I experienced this first hand. When I arrived in Taiwan, 17 years ago, I soon found myself making Oolong tea. But I kept feeling disappointed by the result. Expensive high mountain Oolongs didn't taste much better than low elevation teas. They all tasted bitter and kind of bland. It's only after taking some classes with Teaparker that I started to get a real understanding about Chinese tea. My technique improved and the teas started to taste better and, very important, each one started to have its distinctive character and taste. This sparked my interest and led to this blog 10 years and 6 days ago!
蝙蝠,Biānfú, is a symbol for happiness, because the second character has the same pronunciation as happiness in Chinese. The wings are open and it flies upside down in a very lively way. That's because the character for 'upside-down' has the same pronunciation as dào, 到 meaning 'to have arrived'. So, this picture means that 'happiness has arrived'!
The shape of the wings is very similar to real bats. But we can see lots of curved patterns at the end of the wings. They look like symbols of clouds. Close to the body, these curved lines take the shape of 2 ruyi (scepters). 如意, Rúyì, means 'as you wish'. It's a symbol of good wishes and prosperity.
Like with tea, we need to learn the many details in order to appreciate all aspects of this beverage.
We move now to a traditional tea house nearby and start our study of Hungshui Oolongs. In order to gain a very precise understanding of this category, I have chosen 3 roasted Oolongs from the same location, Yong Lung in the famous Dong Ding area.
2013 winter strong roast. First, I show them how to brew this Oolong and later I let them practice by themselves. We're using a gaiwan for more accurate results. The color of this brew is very clear and bright golden/orange. The taste is characterized by a typical 'Dong Ding' sour note with fresh tannins that carries, prolongs the taste of this tea and ends in sweetness and salivation. The aftertaste includes a deep green freshness and taste of raw fruits.
2003 spring Hung Shui Oolong from Yong Lung (Dong Ding) as well. This is a great way to observe first hand the impact of 10 years of aging on a roasted Oolong. This comparison is very helpful to differentiate old and new and to understand how Hungshui Oolong evolves with time.
The dry leaves are not as tightly rolled anymore. They open up slowly.
2001 spring Concubine Oolong.The leaves are more oxidized and they have been bitten by the same tea jassids as Oriental Beauty.
But for this last tea, I use an Yixing dicaoqing teapot. After the serious gaiwan study, let's enjoy also the harmony and refinement of Yixing ware! This is a rare and special tea that deserves being brewed to the best of its possibilities.
Thanks for your Taiwan visit!