Friday, August 21, 2009

Going back to Taiwan


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.

12 comments:

Montreal foodie said...

Beatiful photos =)
What are the coasters? They look like origami, but I don't imagine they would hold a cup very well.

Stephane said...

Hello Montreal Foodie!
Thanks. These coasters are Bei Dian made by quilting. It's cut and sewed fabric with some reinforcement, so that it's quite stable. It's just a little tricky on grass. However, these hexagons are called 'flowers' and a great fit here in the grass!

Celina said...

Maybe this is a good time to ask this question, when you´ve just been to France ( wine drinking country). Sweden is too.
I sometimes find it hard in my teahouse to convince a wine ( or even coffee) drinker customer that any tea tastes good or anything at all.
My question:
Do you meet this kind of situation with french?
What would you advice to answer when they start saying: " This doesn´t taste anything at all. I´d rather stick to wine and whisky only"
Thanks for the answer, Stephane. It has been very helpful to read all your posts from France too.

Penny Westhorp said...

Enjoying this blog immensely. This may be off track but I would appreciate help: About 5 years ago in Broome Australia I saw what I think was a Yixing teapot: small, square, red clay colour, fine texture, unglazed, with a unique completely pierced lattice design, so that the tea would sit within the hollow borders of the lattice and you could see right through the pot. I fell in love with it but couldn't afford it at the time. Now I would love to find one similar. Do you or any of your readers know where to find such a pot?
Many thanks, Penny

K. said...

Bonjour stephane, merci de nous faire partager tes impressions sur ce petit voyage.
Quand tu dis que l'eau a un enorme impact sur le thé, je suis bien sur entierement d'accord. Je n'ai jamais ete a taiwan ou en chine mais apparement tu déplore la qualité de l'eau ici en france(en tout cas son adéquation avec le thé). Tu n'as vraiment rien trouvé d'interessant dans ce que tu as gouté? Sur quoi portent les grandes differences avec l'eau dont tu as l'habitude?
N'est ce pas, justement, une question d'habitude?

K.

Jason Witt said...

Yes, it's true that air is going to be the biggest threat to the freshness of your tea, as long as you keep a good-quality water for it. That's why buying more smaller packages of tea is a good idea. Then there won't be as much tea that's been open but sits unused for a while. --Spirituality of Tea

Marilyn Miller said...

I also noticed the coasters, very nice. I thought you might still be in Paris for awhile. Too bad, I will be there in one month. Next year I may travel to Taiwan.

Tiji said...

actually, too bad you do not sell napkins, certainly alot of people would be willing to have them.

Stephane said...

Celina,
Different people have different tastes. I drank tea (Baozhong) with a friend and his sister. He didn't feel much, but his sister felt elated, completely amazed by the pure and light fragrances and the lingering sweet aftertaste.

Wine is speaking to our taste buds at a stronger volume than tea. It's a much more intense experience. Most modern foods are also very intense. Going back to tea is like listening to a whisper after a rock concert. Difficult to adjust. So, that's why I recommend using a tea with stronger fragrances. Oriental Beauty seems easier to experience than many greens or mountain Oolongs. This is very true for women. For guys, maybe you can try a strong raw puerh. They may not all like it, but it won't leave them indifferent!
Good luck!

Penny,
I hope one my readers will be able to help. Good luck to you too!

K,
Lors du Cha Xi, on a pris de la Rosée de la reine de Volvic. C'était bien. Les eaux en France manquent de moelleux, en général. Certaines sont carrément dures et calcaires. A ce niveau, ce n'est plus une question d'habitude. C'est incompatible.
Bonne chance pour trouver de la bonne eau!

Jason,
Smaller packages are a way to go for top teas. But it is not perfect. Freshness is better preserved in a 300gr pack than in a 25 gr pack. Also, if the tea isn't so expensive, small packaging tend to cost more due to handling than due to the cost of tea. A balance needs to be found.
Thanks for dropping by and good luck to your book!

Marilyn,
Thanks and enjoy Paris!

green tea said...

I fell in love with it but couldn't afford it at the time, can you recommend me something cheaper?

Karen Rudy said...

You have a really impressive blog! I've referenced you in my blog "The Tea Exchange." If you'd like to check it out: teaexchange.blogspot.com/

Framboise said...

Hi Stéphane,
I'm very impressed by your blog and your posts.
I've just found it and I can tell you I will come back regularly for a visit.

Meanwhile, I just wanted to say hello from Rotterdam, Netherlands and to send you my best wishes for a bright (tea) future.