Friday, December 07, 2007

Dan Cong feast

Tea brings people together as a Chinese philosophy for thousands years, it will continue to bring new people and the familiar together for many more years to come in every corner of the world. Here in the southern corner of California, we carry on the tradition on a Sunday afternoon. A few LATA members and tea enthusiasts frequent my shop got together for a session of tea tasting. Cha Xi (tea banquets) are often hosted here lately. Good teas are must, various types of snacks are also part of the feast. For a more complete documentation of this tasting, see Jason's story at pu-erh community. It's interesting how a typical Chinese banquet lasts a couple of hours, while a half day long tea banquet seems too short.

It'll require a larger area to host events like this in the future. I am looking forward to Chinese New Year when family, friend and selected customers are invited to attend a huge tea party, celebrating the culture with tea, how appropriate!

During the last tasting, we had a few interesting teas, and a few others we didn't have time to try. 86 vintage Dan Cong, 94 vintage Dan Cong, not sure if we had the 96 Wu Dong Da Ping DC, Chuan Du Lao Ming Cong - courtesy of Danica, Bor Tou - ginger flower. I had to part from the tasting for business issue while tea tasting continued.

Chuan du lao ming cong was sold out without any reserve shortly after its arrival. The few sessions of this tea I brewed varied from time to time. It was the most difficult tea to brew out of all the teas I had. At one point, I was quite disappointed, until I looked further into the "moodiness" of DC. During the latest gathering, I made a special request to Danica to share some of her stash of this tea, brewing with all Chao Zhou tea wares, from pots, to stove, to water boiling pot, to olive pit charcoals. The result was not satisfying either. The challenge was on and would not be settled until I could maximize its potential. I have confidence in the potential of the tea, it just takes all the right elements to bring it out, perhaps I'd have to wait till full moon?! Will came by the next day (Monday), and generously gave me shares of his stash. I roasted the leaves at 80 degrees C for 30 minutes before brewing, the intense floral flavor came out again, honey smooth texture reminded me one of the previous successful session, but more smooth and mellow.

I love Dan Cong, not only because its beautiful aroma, distinctive flavor, the beauty of Phoenix mountain, or just because it's originate from the soil where I'm familiar with. What made me partial to them is its unpredictable nature, its complexity, and the hidden quality of its beauty. It takes patience to discover those qualities, it takes practice to unveil its potential. It's a challenge that drives me to learn, to search, to bring out the best of these little leaves.

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