A Prose of Contemplation
Thank you for drinking tea with us.
"Contemplation" aims to leads the casual tea drinker into the deeper world of tea, where tea extends beyond its thirst-quenching function, where it provokes thinking and debate, where it awakes inner reflections.
The three teas on feature are a wulong tea, a green tea and a black tea, namely:
- 2018 Wuyi Oolong Rui Xiang (武夷岩茶瑞香), 6 gm
- Taiping Hou Kui - Guyu Harvest 2022 (雨前太平猴魁), 6 gm
- Sun Yi Shun An Cha (孙义顺安茶) [Unlisted], 6 gm
When we drink more tea, we attempt to make sense of the various names and terms in tea, as well as the geography and terrain where they come from. Such knowledge assimilation is especially difficult in Chinese tea because they are often made in secluded villages, using local techniques inherited from previous generations. These techniques are often born out of history, practical skills, and experience, without clear reasons why certain steps are done in certain manners. It is said that in Wuyi Mountain, there are 900 cultivars from natural mutation and crossbreeding, some coincidentally are named the same as other teas elsewhere in China but yet are not those teas. It is indeed confusing to the beginner. As we mature in our tea art, we attempt to shift our focus from tea alone to the other peripherals in tea. Common catchphrases that ring often in tea lectures and in articles suddenly strike us louder. The phrase “water is the mother of tea and teaware is the father of tea” is often heard. Today, you would experience this thoroughly through the Rui Xiang Rock Tea. We are brewing this tea using the Authority zisha teapot, with PH Balancer water we bought at Fairprice. It presents a medium body with a clean orchid floral aroma. Smell the lid of the teapot to get a hint of this aroma before you drink the tea. Oftentimes, wuyi rock tea smells of roasted nuts with burnt sugar overlaid with salted dried sour plums. Here, this typical aroma is present yet not dominating, giving way instead to a clean floral aroma. If you have been to Wuyi Mountain, you would notice the clean and sweet streams criss-crossing the mountain. We tested using a TDS pen the last time we visited and noted its low value, almost like filtered water. Such water is key in bringing out the floral aroma. Indeed, only when the medium is pure will it reflect the true character of tea. And indeed we brew tea to learn about life.
In June, we enjoyed the Melon Seeds which has no buds. This month, we will enjoy Taiping Hou Kui with 2 leaves wrapping one bud. While we know that Chinese green teas are usually highly priced if they are picked early in spring and they are finely picked closer to the bud, this general recipe does not apply to all teas. Due to misty growing conditions with the lack of sunlight, this tea is ready for harvest only at a later date. Its long leaves also hide the fact that it is not at all astringent but yet is forthcoming in its floral aroma. The traditional roasting technique further produces a nutty note but yet preserves its innate orchid aroma. We learn from this tea to view beyond the surface to understand its unique characteristics. Of course, we need additional effort to uncover hidden meanings – we may need to change to a tall brewer for this tea. The tea evaluation set could come in handy for this tea.
We continue our pursue of black tea since June when we enjoyed the Golden Flower black tea. This month, we will be drinking the historical and forgotten An Tea from Qimen county (Anhui province of China). This tea is not listed on our website and is usually considered a black tea. As such, it is a rare product from Anhui province which produces mostly green, yellow and red teas. Even so, there are still disputes on the class it belongs to. The steps are reflective of green tea, but yet the style is of wulong and black teas. It is packed in a woven basket made of bamboo before final drying so that the tea takes the shape of the basket. It is valued for its medicinal benefit in “setting the internal organs at ease” and is thus termed “holy tea”. Again, this tea must look beneath superficial facts. Patience is the key to brewing this tea well. Having some understanding of its characteristics, you could experiment with it using different temperatures. Even though this tea is aged since 2015, it may still shock you on the onset with its sharp notes. However, it brews sweeter with more brews. What life lesson is it telling us then?
我们品茗久了，我们就会试图理解茶中的各种名称和术语以及它的地理和地形。想要累积及同化中国茶的知识尤其困难，因为中国茶通常是在偏僻的村庄，使用从前几代传承下来的当地技术制成的。这些技术通常源于历史、实践与经验，而制茶步骤往往没有明确的原由。据说，在武夷山有900个自然突变和杂交的品种，其中一些还与中国不同产地的其他茶类名称相同，但此茶非彼茶。这确实让初学者感到困惑。随着我们茶艺的成熟，我们试图将注意力转向茶的其他设备上。茶讲座和文章中经常响起的常见标语此时震耳欲聋。 “水为茶之母，器为茶之父 ”这句话你今天将通过武夷岩茶瑞香彻底体验一下。我们使用秦权壶（紫砂壶）和在 Fairprice 购买的 PH Balancer水冲泡这款茶，醇厚度适中而带有清幽的兰花香。在喝茶之前，先闻一下壶盖体验下这香气。武夷岩茶常有焦糖坚果和咸酸干的香气。这经典的岩茶香气在瑞香这里并不霸道，反而是清幽的花香。如果你去过武夷山，你会发现甘甜干净的溪水纵横交错。我们使用溶解质总量（TDS）测试笔进行了测试，发现小溪就如过滤水一般。像这样纯净的水是带出花香的关键。的确的，只有纯净的介质才能充分体现茶的本色。事实上，我们泡茶是为了更了解人生。