Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thirst: Ten Ren Plum Tea

Thirst is a basic instinct. It haunts the senses, coloring everything in its path until its desires are met. The craving for drink is linked to the chemical requirements of the body. In summer months we long for beverages that are cool, salty and sweet to replenish electrolytes lost through perspiration and energy that is sacrificed to heat. Drinks that revitalize and quench elicit feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Iced tea has always been the preferred drink of summer, but many are highly tannic or sweet. Ten Ren Plum Tea offers a reprieve from the ordinary while indulging the sense of taste and smell with a memorable aromatic bouquet.

Each bag of Ten Ren Plum Tea is beautifully packaged. Dark plum-colored accents on the top and bottom of each wrapper accentuate a watercolor image of six plums on a branch contrasted by a soothing mauve background. The wrapping is cool, fluid and sensual to the touch. A slight perforation at the base of the wrapping simplifies the removal of the tea bag, further delighting the senses.

Smelling the tea prior to infusion one can detect aspects of Dried Plum, Blond Tobacco, Vanilla, Cinnamon, Berry, Raisin, Apricot, Black Tea, Salt, and a hint of Woody Citrus. All of these flavors are present in the tea when it is drank cold, but there is also a distinct mouth feel that arrives at the finish; the telltale sweet, tart and saline notes of a Chinese Preserved Plum. Though there is a limited list of ingredients on the box one can tell that hibiscus and licorice create the gentle sweet and tart effects.

Ten Ren Plum Tea is part of the company’s “Herbal Spice Tea Series”. At $7.90 for a box of 50 or $3.45 for a box of 20, it is an affordable sensorial luxury. Online availability varies, but the New York City outpost of Ten Ren is always well-stocked. Ten Ren Tea is located at 75 Mott Street. Phone: 212.349.2286

Use four bags of tea to make one quart of iced tea.