These 5 weeks in Europe were a joy. Good weather, delicious food, meeting new and old friends. People were very open to discovering Chinese tea. Some more than other, of course.
Water quality remains the problem number 1 to enjoy the finer teas. It's more important than knowldege and good leaves, because bad water would ruin even the best leaves brewed by an expert.
Brewing tea in the garden, on the grass, was so simple and natural. I loved it. The various plants provided the nicest background for my Cha Xi. Tea accessories fit perfectly here, because their creators used nature as the main source for their inspiration. Tea is my liquid connection to nature. The fresh breeze of air in the shade adds its own energy to each cup!
I drank a lot of Spring 2008 subtropical forest Baozhong during these past 5 weeks. The tea from this freshly opened pack tasted fresher than a sample of a spring 2009 Baozhong that I have frequently opened and closed. Storage conditions can therefore have a dramatic impact on the freshness of tea. Air vacuum packaging helps to extend the freshness of tea significantly.
Advice: try to minimize the amount of air in your fresh tea package, each time you close it (by carefully folding your package). Also, try not to open all your fresh teas at once, because the fastest aging happens when tea gets in contact with air.
The other (main) teas I drank in Europe were my red teas from 2008 in the morning, winter 2008 Shan Lin Shi Oolong and Jinxuan Oolong for freshness, 2009 Ali Shan Hung Shui Oolong for depth and complexity and 2009 top Oriental Beauty to enchant my new tea companions.