Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Drinking with the Seasons

I don't reach for High Mountain Oolong as often as more oxidized, aged or roasted teas. But I must thank my relationship with seasonal green oolong drinking for teaching me some serious lessons. The idea sprang from drinking the winter harvest High Mountain Oolongs at FLT, and learning about their connection to the weather in Taiwan. The new season's teas came in a couple weeks ago and I've been drinking them, trying to get a solid handle on them since then. It seems they have been affected by Taiwan's especially mild winter this year.

So now, a couple days ago I was having tea with a scotch loving friend and realized something about the way I drink tea in contrast to the way he drinks scotch. Besides I get tea drunk while he gets drunk-drunk ;) It seems to be the case that from the earth to the tea table, tea takes a very clear and traceable path. In my own drinking, I strive to understand the leaves in terms of cause and effect. What was the cause (farming, processing, weather, aging, etc) that gave any particular effect that I feel in my mouth, nose or body. It's very interesting to me to read the leaves and broth like a story.

I realized this when my scotch buddy was giggling because I brought up 'dong qi' (winter “energy”). In describing what I meant, it turns out the feeling of dongqi is actually an amalgamation of a lot of different feelings which together point to the weather being sufficiently cool in the tea mountains during winter. But his experience as a scotch drinker is more analytical, perhaps, in that he would rather identify each feeling on its own. In scotch this makes sense, as the path of whiskey from earth to glass is hugely complicated by intricate processing, long term aging and storage. I think they're both very sexy drinks. Their contrastive natures seem to at least imply contrastive approaches in tasting. I'd appreciate input from the scotch-heads!


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