Wednesday, December 20, 2006

tea: subtropical forest baozhong

The first eight days of The New Gig have kept me away from the blog - best for me to focus the entirety of my energies on Actually Getting Settled In, I thought, rather than Reflecting on Getting Settled In.

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
. . .as well as a few of the little "surprises" I found in the box. Thanks Stéphane.

1 comment:

Ron said...

Hey! Fluffy needs tea! Fluffy is almost out of tea! Fluffy would enjoy a small sample of the tea, regardless of when it was picked. Fluffy would blog about the tea, and assuming all is well, this would make two solid recommendations about the tea. Send Fluffy some tea.
Fluffy Fluffy Fluffy tea tea tea.

It be a meme!