Thursday, December 11, 2014

Feeling home at Christmas time

2013 Oriental Beauty - Tradition
Indoor temperatures are going down in Taiwan, since few people use a heaters. This increases my craving for high oxidized, warming teas. If I were living in a warmly heated apartment in Europe or the USA, I think I would still feel like drinking an unroasted High Mountain Oolong.

Using heating in winter or A/C in summer is a way to protect us from extreme temperatures, but it also disconnects us a from nature's change of seasons. This broadens the scope of teas we can feel like drinking, but it also takes away the power of tea to provide us with a natural way to warm up in winter or cool down in summer.
So, today, I'm particularly happy to have a grey, cold weather that feels so wintery. On a subtropical forest where it never snows at low altitude, it's nice to feel that Christmas is coming. That's why I composed this Christmas Chaxi with decorations from the various places where my family comes from: Alsace, Palatinate (die Pfalz), the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge). These regions share the same Germanic culture of Christmas which is now popular worldwide.

For instance, the modern depiction of Santa Claus with a white beard in red and white can be traced to Thomas Nast. This American cartoonist was born and raised in Landau (Palatinate, Germany) where he found his inspiration from the "Pelznickel"! So, thanks to this export of Central European culture, the Christmas celebration is also a celebration of my Germanic roots and, fittingly, a time when I think of my family back there.
And what better way than a Chaxi to combine the joy of my Germanic Christmas with the pleasure of a warming Oriental Beauty! On the left, the printed Santa Claus come from Alsace. On the right, the Christmas tree quilt is a creation of my mother.
In the middle, I also have a stitching of candles from my aunt Erna in Landau. And on it, there's a wooden smoking wise King ('Räucherman') from the Ore Mountains. The sweet and lingering taste of the tea adds depth and a very pleasant feeling to the experience of being surrounded by all this familiar Christmas decoration.
Preparing and enjoying a tea that's such a good fit for the weather and the decoration gives pleasure on many levels. It starts with the enjoyment of pure flavors and the long aftertaste. But if the tea would disappoint, it's much more difficult to enjoy the rest. The sweetness on the tongue reminded me of Christmas cookies. (I have to start baking some soon!) The warmth and color of the brew also connected to memories of the Christmas log on fire in the fireplace. Tea scents are powerful to make connections in the memory portion of our brain!
It feels peaceful and pleasant to be drinking this tea here and now. The circle of life feels fulfilled as I am able to combine my own culture of Christmas with the gongfu Cha tea culture I have learned in Taiwan. And naturally, I'm listening to some traditional Christmas music at the same time in order to have a total multi-sensory experience.
This is another example of how I'm personalizing my tea experience to make it more meaningful. I wish you a wonderful Christmas season!

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