A Taste for Tea (Part 2 … Types of Tea) (Archive, 2016)

Originally Posted on 16th January 2016

“Tea tempers the spirit, harmonizes the mind,
and clears the perceptive faculties.

The refreshing nature of tea is especially
fitting for persons of self restraint …
for those who are virtuous in nature
and satisfied with a simple life.

Such were the sentiments of Lu Yu,
when writing his treatise on tea
– chájīng – The Classic of Tea,
somewhere around 780 AD.

DEFINING Tea

Originally Posted on 19th January 2016

Tea … ?

Tea – – – It is not so much the actual drink
brewed from the leaves of Camilla sinensis
or even South African Rooibos …

but more,
the period of time when the tea is being enjoyed,
that is meaningful to me.

It may be that you think similarly.

I hope that – perhaps, in presenting the qualities
of real tea, I can encourage one or two people
to slow down and … MAKE time:

to prepare tea;
to take twenty minutes’ for thoughtful reflection;
to consider such questions as:

“Lying on my death bed, will whatever
I want to buy next … really matter?”

Tea (for me) is the act of meditating upon
what – honestly – is important in life.

Raspberry Tea

Now, of course, it will not be a bad thing at all,
to define precisely what is meant, in these articles,
by the term … “tea”.

The difference between British tea-time, and Chinese tea-time,
lies in the method of brewing:

the British method involves

1. small quantities of leaf,
2. brewed for several minutes,
3. in water off a rolling boil;

the Chinese method involves

1. larger quantities of leaf,
2. brewed for several seconds,
3. in water at around 85 degrees Centigrade,
4. and re-infused half-a-dozen times or more.

Considering TYPES of Tea

TYPES of Tea

For my black tea sensibilities, White, Yellow,
and Green Teas simply have a very neutral,
all-too-grassy taste for which …

I just cannot seem to develop a taste.

Which means that it would be impertinent
of me to even attempt to make recommendations
to anyone.

What I am able to do, however, is suggest
what names of tea to look for
which will allow you a good quality sample
of a White, Yellow, or Green Tea.

WHITE TEA is tea that has been the
Least Oxidized of all the types of tea.

Best when aged, White has the ‘weakest’
tea taste and yet,
is usually the most expensive.

For trying WHITE Tea, I suggest Bái mǔ dān
or the more flavourful, Shòu méi
(which is second only to the more expensive
Bai hao yin zhen, or, Silver Needle).

YELLOW TEA has a Slightly Higher
Level of Oxidation.

Brew Yellow (as well as White) Tea in water that
is cooler than that of a rolling boil – about 85 degrees.

I simply could not develop any ‘taste’ from either White
or Yellow Tea – despite my genuine desire to realise one.

GREEN TEA comes from leaves that have been
cooked in large woks (or, in Japan, steam)
in order to Limit Oxidation.

Price – Quality – makes all the difference between
a cup of horrible ‘cabbage broth’ … and a tea
that is palatable.

(And, try as I have, I cannot escape the ‘grassy’ taste
in even more expensive ‘Greens’. Perhaps you will appreciate
what I cannot ?

Form your conclusion, though, on Quality Green Tea.)

Keep in mind that Green Tea should be brewed
at a lower temperature (about 80 degrees).

Remember: visit a Chinese Tea House,
and buy a ‘medium-high’ quality (or better) Green Tea.

It is important that you never ‘settle’ for a cheaper
Green Tea which will invariably taste like
mown grass in hot water.

OOLONG TEA is tea that is allowed to Oxidize
far More than any of the previously mentioned
varieties.

Look for the name “Alishan” … and
brew Oolong tea at the 95 degree mark.

PU’ERH TEA is a product of Yunnan province
in China. It is a fermented Green Tea in which
the fermentation process actually continues
as the Pu’Erh ages.

( A Personal Note: for me, this is where tea
actually begins to taste like tea …

With Pu’Erh, I can make recommendations. )

There are two types of Pu’Erh:

‘Raw’ Pu’Erh, which ages for a much longer period
of time than
‘Ripe’ Pu’Erh, which has had its fermentation process
artificially increased.

By way of general explanation, the Pu’Erh
tea-making process follows (essentially)
the following stages in which:

the leaves are Picked and left to Wither.
They are then heated in a large wok over a wood fire
and sun-dried for several days.
The leaves are next covered and left to ferment.
The Pu’Erh leaves are sorted and separated from any
residual impurities.
Steamed and Pressed into cakes, the Pu’Erh is then
paper-wrapped for distribution.

As noted earlier, Raw Pu’Erh will continue to age
(and improve) after purchase.

Pu’Erh is considered to be exceedingly beneficial
to health.

It is definitely preferable to buy Pu’erh tea
that has been aged.

SERVING PU’ERH Tea [ Gong fu in Gaiwan ]

(Suggestion Only: Number 1 teapot or Gaiwan)

Separate Pu’Erh from the tea cake by breaking from the centre
of the cake, outwards. Maintain the shape of the cake:
do not break from the outer edge.

1. Warm the teapot using boiled water.

2. Pour off the water after 20 seconds:
Wash the Teapot, Wash the cups … leave for 10 seconds.

First Infusion (the rinse)

3. Use the chachi tool to add the Pu’Erh to the teapot
or Gaiwan – use approximately 5 grams for every 100ml.

4. Add just-boiled (not rolling boil) [ 95 degree + ] water
to the teapot: this will ‘rinse’ the tea leaves to ‘open’ them.

5. After 5 seconds – Pour off this first infusion ‘rinse’
into the teacups; (note the colour of the liquid –
light or dark, and mentally adjust second brew time
accordingly: less if darker; more if a lighter colour).

6. Discard this water from the teacups.

Second Infusion (for drinking):

7. Add water (just before rolling boil) to the teapot

8. Brew for 20 seconds – (may wish to increase according to
the colour of liquid previously noted and the taste desired –
Tea is a matter of personal taste: Experiment!).

9. Quickly dry outside of teacups (from previous
rinse spills).

10. Pour from teapot, through a strainer, into a
Gong dao (Fairness Pitcher) …

11. … and from pitcher into teacups.

12. Serve the tea … smell the aroma; savour the taste.

Third Infusion (second for drinking)

Add water (just before rolling boil) to the teapot
Brew for 15 seconds
Pour through strainer into the Gong dao …
… and from pitcher to teacups.

BLACK TEA

Refreshment, Consolation, Ceremony:
Black Tea is all of these things to me.

It has mingled with my tears,
lifted me from exhaustion,
and made happy moments memorable.

Appreciated throughout the day,
tea is the one thing in life of which
I would not want to imagine being without.

BLACK TEA is the most oxidized tea.

Having the most intense (or, strongest) flavour
of all the teas, it alone goes well with milk.

To prepare Black tea, use one spoonful
of quality tea for each person
and another half ‘for the pot’,

Pour in – to about three-quarters’ full –
PROPERLY boiling water

( that is to say, on a ‘rolling boil’ – And NOT
the appalling North American practice
of hot bilge water stewing in an electric urn !!! )

Allow a 3 minute brew time,
add a splash of skim milk …
and cherish the perfect cup of tea.

For me, Black Tea is a principle of daily life.

It is a genuine medicine … and the only
True Cup of Tea.

Look for names like Assam, Ceylon, Yunnan,
and Keemun – which is the traditional ‘British’
Cup of Tea.

Here, flavoured with dried Orange peel …

A Little Variety: STRAWBERRY

A Ceylon and Keemun Black tea blend
with dried slices of Strawberry.

A wonderfully refreshing cup of tea
with a fine balance of natural Strawberry flavour.

For a more subtle flavour, use one measure of black tea
to one measures of Strawberry.

Add water from a rolling boil
and brew for 3 1/2 minutes.

Black tea with just a hint of Strawberry –

Wonderful.

LIQUORICE ROOIBOS

Pure enjoyment.
Absolute refreshment.

Adding water from a rolling boil,
brew for about 6 minutes;
a drop of skim milk to smooth the taste,

and savour the absolute bliss of a strongly flavoured,
and extremely soothing, cup of … ‘liquorice tea’.

I hope that one or two folk will have enjoyed
these few musings upon the subject of tea.

Please be congenial enough to leave a word of greeting,
… recommend teas that you enjoy;
or teashops that supply your teas and tea-ware in
the part of the world in which you live.

It would be much appreciated.

P Livingstone

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