Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Now and then

08.08.08 - Four years ago this day, as the Beijing Olympics commenced, I found myself transiting in Hangzhou, China's tea capital. Although I already was becoming a regular tea drinker, I did not have a deeper appreciation for tea as a cultural heritage and was not really well-informed about this subject matter. This visit planted the seeds of tea love and joy in me. I grew very fond of tea ceremonies and found myself frequently locked in a gaze at tea masters engaged in an enchanting and seemingly complex ritual of examining, sniffing, brewing and pouring tea.

Today, my role has entered transition and I am in a place between observing, brewing and drawing conclusions about tea. My preferences have evolved and my tea choices expanded beyond the category of Japanese green teas. A lot has changed I must say, and I hope this is all for the better. A great pastime, albeit an expensive one.

While browsing Taipei's endless rows of tea shops earlier this year, I bought a highly oxidised roasted red oolong tea also known as Wa Cuo '瓦厝‘ red oolong. My guess is, the name could point to the red tiled roofs that were hallmarks of older colonial architecture.

The brew is clear, golden and with a tinge of red thanks to its higher levels of oxidation, this tea has a few elements of surprise awaiting me - Walnut, cranberries and a medium body with a pleasant aftertaste. I picked a Zisha teapot to prepare this tea because clay teapots help to trap heat and coax more flavours out of  the tea leaves.

A pleasant afternoon spent retracing my footsteps and recounting the various milestones in this short span of time. I am also happy that my initiative to start a blog about tea has allowed me to share precious tea moments with others and more importantly as a diary for lasting memories.

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