A reader in Singapore asks me for advice on boiling water outdoors. First, especially if you live in this 'fine' city, make sure that it's not forbidden! In this respect, it's probably easier to get permission if you use a camping gas stove than if you plan on making a real fire.
As for the equipment to use, in an ideal situation, I would bring a Nilu and a tetsubin. I sometimes do so on short trips fully dedicated to tea tasting. However, this equipment is heavy and Nilus are made of fragile pottery. So, for practical reasons, I keep a gas stove and stainless in the trunk of my car. I'm always ready to take it out wherever I drive. For aesthetic reasons, I place the kettle and stove as far as the reach of my right hand away from my setup. My eyes don't see it and can focus on the beauty of the Cha Xi.
With a stainless kettle, you have to be careful not to over boil the water. It's best to use small to medium strength fire for a controlled boil. But beaches can be quite windy. Thus, place or protect the stove so that the wind won't blow out the flames.
Beaches are ... full of sand, says captain Obvious. I recommend to use a flexible bamboo mat or a Cha Bu to keep sand at a distance from your tea cup. (Sand can scratch the glazing of porcelain and add a salty taste in the cup). This will make the Cha Xi look quite neat.
Or, you could also take the opposite approach and build a sand castle for your Cha Xi! You might just unleash your creativity and connect to your childhood again!! (Note to self: let's try to remember this idea next time.) Just don't use your finest tea accessories then. Tea brewing should remain fun and relaxed. You don't want to be stressing about your equipment while making tea.
As for which tea to brew, I don't have very specific recommendations. But I do recommend that you choose high quality leaves from your collection: a special tea for a special occasion. And, outdoors, I also recommend to use more leaves or brew your tea stronger. In such an open environment it's more difficult to focus on details. It's more about the energizing effect of tea in the whole body.
In winter, medium roasted Oolongs and raw wild puerh were the best match for me. Had the weather been warmer (in summer), I would have enjoyed the high mountain Oolong better or would have craved for some green tea. These teas have more cooling properties.
What other advice do you have for brewing tea on the beach?
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