February 24, 2008

First bitter, then sweet

(Note: This blog entry is composed specially for the TJ middle school cultural class on Friday.)

For young people who has not been exposed to Chinese tea (no sugar and milk added to the tea), it will be interesting to note your taste buds' reception to the very first sip of green tea. The tea leaves in the photo above right were freshly picked from tea shrubs. Commercial "green teas" are its products shortly after drying and toasting. Therefore green tea still retains certain natural leafy taste. Depending upon individual taste threshold, one may taste a slight bitterness upon sipping. However, subtle sweet taste of green tea will certainly emerge and linger long afterwards.

If you have dined in Chinese restaurant, "Oolong tea" is most likely the tea served with your meal. Oolong (means "black dragon" in Chinese) tea undergoes further processing (biochemical oxidization under controlled atmosphere) than green tea. The artisan process transforms most bitter leaf elements into mellow and complex-flavored ones; therefore the various pleasing characteristics of most Oolong teas (photo shown above left).

Besides technological advances of tea making, tea drinking has played an integral part of Chinese culture along with calligraphy, music and literature activities. Interested readers may check into my web site's reference sections to expand your tea knowledge. :))