If you take time with tea, you can learn to listen to what it wants to say.
If you’re new to the world of tea this may seem like an odd statement. How can tea speak?
If I said that eating Turkey on Thanksgiving reminded me of my childhood home in California you would understand. And if I told you that hot chocolate with mini marshmallows on a snowy day made me think of being a kid again…picking up ice skates and going out with friends for a game of hockey…the picture would form in your mind. The Turkey and cocoa didn’t speak to me but eating and drinking them brought memories to mind.
Tea can speak to our memory also, taking us to places long forgotten but stored like jewels ready for discovery.
Pu’er tea is like an interesting memory key. The right tea opens up complex chambers often with earthy flavors that flash and turn like wood sprites.
My brewing method today was a fat 4oz white Gaiwan.
There were 7 steepings.
I played with the time beginning (after a wash) at 10 seconds then 15, 15, 20, 45, 20, 1 minute and lastly 30 seconds.
The color was light golden caramel brown changing to deep amber and back to lighter golden with the shorter steep time.
About the color: The tea glitters like the famous Amber Room of Catherine the Great!
The leaves smelled creamy and sweet. I wasn’t expecting the flavor to be as lightly sweet and smooth as it was for a first pour with a hint of vanilla honey.
I was tempted to drink quickly…in a hurry to jump into the pool of richer steepings. So impatient…forgetting the polite behavior required with my tea.
Someone far away had worked very hard for me to have this cup.
Slowly, I moved on to more steepings, remembering to look at the color, smell the leaves and enjoy each inhaled slurp tossed to the back of my throat. Ah yes, smooth and juicy…full of light brown sugar.
Halfway through the tasting, there were some memories of water …coastlines and trees, fields of flowers and mountains. Hum. I dismissed the thoughts.
I drank more tea, which was becoming more like clover honey mixed with light brown sugar. The flavor never became bitter even with the longest steep time and never became dry.
I looked for spice and there was a vapor…and poof, gone. I could not put my finger (or nose or mouth) on it. Some other time maybe.
At the bottom of the 5th steeping I noticed a chewiness and a golden raisin taste. “So,” I chuckled, “it couldn’t be that.” I decided to stick to my opinion though, and later when I read the notes on the Verdent Website and saw the flavor profile mention ‘Raisin’, I smiled.
Again, I was having those wandering thoughts about the Sea and Mountains but stopped this time to consider my tea and what it was saying.
The thoughts floating in and out…the pictures in my memory were of visits to family in Washington State.
It’s so GREEN there with lush forests and farms! The fields of flowers in the Skagit Valley go on forever, and there is WATER everywhere!
Why was I thinking about the seashore, green fields and the trees of Washington? Remembering sitting on a bench in Anacortes looking out to Orca’s Island with the sun glittering on the water? Sailing through the San Juan Islands? A drive up to the snowline of Mt. Baker?
It’s calming, restful and beautiful! http://flic.kr/p/dyqRX9
Was it the juiciness of the tea and the smooth slightly sweet flavor that brought me there? Was this my jewel and a gift from the tea?
I think so. I became rested and calm. Happy with my memories.
One thing that I’ve been known to do with Pu’er that has a hint of salt (there is just a hint here) and slight caramel (I think this is more buttery than caramel) is add a few grains of sugar.
Stand back and see what happens…few grains in…and..CARAMEL!
I bought 1 cake and it’s fabulous! (This tasting is from a 7oz. sample I bought to go with it.)