As the country known for the genesis of coffee drinking, enhanced and fostered by a centuries-old ritualized coffee ceremony, Ethiopia is not a country I associate with tea. But the Ethiopians do grow and drink tea and when I was at Tana Market, one of the Ethiopian groceries on Cherry Street in Seattle last week buying wine (Dukam, a dry red and Tej, Ethiopian honey wine), I bought two packets of tea that I had never tried before. One was a ginger root tea and the other was a traditional black tea.
|The ginger root tea is interesting to drink, although I do not believe that there is anything distinctive about ginger root tea from Ethiopia versus ginger root tea from anywhere else. The ingredients are not listed in English on the package, but I believe that it is entirely dried ginger root. It is finely powdered and best brewed in a cloth bag. It has a very strong bite to it – pleasant, but not a drink one would typically drink more than one glass of during the course of a day unless it was a component of a medical treatment. It seems that it would serve as a nice beverage for occasional times where an alternative to tea is desired or for a respiratory aid.|
|The Black Lion tea (pictured above) is a traditional leaf tea, very red in color and very broken and powdery. I am unsure of what the processing of this tea involves, but it must be brutal. The flavor of the tea holds up through the breaking of its leaves, though. I found it to be quite pleasant with a smooth, warm flavor without the slightest hint of bitterness. It would be best brewed using methods that contain all of that powder and tea dust, otherwise it would get a little grainy in the mouth and produce a rather messy situation to clean up after.|
A note on tea production from this informational site about Ethiopian export products:
The quality of tea mainly depends on climatic conditions, the type of soil upon which the plant grows and the method of processing. In Ethiopia, tea is mostly grown in the highland dense forest regions where the land is fertile and thus the use of fertilizer is very minimal.
Moreover, the availability of abundant and cheap labor in the Country has made the use of manual weeding, instead of chemical weeding, possible. Because of this mostly organic cultivation, Ethiopian tea is increasingly sought for its aroma and natural flavors. This is confirmed by the “International Gold Star” award for quality recently given by B.D.I. in Madrid, Spain to one of the major Ethiopian tea exporters, Tea Production and Marketing Enterprise.
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As someone that has done a fair amount of content on tea, I have a lot of mixed thoughts on the way information is passed. With tea reviews or discussing a specific tea I have struggled with the question: how to talk about an individual tea or tea in general in an interesting or useful way.. Whether you like or dislike TeaDB episodes largely depends on whether you enjoy watching two particular people drink and binter. This is fine enough and it is certainly fun for Denny & I to create, but I’ll also agree with the sentiment that it’s not necessarily the most substantive way to review a tea in depth. There’s some signal but there’s also a lot of noise. Writing about a specific tea also isn’t easy and I think is actually very difficult to execute in a way that is actually consistently interesting or useful for people. Most people just want to know if you liked or didn’t like a specific tea. Making something that piques interest beyond that is a challenge and even if you don’t like them a place like Mei Leaf has succeeded in creating content that really does engage their viewers. You also have to consider that the majority of people have not had the tea or are even unfamiliar with the basic taste profile (i.e. Denny & I describing a traditionally stored pu’erh, when the audience has never had one).. Here are some phrases I dislike and hear frequently enough that I find them unhelpful and sometimes even counter-productive.
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