Thursday, May 20, 2010
20 years old Hung Shui Oolong
I like to translate Cha Xi with tea play. 'Xi' has is the same as a theatrical performance and it's something we do to enjoy. We play and we tell a story. The plot is the tea: each brew tells us something. Fragrances can disappear as quickly as the sound of a word, but the tastes can linger on as the deeper meaning of the story.
The main actor is the teapot. It's always center stage. Kettle, tea cups, jar, display plates come next. They all interact with the teapot to produce our story. Then, there are supporting roles: the Cha Tuo (that supports the cup) and the Cha Chuan (that supports the teapot) ; the Nilu supports the tetsubin here, but its part could be considerably enhanced if we used it to heat the tetsubin. And we have a stage that is designed in the same spirit as the tea we choose to make.
The 'acting technique' is called gongfu cha!
Today, my tea is the 1990 Hung Shui Oolong from San Hsia. This spring, this tea is now 20 years old. Happy birthday!
The dry leaves are quite relaxed about their age. They have unfurled a little bit with time. Their color is darker, but not black. Their smell is intoxicating, ripe fruit with a fine Cognac touch.
The main actor is a small Chao zhou teapot. Its deep red color stands out from the rest of the accessories. It's the star! The teaboat comes from David Louveau's latest set. With this tea and teapot, I decide to perform this gongfu cha in the Chaoshan style.
The tea smells of raspberry, old wood. The taste is sweet and clean. There is also a dry rock taste that nicely lingers. As the brews progress, it lightens up and it feels like alive and fresh again. And it's amazing how long it can brew without ever turning bitter or astringent. And yet, it is sensitive to the brewing and it will become calmer if the water is poured slowly and steadily (after the second brew).
I'm using simple but old white tea cups. Each is different and none is perfect. But they have character, like this tea.
For my background, I used a fabric with a dragon (long) pattern. This chinese tea is indeed powerful and mythical. It combines the dark colors of age and roasting with the white freshness that I can still feel in this tea.
When a Hung Shui Oolong is young, the fire enters the leaves to give strength and power. With time the tea keeps on evolving and improving. This makes these Oolongs particularly fascinating. They are an inspiration and a source of considerable peace and happiness.