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Friday, January 11, 2008


White Tea Variations.

I was first introduced to white tea by a great foodie friend of mine, who loves the tea for its anti-oxidant properties - something she could use more of, since her Type I diabetes prevents her from getting anti-oxidants as I do from fruit. White tea is made from the same plant as all true teas, the camellia sinensis (which comes in thousands of varieties), but it is picked very early and only includes remarkably new growth. It is lower in caffeine than my beloved green teas, and milder in flavor. (You can learn more than you've planned at Wikipedia - White Tea, of course.) It is subtle.

I haven't had any in a while, and noticed that the Republic of Tea now carries a collection of ten white teas, all but one of which is flavored with fruit, or at least 'natural fruit flavor.' I picked up a can of persimmon white tea, which comes in a special tin (which may be a hint that it's priced differently than the other tins on the shelf). I rushed home and prepared some for myself and Steven.

Steven's review: "This is wrong."

I'm the big tea drinker here, so I should be able to articulate the strange novelty of this tea more specifically. When they say it is flavored with natural persimmon flavor, they really mean it is flavored with natural persimmon flavor. This tea is brewed very quickly - from thirty to sixty seconds - and you taste persimmons. If you brew it any longer than 60 seconds, or perhaps even fifty if you're using boiling water, which you really shouldn't do, but which I did on the first try, persimmons are just about all you taste. The instructions on the label, which insist on not-quite-boiling water and fast steeping times, really must be followed for this to taste like the makers intend. When brewed as carefully as directed, it still tastes primarily of persimmons, but in a nice, light way.

I'm not sure I recommend this drink for fans of other types of tea, because the tea flavor is so very delicate and the caffeine content is too low for the addicts in my social circle. (You know who you are. Stop twitching. If you can.) It is novel. It is healthy. I will drink it and get my $12+ worth. But it hasn't yet grown on me, or inspired the level of passion that a cup of Monkey Picked Iron Goddess of Mercy from Samovar Tea can.


I've eaten quite a few persimmons recently, thanks to my friends who got all 'persimmoned out' during the holidays. I've received two types of fresh, tomato-shaped (fuyu-type) persimmons and one kind of dried, sliced persimmons. I ate them all (except for one mushy soft one that I must have dropped, and one that I coerced Steven into eating, so he could say he'd had one), including the yellow persimmons that I was convinced would never turn that lovely, unique shade of orange-vermilion that I like, but they did. The friend who brought the second batch over apologized that they were "tree persimmons," by which he meant that a colleague was growing them in their yard, and so they weren't one of the commercial varieties - all persimmons grow on trees, and they're quite lovely in winter with just the bright fruit hanging there. They're also surprisingly pretty in cross section, which I hadn't realized until another friend brought me the dried slices.

They don't really taste like any other fruit to me, so it is difficult to compare them to anything else. (Water chestnuts and lychee also fall into this category with me.) They are sweet, more mild in flavor than their color suggests, and almost imply... what brown sugar would taste like if it was extracted from baked sweet potatoes. (Does that even make sense?)

My favorite 'suggested use' for persimmons comes from Larry, who learned from his parents to arrange persimmons in a decorative bowl until they begin to break down, at which time they should be thrown out. (Modern update: they should now be composted.)

I think I will soon be 'persimmoned out' also, but that's alright: it's now peak orange, mandarin orange, tangerine, and other citrus fruit season, and so there are other auspiciously colored fruits around for me to enjoy.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

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