Wednesday, June 07, 2017

At the top of the world in NYC

Everybody who goes to New York can feel the energy in the city that never sleeps. It's a tough place where you may feel small next to the tall buildings. But it's also a place where people come to give their best to aim for a brief moment at the top.

That's what I did in New York last spring. And I did with my way, with tea!!

Yep, we were 5 for a very special tea afternoon in a penthouse close the the Metropolitan Museum. The view from this apartment gives you the feeling that you've made it, that you're at the top.

That's why I wanted to brew some of my best teas in order to experience this quintessential NYC feeling with tea.
Ryan practices brewing with a thin gaiwan and full attention
My biggest concern was my tea line up. Usually, we start from light and go to the heaviest, from the youngest to oldest, from the good to the best. So, it was a pretty bold move to start with my 1989 8582 puerh! But NYC is bold and there's no time to hold back!
I was able to top this first puerh with my 1960s loose raw puerh! It felt even finer and still full of incredible energy! Everybody was even more amazed.
But how do you top aged puerh? With genuine teas that are so rare and expensive that I can't sell them on my site: Yan cha! First a BaiJiGuan and then a ShuiXian. My New York friends said that these WuYi teas tasted like no other Yan Cha they've had before. The roasting was not overwhelming, but just right to underline and magnify the mineral flowery scents of the teas. This was such a new, long lasting experience that it provided a new top to the afternoon.
Then, someone wanted to taste this spring's top Shan Lin Xi Oolong. I had not planned this and was a little bit afraid that it would not hold its own compared to Yan Cha, but it did. This was a great evidence that Taiwan's high mountain Oolongs deliver a lot of value and are still reasonably priced.

1989 spring Hung Shui Oolong from Dong Ding
Then came the time to wrap our busy tea tasting afternoon with one last tea. Would I be able to top all the other teas with something even more special?

I chose to brew a 1989 Hung Shui Dong Ding Oolong (similar in quality to this one). This tea allows me to go back to the same year we started this event, 1989 with the 8582 puerh. It marked the end of the cold war. It was also the start of my student life that led me from France to the USA, to Israel and finally Taiwan. (And what I like is that our group reflected these international horizons!)

On the picture above you can see some of the 1989 Dong Ding leaves, those that I didn't put in the teapot. You can see that the dry leaves are not tightly rolled anymore. This unfurling is a sign of aging.
Well, this tea simply blew us away with its complex aged fragrances and, at the same time, its extreme purity, thickness in taste, sweetness, viscosity, energy and aftertaste. The brew is transparent and shining its golden brown colors. What a great tea!
It is like a monumental old tall building in the New York skyline. It has simple lines, strong character and aims for the top. This was a fabulous ending for one of my most luxurious and extravagant tea tasting, ever. It's easy to write about it, even over a month after it happened, because the exceptional teas created a lasting memory. I really felt at the top of the world in NYC!
These teas have helped us better understand the common characteristics of exceptional teas: purity of aromas, energy, lively aftertaste that unfolds like a story. Indeed, the real teacher at this event was the tea. I was just guy carefully pouring the water on the leaves!

And a big "thank you" to Marian for hosting us in her wonderful apartment!

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