All in Tastings
Between un-oxidized green teas and fully oxidized black teas there is a spectrum. This oxidation spectrum represents oolong teas. At one end of the spectrum, you will find oolongs that are more similar to green teas, whereas at the other end, there are oolongs that resemble black teas. Their beauty lies in their differences along this spectrum. Nantou Dark is a lightly oxidized oolong that is roasted (high fired). You can compare it to this other oolong I tasted here on the blog; they’re both oolongs but couldn’t be more different.
I am sitting on a tatami mat. My legs start tingling but I barely notice it. My surroundings are so beautiful I can hardly perceive anything else. Outside the open screen windows there is a perfectly landscaped garden with stone lanterns and small stone bridges over a pond inhabited by black, orange and white koi. On the low table in front of me, a bowl of frothy matcha and a sweet rice treat. I am in Kyoto and I am never going to leave. Join me for a matcha tea tasting.
The first time I had pu erh was a long time ago and I didn't even know it. Back then, the only thing I knew about tea was that I liked it a lot. One day a relative gave me a round colorful cardboard box with black Chinese characters. Inside the box, wrapped in paper, there was tuocha, a dome-shaped compressed tea, made of pu erh. I cannot describe the fascination this little box exerted on me. It might have not been very high quality tea but to me it was like a treasure. You had to grate the dome-shaped cake to make a cup of tea and this process alone had something magical to it. The tea was strong, intense.What is pu erh?
"Oolong" is a funny word. In Chinese it means "black dragon tea" and refers to a partially oxidized tea. This particular black dragon tea comes from Phoenix Mountain. I know, I realize this sounds like straight out of Chinese mythology. Misty mountains, remote tea gardens... Ok, now I am getting sidetracked!
Whenever I enjoy tea, I need beautiful things around me. Flowers, for example. I've recently gathered my tasting notes for Gyokuro, also known as "jade dew" from Japan. When I think of Japanese art, the first thing that comes to mind are irises painted on a golden screen. Irises convey elegance and serenity. Now that we've set the mood, let's taste some tea!