Over the years, I have been documenting on some brewing methods for Oolong tea. Looking back and comparing the progress is one of the most self educational & learning experiences. From the very beginning, I only concentrated on the surface and 'packaging': eg. looks, brewing steps, aroma, feeling of front of mouth and the first couple of minutes of 'expectations'. All these do not excite me any more, but the lingering effects and experience afterwards is more what I am searching for at this point.
A couple of readers asked what is a good oolong and how do I brew it.... All I can answer is that it is a loaded question. Perhaps an endless quest? Awakening of "Self and Surrounding", or a lifetime experience to search for Ethereal... a great character/bouquets of maturing process like a 30 yrs+ fine Bordeaux, Burgundy or even Habanos. And the refinement of brewing a tea without thinking too much of it... just like breathing?
The only fact that I am confident of concluding based on my experience is, if you can use 16g of tea on a 80ml pot and you can very much enjoy it, it is a good tea and a good brewing method.... at least to my latest enlightenment, and of course, this will only change in time.
Most often these days, when drinking with Masters, or beginners, I always observe in a very intense way.... Not intruding nor asking, but just looking and enjoying the results. Often enough, I will learn something new, and could tell why and what made someone do what they are doing at their own stage. Can you translate what I am doing in this silent animation?
Beginners often use less tea to water ratio, and Master usually do the opposite. A seasoned tea drinker once told me, the reason to do this is often someone has not yet found something good enough or confident enough. When you use a load of not-so-refined tea, the best you get is a cup of not-so-refined brew. A high quality tea, when you pack it to the top, you will always get a top cup. That's why you have tea bag, and the normal way to brew it? A bag to a big cup, you can make any tea bag taste passable.
My mom wrote to me this morning: "Kyoto is one of my favourite cities in the world, there stood the only traditional Tang Dynasty architecture left in the world, and yet ours, in China, were all destroyed. sad.sad sad.....!!
One wonders, sometimes, if Kyoto does resembles what our own city once looked like back in Tang Dynasty?? A great era... ruled by Empress Wu......a city filled with artists, scholars, poets, dancers ...beautiful and elegant people....in tasteful and stylish fashion... good food...good wine...great music and lyrics..... lucky lucky Tang! Poor Hongkongnese!"
Well, here is my first blog response to my dearest mother: "I do inherit the proud Chinoiserie from you, and sadly 'most' but not all the Tang architectures were destroyed in our beloved 'Middle Empire'. One could still reconnect the tasteful, romantic style of Tang dynasty culture through a cup of tea. Specially under the Autumn foliage, in Kyoto, Korea, China, Hong Kong or New York, it does not matter.
I hope my practice in the art of tea have prepared me to whisk you up a good Tang Style tea medallion, next time we see each other." xoxo
Happy Autumn to all. My favorite tea season.
photo courtesy of http://patrickphoto-tw.blogspot.com/