Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bohea from Oliver Pluff & Co.

This morning I had my first taste of smoked tea.  This particular tea, called "Bohea" by it's producer, Oliver Pluff & Company, is lightly smoked. My understanding is that some other smoked teas carry a much heavier taste of smoke. This is my first taste of smoked tea, in spite of all the tea I have drunk over the years, because the idea of drinking a smoky flavor just did not appeal to me.  But after sampling Oliver Pluff's Bohea, I have revised my thoughts on the topic.  I'm not sure that this type of tea will ever be my favorite, but I am certainly enjoying this one.

According to Oliver Pluff's website, this type of tea was imported in large quantities during colonial times and was, in fact, so popular that the term "bohea" became a commonly used slang term for tea.

According to the book The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide (2007), smoked tea was developed by accident in the Wuyi Shan region of China in 1646.  In advance of an invading army, local villagers in that area hid their tea by burying it in the mountains. Before burying the tea they needed to dry it to prevent it from rotting. So they dried the tea over pinewood cut from the surrounding area, where it adopted the smoky flavor. Later, the "ruined" tea was offered to Dutch traders who sampled it and loved it. Thus the practice of drinking a smoked tea was born.  

This book is an excellent resource with a useful index. So, I recommend searching it out to learn more about the history around smoked teas.

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Maira Gall