Take Your Tea With You

The tea brick mystery

China-Longshan-Green-Tea-Brick

This is one of the packages of tea that my friend sent me.  Unfortunately, this is all that I have left of the half-a-dozen boxes and bags of tea I received a little more than a year.  Fortunately, it is by far the best of the lot.  The previous packages contained foil sachets of loose leaf tea which I sporadically drank over the the eight or nine months after I received the gift.  As the vacuum sealed and plastic boxed tea dwindled I began to spread out the periods between drinking tea to delay the inevitable day when this gift would be completely consumed.  Meanwhile, this brick of tea sat undisturbed in the bottom of a storage drawer in my home work area.  It must have been that despite my rejection of bagged tea which followed almost immediately after having my first cup of loose leaf green tea, I still retained some affinity for the pre-portioned serving size represented by the foil wrapped sachets.  That brick, mashed together, was a mystery and somewhat exotic.  I will admit that I avoided it.

Finally the day came when I brewed and drank the last foil wrapped sachet of tea.  It was very good.  Perhaps someday I will write about those hundreds of cups of tea because it really was very good tea.  Now completely out of the familiarly packaged foil sachets, I still ignored the brick.  Weeks passed by and I would occasionally purchase more loose leaf tea from local specialty stores.  Some of it was good but most of it did not compare to the tea from the gift.  Perhaps some of this is me drinking the sentiment of the gift along with the tea.  Eventually the day came when I opened the drawer and saw that round paper wrapped brick of tea sitting on top of some of the foam packing material from the original shipping box.  I took it out and as Sen no Rikyu is credited with saying,

  • First you heat the water.
  • Then you make the tea.
  • Then you drink it properly.
  • That is all you need to know.

China-Loose-Leaf-Quality-Green-Tea

The friend who sent me the gift may or may not be offended by my quoting a Japanese scholar when talking about Chinese tea but since tea and tea rituals were brought to Japan from China by various monks and tradesmen and I am neither Chinese nor Japanese, I’ll continue.  My friend’s generosity is often matched by reticence to tell me more about where this tea came from so it’s a bit of a mystery to me.  I’ve studied enough written Chinese to write the characters into a translator so I’ll see how much I can find out about this excellent tea and describe the experience of making and drinking this tea.  Since I am a newbie to the world of excellent tea, it remains to be seen if I am drinking it properly.  I know that I am drinking it happily!  In fact, the header of this blog is from one of my first cups of this tea.  It was that good that I had to take a photo of it.

Porcelain-Cup-Green-Tea

It was like drinking a double rainbow.  Anyway,  the next few posts of this new blog will be me describing this tea, and tracing it back through it’s retailers, distributors, and producers.  The goal will be to eventually talk to the producer and if I am lucky actually visit the source.  Join me!

 

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