Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Welcoming the Penn State Tea Institute in Taiwan

For this meeting with tea literati, university students dedicated to the study and research of tea, I returned to one of my favorite spots in the mountains of Tucheng. This setting recalls ancient Chinese paintings of scholars among majestic landscapes!

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit the Tea Institute at Penn State. So, as a member of the Tea Institute's outside advisory board, it's my responsibility to guide and motivate these students. The experience of a complete, classic Cha Xi outdoors sets a high standard for their tea enjoyment. At the same time, this provides a great reward for the work and research effort they have dedicated to tea.

Pat & 

 Jason 

Happy to be in Taiwan on such a sunny day!

These 2 lucky students just arrived from Korea and Pat will continue with his tea trip to Japan at the end of the month!

This Cha Xi is completely traditional thanks in great part to the charcoal fire in the white Nilu heating the spring water in my silver kettle! This traditional method of boiling water is slower than a gas stove, so it was the first element we set up. What makes a good Nilu is that the fire burns well without much monitoring. The air flow created by the hole in the Nilu should make the fire sustain itself easily. All I had to do was adding charcoal from time to time.

The silver kettle also added its distinctive pure and bright characteristic to the fresh spring water we had just collected nearby. 

Protected from the sun by trees around us, we could see a bamboo forest between the branches from where we were!

I started with my summer 2011 Shan Lin Shi Luanze Oolong, brewed in a Yixing zhuni teapot from the 1980s. While it was obvious that this Oolong produced fruity tastes, nobody guessed it was actually a summer Oolong (instead of spring or winter). Our ideal brewing conditions had produced such a nice cup of tea!

To help my guests better understand the taste of spring vs summer, I continued with 2 spring 2012 High Mountain oolongs. First, the 1600 meters Ali Shan Luanze Oolong. The fresh cooling sensation is much more present in the mouth and the whole body. It's exactly what we need on this hot day.

Secondly, I brew my latest Da Yu Ling qingxin Oolong (harvested on May 10, 2012) at 2300 meters elevation:
Both spring Oolongs are very similar indeed, especially when tasted outdoors where it's more difficult to focus on detailed fragrances. The Da Yu Ling felt a little bit more powerful, but also more refined.
The last brew of this Da Yu Ling lasted over 30 minutes on this rock (while we drank another Oolong). The taste was still very bright and clear. No bitterness or astringency! High Mountain excellence!
A Cha Xi to remember. The other accessories we used for these 3 Oolongs:
- Celadon ever by David Louveau,
- Ancient glazed greanade as tea jar with a tea cup by Petr Novak as lid,
- qingbai singing cups on pewter Cha Tuo
- Jianyang black glazed tea bowl for the waste water.
- Small Qing dynasty qinghua plate for the dry leaves,
- Celadon plate by David Louveau for the zhuni teapot
- Ancient bamboo/wood basket to transport the equipment. The cover of the basket was also used as a tray for the cups.
The memory of this day shines brightly.

7 comments:

Trevor said...

Wow, what a way to enjoy tea. It's always my intent each year to at least go out to a location like this to enjoy some tea. Beautiful scenery and the tea looks lovely.

Mr.R said...

Beautiful pictures! Looks like some of these rare, peaceful moments in life that couldn't be anymore perfect. Very much enjoyed this blog.

Steph said...

I love these outdoor tea tastings!

charlotte billabongk said...

Drinking tea outdoor is always a real pleasure. Everything looks very harmonious, I agree with Mr.R, really beautiful pictures! And it seems you have the perfect weather, which is not the case everywhere. Sunshine in the cups makes tea look so bright. I'm very much enjoying this blog too.

charlotte billabongk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephane said...

Thanks for your comments. Summer is coming. It's time to brew outdoors!

Jason M. Cohen said...

Dear Stephane,

Thanks for the Link!

Your tea is always top,
and we are looking forward to a few more ChaXi's with you!

Thank You!

- Jason