September 21, 2017

In Pursuit of Tea Tasting Session, Countryside Edition

Traveling to tea-producing countries is on my bucket list. In the meantime, the next best thing is visiting the New England countryside to taste tea with In Pursuit of Tea. Jee, Sara, and I spent an afternoon last weekend with Sebastian and Ana drinking tea at a historic train depot on a riverbank and in a second-growth forest. At the depot, we ate sandwiches from a local market and drank a silver-needle-style white tea from India. Before heading to the woods for more tea, we walked down to the river and oohed and aahed like city folk at the picturesque scene: a white wooden building with bright red door and a man standing mid-stream, fishing.

Past cow-filled pastures and onto a narrow, rocky road in the woods we stopped at a clearing. We shed our shoes to walk on incredibly spongey moss and looked at turtles and dragonflies in & around a man-made pond. Thirsty for tea, we sat in an indoor nook of the cabin and drank a Darjeeling 1st Flush, a Shan Lin Xi, a Gui Fei, and a hong cha. The Gui Fei was incredibly aromatic. The dry leaves smelled like guava and the liquor like caramelized guava. I served the hong cha, the Bang Dong Hong from White 2 Tea. My hands were shaking because of nerves and from the heat of the gaiwan full of rolling-boil-temperature water.

My hands cooled off when we moved outside and Sebastian and Ana resumed pouring. We continued the tea session with a shou, a Darjeeling 2nd Flush, and a sheng with leaves sourced from near Menghai. For me the dry leaves had a layered fragrance of stone fruit and cow barn. We capped off the day with a delicious dinner including hyper-locally foraged black trumpet mushrooms.

This tasting session wasn't an explicit lesson in tea pairing but I learned a couple of combinations: dried fruit goes well with many different types of tea and both types of puer pair well with brie (and walnut bread).

It was a treat to travel further afield for tea. I look forward to doing it again, soon.

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