This was a follow on experiment from my earlier attempt to flavour loose leaf shou Pu-erh tea with dried chrysanthemum flowers.
The idea itself was inspired by the fact that it is possible to buy shou Pu-erh artfully wrapped in the complete peel of a mandarin.
I managed to find a packet of dried Chinese mandarin peel at one of the local supermarkets in town, and hurried home to get a’steeping.
On opening the packet I was greeted by a very powerful aroma – savoury, bitter-sweet citrus with what I can only describe as a kind of pepperminty layer.
I used the very same 600ml glazed tea pot as before, with water at 100°C, and 3 teaspoons of tea in a large paper tea filter bag.
When it came to the amount of dried peel to use I chose the peel from three pieces of fruit (if you look at the picture you should be able to see that the peel comes more or less intact, but still kind of segmented into “quarters“, joined at the bottom where the fruit was attached to the tree), torn up by hand (although dried the peel remains quite flexible and is relatively easy to break up using just your fingers), and dropped into another paper tea filter bag.
I steeped the tea and peel together for 2 minutes.
The results were interesting.
The sweet and sour aspect was there, but the other aromas weren’t really present, although it has to be said there was a slight hint of the fruitiness.
It was alright per se, but still a little disappointing.
By the time I’d finished the second cup, however, a thought occurred to me.
Perhaps I’d gone about things in the wrong order. Perhaps I should try a different approach.
I thought back to the inspiration for the experiment. In that scenario, the tea takes on the flavour of the fruit long before it ever sees hot water.
So, what I have now done is this. I took the remainder of that batch of tea, about 50g or so, and mixed it with the torn up peel of about 3 fruits.
The plan now is to let it sit in a small tea caddy for at least 2 weeks, to see if the tea takes on more of the subtler aspects of the fruit’s characteristics.
Hopefully after waiting a while, and steeping the tea as per usual, I’ll be able to detect a slightly more favourable, not to mention flavoursome, outcome.
Watch this space, etc.