Thursday, September 25, 2008

Saturday at the Tea Gallery pt.2


The continuation of Toki's visit with Betty and Conrad...We started Saturday's tea session with a 1970's loose, supposedly "cooked" puer from Conrad's collection. Conrad was very modest about his knowledge of tea and he had little to say about his collection, only hoping we would enjoy the experience.
Michael weighed out 10 grams of the puer.
There was a light, woody fragance with a hint of must and old parchment.
Once the leaves were heated in Michael's puer pot, their warm aroma was as inviting as a traditional Korean herb sauna.
My first sip was sweet, delicate and silky. There was a refinement and a velvety finish that's hard to come by in shupu's, even aged ones.
By the 2nd cup, I was taken over by an immediate sense of calm and felt more relaxed than I had in days. "So smooth", Toki said, "It's like air."
As we continued to drink and admire the color of the tea, we wondered if the puer was possibly a blend of raw and cooked leaves. So delightful with an elegant body, Toki didn't believe the puer was cooked at all.

Betty started describing the wonderful effects of the tea.
Although the conversation never got serious, there was a more contemplative aura surrounding the table. We were all surrendering to the chaqi. My normally dry palms were moist with sweat and I felt an incredible warmth emanating from the seat of my spine. The 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th cups were consistently smooth with a lovely phantom coating of a fat. There was a sweetness that flooded the back corners of my mouth and I tasted more sugar every time I swallowed. By the 7th cup I was feeling drunk with tea and qi. My own tasting notes are indecipherable after this point. General consensus was that Conrad's puer was actually not cooked at all.

Knowing Betty and Conrad had other engagements that afternoon, we moved on to another tea:
A raw puer cake of unknown origin, possibly from the 80's.

Michael separated 10 grams of mystery cake to brew in a vintage gaiwan.

Winnie, taking a deep inhalation of the rinsed tea leaves.
I could smell the awakening fragrance of flowers, dried fruit and perfume from the other side of the table. There was a sweetly old fashioned note of vintage cosmetics (what Toki refers to as granny face powder). It's an aroma that inspires a sense of happiness and romantic fancies.

Still blissed out from the previous puer, I was happy to watch Michael brew tea so effortlessly. Even taking photos seemed to be taxing my brain.
The first cup was a mouthful of sweetness and perfume with a bit of wild musk. The 2nd cup yielded a pleasant astringence that balanced the sweet. A bouquet of flowers clung to the bottom of the cup. Subsequent steeps built up layers of vanilla, musk and gardenias on my palate. After the beautiful lull of the previous puer, we were starting to wake up with this tea's chaqi. It was an interesting contrast. Conversation became lively and and more animated. Everyone started sitting up straighter in their chairs. The tea also woke up our appetites and I found myself longing for the uneaten half of my breakfast croissant.
As we drank, the taste got softer and rounder but still that beautiful perfume persisted.
By the 7th and last cup we were left with a delicate rose petal finish.
Betty and Conrad had to leave soon after and the rest of us were left to contemplate our beautiful tea experience and lunch options.

4 comments:

toki said...

Amazing photo-journalism! Amazing marriage of visual and literature. Thanks Yamcha! -T

Salsero said...

Another great post. Thanks!

yumcha said...

Thank you for the wonderful comments!
I look forward to sharing many more wonderful experiences.

Janine said...

All I can say is that I am so jealous! :-)