Friday, November 4, 2011

Black tea: Kenilworth Estate OP (caffeinated)

Today's tea is a Ceylon, which was the old colonial name for Sri Lanka, that island off the South East coast of India; tea is a significant export for this republic. The Kenilworth Estate comprises 700 acres in western Sri Lanka, and holds the record auction price for Orange Pekoe. Even though they are grown from the same variety of Camellia sinensis as the Assam teas, Ceylon teas are the lightweight members of the Orange Pekoe clan, and more likely to be described as "brisk" -- their tannins come through more easily since they lack the "malty" or "biscuity" texture/flavor of the straight Assam teas. I understand Ceylon teas are often used in black tea blends; drinking a straight Ceylon like this is a purist's enterprise.


I don't think I'm a Ceylon purist. This tea -- even though brewed for 5'30" -- reminded me of the weakish brew served by my favorite cranky old English guy, my friend Sophie's dad, who wears a grey wool sweater he's darned himself with many different colors of yarn, reserves feelings of devotion for very few things including the BBC, and swears he can tell the difference between a cup of tea whose milk has been poured in at the bottom of the cup and one whose milk was added after the tea was poured. Milk-first is his preference. "The toffs had milk pitchers, but my class had none of that fancy business, so we had to pour in the milk first." With each cuppa, the professor honors his roots and snubs the rich capitalist b@stards.