Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Goodbye dragon, hello spiritual snake

3 days to the Chinese Lunar New Year of the snake. To see the year of the dragon off, I planned my chaxi tonight with dragon themed cups and saucers. In the Chinese culture, dragons motifs are heavily used to decorate personal items and prominently adorn architectural creations. The snake however, does not share the same standing and understandably commands less reverence. Perhaps, it has to do with negative legendary associations with this legless reptile. Personally it isn't one of my favourites either.

Tea tonight is a 4 year old hong shui oolong form Ali Shan. It has been aging in my pewter jar for 16 months now in the hopes of refining it further and taming the roast. I especially like this tea because of the its strength that lasts for quite a while both in the mouth and its overall sensation of warmth that can be felt radiating from my stomach.
Notice the obvious roasting on the edges yet slightly yellow but mainly green appearance in the centre of the rolled tea leaves?  I believe care has been taken to roast this tea very gradually for an extended period of time. The purpose is to remove water content so tea tastes sweeter.

I used a zisha teapot to brew this tea. The infusion is a very light yellow green colour with a less obvious but present roasted scent. This time the fruity notes emerge more prominently than previous tea sessions. The difference that time makes to the aging process of tea is magical! The infusion is nicely balanced, moderately complex and sweet. The flavour reminds me of hay. The mouth feel can be compared to semi-bubbly mineral water. It is smooth and at the same time leaves behind a slight tingle on the insides of my cheeks and coats my whole tongue with a rather high resolution and long aftertaste. I really enjoy my tea sessions more and more so with this tea every few months I come back to it when I feel the need for a medium strength tea that gently heats me up and its effects continue to persist long after my pot is emptied. I put together a full scale cha xi complete with new year goodies and some candles to draw attention to the smallest of details and keep all our senses engaged. Afterall, a chaxi is an interaction between the tea master, tea and the chosen teaware. 

Like good people who mellow with age, so does good tea. What used to be an overpowering roast has subsided to allow the underlying fruitiness and freshness to take centre-stage. The tea has begun to balance itself out.

Happy lunar new year everyone!

1 comment:

  1. You know, the snake used to be associated with women's wisdom. Then it was appropriated in a negative context. Here's to a better understanding of the snake!