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TOPICS INCLUDE: Tea; General Tso; Back issues; Tea bricks; Ostrich meat; Community cookbooks

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Fall Volume: 1999 Issue: 6(3) page(s): 6 and 14

We print as many letters as space allows and reserve the right to edit them, as needed. Because of an unusually large number since the last issue, more are included than usual.

After reading your article about tea and checking other sources, I am still left with two questions. Please answer them. The first is: What is Oolong Green Tea? I just bought some but the name conflicts with what you and others say. The next one is another tea I purchased called China Black. What is that?
NAOMI: Your queries are understandable. For the first: Oolong green tea is an oxymoron of sorts. Tea is either green which often is called unfermented or it is oolong, which means semi-fermented. It can not be both. What I think the vendor wants to advise is that the tea processing stopped a mite after it can technically be called green tea and just a tad into the semi-fermented stage. As to the China Black, that it either a trade name or a black fully-fermented tea grown in China.

A comment about General Tso--The Mystery Man discussed in the 1996 Flavor and Fortune issue Volume 3(4) on page 5.
ERIC: You and many others commented and queried us about the general. We thank you all and do want to inform readers, with your permission, about your web site. We do so a mite concerned as in the title of the General’s recipe you refer to it as definitive. We cringe at that; but as it does have other interesting information readers might enjoy, we advise them to look at: www.plate-o-shrimp.com/tso.htm

Just read every word of the Fujian issue. I love your magazine! If you ever find volumes one and two that you can part with, I would be happy to buy them at a premium.
SANDY: You are in a bit of luck. An early collector who bought a dozen subscriptions to help us get started advises that he has some issues, but not all. He will donate them to us for fund raising in order that we can complete our web-site. He shipped us ten copies of Volume One (only one issue was published that year as we were not pleased with its looks nor size and took the rest of the year to redesign it). He also gave us eight copies of the first issue of Volume Two and six copies each of the third and fourth issues in that volume. He had no copies of the third issue in Volume Two. Donations of more than $25.00 per copy are herewith accepted, on a first come first serve basis. He asked to remain anonymous, and we respect his wishes, but do offer a public thank you.

Enclosed are some pictures of a tea brick, can you identify it and tell me how old it is.
PATRICIA: Yes, I can identify it. I own one myself. It is called a tea brick, tea block, or cake tea, known in Chinese as bing cha. It is made by steaming then compressing black tea into a form, in this case a large square, then removing it from that form and drying it slowly. The writing at the bottom of this one on the first line says: Chinese Tea Corporation. The second line identifies it as the Chao Lee Xi Chiao Tea Brick Manufacturing Company. Brick teas were transported on tea caravans (do see the article in Flavor and Fortune's Volume 6(1). These bricks were popular until the early years of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 CE). The one you and I own is sold more for novelty than as a beverage. However, when it was, people drank tea made from it plain or flavored with ginger or tangerine peel. Mine was imported from China in the late 1960's and at that time they said it was less than a hundred years old. For others who may want one, Eastrise Trading Company of Alhambra CA (626/281-2800) showed it at a recent New York Fancy Food Show.

F&F noted that there was not much information on ostrich meat. I found the following nutrient analysis (per 100 grams) on the web at: http:/www.ug.uiuc.edu/~food-lab/nat/nat.cgi and want to share it with readers. Calories and carbohydrate were not given but protein was listed as 26.05 g, sodium as 84.44 mg, total fat 2.07 g, saturated fat 0.74 g, and cholesterol as75.48 mg.
SUSAN: Thanks. Analysis we found, like yours, was not complete. We did not provide it for recipes including ostrich meat, and do thank you for that information.

Thanks for the details on those Chinese community cookbooks. Pity we do not know more about them. Does anyone keep that sort of information?
ANDY: We know of no such resource and wish we did. In September 1998, when researching information for the article, I did receive a letter from Evelyn C. Wong. She was the editor of the St. Marks United Methodist Church volume titled Treasured Recipes from Two Cultures (see Flavor and Fortune's Volume 6(2) on pages 11-12 and 25-26). She provides a brief history of that book and says and I quote: "In 1966, our Women’s Society published this book...and it was a 'do it yourself' project...the Chinese section...mostly Cantonese cuisine. It was our legacy to our children, grandchildren, and others... first run was for three hundred copies and sold for three dollars a copy. It was a complete sellout. We had almost thrown out our stencils after the first run! We then did six hundred copies and again a sellout. More copies were made in 1967 and 1968. In 1969, we added more Chinese recipes....(and) a list of contents after each section. In the 1970's more books were printed--still a 'do it yourself' project. We sort of lost count of the number of books printed and sold...and estimate fifteen thousand to seventeen thousand with the price of a book gradually increasing to nine dollars a copy. All sold by word of mouth. In the mid 1980's the book was discontinued as we all got older and tired. In 1991 due to pressure, we decided to re-do our cookbook...we dropped the American recipes section...extended the number of recipes, including the old. We now have page numbers and an excellent index...our book is printed by Cookbook Publishers in Lenexa, Kansas. It was copyrighted in 1992....first printing of the second edition was in June 1992 and sold out fast. We are now on our 4th order and do have a supply on hand...in my basement (343 West Anderson Street Stockton CA 95206). I recommend that you and others call first to see if: A) Copies still exist, and B) Get the current cost with sales tax; and find out if C) Mrs. Wong is able to ship them to you (1-209/462-5581).

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