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Last week Andy and I went to a tea and chocolate tasting class at our favorite local tea shop All Things Tea. I’m not going to lie; I felt incredibly grown up and sophisticated going to a tasting. Seriously, I wrote it on all my calendars and told everybody I talked to, which probably counteracted some of the “grown-up” points, but I couldn’t help it. Plus, it acted as sort of a “date night”, and goodness knows Andy and I spend way too much time with take out and Netflix.
We showed up for class a little early so we got the added bonus of getting to peek at all of the different things being set up. I was very impressed that they had brought in an actual tea plant for us to look at.
The evening kicked off with a brief history of tea. We discussed types, growing conditions, processing practices, and how certain blends are put together. I knew a little bit about tea already, but it is really incredible to think about all the things that have to happen from clipping to sipping.
The blends ranged from the more familiar flavors like Scottish Breakfast Tea and went all the way to smoked and fermented teas. Some I liked more than others, but there wasn’t a single cup that I didn’t find interesting and enjoyable.
Since I’d never attended a serious tasting class before, I was absolutely delighted by how much the addition of the chocolates enhanced the different teas. We all followed the pattern of brew, sniff, sip and pair. The instructor would suggest an initial paring or two, but we were really encouraged to explore different blends and to talk about what we were tasting. Since there were only four of us, the instructor and her assistant, the ice quickly melted, and before long we were suggesting pairings to one another and coming up with funny comparisons to describe what we were experiencing. My favorite quote of the evening came from Andy (shocker) “It tastes like American cheese slices, but not in a bad way.” The funny thing was we all agreed that we understood what he was talking about.
There may have been a few mis-haps with the tasting cups, and I might have been the first one to spill something. I really thought it would have been Andy, but that honor went to yours truly.
All and all it was a great evening, and we were a little sad when it was over. I’d love to do this again when we have guests in town, and we are thinking about taking the Tea 101 class the next time it is offered.
I’ll share the pictures of the high tea Andy and I went to on Saturday tomorrow. Today I wanted to tell you guys about something really cool that we found while we were wondering around the tea shop before hand. While there were tons of things to be seen, my gaze kept coming back to the display of bottles of Evy Tea by the register. I couldn’t figure out what they were. Yes, the packaging said “tea”, but it looked more like honey or perhaps some sort of infused wine. As we were settling up the check, I finally broke down and asked the owner. She told us they were special cold brewed tea blends, and she offered to let us try the three different flavors.
- Amber Oolong Tea with Rosemary & Orange Zest – As something to drink, I don’t think I’d want to have this particular blend again. I like Oolong just fine, and the orange zest was a nice complement to the flavor, but the rosemary, the rosemary was crazy strong. I do think this would be a great cooking liquid for savory foods. I told Andy that I thought it would be great to cook something like a pork roast in. He said he would gladly play taste tester since I don’t eat pork anymore.
- Decaf Green Tea with Fig & Pomegranate – This blend was delightfully earthy. A good strong green tea base that when paired with the fig and pomegranate resulted in a dark almost tabacco-y flavor. I think when I try this again I’d like it even better with a bit of sugar added.
- Moonlight White Tea with Apricot & Jasmine – Of the three, this was without a doubt my favorite. The base white tea was mild and allowed the delicate jasmine to shine. The apricot was strong and fruity, which was surprising because there wasn’t any sweetness in the overall flavor.
Andy and I joked that this is our version of wine tasting. We went home with a bottle each of the green tea and the white tea. We have a couple of friends who are tea enthusiasts as well, and we figured we could use them as a host or hostess gift the next time we had dinner together. Once again, just like wine 😉