What-When-How.

The 12 Teas of Christmas: So about that partridge in the pear tree. . . .

Having been subjected to—or enjoying (your choice here)—holiday music for several looong months, it’s time to co-opt at least one song for our own purposes! So I’m picking on The 12 Days of Christmas, which itself subverted the original meaning of those twelve days.

As WhyChristmas? explains:

The 12 Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and last until the evening of the 5th January. . . . [They] have been celebrated in Europe since before the middle ages. . . . The 12 Days each traditionally celebrate a feast day for a [Christian] saint and/or have different celebrations.

So I retain the celebration of the original 12 Days, and the gift-giving spirit of the song—for this celebration of tea.

Because tea involves community, ritual, health, friendship, celebration—all good things to enjoy as we move into the winter season.

On the First Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

photo of pear tea and pears for

Because of course you have to start with day one, which originally, in the Christian tradition, was to celebrate the birth of Jesus—but now is a partridge in a pear tree.

Which is something that I have never seen. Do partridges ever roost in pear trees?

Regardless, pears have been enjoyed since pretty much forever, and have been cultivated already in antiquity. Their sweetness pairs well with green tea, as in this green aroma tea blend, Sweet Pear, which includes pear pieces and orange blossoms.

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The brew proves how beautifully pear fruitiness blends with orange blossom floral.

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And as far as partridges go, they are a game bird native to the Old World and were introduced to Virginia in 1889.

chukar partridge

They make their nests on the ground and tend to run rather than fly, making the pear tree thing suspicious. However, their proclivity for cultivated areas may include fruit trees after all.

Either way, Sweet Pear tea is a fitting gift for your true love, or yourself, any day of the holiday season! Available at TeaHaus.


Sources:
“The 12 days of Christmas,” Whychristmas.com.
“Partridge,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/animal/partridge.
“Partridge,” The Wonder of Birds, http://www.thewonderofbirds.com.

Nepali Teas Stepping In for Darjeeling

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Darjeeling 2nd- and 1st-flush teas

Notice to all Darjeeling fans: this year’s strike means there’s a lot less tea, along with a higher price tag  (see earlier post).

Nepal, however, has been happily stepping in.

And also ushering in a few complications.

The Cons

Darjeeling abuts Nepal’s east border,

  • which means the two areas have pretty much the same climate
  • which means that their teas may be quite similar
  • which means that one tea could conceivably be passed off as the other.

Already in August concerns were raised about Nepali tea being sold as Darjeeling tea. At that time, the supplies of first- and second-flush Darjeeling teas for auction had already been depleted.

Nepali tea crossing into India is nothing new. As World Tea News explained in August,

To reduce the cost of acquiring tea for blending, India has a free trade agreement with Nepal. This means gardens in Nepal (some owned by Indian companies) do not pay an import duty.

And it has been blended with Darjeeling tea in the past, and then sold as Darjeeling, according to the Hindustan Times (November 2017). But the Times also reports traders saying that unblended Nepali tea is sold as Darjeeling.

However, there are myriad reasons why you should enjoy Nepali tea for its own sake.

The Pros

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The tea gardens in Darjeeling are well established, which also means that the plants are aging and there is little room for expansion.

Nepal, as a relative newcomer, has younger plants along with a favorable environment.

And due to the strike, they currently have many employees who earlier left the Darjeeling gardens in search of jobs and now have stayed in Nepal (well, this is sort of both a pro, for Nepal, and a con, for Darjeeling).

And the gardens are producing some terrific teas, such as the premium, second-flush Nepal Mystic, shown above on TeaHaus’ tea wall.

This beautiful leaf yields a deep reddish cup:

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I love this tea’s amazing aroma and flavor!

I know that delicate and subtle teas have their place but sometimes I just need a tea that holds its own—waking me up with bold and wonderful flavor that matches its intoxicating aroma!

And by the way, Nepali teas don’t need to replace Darjeeling teas; they can stand right alongside Darjeeling teas.


Sources:
Bolton, D. “Nepali tea growers fill Darjeeling void,” World Tea News, August 28, 2017.
Girl, P. “‘Good quality’ Nepal tea spoils Darjeeling’s party,” Hindustan Times, November 18, 2017.

TEA: From Pallet to Palate

TeaHaus’ eagerly awaited tea shipment arrived today! It shipped from Germany, spent a whole lot of time in customs, and then came to Ann Arbor via truck.

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Two pallets of tea to unpack!

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Each box is opened and the contents checked against the packing slip.

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Some teas need to be renumbered to match TeaHaus numbers.

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White teas—delicate and easily crushed—are packed into individual cartons within the boxes.

white-tea

The tins on the Tea Wall are first filled. Here, Mercedes is transferring our new Vietnam tea from the bag into a tin that protects the tea from light and moisture.

filling-tin
TeaHaus offers around 175 loose leaf teas at all times.

tea-wall

Extra tea is stored in either the TeaHaus storage room or the overflow storage room at our Eat More Tea location.

tea-storage-room  tea-shelvestea-shelves-alt

Tea is bagged for walk-in customers and to fill online orders.

filling-bags  boxing-orders

And, of course, all our teas are brewed, either in-Haus or in your house—completing the process from pallet to palate!

tea-brewedSee teahaus.com to order tea!!!