Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brewing Baozhong overlooking Wenshan

The best place to brew Wenshan Baozhong is... on top of a mountain overlooking the Wenshan area... except when it starts to rain! 

So, as history repeated itself (!), it we took refuge under the roof of the nearby temple. The monks kindly agreed that I set up my Cha Xi at the entrance of their temple. 

Earlier in the day, I had been testing some Spring Baozhongs, overbrewing them on purpose to find their defects. Now, I wanted to enjoy the tea as much as possible in this perfect setting. This summarizes schizophrenic qualities a tea drinker should have: 

1. a great deal of suspicion for every new tea: don't believe any spoken or written word. Just let the tea tell you how good or bad it is. (Tea is bad = leaves are bad.)

2. love and understanding for your tea: use your gungfu cha skills to maximize the potential of your leaves. Even an imperfect and humble tea can bring tremendous satisfaction if you brew it well. (Tea is bad = brewing is bad). 
And now, imagine how much happiness one feels when, having found a high quality, fresh Baozhong, one brews it with the right accessories, local spring water, good skills in this natural setting! 


15 comments:

Terence said...

Your cha saucers look amazing, Taiwan or Taipei specifically must have good teaware boutiques. Do you actually use that stove? and what is the volume of that Tetsubin?

Thx,

Terence,

Stephane said...

Thank you Terence. I found these old Cha Tuo last week and love their big, yet refined, shape. They work well with big cups.

I didn't make fire in the stove. I only used it to place the tetsubin on it. It had an aesthetic function. However, I used it recently at the Taipei Story House. My tetsubin is 1.2 liters big approximately.

Michael Tyson said...

Hi Stéphane,

I was wondering if you might be willing to divulge some rough directions to this location as it does indeed look like a wonderful spot to pao cha. My wife and l would like to visit there sometime, hopefully before the Plum Rains.

Thank you for the quizzes! They're fun, interesting, and educational. From the looks of the responses, I think many would agree. Your efforts are much appreciated.

Thanks again,

Mike

ginkgo said...

magnifique !

Stephane said...

Mike,

When you go from Pinglin to the highway using the old access road, make a left at the road to Kuolai. Follow the road for 2-3 km and make a left through the big traditional entrance door. Continue on the main road and make a right at the only intersection you'll see (this is where you can get spring water, by the way). In 3 minutes you'll arrive at the temple on top of the mountain! The rock table is a little further down (50 m) in front of the temple.
Have a good time!

Wa said...

Hello Stéphane,
Oh, I didn't noticed in your previous post this very nice stove. Is it an old one ? If it is a new one who made it ? What kind of coal do you use ? And how do you heat the water when you're outdoor ? Sorry for so many questions but having only an electric kettle, I'm wondering if I'll go for coal or alcool...
Friendly.
Wa.

Michael Tyson said...

Hi Stéphane,

Thank you for the directions. We'll have some fun finding it. I would like to ask one question: the first turn off the "old access road" - is the old access road Hy. 106-B?
Thank you for pointing out the spring water source. That's very valuable information and I forgot to ask.

Thanks again,

Mike

Stephane said...

Mike,

106-B is the old road from Shi Ding to Pinglin. No, it's not on this road, but on a smaller one, No 63 if I remember well.

Michael Tyson said...

Thanks again. It will be fun to go there.

Mike

Wa said...

I just dig a bit inside the archives and found 2 articles about the stove... I have my answer. And even more, because this blog is a real gold mine...

Anonymous said...

Hi - did you see teaparker on the BBC documentary "Around the world in 80 trades"

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/around-the-world-in-80-trades/video/series-1/episode-3/teatime-is-money

Is a short clip - he has a bit of a dig at Teaparker when he cant sell it in Japan though.

To be honest the guy is a complete idiot - he doesnt seem to know what he is doing. He doesnt even haggle on prices with any of the people he buys from - The only bargaining he does is when he drops his prices to sell things. When he got to Japan - he sold all the oolong he got from the plantation for 1/3 of what he paid - the shop owner in Japan was literally laughing at him.

I dont know what exactly was said between hm and Teaparker, because it was obviously edited for btoadcast, but he didnt sell the £750 vintage oolong from Teaparker in the end and wasnt too happy about it.

Let me know if you or Teaparker would like a copy of the program - I am sure I can get one for you.

Stephane said...

Thanks Wa. I'm glad you did the digging, because I completely forgot to answer you. My apologies.

Anonymous,
Thanks for your feedback about '80 trades around the world'. I'm very well aware of this documentary, because the TV producers first contacted me, through this blog, and I helped arrange the meeting with Teaparker. I even attended the shooting of the tasting between Teaparker and Connor (on July 7, 2008).
Teaparker did a good education job when talking to Connor, I think. But the camera was disturbing the conversation. Connor didn't get to focus on the tea and, in the end, I think his failure to sell was his lack of knowledge of the tea. If you can't convey how unique and good a tea is, then it's not possible to convince potential buyers. Especially if the tea is so special and rare that you can't spare to brew a sample of it to the potential buyer. Not being an expert in the field, but selling to experts while having a time pressure is a very big handicap.

I'd appreciate to get a copy of the episode. I can't view the clip you linked here in Taiwan, unfortunately. They seemed very happy about the shots they made in Lishan (they had asked me to come along, but I was too busy!)

Celina said...

I have known about this blogsite through a very special person to me

Just want to say: This blog is sharing some really rare knowledge. A valuable source to learn tea and its traditions,to link to for some tea studies/researches like I do.

Wa said...

No need to apologise, it is a pleasure to look at the archives...

By the way have you ever tried the Hamoana 山豬茶 (Wild Boar Tea) ? The maker of this tea is located in Ruili, Chiayi County, near Alishan. This tea is very surprising, an organic red tea made with oolong tea tree. Because it is bitten by insects and maybe also because of the processing, its taste reminds Oriental Beauty tea, very flowery but also... I would say with an animal flavour ! The maker is Tsou aborigine and they also have an amazing restaurant...
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/yapasion@kimo.com

Personnaly not a tea expert, I really appreciate drinking this wild boar tea. :-P

Stephane said...

Wa,
I don't know this red tea, but it seems somewhat similar to the Da Yeh Oolong red tea from the East Coast.