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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reflecting on tea and paying it respect

I have been having a heck of a lot of tea lately, and while I have been incredibly enjoying it, the other day I had a flash back to some of my very favorite cups of tea very early on in my tea years.  These are the cups of tea that made me realize how much I enjoyed tea.

One that sticks out the most, was my freshman year of college, and considering someone who love teaware as much as I do now, it actually quite amazes me, but this was an Assam black (red) tea brewed in a fill your own teabag, brewed with water heated in a microwave, in a paper coffee cup. But when you can make tea in a humble fashion, and years later when you have had countless sessions of tea and spent small fortunes on teaware and tea, and in retrospect a simple one is one of your favorites, it shows a true love of the leaf.

At the same time, that love of the leaf is what has pushed me to keep on learning about tea, keep on trying new teas, and keep exploring ways I could improve the brews, either through specialized teaware, or through trying make the tea sessions more aesthetically pleasing.  It's something nearly all tea drinkers do eventually, try and spice up their sessions with new or more interesting teaware, or seek out that perfect teapot, perfect kettle, or ideal water to make just that much of a difference.

Some like to say its a bunch of diminishing returns, and in certain respects it is, because for those of us that love  tea know all you really need is leaves, water, and a simple bowl.  Even though I love ceramics, when I use them with tea, I do it to honor the tea. Just like someone wouldn't buy an original van Gogh then display it in a basement crawlspace with no supply of light, sometimes when you have something you respect, you want to showcase it out of respect for its creator, its history, and its merits.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Thoughts on my Puerh Storage

In terms of fancy storage, I basically have none, I use rigid boxes ( I think a type of plastic covered in cloth), stored underneath my tea set up to store all of my tea, and one of the three boxes is used to store only Puerh tea.  My thoughts are that the box will help keep out any smells from cooking ( basically no where in my place is incredibly safe with it being a studio and all), but the proximity to the tea set up will provide as slight boost in humidity ( possibly not even measurable).  But at the same time the box I feel helps prevent excessive air flow which can dry out cakes too quickly.

So today I cracked open one of the few cakes I have that has been in my care almost its entire life, a Dayi 8582 batch 801.  While I may be imagining this but the cake did appear slightly darker, and while there definitely was no very golden/ copper tips, a few of the buds did appear to be progressing in that direction.

In terms of taste I actually appreciated the tea more this time than I remember ever doing in the past.  While it still is not great, and is definitely quite far from being close to what I consider an Aged puerh should taste like.  Throughout just about all of the brews they tasted like dried leather, and hints of tobacco, and almonds.

I do not know if I am happy or sad that it lost all of the lighter but sometimes harsh tropical fruits, but maybe it will gain some heavier fruits, or a wider variety of flavors as it ages a bit more.  Although next time it rains I think I need to open up all my puerh and have a window open so it can breath in a bit more humidity. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tea How I Missed Thee

Orichids and Sencha

Surprising as it may be, today was the first time I have had tea in about a week and a half.  This tragedy occurred due to pure exhaustion, and in slight part laziness. Let me just say that as a grad student the end of the semester is looked upon almost with disdain especially when you have a thousand finals or so to help grade in only a couple of days.  Once the finals were graded, I had decided I would take a break by going to visit my family for a week, and while packing, I was so tired I dreaded the decision practice which is actually quite laborious for us tea addicts.  

"What teas will I want to drink in the next week?  Believing those choices are true what is the least amount of teaware I can pack up to make that as enjoyable as drinking it at my own place? "

The shear thought of trying to decide and the extra trips out to the car were actually too exhausting in my already incredibly fatigued state, I decided that I could make do for a week of coffee for my caffeine fix. I quite missed my tea, and my teaware.  

The photo above is part of me trying to bring a little more life into my tea sessions, this lovely orchid made my two tea sessions today quite enjoyable.  There is something to be said for the Japanese practice of Ikebana, and while this was not a true set up as this was not a flower arrangement but rather a live blooming flower the added color, and additional life in the set up was great.  Sadly the Baozhong I had after the Sencha did not live up to the setting.

Do any of my readers try to incorporate flowers into their tea set ups/ ceremonies?

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