Ethereal Qi

I am  traveling now to catch up with my overseas  tea friends  and as usual, we are drinking tea very frequently everyday.

In the middle of a tea session, a tea friend asked me what is the  real essence of enjoying tea.

I paused and thought for  a while.

Well, it is about capturing the ethereal Qi  of the tea….

…by calming of our spirit, putting aside all our thoughts and emptying our mind…

…subtly approaching the tea with gentle manners…

…brewing and listening to the tea…

…with heighten sense of awareness…

…capturing the ethereal Qi of the tea …

…quietly smile with fond memories…

Then, my wandering mind drifted back into reality, with a smile reminiscing the wonderful thoughts.

Flying Horse

Flying Horse

A tin of late 1950s Flying Horse Brand Fujian Tieguanyin  铁观音, unopened since then. Today I just opened it to share with everyone. Will brew and write more about it in later post.

Brewing old antique tea has certain technique and rituality.  Be patience, my friend, it waited so long for us and now it is our turn to wait…

Old antique tea has its charm and exotic aura. It might not necessarily be a perfect tea but its rarity and history imbued into the brew is often breathtaking.

Flying Horse 2

Lu Yu 陆羽

Lu Yu

“Who is this guy anyway?”

A tea friend asked me about the sculpture on my tea ceremony table. “Well, he is Lu Yu, 陆羽, (733-804), the Tea Sage.  He was the scholar who contributed to Chinese tea culture and wrote the Classic of Tea book.  He was the de facto Tea Master in his time”

 “Huh? What about me? Oh… haha, I am a Tea Slave.” 

Like many other tea lovers, we labor day and night to satisfy our curiosity over tea. It is real hardship and looks bitter from the outside, but inside our heart, it is always sweet.

Soul of the Old Yixing Tea Pots

“So how much does this pot cost?” It is a common question to ask when we see a pot.

Well, the pot (in the picture below) cost only US$2 in 1979.  It is a Yixing pot made of Zisha mined in Huanglongshan.  The mining stopped in mid 90s.  There are claims that there are still abundant of these real old zisha clay,  but they are  rarely seen in  new pots from year 2000 onwards.

The actual cost now?   Perhaps 100 to 200 times or even more….the addition is for the warm and soul of the pot.  Yixing pots especially old ones have certain charisma which embodies the tea ceremony holistically.  Tea connoisseurs love to nurture these pots.  The value or affinity to the pot increases when the pot developed a beautiful patina.  Most collector would treat these pots as their children and could hardly part with them at any price.

Below are two pots done in 1979 by Yixing Factory 1, before (left pot) and after nurturing.

Shui Ping

Another pot that has been nurtured with a nice patina.

Flat pot

Acquring tea

Photo taken in Guilin while sipping a cup of tea.
Photo taken in Guilin while sipping a cup of tea.

“Tea should be acquired by evaluation and tasting and not by stories.

Likewise, a beautiful  landscape should be appreciated by seeing and not by hearing.”

Lao Banzhang (LBZ) 老班章

I started this blog at the request of many friends who wanted to learn about tea. So I thought it would be even better to share the knowledge with the world.  I was really lucky to be able to travel so much to explore tea and learn from many teamasters.  But I am still humbled by the vast knowledge of tea, tea culture and the art of tea. I am still learning and hope to learn more by sharing.

This is my first blog on tea after a few decades of dedication to tea. Tea was just a pastime to me and it made me really curious. So my journey started with the fascination on tea and my thirst for tea knowledge. I drink all types of tea that I can possibly get access to i.e. Darjeeling, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Taiwan and Chinese tea.  My current dedication is for Puer and Yancha tea which I religiously spent hours every day on them.

So for the first blog post, I will write about something iconic.  Currently, the most talk about Puer tea is the Lao Banzhang.  I chanced upon Lao Banzhang in 2007 when it was pretty unknown and was said to be a crazy undrinkable tea.  Nevertheless, it became famous.  Personally I love this tea from day one and I was impressed by its strength, rounded bitterness, sweetness but mostly by the hint of kombu seaweed when it was young.  I brewed this tea every few months since 2007 and it never fail to impress me every time I drink it.   I often served this tea to novices,  oldtimers, teamaster without mentioning about it and most of them said it was a great tea. I always belief that a great tea should always taste great to everyone from novices to seasoned tea drinkers.

Here is a photo of the 2007 Lao Banzhang, an iconic tea now, insanely priced, vastly imitated and fiercely speculated.  To me, it is simply just tea and a really great tea that often make a great day greater.

Lao Banzhang