Today was a sunny, hot, and humid day. For this reason I chose to drink a tea called Huang Shan Mao Feng green tea (Huang Shan Mao Feng Lu Cha 黄山毛峰绿茶 in Chinese). Huang Shan is the mountain range near where the tea is grown in Anhui Province (An Hui Sheng 安徽省 in Chinese). The leaves of this tea are said to resemble the craggy mountain peaks of Huang Shan. Additionally, the tea leaves are covered in fine white hairs. For this reason the tea is called Mao Feng, or ‘fur peak’ tea. Usually just the bud and first leaf of the tea bush are picked to produce Huang Shan Mao Feng.
I obtained this tea from a tea magazine which said that the tea was produced in a place called Xiang Tan Cun village (響潭村) in Anhui province. The people who sent the tea enjoy brewing the tea using just one bowl for tea ware. This can be an enjoyable and intimate way of drinking tea because it helps focus on the color, fragrance, and taste of the tea without many distractions. The steps for brewing bowl tea are outlined below.
Step 1: Preheat the bowl using hot water. For this tea session I heated water until it had small bubbles, but did not reach a rolling boil. This temperature is around 85 degrees Celsius.
Step 2: Put the dry tea leaves in the warm bowl. At this point the heat from the bowl releases the fragrance from the tea leaves.
Step 3: Add hot water to fill the bowl roughly 2/3 full. The tea leaves float on the water, but can be blown back to create a clean space for drinking the tea. When the bowl is almost empty, more water is added so that more tea can be drunk easily. This can be repeated until the tea loses its flavor.
Brewing the first couple of bowls, this tea had a faint aroma and flavor which were both clean and refreshing. After the tea leaves opened up in the water, they had a more substantial vegetal flavor that was somewhat similar to greens and water chestnuts. However the best qualities were more in the feelings than the flavors of the tea. By this I mean that it was a clean tea that made me feel refreshed and uplifted. It did not have any unpleasant flavors, textures, and did not overly caffeinate me.
It can be easy for a lover of tea to be intrigued by different flavors, aromas, and tools used to make tea. However while drinking tea today, I thought about how tea drinking is ultimately very simple. Drinking tea in a bowl can be a good reminder of this because it just takes a bowl, tea leaves, & hot water. There is something about gazing at a bowl of fresh green tea leaves that makes it easy to find the beauty in a simple thing.