Monday, March 12, 2018

The soprano

Several days of blue skies and temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius have uplifted my mood! Spring is coming early this year, it seems. Since the spring harvests are still a few weeks away, I decide to brew a 2017 spring tea that is full of energy, because its leaves have grown on wild puerh trees that have been harvested for the first time last year!

The dry leaves have a wonderful sweet bubble gum scent, not the artificial flavors, but the flavor you get at the end of your chewing! There are many other scents in these leaves. The most difficult is to find the right words to identify them. It's like creative thinking: don't repeat what everyone is saying, but let your mind flow freely without fear of ridicule. There are no wrong answers. Our words are necessarily inadequate and limited to describe the millions of scents that our nose can identify!
I'm brewing this tea with water that is near boiling temperature. Why such a high temperature? The answer is simple with this tea: because that's how I'm getting the most good flavors and an absolutely amazing aftertaste. Not all teas can stand the heat, but this one can and just loves it! Of course, you still need to control your brewing time in accordance with the amount of leaves you're brewing. If you use lots of leaves, your brew quickly risks becoming too concentrated. With fewer leaves, it's easier to control the time to pour the tea, I feel.
Last week, I tried to explain to the organizer of a tea competition that it makes little sense to use 90 degrees Celsius to brew Oolongs. It's like asking to recite the alphabet on a university exam. Everybody knows the ABC! That's not how you'll let the best students stand out. This puerh would loose a lot of its long lasting aftertaste if it were under-brewed. That's why the Dong Ding Oolong competition standard is 3 grams, 150 ml and a 6 minutes brew of boiling water. Most teas won't taste good brewed this way (and should be brewed differently), but those that still taste good are pretty exceptional.
I disgress. Let's come back to my spring 2017 puerh. What I particular like about it -and what might puzzle many puerh drinkers- is how pure it tastes and how long it lingers. If we compare it to music, this would be a song sung by a powerful soprano, whereas many puerhs are blends that feel more like a choral with male and female singers. The notes of this puerh are high and stand alone beautifully.
I'm celebrating this tea with a blue sashiko Chabu (a gift from my gifted mom), a qinghua porcelain bowl, plate and jar, and celadon cups with stand made by David Louveau a few years ago. They are inspired by the shape of Yuan dynasty cups and look like a big flower.
 Spring is coming...

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