Saturday, November 17, 2012

Our trusted senses

Recall that moment when you seemed to have had a piping hot cup of tea but the warm fuzzy sensation quickly fades into an unexplained chill in your system? Why do regular tea drinkers exchange their gaiwans for yixing teapots during colder months of the year to make this transition from light green teas to roasted and highly oxidised teas? Is it really a case of equating the likes of roasted oolongs and red (black) teas to teas that heat us up most efficiently and assigning a cooling effect to the greener and lighter teas in the spectrum?

As part of surveying the tea market, I once brought an Oriental Beauty sample to tea class with the impression that this highly oxidised summer oolong will certainly heat us up nicely when Taipei turns cold and rainy. Quite the contrary. Instead of the expected cha qi that greatly improves one's blood circulation, one of the immediate effects after drinking this tea was a developing frostiness felt most prominently at the fingertips. The tea I brought was a case of poor quality tea leaves that were later processed into an oriental beauty. Needless to say, we certainly did not move on to the 2nd infusion despite the rather pleasant perfumish aftertaste. This tea was also sold as a rather high grade tea with a subtantial price tag to match. An insightful lesson learnt and chances are, there is still a fair share of such teas on the market.

With a good hearty brew of delicious red tea, I can feel the cha qi in my fingertips that turn slightly pink and the tension in my neck muscles ebbing away.  What are your experiences like and which teas do you rate most favourably in your book?   

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