Thursday, June 18, 2015

A first class feeling

Traveling to another continent is great. But the 12 hours (or more) journey in a plane to get there is modern torture. There's lost time, crowds, police, a lack of legroom and bathroom access, bad food, noisy engines... Taking the plane is stressful and I completely understand that affluent fliers would agree pay more to get pampered with better service on board. My  financial resources are too limited for a business or a first class seat, but I've managed to find a couple of tricks to make the trips much more sufferable.

The first is to use a noise-cancelling headphone! It's such a comfort not to hear the loud roar of the plane. And when you use it to watch a movie, the sounds are as clear as if you were watching it at home! Also, the silence creates a distance between you and the other passengers. The flight feels less crammed already.

The second way to make a flight more pleasant for a tea drinker is to enjoy very good tea during the journey!

It's forbidden to bring drinks through security in the airport. So, I bring my thermos and dry tea leaves in my carry-on luggage. This allows me to start brewing tea in the departure hall. In Taiwan, you'll find hot water fountains easily. Otherwise, you may have to ask for hot water from a restaurant or coffee house. (In the US, they sometimes charge 1 USD for hot water). It's also possible to refill once you're in the plane.

What would be the best tea to brew in a thermos? I recommend you make some tests at home first. Find a tea that won't taste bad when it's overbrewed. One trick is not to use too many leaves. The second trick is to use a tea of excellent quality. This is a perfect fit for old sheng puerh.

This April, on my way to NYC (and back!), I brewed some of my 1989 Menghai Factory 8582. The moment I had my first sip, I felt I had been upgraded beyond first class! In first class, you may get Champagne and fine wine, but there's no way you could get such tea! This pure and powerful puerh felt even better in these unpleasant circumstances. It brought back a sense of luxury and good taste in a situation so utterly lacking these characteristics.

And since I had flaked a generous amount of this tea, I had the pleasure of sharing this tea with the most passionate tea students of the Tea Institute at Penn State. Here we were brewing this 26 years old puerh in a zhuni teapot after midnight, in silence, while listening to 'Planctus by Capella de Ministrers'.
The sound of sacred music and the taste of this puerh created a moment of perfect harmony of shared joy between us. We brewed the tea one after another and we were amazed by its power, refinement and endurance. We witnessed the interaction between brewer and tea: each brew felt different depending on how it was brewed. Addie's was particularly good! The perfect ending to this 4 days event.
For my next trip to Europe in a week, I plan on using my latest puerh selection, the 1995 sheng Yiwu brick. Its natural sweetness is a good fit for plane brewing and it's much more affordable than the 8582!
Reminder: Order now, before June 24, or you'll have to wait until end of July to have your package shipped!

1 comment:

Steph said...

Great travel advice!