Repeat and remember this mantra. 'Its not the tea, its me. Its not the tea, its me.'
The tea I loved two weeks ago when I tried it and now can't figure out why? I didn't buy it at a tea-house after a tasting, perhaps being tricked into buying a inferior product, this was a sample that came in the mail, I initially didn't like it, but I worked with that sample, played with it with my curious 'Beginner's Mind' and found a sweet spot, which then turned into a real appreciation so I bought it.
Two large bags of it in fact. Then I forgot about it, moved on to other things, other teas and when it came in the mail yesterday I could barely remember why I had bought so much of it. 'Must have liked it a lot', I said to myself looking at the two large bags. 'A lot.' I resisted the urge to go look at my initial blog post, might as well keep my Beginner's Mind if it's as clear and empty as it seems to be.
I determined that I must have thought it would be a good basic 'daily drinker' so opened it up this Sunday morning, (after a long night of lots of sweeties, and a 4 hour session of Big Red Robe) and at first rinse and first steep am immediately put-off by its heavy brashness, viscous texture and thick mouth-feel.
Remembering that I heard many Chinese don't even start drinking the infusions until the fourth I steep two more times. Still too heavy, too fruity, too dark, too tangy. Temperate is 195f, gaiwan is 120 ml, 5.5 leaf gram....what is the deal?
I tell myself, BACK AWAY FROM THE TEA! 'Its not the tea, its me'.
Take this opportunity, Buddha-Mom, to practice your Buddhist patience, the one you needed so often when your child was still so needy, and not the autonomous non-irritating creature of delight she is now at twelve.
I know that tea changes, it won't always be me, but I know this time it is or I never would have bought so much of it for my first large black tea purchase, ( I did buy a boatload of Floating Leaves 2014 Oriental Beauty, my first Oolong purchase) I know water temps, steep time, vessel the elixir is sipped out of, many variables can change the taste and experience of a tea from one sitting to the next. Mostly though I think its this sipper, so here's my plan for myself.
Again, back away from the tea, come sit across the room from the tea-table and write about these moments of confusion and frustration. This is all experimental, this is, in fact, fun. Give the tea a chance to mellow out,let your palate clear, let it sit and rest in the cup empty of water, breathing, and come back to it again as a supplicant in a few hours. Try harder to find the quality of this tea that so moved me to buy quite a bit of it just last week.
And so that is what I did, all those things mentioned above. I left the tea alone. when I came back I took out a couple wet grams, put it aside, and lowered the water temperature to 180. I know that these were my beginning parameters weeks ago when I started this tea journey, 3-4 grams, 180 degrees, flash brews etc.
First few steeps after this break were just light and almost flavorless, a little woody which was all fine with me, and then it came OUT. That wonderful "I've got to buy a lot of this tea" sensation just happened, and brews six through nine were lovely. There it is! That slight Puerh taste at the end that made me think this tea would help me get used to the taste of Puerhs. And at the beginning, warm wood, toast, a little honey. It all came out. I put the couple of grams I had taken out right back in and raised the temp up to 190 and it just got better from there for three more steeps.
Once again, I am in total awe of what these leaves can do, the personality, the nuances, and sometimes the bitterness or bad mood of the tea and how that can manifest itself! There is truly nothing like it in the world. The journey continues and this week I am going to be exploring a lot of Puerhs thanks, in part, to this little black tea and its hint to me that I might have a deeper palate than I ever thought possible.
|Teavivre's Yunnan Gongfu Fragrant Black Tea|