Friday, December 29, 2017

Phoenix Tea Sindano Fedha (Silver Needle): Kenya

"Mr. Knoerr, may I have some more?" The tallest boy in the school, good at sports, loud and energetic, wants a second tiny cup of Kenyan white tea. The room is unusually quiet today, because Caleb's friends have somehow convinced him to stay mostly silent—a feat I find astonishing and which I could repeat. He wrote his request on a piece of paper and handed it to me before accepting a refill.

Throughout my adult life, I've resigned myself to being alone in my interests, listening to 20th-century classical music, and reading books no one has read and no one has any interest in reading. So it comes as a continual surprise that my students want to share in (and demand, in fact) the most esoteric of my interests, tea.

Earlier in my blog, I wrote many times that the reason Americans don't drink tea is that they don't know what they're missing. We Americans, like everyone else on the planet, like the good stuff in life, when we know it exists and that it's worth the effort. Back in the '70s, when I was growing up, TV commercials (remember those?) sold Folgers coffee with flavor crystals, which brand my parents had in big canisters in the fridge. It was predictable, and it was better than whatever sludge came before, I guess.

But then the '90s happened, and Starbucks and microbreweries changed the way we drank. Coffee went from a cup of Joe to a double-mocha Venti Josephus; and Stroh's went by the wayside for Hop Zombie I.P.A. When we take some time and observe, we can really enjoy things once in a while.

(Here's a quick report on a Kenyan Silver Needle tea from Phoenix Tea. I had it awhile back, and I'm only now completing this write-up. Pardon, everyone who ever lived, for being so tardy!)

Steep 1
Pale, transparent gold
5 min steep, for fun
bright, sharp-edged at this extreme end of taste; light and floral with less
lactonic, milky hint under the brightness

Steep 2
Almost a chocolate first note, milky, white chocolate, a bit floral, vanilla, strong. "Yeah, it's different." "It smells like girls." High note of lilac, perhaps. Drying,

High-quality white tea, buds perfect,

Students line up for a white tea from Kenya, coming back for seconds.