Here we are in Literature and Latte ...

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xiamenese
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Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:59 am Post

... and on another thread many of us said we like to work in coffee-shops ... I'm in my favourite coffee shop now, where I've been for about 8 hours!

But an "And now for that latte ..." question came to mind: what's your coffee?

Mine's definitely not latte ... I gave up milk, cream and most of its derivatives when I was about 4 --I still remember the scene in detail about 58 years later! -- though butter took much longer and cheese -- real cheese -- is something I'll never kick.

But coffee ... I like my coffee pure and unadulterated, black with no sugar -- I gave that up about 50 years ago! As for types of coffee, no question top of the pile is Sumatra Blue Lintong, but it's become very hard to find. There's a coffee from poor benighted Aceh on the island of Sumatra that is nearly as good and which I could get when I was back in the UK last summer. I hope it'll still be around when I go back this summer.

What about you? ... What's your preference? :)

Mark

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AmberV
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Sat Mar 31, 2007 3:25 pm Post

Absolutely black, and I'll only drink it if it came out of a French press! I cannot stand milked up and sweetened coffee; nor coffee that has had every single bit of its excellence filtered out through papers. Fresh coffee that has been roasted within the past week or less is not even that bitter.

Well, living in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. affords me an abundance of both coffee shops, and coffee shops with excellent coffees. Right now I am hung up on African beans. Ethiopia and Kenya are two regions that produce nearly perfect coffee for my preference. There is a grocery store here that sells super fresh coffee. You can pick out the beans while they are still green, and have them roast them right there for you. There is nothing like a bag full of sticky black beans that are still hot from the burner; nothing!

But even more than coffee, I like tea; that wonderful plant that can go from being as strong as coffee to as subtle and delicate as the scent of a flower; but that is another topic for another day. ;)
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alexwein
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Sat Mar 31, 2007 6:26 pm Post

I occasionally have a decaf cappucino for fun, but I can't do coffee. I'm already hyper enough! Even black tea can be too strong, though I do occasional imbibe that as well.

However I LIVE on green tea of all different varieties, my favorite being very delicate but strong Jasmine tea (Tao of Tea makes my favorite green teas, but I'm not sure how widespread their distribution is).

Luckily for me, all of the local coffeehouses carry green tea, usually an assortment of teas. I also have my own portable presses (stainless steel) that I bring with me that hold a good amount of tea. I drink at least 60 oz.s of green tea a day or more. I know that's a lot of caffeine, but spread out more as it is, it doesn't seem to bother me!

Alexandria
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xiamenese
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Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:13 pm Post

alexwein wrote:However I LIVE on green tea of all different varieties, my favorite being very delicate but strong Jasmine tea (Tao of Tea makes my favorite green teas, but I'm not sure how widespread their distribution is).

Luckily for me, all of the local coffeehouses carry green tea, usually an assortment of teas. I also have my own portable presses (stainless steel) that I bring with me that hold a good amount of tea. I drink at least 60 oz.s of green tea a day or more. I know that's a lot of caffeine, but spread out more as it is, it doesn't seem to bother me!

Alexandria

I was going to leave tea for another thread ... after all, here I am living in Fujian Province where Oolong comes from, together with Lapsang Souchong -- I don't know where it got that name, as the Chinese name is nothing like that, not even in local dialect; it's simply known as 'Wuyishan red tea' here -- which also comes from the north-west of Fujian.

And Xiamen is not 60 miles from Anxi the home of Tieguanyin, which is where the unproved speculation that green tea is anti-carcinogenic came from, given that the incidence of Cancer in Anxi is apparently minimal and the only differentiating factor they can see is that the people of Anxi drink it copiously.

And I'll tell you something ... there is no doubt whatsoever that the tea round here leaves the Oolongs, Lapsang Souchong's and other green teas you get anywhere else, even elsewhere in China way back in the changing rooms ... and it's definitely worth paying for the best you can afford.

... the best I've afforded? For Tieguanyin a few years back I bought two ounces of my local tea merchant's best -- he's from Anxi himself and I think the family has their own bushes -- which came in at about GBP 150 per pound. I shared one little packet with a friend in the UK who couldn't believe it wasn't a flower tea it was so fragrant, until I pointed out that tea is actually a Camellia.

... the absolute best, half a pound of "Dahong Pao second generation" Oolong tea, which cost me the equivalent of nearly GBP 100 with discount. Absolutely fabulous ... it leaves a sweet fragrance in your mouth which lasts for hours.

"Dahong Pao" is the most expensive tea in the world. The "first generation" is a mere 6 trees in Wuyishan. Dahong Pao "Great Red Robe" was reserved for the emperors in the past, and is now the preserve of the government for official occasions. It is possible to buy it, apparently, that is, if you have the money ... last year's price was 200,000 RMB (about GBP 16,000) for 20 grammes, i.e. not even an ounce.

The "second generation" comes from a plantation of a few hundred acres of bushes grown from cuttings from the original six trees ... it's still around GBP 200 per pound.

I've also had "Longjing" another of the famous green teas but from near Hangzhou, further north. It was very good, but I'm sure would be much better bought and drunk locally, just as our Fujian teas are so much better here.

The current rage in China is for "Pu'er" tea from Yunnan, which is claimed to have the greatest health-giving properties of all. I don't know what kind of tea it is, but it is mahogany in colour when brewed but not bitter. It is supposed to get better as it gets older, and bricks of 50-year-old Pu'er fetch outrageous prices.

And Alex, if you like Jasmine tea, you should come and visit and try some of my local tea-man's, "Muli longqiu" (Jasmine Dragon-pearls) ... incredibly fragrant.

Mark

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Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:18 pm Post

I'm starting to get into cappucinos without sugar. At 48, moving from 'double/double' (2 shots cream and 2 spoons of sugar) to just the cream is enough for now. Well maybe just a little sugar but I'm trying.

As to specific coffees and blends, I'm behind the eight ball. With acute sinusitis, I can rarely notice any scents at all on any day.

Iain
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Maria
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Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:56 pm Post

Green tea of course, most of the time. From Chiran.

I need my coffee (machine, paper, 8)) in the morning and have a cup beside my iBook when I write my first text before breakfast, but after lunch I enjoy a turkish mokka or a greek mokka, whatever I got sent from family or friends. It is brewed in one of my small copper-tin pots with _lots of sugar_, and there is always a glass of water with it. Unfortunately, I did not yet find this kind of coffee here....

Maria

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AmberV
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Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:19 pm Post

That pu'erh tea is precisely what I was thinking of when I said tea can get as strong as coffee can. It is some amazing stuff if you can find a good source for it. Out here, finding an aged pu'erh is like finding a bottle real distilled absinthe.

If you are not in an area where tea grows, a good source is SpecialTeas. They have better prices that Tao of Tea, and in general I feel the quality and selection is a lot better. Of course, ToT is great if you live here because you can just stop by and pick up a tin. I got hooked on this great Taiwan formosa they had a few years ago; it smelled exactly like a compost heap when you brewed it--awful smelling stuff--but the flavours! Hundreds of them, and you could steep with the same leaves all day long. I also discovered some good Darjeeling oolongs and whites.
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Mon Apr 02, 2007 4:13 pm Post

I actually don't drink coffee at all. I can't even stand the smell. Go ahead, call me a freak...I'm used to it :)

My drink of choice is Vernor's (a ginger soda). Great stuff.

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Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:38 pm Post

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the highly enjoyable post! I could almost taste the tea. What a wonderland for tea lovers! I am very tempted to make the trip!

I feel much better after reading your post, since I do pay dearly for my Jasmine tea. Still, it sounds like what you have available leaves even the best of what I can get in the dust. For now, I can only dream...and happily pay premium prices for my lovely Jasmine pearls.

Alexandria
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Studio717
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Mon Apr 02, 2007 9:59 pm Post

I don't go out much so I have my own coffee (and tea) bar at home, in my home office, including a pod coffee maker, a k-cup coffee maker, a hot water dispenser, and lots of pods, k-cups, and tea. :D Oh, yeah, and a small refrigerator for water and other drinks as well as creamers and soy milk.

Btw, I'm assuming that 'red tea' in China is not the same as what's called red tea (rooibos) here in the US? All the boxes I have of it says it's African, but one never knows. Wherever it comes from, it's wonderful.

I go to decaf and herb teas in the afternoons so I can sleep at night. :) Lots of favorites and I switch off a lot, but I do enjoy starting the morning with a nice hot cup of Kona.

I keep thinking I should try the whole coffeehouse route, but I put it off. Maybe next week. :lol:

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Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:14 pm Post

We Portlanders are so lucky to have Stumptown (for my morning coffee chargeup) and Tao of Tea (for my daily oolong, jasmine, white, or green tea doses). It's so great now to be able to get organic, fair trade coffee and tea (like Alexandria, Jasmine Pearls are my fave, too) from our local places.

One of the Tao of Tea locations is in my favorite place in downtown (along with Powell's bookstore), the classical Chinese garden, a beautiful place to go and not write. (Their other teahouses are also quite relaxing.) I bought a gorgeous Chinese teapot there, made of that special clay that's supposed to retain tea flavors, and every morning, half the tea I brew in it goes into my wife's thermos so she can stay warm by sipping it all day. I drink the other half throughout the day. BTW, I've read that it's good to drink water or tea throughout the day to keep the snack cravings down.

I hardly ever drank coffee during the day before discovering Stumptown; you out of towners might want to order a taste of it or Thundermuck/ Wondermuck, from Astoria Oregon. I don't know how my new morning addiction is affecting my writing, but I do notice that when I go to yoga class and try to get into regular breathing, my hands sometimes jitter a bit. I may have to switch to decaf.

My wife recently got some of that Lapsang Souchong at a teahouse in San Francisco, and now I have to dedicate a separate teapot to it because it's impossible to get that smoky taste out of it, and it contaminates (my word, not hers) the next batch of tea.

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AmberV
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Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:23 pm Post

Studio717 wrote:Btw, I'm assuming that 'red tea' in China is not the same as what's called red tea (rooibos) here in the US? All the boxes I have of it says it's African, but one never knows. Wherever it comes from, it's wonderful.


Probably not. The Rooibos plant is not related to the tea plant. It does indeed grow in South Africa. "Rooibos," is Afrikaans for "red bush." It does not have any caffeine, and the tisanes may be steeped for as long as you like without it growing bitter, as it lacks the tannins in tea.

Some other interesting non-teas that get called tea are yerba mate, and honeybush. Mate has an exceptionally peculiar aroma and taste, and has a nice gentle buzz to it, at least for me; it feels more like the type of buzz you get from the guarana seed.
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Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:37 pm Post

Stumptown is amazing; and Peet's Tea and Coffee is a nice second. I don't much care for their teas (even though they do prepare them properly, the leaves themselves taste stale to me), but their roasted coffee selection is wonderful.

What street is the ToT on, around Powells? I did not realise there was one so near. I thought the only sit-down place was over on Hawthorne. Also near Powells is the Tea Zone which has good selection, including some hard to find teas, and they have a nice tea service too. Another nice tea place (my favourite for sitting and writing because it is so quiet) is Tea Chai Té, on NW 23rd.
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Ioa Petra'ka
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Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:12 pm Post

Amber: sorry, didn't mean to imply that there was a ToT around Powell's, merely that Powell's and Chinese garden (where there's a ToTeahouse) are two of my fave downtown Portland places.
The Hawthorne ToT is wonderful, but there's also one at 21st & Hoyt, and the one in the Chinese garden at 3rd & Everett. It's the most peacefully reflective place in the middle of the city. They also serve some Chinese snacks to accompany the teas.

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Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:39 pm Post

Well, Brett, you have certainly named several of the best places to get tea in Portland! ToT is definitely my favorite brand of Jasmine pearl tea, as well as other green and white teas. I frequent the Hawthorne location (I live in NE, close to the Wild Oats by Fremont and 15th), and of course they sell their tea at other locations around town. My husband and I frequent the Powell's coffeehouse downtown--a nice place to browse books and sip tea and coffee. Also LOVE the Chinese garden. Wonderful tea there to be had and the ambience is so lovely.

Peet's has my favorite decaf cappuccino and John loves the coffee there. I take it, Amber, that you may live around the Pearl district or thereabouts? You mentioned frequenting Tea Chai Té.

I hate to admit it, but I don't know Stumptown. Sounds like something we definitely need to check out!

Alexandria
Last edited by alexwein on Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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