Thursday, June 28, 2012
Tea study, tea joy
Pat and Jason have shown a lot of passion and motivation in learning about Chinese/Taiwanese tea culture. And when 2 more distinguished guests joined them, I decided to take them to one of the nicest place to brew tea: outdoors, in the mountains of Tucheng!
Professor Park teaches Korean Studies at the Inje University in Korea. And Mr. Koike is a retired Japanese journalist with a great interest in tea (his wife is a Japanese tea master in NYC).
So, to expand their understanding of Taiwanese teas, I had the pleasure of brewing several Oolongs with my silver kettle!
I started with my winter 2011 Shan Lin Shi Luanze oolong. They were very pleased with its sweetness and long aftertaste. In Japan and Korea, high quality green teas are mostly harvested in spring (twice), so they were very surprised to taste a winter harvest. The examination of the open leaves also proved very unusual for them: whole and big mountain leaves!
Then, I proceeded to brew my spring 2012 Da Yu Ling Luanze Oolong. This made the difference between winter and spring Oolongs very obvious. This tea displayed its amazing clarity and high, natural fragrances. The silver teapot strengthened the crisp, clear taste. (Later, we brewed this tea with a zhuni teapot and found that the hard Yixing clay gave more body and a more mellow aftertaste.)
With just these 2 high mountain Oolongs, we could enjoy very light, but powerful and fine brews. Sharing this pleasure through our faces didn't need many words. The tea was speaking its own direct language to us.
The Hung Shui Oolong tasted deeper and more complex than the unroasted Oolongs. A rich golden color brew combines the fragrant scents with the sweet and nutty notes of a medium roast. The mellow aftertaste unfolds by waves and seems never to go away...
Mr. Koike is amazed by the freshness of this tea. It reminds him Japanese green tea: "I can taste unami", he said with a smile!
We were all moved by this tea. Time has chiseled the aromas with increasing clarity and depth.
Tea study and tea joy go hand in hand!
Update: I'm adding a picture of the 22 years old Oolong leaves we brewed in Tucheng.