Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Snow Dragon - Fortnum & Mason

F&M may have disappointed with their tea advent calendar (see earlier post!) but with this brew they are onto a winner.

This was a present and after trying it, I rationed its use because I didn’t want it to run out too quickly…and I’m too bone idle to visit F&M when I’m in London!

The tea is somewhere between a silver needle and a green tea and you do get that asparagus, grassy essence of a green sencha tea, infused with the honey notes of the silver needle when you taste it.

The tea comes from the Yunnan province of China; young leaves are picked during the last frost, then they are seared in a wok and dried into long, snake-like (or dragon-like) leaves. As you can see from the photograph, the leaves range in colour from dark, twig like browns, through to pale, almost silver twists. The tea has a fresh scent, but it is more reminiscent of forest leaves than grassy fields, mixed with the warming scent of honey or vanilla.

I have no pictures of the tea leaves when they have unfurled into full, bright green leaves; nor the pale golden liquid that the tea produces, which has the slight shimmer you would expect from a silver needle. (I forgot to take any until I'd drunk the last of my supply!) As you would expect, this light, fresh tea is not overpowering, and therefore perfect for those hazy summer days!

Ripe Pu-Erh Snow Chrysanthemum Cake - by Yunnan Sourcing

Authentic Pu-erh tea comes from the Yunnan province of China. It can be found as loose-leaf tea or processed into round cakes or bricks. As well as the well-known traditional dark red tea, it can also be found as white or green tea variants. Pu-erh is particularly special because it can be aged like a fine wine for decades. As time marches on, it develops a more complex depth of flavour which is often very rich and earthy.

As Pu-erh tea is supposed to be good for the body, eliminating toxins and fat from it, and being a good aid to digestion. It is supposed to reduce cholesterol and clear the arteries of a plaque build-up. It is even supposed to be good for those who may have a hangover, and if you look at it after it has infused, it does look like a good strong cup of coffee! After the over indulgences of Christmas, is it any wonder I’ve gone back to drinking it!

The tea packs a punch, it is strong and earthy with a scent and taste of the autumnal forest. The smell of mushrooms, damp soil and leaves, combine well with the addition of chrysanthemum flowers in this blend. The flowers have added detoxicating benefits and a sweet, floral scent, which makes for a rich, complex sweet and spicy taste.

Pu-erh tea is also good value for money, as you can get several infusions from the same tea. You do need to take care when brewing however, as if left too long, the tea can gain a bitter, coffee-like after taste, so all the beautiful complex flavours are lost. Stored properly in a dark, dry environment, Pu-erh tea can last for many years. 


Prince Edward Lavender Green Tea – by Pluck

This green tea mixes grassy and floral notes to produce a pale green tea which is refreshing but still helps you to relax and unwind after a long day. It contains a hint of ginger, but it is the scent and taste of lavender which makes this tea unique.

Pluck is a speciality tea company based in Toronto, Canada, so without the generosity of my Canadian friend, I would never have sampled this tasty delight. The name comes from the fact that high-quality tea is plucked by hand, rather than cut by machine.

Pluck work with local growers, and the Prince Edward Country Lavender farm, near Toronto, grows the Hidcote lavender which is dried and then blended to make the Prince Edward Lavender Green Tea. 

My top tips:

It’s a delicious tea to serve with warm Lemon Curd Madeleines made with lavender sugar as a Sunday afternoon treat!
Alternatively, try baking with it! Infuse butter or warm milk with the tea and make shortbread or fairy cakes with the infused milk or butter.