I feel like one of those horrible guys you knew in college who was really into anime and greeted Korean girls with a “konichiwa” when I describe anything Asian as “elegant” or “delicate”, but I’ve always enjoyed Vietnamese teas because I find them elegant and delicate. They aren’t as up front with what they’re working with, and the flavor combos will knock your socks off if you’re paying attention. Since most of Vietnam’s tea exports go to Russia (something like 7:1, Russia:Rest of the World), it’s something most people haven’t tasted before, but it’s available enough to not be a major splurge.
Today, I’ve brought you a nam lanh varietal that I think you’ll dig. They’re just called that because Nam Lanh is the estate from which it comes, not because it’s something entirely different than what you’ve had. It’s the same drying/twisting/aging process we’ve gone over in the past.
You’re in the same general palate area as an assam, but this doesn’t knock you over the head like that does with the MALT MALT MALT stuff. It’s a little coppery, and has this not-subtle hint of molasses that I love (I feel like I’m on the record about molasses, right? Love that stuff.). If the copper is kind of a quiet, sly grin, the molasses part is like when your mom kicks you under the table really hard and you’re like, “OW WHY DID…no one kick me.”
You’ll want to do about two big pinches of this (equal to a teaspoon, but the twiggy structure makes it hard to measure out like you would something leafy) and to steep it for about three minutes the first time through, and more like five on the second. It’s high on the caffeination scale for tea, so if you’re like me, proceed with caution or make this a breakfast drink. I also love to make a diluted version of this tea to brine poultry and marinate tofu or mushrooms. Just a thought. I’m not going to tell you what to do.
This comes in pretty cheap, too, at $3.75 for 2 ounces. It’s from a Southern Season (expect to see a lot of this– they’re the best tea purveyors in Charleston), and it makes a good holiday beverage for teetotalers at your parties.
What are you drinking this lovely Tuesday morning?