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Get your jitter on.
Deb and I had the pleasure of attending a tea cupping event at Chazzano Coffee, one of our local indie coffee houses. The event was presented by Anthony Capobianco of Zen Tea Traders, another in a growing line of people I've met who are truly living the dream of turning their passions into their careers. In much the same manner as Frank presents his coffee cupping parties (similar how one explores and experiences wine tastings), Anthony led us through the steeping, huffing and slurping of various single-origin, whole-leaf teas he sources directly from small farms throughout Asia. Our evening began with the subtle, mellow tones of a light bodied white tea, followed by a Japanese green tea, a darker, heavier still Oolong tea, a black tea and finally a special treat from Frank, a coffee-tea made from the dried fruits of the coffee bean which are left over once the beans are removed. For my tastes, the savory green tea, the powerful black tea and the really unexpected flavor of the coffee tea provided most of the mind blowing. Without transcribing the entire presentation, some highlights of knowledge Deb and I learned this evening which may inspire you to conduct further "research" aka pouring more tea into your face: All Tea is from the same plant: the Tea Plant or Camellia sinensis. White, Black, Oolong, Green, etc are all tea leaves harvested at different stages of development and dried at different amounts of time post harvest. The activities as a whole are called "Processing". The "lighter" the Tea, such as white or green, the less processing involved. Like the grapes of wine, the beans of coffee, the tobacco of cigars - Terroir matters for tea as well. Tea grown in Japan will carry the subtle influences of the climate that make it distinct from Tea grown in China or Taiwan. Many of us grew up knowing only of little paper sacks of bitter Tea leave chaff from Lipton - use it once, throw it away. Turns out most whole leaf teas can not only be steeped multiple times, but some are often even better tasting, albeit much lower in caffeine on the second and third steep. Like coffee, water temperature and steeping time vary from Tea to Tea and cold steep vs hot steep produce a wide range of flavor profiles. Similar to coffee (and for the same reasons). Unlike coffee, where farmers and farm workers in the countries of origin often never drink from the fruits of their labors, exporting every last bean of a crop to make every penny they can, many tea growing regions keep the best crops for themselves, and only share the harvests they feel are of lower quality. All told we spent about three hours exploring Tea with Anthony and Frank. If you're in the Metro Detroit area, definitely seek out a Tea or Coffee cupping event from Zen Tea Traders and Chazzano Coffee - and be prepared to stay up late afterward. I'm so frikkin wired right now I may not sleep until next week. If you're in the mood for additional tea photos, I stuck a bunch into a gallery on the RE Facebook page. -///
Chazzano Coffee Roasters in Ferndale, MI took an unexpected turn. I arrived, not knowing quite what to expect from this new offering in town and I discovered what can only be described as a love story. 19 years ago, owner and Master Roaster Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo began roasting coffee for his own enjoyment in his garage. The first cup ignited his passion and love of coffee roasting - the art, science and magic of the craft and all the nuances and processes therein. Much like Chazzano's neighbors B Nektar Meadery one half mile to the south, Frank's home-grown passion has grown into a full fledged business, serving amazing cups of coffee, educating and sharing his love with regulars and new customers alike. I walked in and asked Frank and his Barristas Claire and Elena to start at the top and take me on a coffee tour, which they obliged. Each cup, drawn from a french press was unique to it's origins, exquisite and satisfying. Other preparations include an espresso machine and a method called siphoning, shown in the photo above. Like adding water to Scotch, siphoning can create an entirely different flavor experience from that of a french press from the same type bean. The siphon is also a lot of fun to watch if you're a process nerd like me. Of the many things you will refreshingly not find at Chazzano are drip coffee makers, decanters, or flavored syrups. The coffee is made only upon order and specifically for you. Your cup of coffee will always be literally as fresh as it can possibly can be. The dedication to the art is astounding. Also missing - walls of gear, or any of the other annoyances commonly found in st*rbucks type places. Chazzano is blissfully fac to face personal, classy and comfortable. All of this set up brings us to the star of the article: The coffee. My first cup, a Papua New Guinea Purosa, is one of Chazzano's most popular - and for good reason. A wonderfully complex coffee with a wonderful nose of cinnamon and chocolate notes and a full bodied mouth feel that would make any morning feel like a lazy Sunday. My tour continued with a Citrusy Nicaraguan Maragogype, an amazing Ethiopian Harrar with a floral taste and a nose of wood and tobacco, a Sumatra Manheling that immediately reminded me of a well stocked humidor and a delightfully smooth mouth feel and full bodied flavor, A Guatemalan Comel with vanilla and caramel notes and a naturally decaffeinated Sumatra with a nose like fine dark chocolate and a taste as smooth as silk, I would never guess it to be decaf, and neither will you. There are other varieties to sample and Frank is always searching for amazing new experiences to share with his customers. Each of the coffees I enjoyed on this visit could probably warrant their own posts. And perhaps as I learn more of the vocabulary and enjoy more of the fruits born of Frank's expertise, I'll undertake that task. If you are a coffee lover or would like to become one, head on out to 1737 E. Nine Mile Road in Ferndale, MI and pay Frank and his staff a visit, or place an order online. You will not be disappointed - and you may just fall in love. -///My first visit to