Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Smoke is used in food and drinks.
We have smoked meats. Common examples where you can find smoked food in a supermarket (the bigger ones) are smoked ham and smoked salmon. I liked them as the smokiness give the meat more flavour and taste. It was a cheap way to preserve or cure meats. In bbq parties, the serious party host may use special wood like hickory or cherry wood to scent the smoke. I had even noticed, on cooking shows, where a 'smoker gun' was used to smoke the food. The cook would simply put some aromatic wood chips in the smoker, light it up and the smoke was 'hosed' into a bag (I thought I saw a ziplock) and the food was bathed in the smoke. I also recalled another cooking show where they smoked a cola drink by dunking the smoker hose in the drink, resulting in a smoky soda.
Whisky is an unique showcase for smoky drinks. There are smoky whiskies that are appreciated for their smoke. In Scotland, peat was a cheap and easily available fuel to dry barley. When peat is burnt, they give off smoke and as a result, the barley absorbed this peated smoke and this smoke was even retained in the alcohol when the barley is distilled. I have tried heavily peated whiskies and I can say that I felt that I was drinking smoke than sipping a whisky. It was to me an eye watering exercise than a mouthwatering experience. Pix shows a Talisker 10 year old, a moderately peated whisky.
If you find smoky pu erh too smoky for you, I would warn you to stay far away from smoky whisky. It is many times more smoky.
Likewise, wood fuel was a cheap and easily available fuel (90s or earlier) to fry and stop the pu erh leaves from oxidising. As a result, the tea leaves absorbed this smoke and when you brew these tea leaves, you may detect smoke in the tea. Nowadays, electricity are used instead of wood fire in pu erh tea processing. There is no smoke in the tea. The famous Xiaguan brand do continue to produce some smoky pu erh and these smoky tea are now limited in production. I liked smoky pu erh as the aged smoky ones, in my opinion, taste more complex and aromatic than the non smoky ones.
Enjoying smoky food or drinks may not be your thing. I can understand this as I myself am unable to appreciate the highly peated whiskies that made me cringe when I sniff into the glass. I am, however, extremely happy with my smoky pu erh.
Time for an old smokey.