As temperatures approach 35 degrees Celcius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in Taiwan, I turn to teas to cool me down. The most suitable for this task are early spring green teas. (Next come lightly oxidized Oolongs, preferably from cool, high mountains.) Green teas are concentrated with spring freshness, light tastes and flowery fragrances.
So, I choose my March 8, 2010 San Hsia Bi Luo Chun.
What would be a fitting way to brew this tea today? We can choose from a wide range of tea vessels (glass, porcelaine, silver teapot, Yixing teapot, Jianyang black bowl...) and techniques (Chaoshan, Ming style, Sung style...). Gongfu Cha isn't restricted to 'a teapot, many leaves and increasingly long brews'.
From the Ming dynasty, we know that loose green tea was brewed in big teapots. The ratio of leaf to water is low. The few leaves should float very freely in the pot and only give release a light aroma similar to the light spring air.
But instead of a big teapot, I opt for an even more relaxed method for this hot and lazy afternoon: the bowl.
After preheating my Jun bowl, I put the dry leaves in the center and add my boiling water. The leaves dance like a synchronized swimming team (watch from top to down starting on the left):
The leaves turn and unfurl gracefully in the clear brew. The fresh blue and green colors remind me of a swimming pool or a blue lagoon! This looks better than a transparent glass and also has the advantage that ceramic handles heat better.
An open tea bowl will let the temperature drop faster than a teapot. The brew will extract the flavors more slowly. The leaves need to be of a good quality to withstand this long brewing, but don't need to be the very best either.
I use a ceramic spoon to share the tea in several qingbai singing cups. The light green color of the glaze adds life to the brew.
The taste is indeed light and tickling in the mouth. It has a sweet aftertaste. It fells like a young, small a bird flying from branch to branch.
The fragrances are fresh and crisp. White and yellow flowers. Meadows in the morning light. Cool energy flows down in the body.
This Cha Xi is a feast for all the senses!
This quilt is another masterpiece made by my mother. (I'm very careful not to spill any drop on it.)
While it may seem so easy, tea leaves and hot water, we can see that there is much more to it than meets the eye.
This tea took us for a swim!
Enjoy your summer!
Be creative with your tea and remember the fundamental rules of tea brewing. (Baozhong is also a good choice for tea bowl brewing, as you can see in my next article. Rolled Oolong is less appropriate, because it requires more heat.)
And here is my quilt made with this patchwork!