Wednesday, March 13, 2019

California zen

 Meet Cami, my latest tea student. Rarely have I seen someone so kind, so sensitive, so enthusiast and grateful. She will bring peace and joy to any tea event she will attend or organize, so welcome her with open arms if she knocks on the door of your tea room or tea house! Usually I teach tea at a table, but through the e-mails we exchanged, I felt that she'd enjoy more to practice the tea the way I do it usually, sitting on the ground. And indeed, Cami's posture is so good that I should learn from her!!
We started with this spring 2017 Da Yu Ling and I showed her how to brew it well in a porcelain gaiwan, the ideal tool for a beginner. I explained the connection between the tea and the color of the cups. I also explained that the main purpose of a Chaxi is to produce a great cup of tea with style and harmony.
Our second tea is this winter 2017 Hung Shui Oolong from Dong Ding. Like with the Da Yu Ling, I'm brewing the most typical tea of this other major Taiwanese tea category. But this time, I'm brewing it in an Yixing teapot, Chaozhou style. Cami is very interested by the step by step process of a tea brewing. Showing her how tea is brewed in a traditional gongfucha way, she could see that it's quite different from using a gaiwan.
Cami performed the second and third brews. Naturally, she made several mistakes when she poured the tea for the first time with this teapot. The good thing is that she could taste how her mistakes impacted the taste of the tea. And for the next brew, with my advice, she was able to correct the problems and achieve a very nice taste! A good teapot may help to get a better cup (than a gaiwan), but it's no guarantee. It still takes skill and practice to reach a good harmony between the roasted notes and the fresh tea aromas.
 To enjoy, understand and learn tea, one should be focused and sensitive to the little details. Cami has all these qualities and this made teaching her very enjoyable. She even reminded me of my Californian cousin, so that I felt she was family! We even found out that we shared another connection: we both read the book The Artist's Way that is about finding one's creative self!
For the third and last tea, I wanted again to show how varied the brewing method of tea can be. This time, I brewed this spring 2018 Biluochun in a black glazed bowl by Michel François. Historically, these bowls were invented during the Song dynasty, a millennium ago. They were used to whisk green tea powder. That's why it makes sense to brew (whole leaf) green tea in such a bowl.
Cami's smile reminds us of my Chinese logo, Cha zhi Le: Happiness in tea!

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