Whistling kettle

I went to a tea store yesterday called Whistling Kettle, located in the little town of Ballston Spa. This is your typical small town tea store, I think, doing mostly tourist business as well as supplying the rich local folks. The place boasts of “over 90 teas” and the place actually is rather decently decorated. I didn’t go in expecting much, but I must say I was disappointed.

The place is more catered to food and tea, rather than just tea for tea’s sake. That’s fine — after all, they have to stay in business, and tea alone in upstate New York isn’t going to cut it. I flipped through the tea menu and plucked for the Borengajuli Assam. I like Assam in general, so I figured why not?

Well, it was a disaster. First of all, I cannot stand places that do not give you the leaves. If you claim to be serious about tea, with staffers all wearing t-shirts that say “Campaign for Real Tea” and all, then you should at the very least make tea the right way for people who are serious about tea. The teapots are fine, but where is my tea? I only have liquid. For all I know, this was brewed five hours ago and reheated in the microwave.

But I know it’s not, because it has another problem. As many of you will know, if you brewed tea using a bag or basket to hold the leaves, and then take the bag/basket out, what you get is more concentrated tea in the bottom and more watery tea up top in the pot. That’s why, for example, when you brew gongfu style, you need to distribute the tea evenly either through a fairness cup or by pouring alternately into the different cups. These teapots they gave me, however, are dark, dark blue, and there was no way that I could see how the tea is distributed in there. Unsuspectingly, I poured out my first cup. It was rather on the light side, and the Assam tasted like a regular Ceylon, which is always a bad sign. Ok. Then, the second cup comes out, and all of a sudden I have this much darker cup — then I knew there was a problem with the tea not being very well mixed, so to speak. Hmmm. The tea, however, was devoid of real fragrance and was rather rough on the tongue. The third (and last) cup was worse – when I emptied it my entire mouth felt rough. Even bad young puerh are not as harsh. I have no idea what this is, but high quality, estate produced Assam? I think not. Unless, of course, the tea has been sitting around for ages with nobody buying it. Michael of Tea Gallery told me before to buy cheap tea when I go to regular shops, because the expensive stuff sit on the shelves for ages with no customers. Maybe it applied here. However, my wife had a similarly bad experience, so it’s not as if I was the only victim.

I hate to give real, physical shops bad reviews, because they are doing a service to the tea community by bringing the drnk to others, but when it’s bad… it’s bad. I was not impressed by the Whistling Kettle. Sorry.


Comments

Whistling kettle — 4 Comments

  1. It is interesting, because all the selection of this tea house is based on the Hamburg resident D&B Tea Company, with the typical german – european flavored tea supply. It is normal for this kind of tea they did not show you the leaves. They producing general tastes, the tea houses reproduce it in a more general and vague way, but this is the 90 % of tea business of the western world. And people like it. And this tea houses and brands want differentiate himself from the great filter brands, as quality, “natural leaf tea” stock houses. Nothing to do with it.

    http://www.japantea.net
    http://www.teautja.hu
    http://www.puerh.hu

  2. It is interesting, because all the selection of this tea house is based on the Hamburg resident D&B Tea Company, with the typical german – european flavored tea supply. It is normal for this kind of tea they did not show you the leaves. They producing general tastes, the tea houses reproduce it in a more general and vague way, but this is the 90 % of tea business of the western world. And people like it. And this tea houses and brands want differentiate himself from the great filter brands, as quality, “natural leaf tea” stock houses. Nothing to do with it.

    http://www.japantea.net
    http://www.teautja.hu
    http://www.puerh.hu

  3. The problem with tea in the west is that upwards of ninety-five percent of the tea drink population has never had a cup of tea properly brewed for them by a knowledgeable person. This is why we see people soaking their little Lipton bags for ten minutes followed by squeezing every last drop of tannin choked soup from them. They are trying as hard as the can to get every drop of flavor in hopes it will taste better. They simple do not know any better and have never tasted a proper cup of tea.

    As for teautja’s comments:

    There is no kind of tea that it is normal to hide the leaves from the drinker. The leaf and the soup are deeply connected and half the experience is lacking when one is not present. Besides, regardless of the product, the only reason to conceal something from the customer is to hide a product’s flaws or processes’ misgivings.

    Both buyer and seller (in the west) do not drink tea in such a fashion because they like it and consciously chose such a method but rather they drink out of ignorance.

    -Tyler

  4. Hmmm, if these guys really just get their stuff from one German place.

    I agree with Tyler that there is really no good reason why they should hide the leaves from you. At the very least, it could be an option. It’s not as if they brewed it right — the tea was obviously not brewed well.

Leave a Reply to Anonymous Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.