Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day Weekend: Tea with Friends

This Labor Day weekend, Brandon AKA WrongFuCha was kind enough to host Yumcha and family (including Nana the pup) at his home in Delaware. If you're ever lucky enough to get an invite to his corner of the state; expect thoughtful hospitality, a sophisticated tea selection and lots of satisfying eats.

On Saturday, a couple members of his Philadelphia tea club came by to share tea and treats with us. The session started with a lovely Phoenix DanCong; a gift from Toki of The Mandarin's TeaRoom. He couldn't make it to Delaware but his gift of tea was appreciated by all. It was soft and full with hints of fresh almonds. We didn't have much info on the tea itself. The enigmatic Mandarin promised only to reveal his tea's pedigree after we drank it. "Taste first, ask questions later" seems to be an inscrutable, Hong Kong tea master thing because Michael also does this all the time.The intent is to provoke an honest evaluation of the tea unclouded by prior assumptions based on age, harvest details and mountain elevation.

When visiting a fellow tea junkie, it's always a good idea to bring your own teas to share. Keeping in mind my host's taste, I brought a selection that he would enjoy. Members of his tea group were still unfamiliar with certain tea styles and so Brandon requested some teas that would broaden their experience. I brought along one of my Taiwanese teapots for those who were curious about the style. I already knew that Brandon was a fan of Master Lin's teas, so I had a 6 Year Aged, Tung Ting from Master Lin to showcase with the teapot.

We moved on the 2004 Tea Gallery, white puer cake. The afternoon sun lit up the silver hairs of the cake and it was admired by the other guests. As a host, Brandon made sure that there would be a thoughtful selection of the new and familiar for everyone. As a guest and a friend, I was happy to provide a few teas and let someone else brew them for a relaxing change.

It was a pleasure watching Brandon carefully choose different brewing vessels for the most harmonious pairings. Not everyone thinks about the visual harmony of the tea table but it can be jarring when incongruous pieces share the same space. Sometimes, those with the most diverse collections make the mistake of having every accessory on view when some editing would create a more sophisticated setting.
Our tea host, Brandon, looking relaxed and ruddy cheeked from the chaqi of the puer. At this point, I was also feeling extremely warm in spite of the cool wind drifting through the open windows of the tea room. The chaqi left my hands damp with sweat.

Once you start down the road of aged puer, subsequent teas can be tried in order of greater years. The next tea was a sneak preview of a Hong Kong storage, 1996 loose leaf puer from The Tea Gallery. Not yet available through our site, it was nice to surprise our host with a new tea from the Gallery (he's practically memorized our selection).

After just 4 steeps, the build up of chaqi had me in a drunken, blissed out stupor and I felt too full too manage another sip of tea. The rest of the party was in a similar mood. Conversation trailed off and it seemed like a good place to end the session and say good-bye to the Philly members. Once the feeling of fullness wore off, it was replaced by an eager appetite sharpened from all the tea we had drunk. The rest of the evening was devoted to old fashioned milkshakes and greasy cheeseburgers. Later, I fell asleep to the soothing sound of crickets.

On Sunday, we rolled up our sleeves and set to work documenting ways to evaluate Yixing teapots with water and tea for Brandon's blog. Our host directed, I took photos and David posed for the camera. Inspiration for the post goes to Michael of The Tea Gallery and Bill from China Flair.
Read about our efforts at
WrongFuCha's blog.

Happy Labor Day!


Brandon said...

Thanks for the teas! Was great to relax and trust the photos to someone else for awhile.

yumcha said...

And thank you for hosting!
BTW, the comments on your post were so funny.