NaNoTeaMo, Day 30: “The White Forest Oolong Finish Line”
Holy heck . . . I made it.
This is it, Day 30. The final post in my self-inflicted NaNoTeaMo challenge. No one put me up to it; I wasn’t trying to prove anything. The only reason I did it was to see if I had any ounce of writing discipline in me. Apparently, I do. And then some.
I could’ve half-assed it rather easily, but I chose to spin my usual long-winded yarns. Each entry took a lot of time. (In the case of two particular articles – two months of prep work.) But I think the work speaks for itself.
If you’ve stuck with me through all thirty days – thank you so much. If you couldn’t keep up – I don’t blame you. If this is your first time happening upon this blog – just start with the first post this month (November 2015), and go from there. Then run in terror.
A thought occurred to me about halfway through this challenge, though. In the span of that one month, I’ve written close to 30,000 words. The NaNoWriMo challenge – which this was a direct tea drunk parody of – called for a 50,000-word novel. In hindsight, I could’ve easily done that challenge. Nothing got in my way. Well, except the beckon call of a backlog box full of tea.
Which is still over half-full, despite my best efforts.
I had no clue what to focus my last day on. No particular agenda in mind. I even looked in the box to see if there was something that demanded most of my fleeting attention span. In the end, I relied on my nose.
It always – . . .
Oh right, trademarked.
The first thing I sniffed was a li’l sample bag of Pathivara Tea Estate White Forest. A parting gift from the World Tea Expo After-Beach-Tea-Party-Thingy, put on by Team Tealet.
I’m not just trying to be thematically consistent here – what with the whole toucan thing and all – but this stuff really did smell like Fruit Loops. I had to sniff it about five more times to make sure my nose wasn’t doing anything weird.
Nope, definitely sweet.
A little backstory is in order. The Pathivara tea estate is named for the town it resides in – Pathivara, located in the Panchthar district of Eastern Nepal. The garden was first established almost thirty years ago, but fell into disrepair when the Maoist regime swept through. In 2012, tea entrepreneurs helped re-establish the garden and restart production.
The garden itself rests at an altitude of 6,000 feet above sea level. The weather is often very dry, and the temperatures are rather frigid. Because of this, the garden’s actual yield is relatively low in comparison to other, lower altitude Nepalese gardens. Pathivara is part of the same grower’s federation as the Teenjure co-op, which I wrote about earlier this month.
Pathivara’s White Forest was an unusual beast. Tealet even said as much when they presented the tea at their beach party. It was classified as an oolong, but not in the strictest of sense. The leaves looked white tea-ish in appearance. They even had the requisite white tea bud fur.
As far as I could tell, it was likely processed like a white tea, but given a longer oxidation. This marks the fourth tea I’ve tried this year that’s been done this way. At this point, this particularly confusing style – that of over-oxidizing white tea leaves to see what happens – should be made its own thing. Its own frustratingly confusing thing.
Tealet had two different ways to approach this tea. One was to brew it at a typical oolong temp – at about 185F – for a subtler, creamier brew. Or the water could be closer to a boil, for something more robust and chocolaty. It was well into evening when I finally dipped into this, so I opted for the more oolongy approach. Per the instructions, I only brewed for one minute.
The liquor brewed very, very pale with an aroma of melons and vanilla. There was nothing about this that screamed “Himalaya” or “oolong”; it was like I was sniffing a white tea. It tasted like a white tea, too – albeit with that usual Nepalese magical tea-making bend. The flavor was like grapes dipped in vanilla. Definitely a lot of vanilla-ness going on.
But I felt I wasn’t quite done, yet. What was this like at a deeper, darker, longer brew? I decided to bring the water to a boil and dare a two-minute steep. Y’know, for a nightcap.
At the higher temp and time, there was a slight darkening to the liquor, but not much. The steam smell was more vanilla and honey, rather than just plain ol’ vanilla. And taste?
Oooohooohoooo, daddy like.
Like pouring vanilla almond milk over Fruit Loops.
Really not sure how I went on this toucan tangent tonight.
Well, we have stuck with you, I thought it must be 30,000 words. Nepal now has a new Female head of state, and a new constitution so maybe it will be better than before! Hope the tea estate is flourishing.
This time I can congratulate you and don’t worry, I read it until the end.