Bo’s Picks for Fall
Today, for the first time, I walked outside and felt a breath of fall blow over me. I live for this season–fall bike rides down Boulder’s creekside path, the crunch of leaves, the brilliant sun-bleached Colorado aspens beaming like brushstrokes on the mountainside. I’m intent to get every perfect minute out of this season, so if it seems like I’m jumping the gun, well just remember how quickly fall flies by for most of us. Brevity makes the heart grow fonder, to muddle up some classic idioms.
Photo: Chris Willis (http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2922837198)
I’m a firm believer in there being a perfect tea for every occasion, and fall is a season which presents these occasions seemingly every minute. I hold a theory about this: fall is a complex season, like many fine teas. Fall presents both a brisk breeze and warming rays of sunshine, both musty wet leaves and the bright smell of fresh cut grass. The creek puts moisture on your cheek and the dry wind wipes it away. There are teas for this, trust me, there are teas for this. Brace yourselves, we’re going in. Here are my picks for this fall:
New Moon Darjeeling
Nothing reminds me of autumn like a good Darjeeling. There’s a complexity to Darjeeling’s famous muscatel profile that speaks to the season so well. It starts out sweet, like warm red wine, like summer, and it tastes young and fresh and full of life, like a kiss from your first love. A glass of sangria in a new city with an old friend, or a memory that makes you grin stupidly, though you can’t quite reach the details. Then the tea wraps you up in a cable knit sweater, one that smells like the cedar chest it’s been sleeping in, and pulls you close to its warm body. As the sip leaves your mouth, it leaves a tiny bite of winter, a hint of astringency, a little drop of lemon on a creme brulee. And you come back for the sweetness again.
This chinese black tea is dried over pinewood fire, and absorbs the essence of that process in its leaves. If it came from America we would have called it “Smokejumper.” Or maybe “Sleepy Hollow.” This scotch of teas is for the boldest of drinkers, the ones willing to dive straight into the season headfirst, out of the summer campfire and into the log cabin lounge. It’s no joke–Lapsang Souchong is a serious tea with a seriously unique and rewarding flavor. I think of it every time I smell a fire from afar through biting cold air. It’s full, malty body perfectly pairs with cold, smokey air.
Clouds & Mist
Clouds & Mist is a fall vegetable on a summer grill, lightly charred squash, zucchini, artichoke. It’s a green tea with a backbone, and always reminds me of the moments after a storm has passed. The whole earth still, damp, the air still heavy, but everything vibrant, green and lush. There’s a sweetness to this tea that’s hard to put your finger on, because it’s also very complex: it’s vegetal, earthy and buttery all at once. Maybe it’s the best green bean you’ve ever had. Honestly, I’m running low on liquid metaphor.
Though the climbers will soon be leaving the mountain, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer this one to you. Because I’ve harped so much on the complexity of the season and these teas, Climber’s High has to be explained. This tea contains nearly 20 different herbs and spices, a base of roasted mate, a green, black, pu’erh, and white tea. All in the same cup. Now while that sounds a little bit more like a gutter full of fall leaves, it’s balanced much more like leaves floating in a river. If you sit and watch a river during autumn, when the wind is blowing slightly, every surrounding tree drops its leaves into the water: yellow sugar maple, black oak, blood-red dogwood. Think ofClimber’s High this way–a complexity of flavors drifting over your palate, all in all constructing a unified taste of fall. The blend is chai-like, but lighter, less offensive, and serves to get the blood and brain flowing when the cold wind rises.