31 July, 2009

Tea Chums

It's been a long time since we had friends visiting who have an interest in tea! Our usual friends studiously ignore our curious tea-setup in the corner of the lounge. My cousin once asked if the tea-table was a writing desk, though.

So, it was a distinct pleasure to have Mr. and Mrs. Nada pay us a surprise visit as their worldly travels took them close to our city.

Pink Flower

Tea al fresco was a very pleasant change. Nada has a charcoal burner from the talented Taiwanese engineer-turned-potter whose work featured in one of the first two issues of a tea magazine that I bought from Houde, long ago. The potter in question grinds rocks into his clay, and integrates driftwood and other cast-asides into his work to great effect.

On the charcoal burner, one of Nada's two century-old tetsubin, my old faithful tetsubin, and Nada's charming silver kettle. It was quite an education to try them all on the same teas: my tetsubin was a touch rougher than Nada's veteran tetsubin, while both gave a deeper, heavier flavour to the teas than the smooth, polished, almost brittle performance of the silver kettle.

Al Fresco

Thanks to Dr. Kim for a splendid 2009 Dayuling wulong (which is one of my personal favourites), originally provided by Teamasters, which we enjoyed. A 1970s wulong from Taiwan, then onto a 1930s (!) liu'an.

The latter just keeps on marching, and I'm still infusing the leaves here in my office, two days later. It's chaqi was quite something - after a while, everything seemed sharply in focus, and very quiet.


Finally, we picked some vegetables, and I got to work on my stir-fry skills. If engineering ever gets boring, maybe I can open "Laowei's House of Zhonglish Cuisine".

And before we knew it, the evening was over.

Late edit: I've since been background-infusing the 1930s Liu'an in a gaiwan in my office for four days now. The colour has faded to creamy-brown, but the infusions remain smooth and woody, and my body responds to the chaqi in a remarkable manner. A singular tea!


sp1key said...

That Liu an is an experience in its own. Boil it in a pot in the kitchen! Drink the soup! then eat up the tea you! ^^

Hobbes said...

Hmm - nice idea! Nada was kind enough to leave us another little sample, and so I'll take your advice for that one. After four days of constant background-brewing, though, I don't know how much it'll infuse in the kitchen!

Liu'an soup - yum :)



Zachary said...

That Liu'an sounds fascinating -- I hope I'll get to try something that old some day. I'd love to hear more about it once you've finally finished with it.

Hobbes said...

There's a few from the 1990s available from Jing Teashop, I think? It might be worth a look! It tastes a lot like shupu... :)



tieguanyin said...

Hello Hobbes,

Sounds like you had a great visit from the Nada's! If I recall, did you not mention on B&B that Liu Bao and Liu An tea made you emit
zombie noises
:)? Maybe 70+ years of undeadness helps mellow the tea ;)?

Take Care,


Wei Qi said...

It's chaqi was quite something - after a while, everything seemed sharply in focus, and very quiet.
what do you mean the "chaqi"?
Can you explain to me?
if you can, email me ok?
My email address is weiqi.bloom@gmail.com

toki said...

That's a dream meeting you tea heads had in England.... The company, the tea, the chats, the outdoor and the food after! Envoy from my heart. Cheers - T

sp1key said...

Liu an ages slower than puerh, 90s liu an to me is still in a transition phase.
80s liu an is starting to make a good drink and any aged longer than that is very much enjoyable.

Kim Christian said...

For me tea with company (especially if they can appreaciate good tea) tastes at least twice as good !!
Unfortunately I also get "the look" if they see my tea wares or
hear about my obsession :)...

Hobbes said...

Dear Alex,

Haha - great memory! Liu'an doesn't thrill me, the same way that shupu doesn't. A 1930s version, though, is something special :)

Dear Weiqi,

My thoughts on chaqi (from this article):

The tea will also affect your body in some way. Yes, I'm talking about our old friend, Mr. Qi.

To some folk, chaqi is that mystical force that flows through us, surrounds and binds us; it's in you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. To others, chaqi is a blanket term for describing subtle physiological phenomena. Some folk relate it to the parasympathetic nervous system. Some folk use it to put out candles and throw people across a room (or pull x-wing fighters out of swamps in the Dagoba System). My own opinion is one of agnosticism on the subject of qi. Both Western and Eastern descriptions seem useful, and I wouldn't want to discount either as both are equally right, and equally wrong. I've done loads of qigong [chi'kung] in my time, am a (semi-) regular taijiquan [t'ai chi ch'uan] practitioner, but also a paid-up member of the Science Club (discounts available on scientific calculators and pocket-protectors). So, I take it all and use what works.

Dear Toki,

The nice thing about Britain is that it's small enough to meet most people, that's true :)

Dear Kim,

Yes, I know the feeling! I don't usually say anything, just to avoid "the look"... :)

Toodlepip all,


Wei Qi said...

Dear Hobbes,

Thank you very much for helping me solve my question.

Wei Qi Chee.

tieguanyin said...

Given the longevity of this tea, it should be called the "28 Days later" Liu'An (metamorphosis into zombie optional =D)

Hobbes said...

Dear Alex,

I think I'm one of the three people in the entire Western world that actually enjoyed that film!



Anonymous said...

Hi Hobbe:
we had really nice day that day with you guys. Also I tried the most tasty Chinese meal in the UK.
Say Hi to Lei! Hope can see you guys again!

Hope can see you guys again!
With the warmest wishes!

Hobbes said...

Haha - glad you enjoyed it!

Best wishes,