Monday, November 21, 2011

2008 Gedeng Pu-erh.sk


Dear reader,

I have to apologize for a longer period of silence that I did not intend to make, however, my work travel and fieldwork related fatigue awarded me with an unpleasant gift of short but complicated state of powerlessness and  coughing fits which prevented me from any proper tea tasting, let alone writing. It took a few days before my taste cells were brought back from the dead but I am back safe and sound and ready to share my love for tea with you again. 

While at the field I met several interesting people, one of them is a young Chinese gentleman from Singapore, who studies journalism in Chicago but currently spending time at one of the American Colleges in Prague. We met at the opening party of one film festival and had a nice conversation about Chinese tea and language in general. He taught me how to pronounce some crazy Chinese tongue-twisters and I decided to scan one of them for you. Those who are good at singing while talking might appreciate this exercise. I am definitely NOT one of them but I like the way it sounds. As I lost my voice at the above mentioned party, I could not even practice enough but I do not believe it would have been worth it anyway. I tried to cure my throat instead while drinking various kinds of puerh and then I stopped as it tasted all the same, an effect I somewhat regretted. 

A few days ago I decided to examine myself and taste one of the older samples I have had at home to see if perhaps I have been recovering well. The sample is 2008 Gedeng from pu-erh.sk. For those who might have not known, GeDengShan (革登山) is a famous Mengla tea mountain. As this tea belongs to very delicate ones, having a good olfactory impression would therefore prove the test positive and lucky me, I have smelled something. The sample is beautiful at first sight, see for yourself.

It consists of strangely shaped large leaf and some stems which fall apart nicely when using needle in a moderate way. Dry leaf in a hot teapot smells after ripe plums, wet leaf brings a different smell, rather soft and light, something like vanilla or gentle tone of strawberries. The smell is promising, however, I had to struggle with proper brewing method. 

It took me a while to understand that this particular tea needs her time, it is a good teacher of Tao. The first time I was probably too impatient and tried to squeeze her up too many times in very short time. The second tea session I decided to use my intuition and dedicated the first infusion 30 second long bath (5g / 80 ml). It was a wise thing to do. 

This tea is too delicate to be pushed in any way. You just cannot help it, brewing tea is the real art of conversation skills. I perhaps did not ask the tea properly the first time I tried to make her adapt to my own needs. It should have been done the other way round, I know now with all respect. This tea needs care. If you allow her time, she will give you much pleasure.

Do not expect any intense flavour, the aroma is a sort of clue for your imagination but the flavour keeps its secrets. If you are patient enough, after a few cups it will appear in all its beauty. It is not one of those kinds of tea you can drink without your full awareness. Well, of course you can but believe me, in this case it is a complete waste of time. I cannot tell you much about the particular characteristics, this tea is very hard to define. Each time I try, it simply runs away. It does not like being categorized. It is simply good.

...

Tonight a few minutes ago, 21.11.2011 at 23:21 exactly, my nephew was born and I would like to wish him all the best.
Happy Birthday, Šimon.

Good tea, good life and best wishes.

-ER-




~ 4 comments: ~

peter says:
at: November 22, 2011 at 6:31 AM said...

I like the way you write, its a simple and concise. It is easily readable style. Tells you what you feel at the right moment.

The tea you drunk needs still its time to age. Although now, as you wrote, it is really hard to define.

Recently myself dont have much energy to describe any tea. In a rushing world, in my rushing speed I dont have time and space in my mind to catch the right sensesation that good tea might give you.

This might be the reason that all the good teas need space, time to drink, enjoy and contemplate a current moment.

congratulation to the baby, since I have an own child I began to understand many things that my parents did for me and what they went through my upbringing, THX to THEM

Hirundo says:
at: November 22, 2011 at 10:16 AM said...

Beautifully written, I esp. enjoyed this paragraph:

"This tea is too delicate to be pushed in any way. You just cannot help it, brewing tea is the real art of conversation skills. I perhaps did not ask the tea properly the first time I tried to make her adapt to my own needs. It should have been done the other way round, I know now with all respect. This tea needs care. If you allow her time, she will give you much pleasure."

How fortunate is the person who can communicate with another (being) with knowing this in his heart.
Made me smile :)

esteban rivas says:
at: November 22, 2011 at 8:42 PM said...

Thank you, Peter, for your nice comment. I'm really glad the blog has its readers .) I agree, it is quite hard to find time for all of us unless we try... it is actually what I am trying to do, to stop myself from rushing each time I realize I am trapped within the whole craziness of fulfilling goals, which is, btw, neverending. Sometimes I do succeed, sometimes I don't but the more I try, the better I feel. Or actually more alive. And in reference to our parents I totally agree with you, all respect to them and new babies too, I am sure they come here to educate us too. I wish your child all the best :)

esteban rivas says:
at: November 22, 2011 at 8:57 PM said...

Dear Hirundo, thank you for writing your lovely comment. It feels good receiving feedback, especially from people who feel the same way about such a delicate "thing" in our lives. I am grateful for knowing you are one of them .)

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Drink your tea
slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves.
Slowly, evenly,
without rushing toward the future.
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Best to be like water,
Which benefits the ten thousand things
And does not contend.
It pools where humans disdain to dwell,
Close to the Tao.

Live in a good place.
Keep your mind deep.
Treat others well.
Stand by your word.
Keep good order.
Do the right thing.
Work when it's time.

Only do not contend,
And you will not go wrong.

Tao Te Ching, 8 / transl. Addis & Lombardo