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good tea

[This is a working draft of a new blog post]

What is a good tea? Why this tea is better than the other? How do I recognize that this tea is worth of its price?

All these questions pops up in our mind/s. The whole thing is very simple but very hard to put into words. Also the point, the understanding reached and used, I could not tell how to achieve. 

There are a few prerequisites that a good tea must have.

The feel of tea must be pure and clean. What does this mean? The mouth feel of such a tea must be like drinking a pure mountain water, full of energy and life. What if I never drunk such water? The feel of such tea could be like a wild berry, an apple, a raspberry swallowed, with its pure taste and feel. What if I never had any fruit except those bought in a supermarket? How can be fruits compared to tea? The pure tea taste is straight and honest, it is full of character, there is no false posing, no lies and no pretending.

The body and mind feels relaxed. What this has to do with drinking tea? I believe and experience that most of people are stuck on the taste level. The connection of headache, pain in the stomach are, nervousness to drinking tea, or other beverage is many times missed. When tea hits your mouth, touches your lips, slides over your tongue, spills over your mouth cavity, all these leaves body sensations. There are signals sent all over the body, the most remote cells are reached.

If the first, second gulp of tea will not leave an unpleasant feeling then the tea is pure, like mentioned in the previous paragraph. Try to relax and bring attention to the areas of first contact with the tea soup. Rescan your whole body after a few sips, after a first, then second and third brew. Imagine and gradually feel the flow of tea starting in your mouth flowing down to your stomach/belly area. Do I feel the same as before starting to drink this tea? Do I feel better or worse? How is my mind, my mood? Are my thoughts crazy or relaxed?

Summarizing the previous two points, would you drink tea that leaves not comfortable feeling in your body even the taste is ‘good’? The taste may be deceiving, just take into account how some chemicals in food industry can deceive our mind. I know such are not added to tea leaves as far as I know. Still these chemicals, taste enhancers would block some of our sensors.

If you suspect any unwell sensations then you can always make a test. Taste/drink the tea again some days later and pay attention if the disturbing feeling comes up again. If yes and not sure still do it again later. Or/and try other tea and compare the felling after that tea. Trust your body senses and not what other people say, not what I say as a tea merchant.  

Our senses are attacked the whole day, since we wake up in the morning. The more are bombarded the more numb they get. When I eat dairy before my tea then I wonder why this tea does not taste how I remember it. When my mind is worried, is planning, is half focused then the essence of tea is gone. This usually happens in the second half of the day. Our mind can be overloaded the same as our stomacha. A day of a human being is like a year of spring, summer, autumn and the winter. So that the experience of tea degrades during our day. Fresh and vigorous in the spring (morning) and tired in the autumn and resting in the winter. 

Once the tea is pure and clean, my body feels good and my mind is relaxed. So that I am on the safe side. Then I can proceed to a tea evaluation. 

Ohh wait a minute the Cha Qchi is here, do we forgot it? No! This ‘thing’  is let’s say a ‘subtle’ ‘feature’ of good tea. It is so ‘subtle’ that we can almost call  it an ‘esoteric’ ‘woodoo’ stuff. Our present life pace is like high speed train, as we mentioned our senses and their constant bombarding them so are our ‘overflowing’ experiences of our days. How do you feel after a few hours of feasting during a weeding banquet or a rich birthday party? Do you fell like eating more? So that our mind fed since the morning until we close our eyes are hardly wanting to digest more experience. Do you think you will feel that ‘woodoo’ Cha Qchi? I do not feel so. Who I will blame for it? The tea of course. 

Then there is one important feature of puerh tea that is called aging. It takes a lot of experience to master judging good or bad aging of tea. Strong gushu forest teas change significantly during their aging, maturation. We gather knowledge with ageing our own teas. This is decades long process. I personally at 14-15 years of age of my oldest teas.

We have very little occasion to drink genuine old teas. The teas of single terroir popping up first before 14-15 years ago. Do you think you will get such teas now? Only those of low quality the good ones are drunk or sold at astronomical prices in China, HK and Taiwan.

I will tell my learning story of one of my such teas called The best of Yiwu, it’s autumn harvest of gushu leaves from 2010. I always expected the best of it, the best of 7 cakes from the series (the others were the 6 famous mountains). This cake scored always the worst. It was so strong that it made me believe it is not good. Strong in terms of a kind of blurred taste that I could not disassemble.

Not until recent time when I was finding connection with a similar cake from Taiwanese storage called Big green tree 2011. This Taiwan stored cake is more aged but also has a very similar tasting profile. It is like it has additional flavour (coming from storage) in it but the character of both teas is very similar. It is either this storage note or simply a next unknown note of aged Yiwu gushu teas.

So there is a question if I would rate the 2010 Yiwu like a mediocre tea when drinking and tasting all these years? The tea is pure and clean, the storage does not leave unpleasant traces, the body feeling are strong (this can be very confusing until learnt).

I just make a note here, even pure and clean teas may have unpleasant body feeling once their state is very raw (fresh) and the dosage is high and also the brewing time is more than needed.  

I would not judge such tea is bad either good, the gate is open, I have to taste this tea in some other time. My last session with this tea left me with a thought why I have not got more of this fantastic tea. The tasting profile of this tea finally gets more details, more pixels to recognize, the wonder of aging. The wonder of fermentation.

There are many plants that people fermented just because they were not edible in their raw state.

…to be continued and corrected…

 

 

 

 

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