White and Green Sort of Tea

Another Advent Calendar staple today. Buddha’s Blend is a floral white and green tea blend. Every year we smell it, remember it, and misremember how sweet it is. It’s seasoned with peach, which is one of our favourite fruits to add to tea. It’s sweet, so the flavour comes through beautifully. But when you set it against a white or a green tea it stops it cloying.

Our favourite tea for one summer was Whittard’s Jubilee blend and that was the same idea, a black tea with peach and mango. Sweet, but balanced so that you didn’t get toothache after the first mouthful.

White tea is lighter, so the peach is a bit stronger, but that’s where the green tea comes in. It gives it enough bitterness that the result is a floral, fruity, well-blended tea and this is a textbook lesson in how we think David should make all teas.

That said, there’s a trick to steeping it. Most fruit teas sweeten as they steep, and the temptation is to let them steep indefinitely. You can get away with that with a white tea, but not so green tea. Leave Budha’s Blend sitting too long and it quickly goes bitter. It might be perfectly balanced, but only for the first tow to three minutes of steeping, and that’s a generous estimate.

We’ve learned to rescue the tea infuser after pouring the first cup. Anything longer and you get a tart cup where the green overpowers everything else. It’s still nice, but you’ll feel your teeth zing.

So, yes, turns out making tea is a bit like rocket science. Here’s a poem that’s equally delicate and finely balanced.

Hummingbirds
Mary Oliver, 1994

The female, and two chicks,
each no bigger than my thumb,
scattered,
shimmering

in their pale-green dresses;
then they rose, tiny fireworks,
into the leaves
and hovered;

then they sat down,
each one with dainty, charcoal feet –
each one on a slender branch –
and looked at me.

I had meant no harm,
I had simply climbed
the tree for something to do

on a summer day,
not knowing they were there,
ready to burst the ledges
of their mossy nest

and to fly, for the first time,
in their sea-green helmets,
with brisk, metallic tails –
each tulled wing,

with every dollop of flight,
drawing a perfect wheel
across the air.
Then, with a series of jerks,

they paused in front of me
and, dark-eyed, stared –
as though I were a flower –
and then,

like three tosses of silvery water,
they were gone.
Alone,
in the crown of the tree,

I went to China,
I went to Prague;
I died, and was born in the spring;
I found you, and loved you, again.

Later the darkness fell
and the solid moon
like a white pond rose.
But I wasn’t in any hurry.

Likely I visited
all the shimmering, heart-stabbing
questions without answers
before I climbed down.

Gorgeous stuff. We don’t give you Oliver often enough. That said, you wouldn’t believe the technological wrangle we went through to put that together. So, do us a favour and enjoy it, will you? Over tea, naturally. A delicate, fiddly, white and green sort of tea.

Though good luck on the hummingbirds. Completely the wrong time of year for them.

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