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!)


Anonymous said...

Your note about Yancha isn't strictly correct. Some farmers may still be refining, roasting and sorting their yancha, but others may have finished already . It would be misleading at best to say just because someone is selling it already that it can't be real.

TeaMasters said...

Thanks for posting your comment. I made this comment based on a Tweet from a tea vendor currently in Wuyi and based on my own professional contacts in Wuyi who have confirmed this. Of course, in the coming weeks the teas are expected to be ready and available, so this will be less and less true as time goes by. You didn't disclose your identity, which is fine, but you may want to give us more background or information on why you would believe (or know) that the most valuable Wuyi leaves would be processed faster in some cases. I see a simple and logical explanation: they are not that valuable and not from Wuyi, which is why they don't go through such a long refinement process. (At most, I would concede that it's possible that one or two Yan Cha may be ready by now, but not the whole line up.)