This Chaxi was one of the highlights of my summer vacation on Taiwan's Pacific coast. I brewed a high oxidized Oolong, the type of tea I typically choose for the morning. For this trip, I had my 2013 summer Oriental Beauty.
Since it's not possible to bring all my teas along, I usually restrict myself to 4 or 5: a high mountain Oolong or 2, a Hung Shui Oolong, a raw puerh and a high/full oxidized tea. As for the setup, I have downsized it to a gaiwan, 3 dragon cups, a mini display plate, a Chabu and 3 Chatuo (made of fabric). (A gas heater and stainless kettle are always in the trunk of my car). The lack of Jianshui (waste water bowl) is remedied by emptying the water on the ground directly (when outdoors).
The Chaxi seems even simpler than usual. It's a nice contrast with the lush surroundings. There's the Pacific Ocean on my left:
And mountains in front of me and on my right. The surroundings are one of the main source of change for the vacation Chaxi. That's why it's not a big problem if the setup itself doesn't change much.
Brewing the same Oriental Beauty every morning (during the vacation) may seem repetitive, but it's possible to vary the way you brew it. I usually brew few leaves with long steeps, but I also experienced using more leaves and shorter brews on this trip.
In the morning, outdoors, more leaves allow for stronger brews that can rival in strength with the power of the light, color, scents of this amazing location. The other advantage is that you make plenty of tea to drink at a moment when you are thirsty after a night's sleep.
A high leaf to water ratio requires faster action to empty the gaiwan. It's still a skill to do this without splashing much liquid on the Chabu!
If you have time for slow tea, fewer leaves are probably preferable because this way you can afford better ones! However, during this vacation, I have experienced a time when lots of leaves and a short brewing time is an excellent thing: in a restaurant that doesn't provide big teapots. When all you have is boiling water 15 meters away from your table (near the buffet area) then it's ideal. Within seconds your tea is ready to be poured! When food is the main focus, the tea should be as simple and fast as possible.
High quality teas have a greater tolerance for brewing variations. They'll taste good light or strong. The right degree of concentration will vary from person to person, the time of day, the season... This is what you need concentration for when brewing tea: finding when the tea is ready for your taste.
This traditional 2013 Oriental Beauty from Hsin Chu is not as tippy and lightly fragrant as competition grade OBs. Its scents are deeper, ripe fruity and perfume like, but not overwhelming. What I really like about it is its clean, sweet and rich mouthfeel. It even has some refreshing aftertaste when done right!
In the morning, it's powerful, warm and soft on the stomach. It warms me up with its golden brew!
My name is Stéphane Erler. I live in Taiwan since 1996 and have been studying tea with Teaparker. He's a worldwide tea expert and author of over 30 tea books. The study of tea isn't just theoretical, but it's also rooted in daily practice. It's a path of continuous improvement. As my brewing technique improves I get access to better teas and better accessories. These things go hand in hand. My blog documents my learning since 2004. And I have set up an online tea boutique with my selection of top quality teas, accessories and tea culture.