Thursday, May 31, 2012

Screaming Spring

Everything about tea from Korea, Japan and Taiwan screams spring, freshness and vitality. I've joined in the fun with this year's Bi Luo Chun, from San Hsia in Taiwan. There are a few ways to drink to tea. In what I call 'open-face' style style where you simply rest green tea leaves in a bowl and pour hot water while watching the leaves unfurl and come to the surface before settling down to the bottom of your tea bowl again. A sort of smoothening dance performance. The leaves are slow to open up because heat escapes very quickly from the water surface. I like it on some days especially so when my mood is heavy and could do with some lightening up. Thankfully such times are far and few between and last week I opted for a tastier way of drinking this tea - using a gaiwan. With this vessel, one can trap more heat and coax more flavours out of these finely feathered (typical of young budding leaves), light and dark green leaves.

I love the smell of these dried leaves - very green with a hint of sugarcane sweetness and light umami notes. I decided to dedicate a longer session to drinking this tea and came up with a cha xi that more or less looks like the colours I witnessed the other day at the park. Blue skies, cotton candy clouds and yellow-green grass. Let's see how much of a parallel I can recreate in my cha xi.

This is the best I could manage and I decided to stay with this set up once I sense that I can find functionality and comfort with room for imagination when starting to prepare tea. 

While waiting, I was curious to see how the leaves were unfurling in my big gaiwan and took a few sneak shots. The changes are so subtle and gradual that one can only witness such beautiful transitions through undivided attention.Notice how the colours progressed from dark green to green and finally yellow green?

The brew is a very light green with fresh, grassy and sweet notes. I also notice that with a gradual and gentle pour of hot water into the gaiwan, you will obtain a rather meaty 'broth' in your first infusion. I'm having fun!

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