TwoDog shared a few other impressions he has of tea storage, and says he can identify at least a half dozen different storage locations in Asia by taste alone. I didn't ask more about this because that information could involve tricks of the trade with tea buying that perhaps he wants to keep to himself. I hope he chooses to write more about regional storages someday. But one other bit of information piqued my interest. He talked about the effects of storage beyond simple metrics like temperature and humidity, such as air particles of particular places like pollens and plants. I mentioned that my tea in crocks can be completely in a microclimate apart from the outside air as is the case in winter, but in the summer I do indeed open them up to the outside air to benefit from additional heat and humidity. TwoDog said he hoped to describe Wisconsin storage someday and actually taste the qualities associated with this terroir, as he can do with teas stored in Asia.
Now this crosses my area of interest, since I've been trying to find methods that work here in Wisconsin. From my own results, I'm absolutely convinced that crock storage is viable and in fact more humid and just plain better than pumidor storage, avoiding the dry air of winter with simple controls. But pollen brings up local plants, flowers and trees, all of which permeate the air here, especially now in the summertime. This is very interesting and I began to think about the types of plants and pollens in Wisconsin. I wonder whether a bad ragweed year will mean sneezing when I drink my tea. Even more thought-provoking is the idea of taking advantage of local pollens to see how they affect tea.
Two major plants come to my mind with Wisconsin. One of the big reasons our state makes such excellent dairy products at the volume that we do is because of what the cows eat. Cows eat a diet of alfalfa and forage, along with other supplements, various feeds and grass hay. Farmers improve cow guts and milk by fermenting silage, a product composed of corn, grass, alfalfa and often red clover as well as other ingredients. Our cheese and milk products are viewed as particularly sweet due to local red clover which grows wild all over the place, and cultivated alfalfa, a high protein plant. Farmers grow this in fields all around this area along with corn and soybeans. Cows get their red clover as forage, eating out in the pasture during the growing season, and clover makes its way into alfalfa fields too. Some cheeses, such as Edam are best when the cows are fed a diet high in red clover. Seems to me red clover is as good a plant as any to work with in an experiment with tea.
The fermentation of red clover has been thoroughly studied, and generally posts a rather acidic pH during the fermenting process, the upper fours like 4.6 or 4.7. You can read about the composition of acids in fermenting clover in studies by the University of Wisconsin here. But I'm not really planning on fermenting the clover, seems like I can just take advantage of the pollen and moisture from the flowers, along with the fragrance and see what happens.
So I dropped TwoDog an email about a red clover experiment and off I went to get me some red clover. Fortunately I found a bunch growing down the street in an abandoned lot. Quite a bit of clover in fact, and a smart rabbit had found the same spot and dug himself a nice house in the dirt there. Saw the stash while I was on my way to the Senior Center anyway to return a shower bar I'd borrowed for my ex-mother-in-law to use during her visit. Luckily nobody important seemed to notice my shirt pocket stuffed to the bursting with red clover blossoms. When I got home, I washed the flowers and sterilized the crock.
|Haeger pot with white2tea 2015 mushroom sheng|
|I can taste the money.|
If you're reading this, just promise me one thing. Don't write the County. I got enough problems.