Friday, August 30, 2019

A new eBook: Emperor Fei's dream of tea

This summer, I felt like writing another short book about tea. I even started a new guide on a particular tea subject, but didn't feel much inspiration coming. Then, one day, a short story of a Chinese emperor who tasted excellent tea popped in my head and kept unfolding. So, I simply wrote it down and it's now available here on

The first paragraph gives you an idea of what you can expect in this tale:

"Once upon a time, in the southern kingdom of the Eastern Jin, lived Emperor Fei who had 2 sons and 2 daughters with his wife, Queen Yu. This period of Chinese history is known as the 16 Kingdoms, a time of continuous rivalry and war between 16 fractured regions. Emperor Fei faced many challenges to his authority from outside kingdoms and from within his own administration. His powerful general Huan Wen and court eunuchs were always scheming to weaken his power. As a result, Emperor Fei had regular nightmares in which he saw himself and his family massacred, tortured or decapitated. He didn’t share his dreams with his wife or anybody. He was afraid that mere rumors of his nightmares would become a self-fulfilling prophecy."

And this short story (5500 words) is FREE if you place a tea order worth 90 USD or more (excluding transportation) on my site!

Et la version française est disponible également aux mêmes conditions: gratuite pour tout achat de 90 USD ou plus (sans les frais de port).
Cette nouvelle "Le rêve de thé de l'Empereur Fei" concentre de nombreux thèmes qui me sont chers. Le thé permet une grande liberté. Chacun l'interprète et le prépare à sa manière. En cela le thé est malléable et nous renvoie ce qui nous y avons mis.

Et à force de parler de créativité dans les Chaxi, j'avais aussi envie de la mettre pratique d'une manière bien française, par la littérature. J'espère surtout vous faire passer un bon moment. L'idéal serait de l'accompagner d'un bon thé de ma sélection!
Et si vous avez envie de lire un texte plus profond et plus théorique sur la pratique du thé en mode asiatique/chinois, je vous renvoie vers ce court essai de Stéphane Barbéry, l'homme d'une Renaissance moderne et universelle!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Smile to the cloud in your tea

I'm very grateful for the tea friends in France who sent me this calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh. There are many possible interpretations for this short sentence. The word cloud is the most enigmatic and poetic here. In Chinese, yun, cloud, also means the aftertaste of tea! And a tea that produces aftertaste is one that will always make one smile, because it's so good and full of emotions.

A cloudy tea, however, would mean a tea that isn't clear and not well processed. This is probably not the meaning of the author to smile when you drink bad tea. But maybe you should smile when you drink bad tea, because you won't feel better if you start complaining. Even if the tea is bad, you can appreciate the fact that you are alive and have experience and good memories of good teas that enable you to tell that this tea is bad. It's only with the experience of good and bad that one makes progress. And if you are drinking tea, even a bad one, be satisfied that you have found time in your day for a pause when you can listen to your own thoughts!
And it's also fun to imagine a modern meaning to the word 'cloud', a place where we store our digital documents. Smile at the virtual world! Smile at the effort and passion you put into your tea and life! All this will come to pass much sooner than we expect (as the candles on the birthday cake care to remind us!) So smile and enjoy your tea!
And that's why I finished a very rare 1990 aged high mountain Oolong that day. It had a very clear brew and lots of aftertaste that definitely made me smile!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Napoléon's 250th. Great men are like Yan Cha: destined to go through fire to enlighten us

The actual quote, which Bonaparte wrote in high school, is that "Great men are meteors destined to burn to enlighten their century". That was very prescient for a teenager from Corsica who'd become France's greatest emperor, just after a revolution that had ended in a bloodbath and a word we're still using today: terror(ism)!

Napoléon was born 250 years ago today and this Chaxi is my way to remember this great man who saved France when it was on the brink of disaster. I remember that I read his biography with fascination when I was a teenager myself. His spirit continues to inspire many French to think big, universal.

So, for this Chaxi, I knew I had to have a tea invented around his time. A tea that revolutionized tea in China and the world. A tea that stands for top quality, often imitated, but rarely attained. A real WuYi Yan Cha (from 2017).
To brew this YanCha, I naturally chose my Qianlong era Yixing zisha teapot with white and blue decoration, because emperor Qianlong reigned when Napoléon was born. As for the Chabu, I selected one with an eagle, the imperial symbol of Napoléon. The pine tree is a common tree in Corsica.
Such a Chaxi is worthy of an emperor! I may not have conquered the world (of tea) with my blog and my boutique. At least, not in terms of quantity, number of readers/followers or profits. But this wasn't my goal. However, I think that in terms of quality of the knowledge, the wares, the leaves and the tea readers/customers, I have by far surpassed my dreams. This doesn't mean that there's no room for improvement, or that my tea life may get wiped out by the rise of China or some other threat. The bigger you become, the more attacks you're getting, as Napoléon found out... 
True greatness in tea is ephemeral. It's a great brew and then it's gone. "Pourvu que ça dure" said Napoléon's mother when her son was crowned emperor! It's the same for tea: all we wish is that this deep feeling of bliss and elegance lasts!
(Note: since I'm posting about Yan Cha, I would like to share this piece of interesting information from Tea Drunk: True Yan Cha teas harvested in spring 2019 are still being refined in Wuyi this month. This means that real Yan Cha from 2019 are not supposed to be up for sale for another month or 2 weeks at best. So, if you check now and see that a vendor or maker is already selling 2019 Yan Cha now, you can be assured that it isn't genuine. Unfortunately, it's not because sellers wait for the right time that the leaves are necessarily true Yan Cha. But at least this is one way to spot those impatient retailers of fake Yan Cha!)

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

2 Chaxi de bord de mer

 Pour ce premier Chaxi, je suis à Kenting, à 100 m de la plage. Le vent souffle trop fort pour me permettre de préparer tranquillement mon thé ce matin-là. Aussi, je vais à cette table partiellement à l'ombre. Et comme on est le matin, j'ai une envie d'Oriental Beauty...
Les odeurs de miel sont gourmandes et en harmonie avec l'été. J'infuse dans mon gaiwan de porcelaine, polyvalent et facile à transporter.
La couleur dorée ressort avec plein d'éclat dans les fines coupes chantantes de couleur blanc ivoire.
Les parfums de l'infusion me chatouillent les narines! Le jeu du soleil et de l'ombre sur le Chabu, face noire, fait ressortir les couleurs chaudes et vibrantes du thé.
Vous en prendrez bien une coupe!
Pendant que je vais faire un tour sur la plage...
Malheureusement, les vacances ont cela de commun qu'elles sont toujours trop courtes et qu'on finit par rentrer chez soi!

De Taipei, je n'ai qu'une bonne heure de trajet pour aller à la plage de Feitsuiwan près de Keelung ou celle de Fulong, mais quand il fait 35 degrés Celcius dehors, ma flemme l'emporte et je préfère souvent mon confort et mon air conditionné!

Et quand j'ai envie de plage, je transorme mon coin à thé en Beach Chaxi! Les couleurs Qinghua (bleu et blanc) sont en parfaite résonnance avec le ciel bleu et l'écume des vagues! Je choisis cet Oolong de haute montagne (Shan Lin Xi) pour sa fraicheur et ses senteurs marines inattendues.

Ces feuilles font le toboggan de ma main à la théière en zhuni d'Yixing.
Le soleil illumine l'infusion dans les coupes. Fraicheur et transparence.
Ces coupes ont l'air si rafraichissantes qu'on a envie de s'y baigner!
Et quand il n'y en a plus, on en refait encore et encore. Le Oolong permet ces multiples infusions miraculeuses!
Le temps passe si agréablement au bord de ce Chaxi, que le soleil commence à tomber. Les ombres se rallongent et il est temps de se dire au revoir et de ranger les affaires...
Mais pas avant d'avoir fait un tour en parapente et d'avoir survolé notre petite plage très privée!
Toutes les vues sont belles, mais j'affectionne particulièrement celle-ci, en contre-jour:
Et à la fin, j'ai même trouvé ces drôles d'algues au fond de ma théière!
Un bon Chaxi nous permet de voyager et de nous amuser. La plus belle plage, c'est celle qu'on crée de toutes pièces avec notre imagination! Bonnes vacances!

Friday, August 02, 2019

Ruby red tea from Sun Moon Lake

This summer 2018 Hong Yu is one of my recent additions to my selection.
I had a lovely early morning session with this fully oxidized tea. I prepared the large leaves in a thin white porcelain bowl by David Louveau.
The white color of the bowl helps to figure out when the brew is ready to be poured in the cups. And then you simply add more boiling water in the bowl for more tea.
This red tea is very popular and reminds me a lot of the Early Grey Twinnings tea my parents used to drink when I was a kid. The difference is that this tea isn't scented! The bitter orange scents come naturally from the leaves.
It brought back lots of memories. Summer breakfast in Provence. Toasted bread with butter and incredible local honey, white and stiff with lavender notes... And a sweet and warm sunshine like this morning!
Tea (and smells in general) sometimes brings back memories that were buried deep down in some dark corner of the brain... And even when it doesn't, it's a wonderful way to experience the start of a new day, with some classical music in the background. Beauty in front of your eyes, in your nose and ears, at the touch of your hand, at the tip of your tongue.
And in these morning Chaxi, I'm blessed with a sense of urgency. Due to the orientation of my apartment, this sunshine won't last later than 7 AM. I only have 40 minutes to complete my tea with the sun. It's a life lesson: simplify, harmonize, enjoy, feel grateful and share the joy around you.
Let tea and light shine on the simple joys of life!