But more on that later.
Today a special package arrived from China care of Stéphane Erler of Tea Masters. Stéphane operates a small tea business from his home in Taipei, Taiwan, and his blog is a remarkable study of tea culture as seen from the inside.
Tea, you ask? What the *$&#^ are you doing drinking tea? After all, weren't you a "software guy", a sub species of homo sapiens known for its irrational love of coffee?
Truth is, I'd had enough of swilling gallons of so-called "industrial work coffee" each day, the product of which was a pronounced stammer and a penchant for heartburn. "Time to switch to tea," advised all of my (now former) Indian and Chinese colleagues, each of whom regarded my fish-like fascination with bad coffee with equal measures of pity and disgust.
While I was overseas, I managed to cut back my coffee to perhaps two cups of genuinely delicious "cafe creme" a day. This sudden change produced two near-immediate results - it crushed my daily intake of caffeine (coffee detox tremors, anyone) and reminded me what really good coffee actually tasted like. Nasty hot water burbled through an irregular pile of sawdust-dry, blade-cut "coffee" bits would no longer do.
I was familiar with Tea Masters from some research I had done into gong fu cha. I perked up when I read his entry on the arrival of the new wenshan bauzhong teas. Kind of like the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau. "Le Baozhong Nouveau est arrivé" indeed. A quick paypal transaction later and the wait began. . .a wait which ended this evening.
The tea is remarkable - unlike any tea I've ever had. The leaves themselves are a vibrant green hue, whole leaves and very few fragments or "odd bits". A three-minute brew with near-boiling water revealed a tea with a rich mouth-feel, floral and complex, without the astringency that always seems to come with "green tea".
I'm hooked. Now I need to figure out how to make tea at work in "reasonable quantities". I might be in the market for an electric teapot, I fear.
When I try them I'll post reviews of the two other teas I purchased. . .
- A 'lily baozhong' tea harvested at the end of September 2006
- A 'Monkey Hair' Oriental Beauty oolong fromt he Summer 2005