Wednesday, June 20, 2012

3 Cha Xi, 2 pillars

Saturday, I had 3 teas to celebrate 8 years of tea blogging!

For each, I designed a set-up, a Cha Xi, that would fit with the mood and taste of the leaves. Through these 3 examples, I would like to emphasize the 2 pillars of any successful Cha Xi: content and form.

- Pillar No 1: Content.

The core content of your Cha Xi is the tea. To have a content of quality, you need quality tea. If you are going to make the effort a creating a beautiful and meaningful Cha Xi, do it with a great tea that fills you with joy when you drink it. Such tea will probably taste even better than usual if you take your time to brew it slowly in a beautiful environment. (Teabags, low grade leaves have much more limited room for improvement).

- Pillar No 2 : Form.

Once you have selected the high quality tea you want to prepare, you will face the question of how to brew, with which accessories...Form and content should go hand in hand. In other set up's design should follow, underline or even magnify your tea. High quality tea calls for high quality accessories that further improve the tea drinking experience.

You have a lot of freedom to brew like you want, of course. Everybody has different tastes and accessories. But what should guide you through all the possible choices is the focus on the content: what is most suitable to express this tea's potential.

I have combined the theory and practice on the first 2 Cha Xi. There, I have displayed 2 big qinghua tea jars. Standing far apart, these tall jars look like 2 pillarsI Each contains roasted Oolongs that I'm storing (or aging if they last long enough) in a suitable and beautiful container. (These jars have the content - tea - and the form - a fitting material, nice shape and decoration! -)

For my first Cha Xi I'm having my 1990 San Hsia Hung Shui Oolong. The mood for this old tea is very classic. An Yixing Di Cao Qing teapot, old qinghua cups on pewter cha tuo, 2 qinghua plates and a black Jianyang bowl. My decoration is also classic with 2 bonsai on celadon plates. The (new) Cha Bu has a complex green color (like a jeans that has been washed over and over). These green elements among the darker background symbolize a kind of eternal spring (especially the pine tree bonsai).
This tea that starts with dark and malty notes, but finishes like a spring Jiangsu Bi Luo Chun. It's old but tastes so young. Amazing!

I kept the 2 jars, the black background, the tetsubin, a small plate and the Nilu from the previous Cha Xi. This allowed me to make the switch to this other tea faster.

As you have probably guessed it already from the dark orange brew, I made a hung cha (red tea). My Cha Bu matches the tea's color and brightness. The plants are more flowery and bright as well. This new, not yet reviewed, red tea is made of high mountain tea buds. That's why I'm using my silver teapot (instead of porcelain): to bring out the fragrance and energy out of those leaves. Ivory dragon cups underline the red color. And the green plates on the long bamboo mat (from Zhu Shan) provide a nice, refreshing contrast with the cups.

This red tea has been made with luanze (qingxin Oolong) cultivar small leaves, hand harvested at an elevation of 1700 meters in... Yunnan! It reminds me the 2007 Oriental Beauty I called 'perfect'. However, here the high noted, crystal clear fragrance lasts many more brews! Mesmerizing!

The sun, a good lighting effect can also highlight a tea. Here, on my summer setup, I'm brewing my 2011 spring Qi Lai shan (2200 meters) Oolong. The light brown background and bamboo mat look like sand on a beach. The celadon plates and cups look like lagoons, while the ivory cups shine like suns. The freshness of the high mountains is like a quick dip in the ocean!  I think I could even catch a fish if I wanted!


Charlotte Billabongk said...

Lovely. You are absolutely right about making refined set ups for high quality teas. The 3 Cha Xi are very harmonious, and each one gives a different feeling. Investing ourselves in preparing tea is really worth it.

Philippe de Bordeaux filipek said...

Quelles dégustations!
Diversité des Thés des ustensiles des Cha Xi de la lumière...on en prend plein les yeux.Sans aveugler.C'est fort!J'en profite pour souhaiter à notre plus fidèle représentant français à Taiwan prospérité au site Tea Masters 8 ans! et continuer à nous faire rêver et sublimer le Thé Oolong Taïwanais entre autres.Remarquables partages.
Je n'imagine même pas l'Oriental Beauty 'Perfect' en Théière Silver Argent.Finesse lisse pur.On doit se taire et ne rien dire...face à la Beauté Orientale
Merci Stéphane.
à bientôt.

TeaMasters said...

Thank you Charlotte. I agree it's an investment and one where there's always a nice 'payback'. The pleasure is at least 4 fold when you combine view and heart to smell and taste. It's a pleasure for the eyes and the 'soul', too. And by being more attentive and peaceful, the taste is also likely to improve!

Merci Philippe. Je suis heureux que ces Cha Xi te plaisent.