Awhile back I advocated avoiding the dreaded tea dregs. Those nasty bitter final drops in the teapot. Time and more tea adventures with some truly superior tea has me rethinking that position. Why waste a precious drop?
Dregs can occur in any tea, from those powdered instants to the full leaf steepings. Some consider this part of the tea to be too bitter or astringent or worse yet tasteless. And the feel of that gritty powder residue in your mouth can be less than appealing. That being said, it stands to reason that you should choose carefully which teas to drink to the dregs.
Here are a few where you wouldn’t want to waste a drop:
- Kamairicha — A Japanese green tea (pan-fired as opposed to their usual steaming treatment) that is rarely seen in the West. Thus the flavor is free of the characteristic bitter taste of most Japanese tea and has a sweetness with a mildly roasted character. It is made only in the district of Kyushu and is a by-product of Sencha or Gyokuro.
- 2011 Spring Imperial Yunnan Silver Needle White Tea — A top grade and slightly oxidized tea comprised of needle-shaped and plump tea buds that appear silvery due to the conspicuous natural, fine tea hair. It’s made from big white pu-erh tea trees, so the sweetness in this tea liquid lasts longer than and has a totally different aroma from Fuding silver needle. The steeped liquid is a lightly shiny yellow, with a fresh, sweet, mellow, and light honey taste.
- Imperial Meng Ding Huang Ya — A yellow bud tea where the leaves have a flat straight form; it is mainly produced in Mengshan, Sichuan Province, China. The liquid is a yellow green with a pure aroma and a mellow, thick, sweet taste with a unique fragrance that comes from the complex processing steps.
- 3 Dragon Pearls — Grown at the higher elevations of northern Fujian Province in China. The fine young leaf-and-bud sets are picked in April and rolled by hand into tiny pearl shapes. This unscented version has a rich perfume fragrance and is wonderful, nutty, and sweet with a luscious round character. Steep a few pearls in a glass to watch them unfurl. Then drink every drop!
Too exotic? Never fear — there are teas that are more mainstream and affordable. Here are a few to get you started, ones so tasty you will be straining to get every molecule:
- Nine Bend Black Dragon Tea — I love this tea! A classic China Black tea, full-bodied with deep burgundy depth and delightful oaky notes. Excellent as an after dinner tea or for anytime you want a tea you can really get into! (my review)
- Genmaicha Japanese Green Tea — A tea that inspires many to love it, and others to hate it, but nevertheless one that deserves a spot here. A good grade Japan sencha green tea is blended with the toasted rice. You get the fresh vegetative character of the green tea tempered with the toasty character of the rice and a natural sweetness at the end that you won’t want to miss.
- Spring Pouchong — One of the world’s most exceptional teas, with fragrances of flowers and melon, and a rich, yet mild cup. (Read more here: The Mystery of Pouchong)
You probably have other options. We’d love to hear about them!
See also: Throw Those Tea Dregs Away
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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