Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mid autumn night

Few hours before sunset on mid-autumn festival, I wanted to have a full-moon themed cha xi to mark this day of the lunar calendar that symbolises bliss and reunions. While waiting for the sun to take its leave and the full moon to gradually ascend to the skies, I decided to prepare a small sample of tea which I recently got from a friend, the content of which is unknown to me. The only clues found on the packaging pointed to an old loose tea with a long aftertaste. Marketing language of course, to be taken with a grain of salt.

Avoid cramming your gaiwan with too much leaves

Mystery tea calls for the use of a glazed porcelain gaiwan to do away with carried-over smells and tastes in the next tea. Inside this foil pack was a sachet of loose leaves. The first scent hints of sweet green beans. As these were not tea dust-grade leaves, I decided to do away with the sachet and cut it open to brew the whole leaves. Doing so will allow us to examine the leaves more closely and obtain an overall understanding of their wet and dry smells.

By now, I am able to identify this tea as an aged and cooked pu'er tea - its rather prominent woody note gave it away. To prepare this tea, I brewed all the contents of the bag in a pre-heated medium-sized gaiwan making sure that there is ample room for the leaves to release their full taste. This is only possible because pu'er leaves do not unfurl as much as tight balls of oolong tea leaves.
In the dark skies shines the bright moon

The first infusion was close to a shiny black with a decent degree of transparency. This tea's earthy character was complemented by the stronger scent and mildly sweet taste of green beans. It was an unusual combination of flavours in one drink and is slightly reminiscent of eating bean-flavoured mooncakes while sipping aged pu'er tea.

The sun rays were quickly diminishing. Waiting isn't always such a painful process when in the good company of a cup of tea, friends and loved ones. In fact, practicing this art of tea cultivates an understanding patience and rewards with simple, worldly pleasures.