Sarah and I tripped out to downtown (amongst other errands ran) this morning so I could make a tea restock from Kaffeeklatsch, Huntville's best place to buy tea. Kind of the only place. Pearly Gates has some, but the tea seemed a bit old, there, when I tried it last. Various grocery stores (and herbal stores) have some to sell, though they tend to the mass produced bagged teas or loose teas in box format. For better cut and variety, I can't think of a place to beat Kaffeeklatsch in the area. Am I forgetting something?
Today's trip was one of those general restocks. Something of a semester restock, which is a fair quantity of tea by most people's standards. I needed a couple each of black, oolong, and green. I still have a quantity of Twining's flavored teas, so I did not need that, nor any blended teas (Irish Breafkast, for instance, which is a mix of darker Assams and Ceylons).
For green, I picked up three: Green Dragon Maofeng (maofeng is a good utility green), Green Yunnan Silver Tips (which smells wonderful), and Sencha Extra Fine (possibly the best green tea ever). For black, I had two: Assam Majulighur (Assam is a rich aromatic tea that is really close to what people normally think of when they think of black tea flavor) and Panyang Congou Gold Fancy (similar in note to Assam, though a bit lighter and with a hint of roasting). For oolong, there ended up being four: Imperial Gold Oolong (medium oxidation oolong with good color and all the best qualities of the type), Ti Kuan Yin Premium (a little darker, or about the same, but a tad "fruitier" in flavor), Hairy Crab Oolong (low level of oxidation, with a sweet note), and a sample of Da Hong Pao Extra Fancy (heavily oxidized with a light, bitter chocolate flavor).
My one disappointment is that pouchong oolong seems to have disappeared. They had none at the Klatsch, and when I looked up my other favorite version (Numi's) they are out of it, too. A few websites show themselves as having it, but I don't quite trust tea bought online. There is no good way to prove that it didn't sit in a backroom for years before shipping. All of the places I trust online (two or three) don't have it. Sigh. The Hairy Crab Oolong seems to be only slightly darker version, only slightly, with a more robust note so it might make a good substitute until pouchong comes back into existence. Along the way, he gave me a sample of Da Hang Pao Extra Fancy which is kind of the exact opposite (subtle and deep flavor instead of light and green flavor). DHP EF is pretty expensive, around $140 a pound, and my practical limit tends to be about the $60 a pound (while my more standard teas tend to top off at maybe $25-$30 a pound). I may pick a quarter pound, though, since I like it and need a good, dark oolong.
For those curious as to how tea justifies such a price, just remember that an ounce can make a dozen cups. A quarter pound can make a dozen pots. Sure it comes out, at that price, to be $3 a pot but that's not bad for high quality. Cheaper than, say, good wine. Cheaper than midquality wine, at that. On average, most tea I make comes out more to the $0.50-$1.00 per pot range. I am not sure how that compares to coffee, though I think it's about the same if you include actual fresh coffee and not the kind that is stale before you buy it (pretty much any coffee on the shelf in a store, as one person pointed out: coffee is actually a sweetish drink, if you taste more than a pleasant note of bitter, it's gone stale). The Klatsch sales coffee about $14 a pound, versus, say, $20-$30 a pound for tea, but tea takes a teaspoon to a cup, and is a lighter, "fluffier" product. Tea might actually be a notch cheaper. And, 'fiene junkies, if you do tea right, you can get more than enough of a jolt to make you slap your teeth together. Well, right is not quite the right word.
Of course, now I am craving a cup of fresh tea and it will probably be later tonight before I can get a chance. Dang.
Si Vales, Valeo
PS: For those in the area, or willing/wanting to make an order, here is their current list of teas (kind of, they are currently sold out of some of these). If you would like to see their current list of coffees or actually see the order form, you can go to the Kaffeeklatsch website.
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