Friday, October 26, 2012

Wu Yi Shui Xian Oolong


Undaunted by the rain, we found a covered spot to brew tea in the hills of Wenshan. The cool and moist weather called for a roasted Oolong. Also, since this was going to be the last tea of that outdoors session, I wanted to make it really special.

So, I took some leaves from this Anping jar. This is where I keep my 2011 spring Shui Xian Yan Cha... The thick, glazed walls protect the tea particularly well. This protection from the rain and wind was necessary that day!

Adding some cold water in the silver kettle:
And heat to the water:
The Cha Xi is set up and waiting:

It feels like fall with this Chaxi. The water is boiling already. I make a last minute change: I replace the De Hua dragon cups with 2 old qinghua cups. This will give a more 'out of time' feel to this tea. As a consequence, I need to adapt my brewing method to the tea and teapot.

Ideally, you brew Shui Xian with lots of leaves in a very small teapot (and such a session can last for a very long time). But we didn't have that much time left, the teapot is rather big and I don't want to waste top quality leaves.

So, as I mentioned above, I only used very few leaves. I preheated the teapot and the cup, barely covered the bottom with Shui Xian and filled to teapot roughly 80% with boiling water. 
One characteristic of top grade leaves is that they can brew for a long time and the tea will still taste good. And when they are paired with a top grade zhuni teapot, the tea is really pushed to its limits, because this clay is particularly hot. Even for a light brew, the teapot is capable of expressing the personality of the tea.
So, I poured a first light brew in the cups while the leaves continue to brew with the rest of the leaves inside the teapot. And even with this first cup, the 'mineral', rock feel of this Yan Cha is obvious. It also feels very smooth and natural.

Each new brew becomes darker and more concentrated. But the clean, natural feeling of rocks only gets stronger. There are no bad tastes. On the contrary, the energy is getting more intense and soothing.
The rain continued, but it didn't matter.
A small cup had brought pure tea joy.
A joy worth sharing with a tea friend.

6 comments:

Steph said...

That sense of longing - sometimes called wabi - is at its peak in October, says my Japanese tea instructor. That comes through in your writing here.

Hobbie said...

do you put straight boiling water? not when the water starts to boil, I forgot what the tech word is fish eyes?

Stephane said...

Thanks for sharing this info, Steph.

Hobbie,
The technical word is crab eyes! Fish eyes would be too big already. This is the theory. Then, in practice, you trust your senses (sound of the water and the amount of steam) to determine the boiling degree of the water. You don't open the cover to check. And, with a good fire, the water rarely overboils. And if it does, you add some cold water to freshen it up.

Luke said...

I really like the idea to boil water with a stove with charcoal. Is it really safe to use it inside of a building too?

Stephane said...

Luke,
If you take some basic precautions, it's very safe:
- don't use it something easily flamable.
- keep some airflow in the room (an open window)
- never leave the fire unattended.

Luke said...

Stéphane,

thank you for explaining! I think that I'll try it. Not any time soon, but in the long run.