Sunday, November 3, 2013

Yunnan Red - curated tea #3

A mix of old and new porcelain
In the spring of 2012, I had my first sip of this powerful red tea from Yunnan on a cold drizzly night over dinner with friends. The weather was perfect for roasted or fully oxidised teas with strong Qi. This Yunnan Red tea was light, pure and refreshing, going down very well as all good teas should. The most surprising bit came few minutes into sipping my tea when I decided to stretch my neck discretly and with almost no effort, I could feel tension fading away and in its place a warm surge of Qi quickly moving upwards through my neck. I was slightly taken aback of course because I've only known Qi to be something mystical and probably a thing of the martial arts. In my case, it was recognised as Cha Qi, a form of good energy that radiates from your stomach bringing about overall warmth and comfort.

Of young buds and leaves from a Jinxuan oolong
The dry scent of this tea is 'friendly' without any artificial notes that could well irritate your senses. Being a spring tea, it boasts of refined yet subtle scents characteristic to this season of the year. My choice of brewing vessels are either a dedicated cinnabar clay teapot (aka Zhuni) or a thermos flask on the go. With a claypot, the leaves are allowed to brew at higher temperatures and shorter times. The porous structure of the clay further refines/ filters the tea. It is the ideal way to spend time with this tea, admiring its colour and fragrance.

These dainty yet practical Florentine espresso cups remind us of the aristocratic way of life and their tea drinking culture which is inextricably linked to red tea and perhaps sugar and milk ;-) The depth of these cups allows for a larger tea volume but its narrow opening helps reduce heat loss from the surface.

Supple leaves with greenish undertones
Seeing the spent leaves, I was reminded of the same jagged edges found in my greener unroasted high mountain oolongs. Being baby leaves, these are of course much smaller. A hint of green beneath the overall reddish oxidised appearance is perhaps what accounts for the surprisingly refreshing twist that this red tea has to offer. Just like how I like my steak medium-well so it retains some of the meat's juiciness/rareness on the inside to make up for the loss of moisture on the outside.

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