About a week and a half ago I had a tea party. Unlike those of old it did not feature stuffed animals drinking air, but I can assure you that if my childhood doll Kirsten had been able to make it she would have had the seat of honor. It was good time spent with friends, and lots of tea, which I know is what you’re really interested in. It included lemon cookies and the the batter eaten in handfuls, among other things, so you might expect it to be excellent. It was.
I brewed my oolongs Dong Ding and Wuyi Shuixian, as well as an oolong brought by one of the guests that was unidentified (mystery tea!) but received a name as soon as I saw the leaves. Bai Hao does not hide in plain sight, which might be why its other name is Oriental Beauty.
We also had matcha and Japanese green teas, brewed by another guest who knows a considerable amount more than I do about Japanese tea. This is the post where I admit I know nothing about Japanese teas. There is one with rice in it? Matcha is ground up tea leaves and you whisk it? It is typically steamed rather than fired to stop the oxidation process? There you go, we’ve exhausted my knowledge. I am not what you would call a hater but I have to say my interest in the Japanese tea ceremony is basically non-existent. It has all the elements of any good ceremony and yet I am extremely bored by it. I know that I like matcha and I like watching it turn into tea but I don’t think I like making it ritualistically or otherwise. I do not feel bad about this. Number one, there is no accounting for taste. Number two, there are plenty of tea bloggers out there covering the Japanese tea world including the tea ceremony so I do not feel like I am neglecting to make people aware of it. That is not to say that the purpose of this blog is to bring awareness of any other tea ceremonies to people, especially Gongfu cha, just that I know my contemporaries have it covered so I’m going to write what I want to write.
That came out more tangled than I intended. The teas were delicious.
Word of advice for those of you wanting to throw tea parties: you can either drink a little bit of tea and taste all of it in the purest, or you can drink so much tea it stops tasting like anything and you have a little bit of a tea hangover the next morning and instead of getting up and brewing more tea you lay in bed wondering if you got any homework done last night during your tea buzz (I did not). We chose the second, which I…mildly regret. I would do it again but I would try to think before I drink, so to speak.
And now, the pictures, lifted from one of my guests’ facebook because I am terrible and never, ever take pictures. This will hasten my second death rapidly but I do not do what you might call, “thinking ahead.”