Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fin de siècle

I wasn't quite expecting to find anything like this in the forest during a short weekend getaway. A Russian train from the turn of the century parked in a small green field surrounded by forest. The interior brought us back more than a hundred years, to the times of the Czar. To one side of the room was a tea table that looked inviting enough. Its old-fashioned attractiveness made me question if I was still in the right space and age.

We brewed Dongding oolong tea and put together a sparser cha xi that will not overwhelm the tea experience visually. An attempt at bringing two rather diverse elements together somewhere amidst roaming wildlife that fortunately did not come anywhere close to our windows. Also, I would like to think that few before me have had the privilege of enjoying fine oolong tea in a setting like this.

Although a light oolong, the dried leaves are a bit more roasted and thus smell sweeter than regular green oolongs. More roasting removes the moisture and increases the leaves' sugar to water ratio. With nature on my side, I found that the clean forest air also helped to highlight this aspect of the tea and brought out the complexity of its aromas.

The infusion was light green with a broth-like aftertaste that reminded me of slow-cooked bouillon. With the mixed clay teapot, I managed to push the limits of this tea and reached 6 brews before I was ready to call it a day. 

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