Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The calm energy of aged Oolongs

10 years ago, Chris ordered a bunch of my old Oolongs to taste with his tea friends in Sweden. Interest for Taiwanese Oolongs was rare in those days and interest in aged Oolongs was even rarer in the West. However, Chris practices Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and had already recognized the virtues of aged Oolong on the body.
So, Chris' first trip to Taiwan was a great opportunity to meet and brew a few aged Hung Shui Oolongs. We started to smell various Oolongs with varying degrees of roast and age in order to choose those that appealed most to him. We started with this winter 2013 Hung Shui Oolong from Dong Ding. It hasn't changed much in terms of scents, but feels smoother and lighter than 2 years ago. It provides a good idea of what a standard Hung Shui Oolong tastes like before it starts to age.
Then, we tasted this 1999 spring Hung Shui Oolong from Dong Ding. This time, there are scents like wood, incense that appear. These tertiary fragrances need the slow work of time. The leaves's color is darker, a sign of postoxidation. But the leaves remain flexible and open up well. As Chris observed, they become green again with time. It's as if they became young and fresh again after several brews. And their chaqi is gentle, warming, but still powerful.
Spring 1999 vs. winter 2013 Hung Shui Oolong
I brewed with very few leaves and with long brewing times. The leaves you can see above are all I used for each Chaxi. This isn't necessarily the best way to enjoy them, but a good way to judge their quality. The brewing span of Hung Shui Oolong is very large. Some like it very concentrated and others (those who are more used to fresh Oolongs or greens) often prefer it on the lighter side. From Chris' expression, I think he was pretty satisfied with the tea!
The closed eyes are an accident that makes this picture perfect! Because it catches the state of near meditation that delicious tea with long aftertaste can throw you into. This is why I think that the main health benefits of such a Chaxi aren't for the body, but for the mind and the soul. And what's good for the soul will ultimately also be good for the body.
At Fuhu temple on mount Emei, Sichuan Province
Amen to that and Amituofo to Chris and you all!

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