Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'Optimal' brew of Winter Da Pa Baozhong

Yesterday, I brewed this tea to test, to analyze it by searching for its weaknesses. Today, I want to show how I brew it to enjoy it. The tea is at the center of my quest. Once I know what tea I brew all the rest follows. For this fresh, light oxidised winter Wenshan Da Pa Baozhong, what are the fitting accessories to use?
1. The vessel: I could use my silver teapot or a zhuni baotai (thin walls) teapot. They would underline the fragrance and the freshness. Another alternative, is to use my ivory baotai gaiwan. It looks even simpler and it will be nice to see the leaves.

2. The cups: for light fragrant Oolong, I choose my qingbai singing cups. Here again, the thin walls increase the feeling of lightness.

3. I use a matching qingbai Gung Dao Bei, because it's easier to pour in it with a gaiwan than directly in the cups. However, it will require a good preheating to avoid that the tea cools down too quickly.

4. Water: I recommend a light water with few minerals. I have the luck that I could fetch some natural spring water ten days ago in the Wenshan mountains. This is a natural match!

5. Cha Bu: the dark blue background is fitting for the dark and cold winter season. (It looks like the far away Wenshan mountains in my previous post). The white porcelain stands out and I find it plays nicely with the green leaves, the light brew and this red flower.

After preheating, I pretty much filled the gaiwan with dry leaves. I pressed them a little in my hand so that they would fit inside. The unbroken leaves are so long that they quickly prevent more from entering. Since the quality of the leaves is very good, I choose to leave it that way and increase the steeping times. So, I have plenty of time to warm the cups and dispose of the hot water in the Za Fang (the bowl on the left).

In my optimal brew, the exact weight isn't that important. And brewing time is more a matter of concentration of flavors. If a tea is good after 1 minute, it is also good after 1 minute and 14 seconds, just stronger. What I find much more important is how to pour the boiling water in the gaiwan. See, for instance, how my first pour is stronger than the second!

The result was light, fresh, dry and with a balanced silky aftertaste. Hummm! It was almost like a (very nice) High Mountain Oolong! Christmas must be coming soon now! I should have mentioned this Cha Xi also looks great under our decorated tree!
(I hope Karen is happy with my answer!)


Soïwatter said...

Ah, Alsace, quand tu nous tiens (après "exportateur" de thé, serais-tu devenu importateur de sapins de Noël?)

Tu nous présentes une méthode bien proche de mes préparations idéales de Lily Flower Boazhong. D'où quelques petites questions... Malgré ma préférence pour le gaiwan, j'ai fait quelques dégustations très intéressantes mais assez différentes en théière (plus de rondeur et de présence, moins de fleuri). Y avait-il aussi des différences sur tes essais avec la zhuni et la théière en argent? Et que signifie le nom Gung Dao Bei (de ton cha hai) et Za Fang?

En tout cas, à voir ces superbes photos, tu me mets l'eau à la bouche avec ce Baozhong... surtout après une semaine et demi de déplacement loin de mes thés adorés et de mes théières chéries...

Stephane said...

Les sapins de Noël sont assez courants à Taiwan. A la différence de l'Alsace, ils sont en plastique ici, mais cela ne se remarque presque pas!

Je n'ai pas encore essayé ce thé en particulier dans la zhuni baotai ou dans la théière en argent, mais je m'attends aux variations d'usage: plus de rondeur -comme tu l'as remarqué- en zhuni, et plus de pureté et de vivacité avec l'argent.

Gung = Commun
Dao = verser
Bei = coupe
C'est un synonyme de Cha Hai. C'est la cruche commune.

Za = détritus
Fang = mettre
C'est le bol où je mets les eaux usées et les feuilles après les infusions.

Merci de tes questions!

Karen said...

Karen is LOL and more than happy with your coverage of this crucial topic! :)

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Karen said...

Stéphane, I must share how delighted I am with my choice of this tea. Granted, the aroma of the dry leaves isn't as full as that of a spring tea but when I heated them dry in my gaiwan, I discerned an almost minty fragrance. I always rinse (probably shouldn't with baozhong) and was intrigued to find that my first actual brew made my mouth tingle, almost as though it contained mint (which I didn't taste). It just gets better with each infusion, too. Another winner!