From Thailand With Love

Last week, there was a day where I didn’t have a good day. Lady Devotea did not have a good day either.

In fact, it was early on in a succession of challenging days.

Now I don’t want you to think it was something earth-shattering. Nobody got diagnosed with some sort of terminal ailment, a local warlord didn’t start an armed uprising on our block with the aim of deposing our duly elected government and installing a Marxist puppet regime, and nobody steeped a quality oolong at too high a temperature on purpose.

But it was a day when we knew we had to adjust our future. More specifically, it was an evening where we had to talk and talk and talk and talk and come up with a plan to go from unsmiley face to smiley face, as those mad kids say today (or maybe they don’t).

I made a decision that this evening would need quite a lot of tea, and rather than just reach for the old favourites, I’d do something special.

But what would be special enough?

I remembered that I had a special, secret stash of tea that started with a polite message that I’ll reproduce in part:

“We are a small whole leaf tea company from Northern Thailand. Our teas are all wild picked and natural. The teas are picked by native Hill Tribe Farmers and flavored with natural flavors of the jungle and mountains of Northern Thailand. We are looking an unbiased opinion on our teas so that we can better serve our customers and also expand our brand presence”

An exchange followed with Matthew Cothran. If you’ve never heard of Matthew, well, neither had I, but let me tell you, he is best described at the opposite of Stephen Zhou. Remember Mr Zhou from The Power of Positive Reviewing?

The teas came to me, from Thailand, via the USA, and I was saving this HUGE collection of teas for a special occasion. Then I thought -“NO, I’m going to make this tough night into a special occasion”

I also decided that we would pick the most cheerful teas from the collection.

Because, goddammit, those Thais are SO cheerful. If you followed my enthralling, eight part odyssey through Thailand 6 or 7 years ago, you’d no doubt recall that it was a lot of fun.

Matthew’s brand is Love Some Tea and for starters, we cracked into “Tropical Sunset”, after I decided that “cheerful” was synonymous with “flavoured”. And Tropical Sunset is just a little flavoured. It’s green and black tea mixed, which is a concept that is exactly like riding a unicycle along a trunk of bamboo across a canyon filled with mud – get it right and there’s applause aplenty, get in wrong and you fall on your arse in the muck.

But not just green and black. There’s jasmine flowers as well. So far, not unique.

And some other flowers. Rose and Marigolds. OK. Blue Lotus. WHAT? Starting to get a bit different. And then we start on dried fruit. Papaya. Mango. Hang on, is this just a shopping list? Passionfruit Oil? Mango Oil?

By now, it’s messing with my head. It can’t be any good. Only one way to sort this out. I brewed it, and just for fun served it with a slice of Lady Devotea’s vanilla cake.

With the exception of Serendipity’s Congo Bongo, I’ve never, ever enjoyed a “tropical tea”.

Scratch that.

A photo of the tea, against a screen shot of the same tea, because I’m all arty

This tea is fantastic. From it’s superb packaging to it’s lingering fruity aftertaste, this is a gateway tea. This is the sort of tea you give to unsuspecting children to take them from wide eyed innocents to lifelong tea addicts who’d sell various relatives for medical experiments if it meant one more cup of their favourite Da Hong Pao. It’s just everything that is good about planet Earth crammed into a cup. It’s more cheerful than the smiles at a dental implant convention. I get vanilla (yes, before the cake) and I get fruit cake and I get the jungle earth and I get a bouquet of flowers to cheer anyone up.

A quick disclaimer – dried fruit is among my favourite type of food, and this tea does deliver some dried fruit in there. I am ground zero for a tea of this type, even though I don’t drink a lot of flavoured teas.

As you may imagine, this tea was followed by intense conversation. And about 45 minutes later, by Lan Na Black Coconut.

What’s Lan Na Black Coconut, I hear you ask? Beats me. I haven’t the foggiest. Unlike the superbly packaged Tropical Sunset, this came in more typical sample style… just a sample bag of tea.

So, about three minutes, about two grams per cup, you get the idea.

Dull sample packaging, concealed a delightfully un-dull tea

The first thing I can say about this is that it’s black, and the second is that it’s coconut.

Coconut for me is an interesting flavour, I love coconuts, coconut milk, coconut cream, and of course, any occasion where someone mixes dried coconut strands with milk chocolate. But when things are coconut flavoured, to me it can taste a bit like vomit, for some reason.

Not so this time. It’s just lovely. The tea tastes fresh. The coconut tasted fresh. This is another winner.

The coconut lingered on our palate for a while, and discussions ensued. It was nearly midnight, and it was time to bring out one more tea. I considered Thai Christmas Tea, but with no ingredient list and suffering from allergies, I instead selected Lahu Golden Tips.

This may not be an oolong, but it’s oolongy. Oolonish. It loves you oolong time. It’s an honourary oolong, with a hint of coconut.

Or maybe not. It’s midnight, I’m completely wired and maybe there was some coconut black left in the pot when I made it. If so, I’ve invented something special.

As a pre-bed cuppa on a marathon day, it hit the spot.

So, a little over a week later, I think back to how Love Some Tea helped on a tough night. I’ve waited until the plan we planned over our fruity brews has come to fruition* and I like to think that the enthusiasm and love for the product that was obvious from my dealings with Matthew was transmuted into support and good feeling.

Five Colours White, looks great unbrewed

Now, I’m drinking Five Colours White

Five Colours White, looks great brewed

Tea from the same vendor as I write. It’s got a white peony feel, I’d call it a quite standard white tea except that the tea is great to look at, looks great in the cup and has an infinitesimal, indefinable sweetness right at the end of the taste that means I’ll be re-steeping all morning. I’d almost think it’s just white tea with a bit of love in it, if I was prone to such whimsical flights of fancy.

I’ve tried four teas from this vendor and would drink all of them again: in fact I’d insist on it with the first two I mentioned.

Most of the teas I am trying are not available yet, I have preview samples. But when they are, you should buy a couple, dear reader from Love Some Tea.

What am I going to do with the rest of the samples? I have a plan. I always have a plan.

*see what I did there?


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