Monday, April 02, 2007

Spring tea at Taipei Story House

Yesterday, Sergey and I attended the Spring tea party at the Taipei Story House. Teaparker started the event with a presentation of the relationship between tea and Spring.

His intent was to tell us that the connection extends beyond spring as just a tea harvesting and purchasing season. Spring is the time for the renewal, the rebirth of nature. It's not just tea that is coming to life, but most of the plants and especially flowers. Hence the very flowery fragrance that is so typical of Spring tea. This fragrance is concentrated in the tea buds. They are the season's babies. They start with a purple color and, sometimes within just one day, they can change from a spear to round shape.

A good Spring tea, well kept, will always keep a Spring taste, no matter its age. Teaparker compared tea to people: spring season is like youth. You don't need to be young to feel young. It depends on the inner self. That means strength and freshness. Strength is acquired through the selection of quality leave and a traditional process. For Oolong, for instance, sufficient roasting is important if the leaves are supposed to last for a long time.
After the explanation, members of Cha Ren Ya Xin Tea association (students of Teaparker) brewed a special tea to celebrate spring and the union of tea and flower scents: a luanze Oolong from Nantou (900 meters) that has been scented with 5000 orchid flowers. It has been made in 2005 to promote the launch of a French cosmetic cream based on orchids a few years ago (Note: I had nothing to do about it and Teaparker only has a little of it left over). Despite these 2 years and the fact that flower scents tend to disappear quickest, it was amazing to see how delicate, flowery and sweet this tea tasted and with what a nice, powerful and long aftertaste it finished.
It's again my pleasure to show you the great care each student brings to the design of his/her tea set. The design was later improve by Teaparker: he added flowers and green plants to each set. You will notice that we used different tea vessels (clay, glazed gaiwan and silver teapot).
Below, an example of such improvemnt with an orchid flower.

And here you can see the tea we brewed. You will notice that for this delicate and lightly brewed tea, I chose to use celadon cups. Their light green color adds strength to the color of the tea.

8 comments:

Jérôme D said...

Nice pictures, but i'm astonished some of you used clay pots to brew a scented tea ?
Wouldn't this "ruin" the teapots for the next brewings ?

Stephane said...

This is a real scented tea. No oils were added. The oolong just got scented with the proximity of the flowers (that were removed after the scenting). The result is a tea where you have a proper balance between the tea and the orchid scent. It's a very fine, light flavor. Orchid is much lighter than jasmin, for instance. Also, we brewed it very light (few leaves/long brews).

A rinse with boiling water is enough to take care of the remaining smells.

Again, a little reminder: a teapot is good because of the action of its clay, not because it has accumulated tea smells from past brewings!

Terry@PineRidgeOrchids.com said...

Hello Stephane - Do you have any idea what kind of orchid flower was used for the scenting? The flower you show in your post is a Phalaenopsis hybrid by Mr lin of Brother Orchids in Taichung Hsien and it has no fragrance. There are a few Phalaenopsis hybrids that do have a sweet perfume-like fragrance, but they have a tendency to be a smaller more star-shaped flower. I'm a commercial wholesale orchid nurseryman and grown hundreds of thousands of these Phalaenopsis.

Stephane said...

Terry,

I just know that Teaparker said this orchid came from a cultivator in I-Lan. I could ask Teaparker for this detail, though, next time I see him.

And you are absolutely correct: this orchid has no smell at all! I wanted to smell the scent of orchid to compare with the tea, but was very frustrated that I couldn't smell anything! It's just good to make pictures.

Terry@PineRidgeOrchids.com said...

Hi again Stephane - I guess we are getting a bit "off topic" talking about orchids?? The flower you show is a very complex man-made hybrid, probably tracing its parentage back a good 50 or 60 years before you come across the species which actually occur in nature (sort of like pu-ehr but certainly not as tasty). The species and primary hybrids (a species crossed to another species)are often fragrant but the complex hybrids are so "in-bred" that they generally lose their smells. This is just usless info statement #104B.

Linda said...

Hi Stephane,

I am interested to find out more about the tea infused with orchid too. Where can I find supplier to do that for me?

Hi Terry, do you produce orchid scent that I can infused into tea?

Linda

Stephane said...

Linda,

This tea was a one time project for a foreign company. I don't know who makes orchid scented tea on a regular basis. But if you get orchids from Terry, you could scent it yourself. The process involves using fresh flowers, not oil extracts

Linda said...

Hi Stephane,

Thanks very much for your reply.

Linda