After several weeks of practice and rehearsals, the Cha Ren Ya Xin Association held a Ming Dynasty inspiration green tea Cha Xi at the Taipei Story House last Sunday afternoon.
This is the main table of this event. You will notice that the setup includes a grayish turquoise Cha Bu (tea cloth). There are also 3 rectangles of old brown Japanese fabric that stress the length of the table. These colors try to remain true to the subject (green tea), while conveying an antique feeling (Ming dynasty). The tea brewed at this table was a 5 year old Xihu Lung Jing.
Teaparker suggested to decorate this Cha Xi with a bamboo plant. The Ming dynasty came after the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty and was still a period of unrest in China. People would drink tea to find a sense of calm and harmony. Bamboo, a symbol of integrity and strength, had similar effects and was very popular during the Ming dynasty. (Just have a look at a bamboo forest to see if it is making your mind calm or not.)
For the other tables, we decided to use the wooden benches that were in this room. We put the teapot on a bamboo tablet with a Cha Bu in the same colors as above . The other accessories (cups, kettle, tea plate, tea jar...) were placed on this bench turned into a tea table.
Here, my friend brewed a Lung Jing from San Hsia, Taiwan, from this spring. She used a big zisha teapot to improve the taste of this tea and make it less astringent.
A quick reminder: Ming dynasty teapots were big, which explains the size of ours. Besides, loose green tea is brewed best when it has a lot of space to expand.
This friend used this big ceramic teapot to brew her (well stored) top grade 2006 Jiangsu Bi Luo Chun.
For this event, there were no seats for the guests. We changed the process: each guest kept his cup and could go to each table to try the different green teas that we brewed. We received good feedback about it: people were amazed at how different (and good) each green tea tasted and smelled.
They also found interesting that an old tasting Lungjing would be so enjoyable. It still has the full and clean taste.
For my set up, you will recognize the big duanni teapot (from the 1980s) on a bamboo tray, the Ming cup imitations and my tetsubin kettle.
Another reason we chose green tea is that it's generally meant to be drunk fresh, in the months after its spring harvest. Green tea has a cooling effect on the body, so it is also a good fit for this hot day of June.
Here are the leaves of this 2nd place competition Bi Luo Chun from San Hsia. Like the Jiangsu Bi Luo Chun, it is very hairy. The main difference is that, in China, Bi Luo Chun is dried in a pan, while they use an oven in Taiwan.
Below is my Cha Xi as it would have looked like if we had used a normal table. (Picture taken during the last practice, a few hours before the event).
But I think that we made the right decision to use the benches instead. It freed up a lot of space (in this rather small room) and allowed more interactions with the visitors. And you can that Teaparker looked quite pleased when the event finished. To thank us, he brewed an excellent Wuyi Yan Cha for all the remaining guests (see all the cups!). And after all these teas, we were all hungry for some cookies!
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