By the gods, I love this stuff1. Yesterday, I had to collect Mum from JFK at around 7:30 in the morning. That’s around the time I usually go to sleep, so I ended up staying up the night before, afraid I’d sleep through. So there I am, 4:30 in the morning, slightly bleary-eyed and more than slightly frazzled, packing a bottle of water and a fuzzy throw for Mum. All that remained was the tea.
Once upon a time, I had only one loose tea—Ocean of Wisdom—and that’s the tea I would’ve made and taken with me. Now I have so many loose teas to consider, so many yummy (and untried) options, and the very thought of having to guess (at that hour) what Mum might like and what I should try was doing my head in, so I ended up selecting the same one: Ocean of Wisdom. It’s just so good. And the fragrance is just so heavenly.
This note, though, is about the second infusion I prepared when I got home. I have to admit that I rarely bother with second steeps, never mind multiple ones. I’d be a horrible oolong taster, given that many times, the best flavour of an oolong emerges in the third steep (and beyond). That said, I gave the second steep a try because this tea can get really expensive, compared to the others in my cupboard: my 4.4oz packet was USD$19, and Samovar recommend using 2-3 tbsp per 16oz/473mL. That’s only about 8 servings! Since it’s rooibos (and therefore naturally caffeine-free) and my favourite blend, I could go through that in a couple of days. Eep! So I was thinking I’d try and stretch it out a bit by steeping again or using less tea next time.
Anyway. The interesting thing about this is that the second steep is a completely different tea. Gone was the warm, sweet, woodsy rooibos flavour I love, and I couldn’t detect most of the other ingredients, either. Really, it just tasted like cloves and ginger. And it was awesome. It was this potent, spicy brew that felt so great hitting my throat, which is a bit vexed with me for taking it to the petri dish we call an airport. I was really surprised by the level of gingery spice, a level that I hope for in my ginger tea blends but rarely get. (To be clear, it’s surprising because the first steep isn’t at all piquant.) The second steep is also slightly astringent, but only on occasion, not throughout the cup.
From now on, this will be a two-steep tea for me.
Tea amount: 2.5 tbsp
Water amount: 16oz/~475mL
Additives: 2 tsp demerara sugar
Dry mouth factor: 4/10 (second steep only, first steep is 1/10)