01 April 2009

Sorry, I didn't this Morning...

100   year old dong ding bush1  100+ year old Dong Ding tea bush

My Dong Ding teacher's wife is an expert roaster herself.  Her method of roasting is completely different than most other tea makers.  It's an advanced-level technique that requires even more precision in temperature adjustment than usual forms of tea roasting, and more robust maocha in order to make good tea.  A poor tea base roasted using her method would result in a tea with some foul flavors.

"I will teach you if you want to learn. But if you want to learn my style, you must unlearn the other styles of roasting - they are wrong."

I once again found myself transported into a Kung Fu movie.  The dialogue - I imagine - would go something like: "Young man, I will teach you my Kung Fu.  It is better than their Kung Fu.  Climb up the mountain without a rope and chop down all of the trees with your bare hands.  Then wrestle a gorilla.  If you succeed, I will teach you.  You will be invincible."

Maybe I won't be invincible, but under the guidance of my masters, my tea will be tasty.  Each style of roasting has its own merits and is suitable for different types of tea.  Some need low to high temperature, some may benefit from high to low, and yet other teas may be best after fluctuating temperatures.  Or a tea may just need to sit for a while and be roasted again.  It's in the roasting process that the master crafters can most distinguish their product, oftentimes creating a signature taste.

I tried the master's wife's tea.  It is definitely good and demonstrates mastery of the art of the roast.

"My tea is good; the famous merchants still buy from me," she commented to me casually.

"Yes," I said, "this tea is exactly what I expected from you.  But this is not my tea cup."

She looked at me with furrowed brows. "I already washed the cups and they are all the same."

"My dear lady, my hearing is not perfect, but my sense of smell is very good.  I can smell the saliva on this cup's lip - it's not mine."

She grabbed my cup and inspected it closely, just about rubbing it into her nose.

"I'm sorry, maybe somebody didn't brush their teeth this morning."  The old masters aren't as troubled by a bit of dirt or a lack of perfect hygiene like us anal city folk.

"No need to apologize." I hurriedly thought of a line to help her save face. "I appreciate the extra flavor and qi from an old master."

                            palm and mei hua 1

She smiled and poured the rest of the tea into a thermos for me to take with me on my hike.  It was the best bottled tea that I've ever had.

Still drinking good tea and enriching my life.

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