Satsuma ware tea bowl, Japan, 17th c, Edo periodIt happens eventually. You drop your favorite yixing teapot, or you chip that gorgeous little antique cup you love to drink out of. What to do? There’s super glue, there’s the trash can, or there’s the beautiful art of kintsugi — essentially, repairing broken teaware with veins of gold.
Kintsugi is said to have originated in the 15th century when a Japanese shogun broke a favorite tea bowl and sent it back to China to be fixed. But the repair job, which was done with metal staples (being the standard for repair at that time), detracted from the beauty of the bowl, so the shogun enlisted Japanese craftsmen to come up with a more aesthetically pleasing solution. Kintsugi, which means “golden joinery,” was born.
Japan, early 18th c, Edo period
Although kintsugi repair makes it appear as though the original piece was mended with gold, the process is essentially a form of lacquer art. Broken pieces are glued back together using urushi lacquer, derived from the sap of the Chinese lacquer tree (Latin name, Toxicodendron vernicifluum), with the final layer of urushi covered with fine gold powder. The “toxic” part comes from the urushiol oil which is found in very high amounts in the tree’s sap, and which also happens to be the ingredient that’s responsible for forming the dense and highly durable lacquer once dried. You might have come into contact with urushiol yourself if you ever had a tangle with some poison oak or ivy, which are also of the Toxicodendron family of plants. Fortunately, once the urushi dries and hardens the toxic effects of the urushiol oil are essentially nullified, making the lacquer ware safe to handle and even to use in contact with food, or tea.
Step 1: Wash and scrub the new teapot thoroughly with a clean, non-abrasive sponge that has never had soap used with it, and clear, cold running water. Clean out the inside thoroughly to eliminate any dust or fragments of clay. Do not use any type of soap or…
We enlisted 40 well-known Australians to create their own perfect Australian Afternoon Tea Blend. These blends were assessed in London by our expert panel (we were impressed by the skills of our celebrity blenders) and the top 5 were selected. We then left it up to you, the Australian public, to choose a winner from our Top 5 blends! Voting has done via special Twinings tasting events and also online.
The Top 5
Our Top 5 finalists were Radio Broadcaster Alan Jones, TV Personality Kerri-Anne Kennerley and her husband John, Singer John Williamson, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Champion Surfer Layne Beachley. Feel free tobrowse their blend descriptions for yourself.
The winning blend
The winning blend, Twinings Australian Afternoon Tea, will be launched in 2012 with 10 cents for every pack sold being donated to the winning celebrity’s nominated charity.
The other Finalists
In no particular order, the finalists who made it to the Top 10 were; TV Personality and Vet, Dr. Katrina Warren, Health expert, Dr. Kerryn Phelps, Australian Rugby player, Phil Waugh, Socialite, Lillian Frank, and Singer, Anthony Warlow.
Kevin Rudd won the competition, who’s blend was described as: “the slightly smoky Russian Caravan with the full bodied Irish Breakfast and then added the light Ceylon Orange Pekoe” Well, I love all 3 of those varieties, so lets get into the review!
Well, to start with, I’ve always been a fan of Twinings’ way of packaging tea - It’s simple yet very striking when among all the other teas on the supermarket shelves. I love the design, it is (as it should be) very Australian indeed!
With almost all teas purchased from a supermarket, it is very rare that the full tea leaf structure is preserved - you are mostly left with the tips or even “tea dust” which isn’t as good, this packet on the other hand, seemed to have good body - that is, compared to other teas in this category.
Also note that this may be of advantage anyway since this is a blended tea, so the flavours will actually combine better with smaller tea leaf.
Ahhh my favourite part of any review!! The Taste!
I’m going to list the tasting points for this tea below exactly as I noted them down whilst I was tasting.
-Very smooth and full taste. Absence of bitter taste that most black teas can have.
-No “perfumed” taste that some strong supermarket teas can have
-When Milk is added, it really brings out the smokey presence of the Russian Caravan part of the blend - lovely!
-Has slight hints of a caramel/vanilla flavour that manifest after the initial flavours
-Be careful with the sugar on this one! As a person who (after tasting for a while) adds up to 2 sugars to black teas, I only needed 1 in this blend, which is unusual for me. Sugar seems to compliment this tea more than the average black tea.
This is a very soothing tea, and, surprise surprise, would be best suited to the afternoon! I can see myself replacing my morning oolong with this for a while though, it certainly has a lovely balance of ‘kick’ and soothing notes which make it a great morning tea as well! Maybe not so much for late night though, since this is a strong tea.
This tea was definitely worth the wait - one cup later and I am a huge fan! It is a pity that it will only be around for a limited time though, so grab some while its around! I 100% recommend this tea, not only because of it’s awesome flavour, but also because 10 cents from every pack goes towards the RSPCA!
Here is Kevin’s youtube promo for this blend - very funny :)
Just put through an order at Verdant Tea for some Wuyi Mountain Big Red Robe Oolong tea (aka Da Hong Pao Tea). VERY excited about this tea, I have been looking for a source for a while now! Will definately post a review when it arrives!
Here’s some info about the tea courtesy of Wikipedia:
"Dà Hóng Páo (大红袍, lit.: “Big Red Robe”) is an important WuyiOolong tea. According to legend, the mother of a Ming Dynasty emperor was cured of an illness by a certain tea, and that emperor sent great red robes to clothe the four bushes from which that tea originated. Three of these original bushes, growing on a rock on Mount Wuyi and reportedly dates back to the Song Dynasty, still survive today and are highly venerated. At one point, less than one kilogram of tea was harvested from these plants each year, of which a portion was retained by the Chinese government. In 2005, Da Hong Pao can sell for 30,000 US dollars per kilogram.
In 1972, US PresidentNixon received 50g of Dà Hóng Páo, at the estimated cost of 250,000 US Dollars in 2011 money.
In recent years, a number of companies have invested in preserving the interest in this tea and other so-called “artisan” teas, which typically are of very high quality and have rich histories as is true with Da Hong Pao. These have an initially high cost of production (and typically are only considered authentic when grown in their place of origin), but, as they have quickly become popular in Western countries, prized selections of the tea are available each year, with quality being consistent due to the increased popularity of tea.
Cuttings taken from the original plants have been used to produce similar grades of tea from genetically identical plants. Taste variations produced by processing, differences in the soil, and location of these later generation plants is used to grade the quality of various Da Hong Pao teas.
Due to its high quality, Da Hong Pao tea is usually reserved for honored guests in China.”
"Hannah's Tea Tumblings" is a blog about my love of tea - it features reviews, occasional photos, or just general comments on a blend I'm enjoying at the time.
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