Monday, September 23, 2013

Learning is two-way

Mid autumn is a time of gathering with friends and families. This year, I shared my mooncake stash with tea newbies over some lively exchanges about each tea and their effects on our five senses. There was also some serious note-taking from my very enthusiastic friends.

Starting off with a fragrant Mingjian Four Seasons light oolong tea from Taiwan, the fruity scents from under the gaiwan's lid quickly gained popularity and it was delicious. Fresh, fruity and easy drinking.
Red tea and cheesecake bites

Next comes a Wacuo roasted oolong and white lotus paste mooncake pairing. We primed our mouth by taking one sip of this tea first, then bit off some of white lotus paste together with its pastry skin. Take one more sip of the same tea and this lotus paste slips down our throats like silk.

My rather gifted guest remarked that when drunk on its own, this roasted oolong tea smells like moist wood with a hint of bitterness that transforms quickly into a lingering sweet taste. Hearing this in itself came as a surprise for me because crossing paths with the right people who did not know they could like tea so much and in the process share about their personal experiences so openly with one another adds a rewarding dimension to the quality of our discussions.

 DH - Pekoe (or white fur) up-close.
Moving on to a red tea that is most familiar to me  an my readers by now, my Yunnan Dian Hong Cha. Out of fairness (as I have brewed all my teas in a porcelain vessel so far), I decided to also use the same gaiwan for this red tea (usually it's a Zhuni pot that I use). In a porcelain gaiwan, the tea tasted much lighter, but still rounded because porcelain does not distribute heat as well as clay. Nevertheless, the scents from this tea quickly reached our noses and comments like wild honey and dried fruit scents were scribbled down.
Cha Qi from a Lapsang Souchong tea

Conversations flowed from tea to all and sundry and back to tea again. This time I felt an obvious warmth on my cheeks despite an opened window with the chilli autumn rain outside. The Cha Qi of this Dian Hong Cha and all good teas is most felt in colder months because such teas boost our blood circulation so our bodies feel a steady buildup of warmth that counters the cold in our external environment.

If you haven't experienced Cha Qi or are unsure if it is indeed Cha Qi after drinking some teas, a few parallels can be drawn here to the sensation of warmth felt at your fingertips (at its lightest), or whole hand (at its strongest) not long after sipping good wine and/or tea, or that of gushed cheeks when you met the love of your life ;-)

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