10 February, 2008

A Tribute to Tea-Friends

We are thankful for multiple blessings this week-end, as "Nada" came to visit us. With his smiling eyes and flowing monkly robes, it felt as if Lei and I had known him for a long time, though it was just the first time that we had met outside e-mail and tea-blogs. The flood-water drained away, the sun shined, and all was well with the world.

With any luck, Nada is now back in London enjoying some of the fine hospitality at TeaSmith.

Of a wonderful day, activities concerning tea-drinking included the rounded delights of the 1993 Red Blossom Maocha (thanks again to the Davelcorp Foundation), and my favourite wulong, the 2004 Dayuling (2650m) from Teamasters.

After dinner, Nada revealed his secret weapon, the 1958 Guangyungong - now reaching its half-century.

"Twiggy", sayeth he, and indeed it is. The leaves had a quiet aroma of wet storage, but a crisp one at that.

This tea seems not to be too much about its flavour or aroma, being increasingly sweet through its various infusions, with some pleasant sandalwood.

The chaqi was extraordinarily special, however. I would love to sit a chaqi unbeliever down with this tea, as even the aroma imparts a dramatic physiological effect. After the first cup, our palms were flushed, our heads giddy, and tingles running up our spines. It was intriguing to hear Nada's descriptions of the effects he noticed within his body, due to his skill in subtle meditation.

By the end of the night, we were bright-eyed and alert, and wondering what special magic is accumulated by such a tea over the decades.

We wish Nada a safe trip home to Scotland, and hope to see him again soon for, not considering the old tea, it was a wonderful visit from a good friend.


MarshalN said...

Tea meetings are always great, especially between "old" friends.

I'm sure I'll have a reason to visit Oxford's wonderful libraries someday :)

Hobbes said...

Come! We have books and tea! :)



Anonymous said...


Interesting looking tea. How does it compare to the 1960 version you treated us with? GYG seems to be a pretty odd tea as it refers to completely different products through the years (or decades let's say), but it is not something I now very well.
On the pictures though, I would say it looks pretty much cooked to me...

Hobbes said...

Hi, Iwii,

I hope London's not too cold - I'm typing this with numb fingers!

The comparison between then 1960s Guangyungong and this '58 tea was raised yesterday, too. All three of us, and if I remember correctly, Phyll Sheng also, felt that the '60s tea was underwhelming. I can remember thinking that I wouldn't bother to obtain any more.

By comparison, the 50s tea was much more potent. The character was cleaner, sweeter, and more pristine - despite my sun-bleached photograph, any fermented shupu content didn't strike me. Whereas I remember very clearly thinking that the 60s tea was significant in its proportion of shupu.

The overall potency was easily observed in the number of infusions drawn: the 60s tea lasted only four infusions before it started to decline. The 50s tea lasted much longer, outwards of nine infusions - by this time we were brewing it for quite long periods of time.

The chaqi was more pronounced for me, in the 50s tea. It really did feel like something narcotic, or at least tonic.



Anonymous said...

It just seems like it was a better tea in every respect then. Interesting...

Nada said...

Dear Hobbes,

Thank you for your touching post. I had a very special day with both of you, a wonderful meeting with two wonderful people. I was left with an enduring smile of quiet contentment and a feeling of peace with the world.

As for the tea, I thought I'd add some concurrence to your comments for the record.

This was the oldest tea I'd tasted and after an unextraordinary meeting with the 60's GYG I wasn't too sure what to expect.

The dry leaves from this (the '58 version) appeared to be substantially different from the 60's one, with many more twigs and much looser structure.

As it turned out, this was a very different tea in the cup too. For me also, the chaqi was the highlight of this tea. I was amazed. Powerful, blissful rushes of energy, an almost spiritual experience. Much more than I'd experienced with any other tea, although I've a feeling the company may have had some part to play as well :)
Over the past couple of days I've had a feeling of the chaqi still being present to some extent. I've noticed that I've needed less sleep, awakening early feeling very refreshed and my mind has been very peaceful.

As I think we all agreed at the time it would be a shame for this tea to become an ordinary part of our lives, but a small amount for extraordinary occasions is something to be treasured.


Matt said...

Where'd the links go?

Hobbes said...

Dear Matt,

I'm reorganising; normal service shall be shortly resumed.



Michel said...

An enjoyable post.
Hope our paths will meet some day.
Cornwall is so glorious this afternoon.


Hobbes said...

Salut, Michel,

I hope our paths will cross, too. You know, France is closer to Oxford than Cornwall? :)



fairspaintings said...

Hi hobbs can you email me at mrmfrancois@gmail.com

Anonymous said...