Saturday, April 16, 2011

Teatotalers, Tea Review: Smokin' a Bowl o' Fish

Each month, LP and I meet for brunch at Esselon Coffee in Hadley, Massachusetts in order to “collect data” in our quest to find our favorite tea on their extensive tea menu. After years of saying to each other, “Which one is the tea I love?” (to which the other responded, “I dunno. Which tea do I love?”) we finally decided to ferret out our prize once and for all by taste-testing all the teas. Therefore, LP and I set off on our thoroughly highly scientific, thoroughly ridiculously subjective research. 

The Mildly Linear Rating System (from worst to best):

Must Flee---Sorry---Oh Gee---Good Tea---Glee---(subcategories: Glee-Teehee and Glee-Jamboree)---Yippee!


The day was overcast, cold and dreary, but LP and I had a show that night and we arrived at Esselon Café in no mood to fool around. Still exhausted from our highly publicized, Emmy-winning (in our own minds) TV appearance and the resulting paparazzi bruhaha (again, in our own minds), we needed a jolt of tea buzz and we needed it fast. “There is a shoe stepping on my forehead,” said LP. “I need a real tea.” We decided on one oolong and one black tea, sidestepping the greens and flipping the bird at those lame-oid white teas. I encouraged LP to get the Pu-erh Tuo Cha, not only because it Pu-erh is its own class of tea (neither black, nor green.) We like class. Plus, I wanted to watch her try to order it without looking like she was pushing marbles out of her mouth with her tongue. Me, I ordered some Wuyi.

Organic Wuyi Oolong: RatingGlee-Jamboree (Pam), Glee-Teehee (LP)
One sniff of the Wuyi Oolong and I knew just what I was smelling; however, it took LP a longer time to register. 

"What IS that smell?" she said. I watched her eyes blink as her brain cycled through memories. A familiar scent. Go back. Go way back. Not that far. Ok…there.

“What IS that smell?”

Fearful lest she expire from frustrated mental effort, I cut to the chase, “It’s pot. Mary Jane. Weed.”

“You’re right!” LP’s face alit in recognition. “It’s a good bud.”

Wuyi smelled exactly like a green, sticky, hairy bud (not that I’ve ever smelled such a thing.) I instantly had pleasant flashbacks of sweatpants, The Talking Heads, brownies, and a room full of Smithies (not that I ever smoked a sticky bowl in college.) The flavor was quite tasty. Not at all tea-ish, but enjoyably different.

“It’s the only tea you get cottonmouth as you’re drinking!” I exclaimed.

I would definitely hang with Wuyi again. Party on, Garth.

Organic Fair Trade Pu-erh Tuo ChaRating - Must flee (both)

We had high hopes for Pu-erh Tuo Cha as our server breathily declared it to be her new favorite tea. But I could tell by the first sniff that Houston we had a problem.

“Oh, we are in the swamp land now,” LP said squinching up her nose. “Oh oh oh….” She flung her head from side to side unable to find the words. “It’s like Chinese soup.”
LP sippin' the fishy brew

“What ‘chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?!” I demanded as I grasped the tea from her and took a deep sniff. “Holy crap. It’s a Japanese fish market.”

I gamely took a cup of it before proclaiming it disgusting and undrinkable, though LP really wanted to give it a fair shot as she tried to “milk this fish” by adding creamer. To no avail. That was some nastyass tea. We seriously considered a mix up behind the tea counter. Maybe they ground up some three day-old flounder by mistake?

Pu-erh? They got it right with the first two letters: P.U.

If you would like to read further adventures in tea tasting, please click here to see the results of our Teatotaling so far.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you are reviewing TEA! Ha! I have seen Oolong on the shelves for an oolong time and have never had a sip. Now I feel like I have. Thanks!