tea pairing: Coconut oolong with An Ember in the Ashes
April 16, 2016
It may feel boldly out of place to think of tea while engrossed in the bleak outlook facing the characters in An Ember in the Ashes, while feeling it grow ever bleaker as the story unfolds. Or perhaps tea is necessary, as the safety of a kettle whirring its gentle song can provide some calm contrasting the darkest corners of this tale. The earthy coconut oolong with its unexpectedly delicate underlay is a most fitting companion.
... the safety of a kettle whirring its gentle song can provide some calm contrasting the darkest corners of this tale ...
The tea starts as the characters Elias and Laia who attempt the appearance of dark, hardened exteriors ...
The tea starts as the characters Elias and Laia who attempt the appearance of dark, hardened exteriors. The base oolong tea of my coconut oolong from Townshend’s Tea Company is a lightly oxidized, grassy leaf that gives the tea hints of a peaty base. The tightly coiled rolls protect and preserve the earthen flavors hidden within. Generously mixed through is the light of shaved coconut. The inner flesh of a coconut offers a bounty of bright flavor, and simultaneously creates a velvet silk to coat the tongue. The unfurling of brewing oolong leaves interweaves these elements, resulting in strong flavors of the wild that seamlessly soothe through the fruit and butter of coconut. A perfect process to experience alongside Elias and Laia’s journeys to respecting their vulnerable cores.
... A perfect process to experience alongside Elias and Laia’s journeys to respecting their vulnerable cores ...
Portland tea shop Townshend’s uses a rare oolong to create this delicious blend. Watch for my post on Townshend’s amazing and comprehensive tea list, and their cozy sipping rooms.
A bit more on oolong tea …
Oolong is a variety made from exposure of tea leaves to strong sun for quick, partial oxidation and then roasted to halt the oxidation process. The flavors of oolong will vary depending on the particular process used, but tends to have a brighter taste than green teas and a bit finer flavoring compared to black teas. Oolongs are curled into tight spirals, which are fun to watch release during the brewing process.
Brewing temperature: Oolong wants a softer temperature than black teas, recommended at 180-200F. Basically a just-boiled amount.
Steep time: About 3-5 minutes. When the tea leaves have opened to flat, the tea is ready. (And these can re-steep 2-3 times!)
* Both the temperature and the steep time are especially forgiving with this blend, as the coconut tends to even the taste when the tea might otherwise become bitter from over-steeping.
Caffeine content: Oolong contains caffeine, in an amount lower than black tea but higher than green.
Milk?: The detailed flavor of oolong is probably best without any cream addition. However, the tea will not get lost entirely to a splash of milk if you feel inclined.
Sweetener?: The coconut provides plenty of rich and fruity flavor, but a dash of honey will not defeat this tea either.