Friday, June 05, 2015

Gathering for tea in NYC's Bryant Park

The sunny weather forecast convinced me to organize my NYC tea meeting outdoors. The Bryant Park would be a great place to have tea and connect with nature in this big city. And my Chabu, a Japanese obi, is such a good fit with the tulips! The light is fantastic and it feels so much more free and unbound than indoors.
The key to a successful Chaxi is preparation, so I come early and found a nice bench, long before lunch break, when the park gets crowded. I make a simple setup and decorate the Chabu with 3 x 3 postcards (which I will give away to the participants after the meeting is over).
It's not possible to make fire in the park, unfortunately. And since I don't have all my equipment with me, I decide to brew the only way that was practical here: with my thermos. This is far from ideal and I understand that it lacks the magic of witnessing the brewing process. So, I rely less on the process than on the tea in the thermos. Since the leaves remain inside, the trick is to choose them wisely for their endurance and their lack of defects when they get overbrewed (here, I use my 2006 wild Lincang puerh). And the second trick is not to use too many leaves, so that it won't get too strong.
I also brought water to share with everybody, so that we would first get our throats wet and clean before tasting the tea. The idea is to drink water (for thirst) and then taste tea (for its flavors).
Another little 'trick' I have when inviting people to have tea outdoors (when I'm not in Taiwan  and don't have access to all my wares) is to ask everybody to bring his own cup! It's one of the most overlooked piece of tea ware. While all eyes are on the teapot and the kettle, few pay much attention to the cup... But a cup has on tea the same effect than a glass on wine. Shape, material, color, thickness... all will impact the flavors of the tea.
From the cup, you can tell how much a tea drinker pays attention to details. And details are very important in tea! This also leads to this interesting experiment: I pour my puerh in each cup and we can all see how color and transparency were different in each cup.
We also smell that the tea felt stronger or sweeter in certain cups and lighter in others. In theory, cracked glaze would rather be smell absorbent, but if the cup has been used a lot and has absorbed a lot of flavors, then it could actually smell stronger. This probably explains why R's cup was so fragrant! (But then it's best to always use it for the same type of tea, like a clay teapot).
We talked about architecture, facial recognition, cups, Chinese translations while enjoying the long-lasting aftertaste of my puerh. It was a real pleasure meeting my NYC tea friends on such a short notice! Thank you so much for coming!
And 2 big thanks to 2 fellow tea bloggers:
1. Sara from Tea Happiness. It's a wonderful name for a blog! Actually, if you wonder what the calligraphy on my site means, one possible translation is "Tea Happiness"!
2. Nicole Martin from Tea for Me Please. I'm glad it was her day off from work and that she already wrote her own account of this Chaxi on her blog here.
PS: I took this fun picture before the start of the meeting:
See how this fly was fooled by the bright color of the postcard! It looks so real! (Did you know that you get a free tea postcard if you place an order on my online tea boutique! By the way, I have recently changed the 25 gr sample you get for free with any tea order of more than 60 USD: now it's this Sijichun Oolong from Zhushan. And if you purchase for more than 200 USD, then I'll upgrade the sample with 25 gr of this Oriental Beauty!)

In 3 weeks, I will be on my way to Europe, so the best is to place your spring order before June 24th!


Nicole Martin said...

Thank you so much for putting this event together. I've worked in NYC for years but I've never had tea in Bryant Park. We had beautiful weather and the tea you shared was very good, surprisingly so considering how long it was brewed. Your insights about tea cups are something that I discuss often with fellow tea lovers. The analogy that you used with building facades is perfect for city dwellers to relate to.

Stephane said...

I hope I can inspire more people to experience tea outdoors! Especially now that summer is coming...
I'm glad and honored that my insights continue to have such a long effect on you! Thanks again for coming and congratulations for your well deserved recent award at the World Tea Expo!