By: GSA Roberta Wells, The Hotel Concord Class of 2019
In 2019, several GSAs had the opportunity to enjoy some time at the Cozy
Tea Cart in Brookline before taking a walk through the Andres Sculpture
Park. Those of us who were not able to attend that event had a second
opportunity recently to learn all about tea at the virtual presentation by
Danielle Beaudette on January 28th.
I, for one, was surprised to learn that all the different types of teas we have ever heard of (white, yellow, green, oolong, black and dark) are all actually the leaves of the same plant – they are just processed differently. I also had no idea my regular cuppa was actually made from dust – that is from the lowest grade of tea grown at sea level and harvested mechanically stems and all then ground to particles no bigger than well, dust. At the Cozy Tea Cart, Danielle specializes in teas that are grown in the mountainous areas at elevations of 3,000 to 8,000 feet. Only the top two leaves and the bud are harvested from the top of each bush. This is because these are the newest shoots so they have the highest amount of vitamins and antioxidants. Danielle also provided information on the health benefits of tea, as well as what to look for in the grading of teas to know that you are getting the best quality – basically, the more letters after its name, the better quality.
After thanking Danielle personally after the meeting and relating that tea parties was a favorite mother daughter activity I shared with my girls since they were little, she oﬀered to send me a few samples of tea to try at home. Though she has many blends, I chose three that I felt I might enjoy all from the decaffeinated black tea category: English Breakfast to be most like my “normal” cuppa, chai spice which is a blend I enjoy at Indian restaurants, and apricot which simply sounded soothing.
I started my taste testing with the English Breakfast decaf in place of my normal morning teabag tea. I prepared it according to directions provided. Then before adding my normal milk and sweetener, I took a deep breath of the aroma, which was rich and slightly sweet. Once prepared, I took my first sip. which was smooth and flavorful. A little later, I brewed a second cup of tea using the same leaves. I never use a tea bag twice as I find it has lost too much flavor. My second cup was just as flavorful as my first.
To end the day, I chose to try the Decaf Chai with my dinner. (If you have never had chai, the closest thing I can compare it to is Constant Comment.) The pungent aroma of spices – cinnamon and cardamon, ginger and clove – are the first thing you notice, bold and strong. And each sip is an explosion of warm spice in your mouth with a smooth finish. Loved it!
For my final taste test, I had the Apricot Decaf, perfect to enjoy on a snowy Tuesday afternoon. From the moment I opened the wrapping, the scent of flowers and fruit were evident. It was like unwrapping summer. Once adding the water, the fragrance became more of a delicate floral perfume. Indeed, this blend is actually black tea and marigold blossoms. I chose to add a spot of honey for a little added sweetness. I found this tea did have a subtle hint of apricot but was overall more floral in character. It would make a nice accompaniment to a shortbread cookie or a scone.
Overall, I enjoyed all these teas and definitely noticed a difference in freshness and depth of flavor, in comparison to my usual tea bag. I look forward to when we can get out and about again to be able to enjoy one of Danielle’s thematic tea times with pastries and savories.