Chinese Tea Tasting

Chinese Tea Tasting

For any tea enthusiast China is a dream destination where days can be spent getting lost in tea plantations and tasting all the amazing brews on offer…..I can but dream! However my Aunty & Uncle were recently lucky enough to travel around parts of China and kindly brought back two types of tea for me to try.

So here they are in all their glory:

Pu’er Tea 

This is a black tea which originates from the Yunnan province of China. After a complex process of fermentation the matured leaves are pressed into cakes for storage and sale. These can range from 50g to 1000g  in size, shaped into bricks, balls or domes. My gorgeous gift tin is filled with individually wrapped mini cakes, the golden foil more familiarly associated with sweets and chocolate rather than our daily cuppa.

Just half a cake is required per brew and this can be reused 7 or 8 times. You don’t get that sort of value with your standard supermarket bag! The cakes are sturdy little things but with a snap in the middle I pop half in the pot to make my first cup.

The dried leaves have a strong peaty aroma which is released when dowsed in the boiling water. This is a grounding brew, powerful and earthy it’s not messing about. I fill my cup with the stunning russet liquid, like the embers of a camp fire smouldering away.

Thankfully not as ferocious on the palate as you may expect. It’s strength is contained in the fragrance which gently washes over your tongue to leave a smoky after taste. Cleansing and moreish I enjoyed this brew, not least for the health benefits it boasts; assisting weight loss, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol.

 

Ginseng Oolong Tea 

Oolong is distinctive by it’s small, smooth pellet form. The leaves are worked through a process of bruising, withering and shaping to reach the desired texture. Falling between the gap of black and green teas, Oolong is the middle ground where many of the health benefits of green tea are present but the flavour is milder thanks to the longer oxidation period.

These leaves can also be reused, with the 3rd or 4th cup being rumoured to be the best flavour. It’s hard to believe the tiny green pearls are tea leaves but as they begin to steep the hot water entices them to unfurl and release their flavour.

This brew shines golden orange in the cup with a sweet honey suckle fragrance. It’s feels light and summery on the palate making it very easy to drink. The smooth, sweetness of honey is kissed with a subtle after thought of liquorice from the ginseng. No matter the weather outside the sunshines on you as you enjoy this brew.

I was aware that Oolong was readily available here in the UK but I am pleased to find that Pu’er (aka Pu’erh) is also available from most good stockists in either loose leaf or cake form. So next time you stick the kettle on why not try and taste of the orient and enjoy a little ceremony with your tea.

Lu Tong’s Seven Bowls of Tea 七碗诗 卢仝(唐. 790~835)

The first bowl moistens my lips and throat; 一碗喉吻潤,

The second bowl breaks my loneliness; 二碗破孤悶,

The third bowl searches my barren entrails but to find 三碗搜枯腸,

Therein some five thousand scrolls; 惟有文字五千卷,

The fourth bowl raises a slight perspiration 四碗發輕汗,

And all life’s inequities pass out through my pores; 平生不平事盡向毛孔散,

The fifth bowl purifies my flesh and bones; 五碗肌骨清,

The sixth bowl calls me to the immortals. 六碗通仙靈,

The seventh bowl could not be drunk, 七碗吃不得也,

only the breath of the cool wind raises in my sleeves. 唯覺兩腋習習清風生。

Where is Penglai Island, Yuchuanzi wishes to ride on this sweet breeze and go back. 蓬萊山﹐在何處,玉川子乘此清風欲歸去。

{Lu Tong, Chinese Poet}

 

 

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