January 15, 2012

Symbolism of plum, orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum

In Chinese classic painting and literature, 梅,蘭,竹,菊 (the prominent plants for winter, spring, summer and fall: Plum , Orchid, Bamboo, Chrysanthemum) represent esteemed merits of gentleman's character : plum for ability to overcome hardships, orchid for gracefulness, bamboo for high moral standard and chrysanthemum for honesty. 

The characteristic weather pattern of the four seasons influences my tea choice as well.  In winter,  the earthy fragrance, golden amber color and full body of Pu-er or Oriental Beauty tea enhance the warmth while reading in my cozy study.

To welcome spring, I switch to lighter Oolong (i.e. Taiwan's high mountain tea and Anshi's Iron Goddess tea) for its pleasant floral fragrance and taste. 

In summer, the dragon-well green tea suits my palate with its clean scent and slightly bitter "I-can-taste-the-nature" quality. 

Then when autumn leaves turn to golden yellow and red, the robust and fruity flavor of Oolong from Taiwan's Tung Ting mountain compliments the harvest season's ambiance so perfectly!

January 8, 2012

A marvelous green tea to start the new year

I am so blessed to have friends who remember my tea hobby during their travel.  Recently I was given a beautiful tin packet of 竹叶青 (direct character translation: Bamboo Leaves Green), an organic green tea from China's Emie Mountain in Sichuan .  The unique tea  was named by a high ranking official (as many other Chinese teas) who paralleled the beautiful shape,  light greenish scent and color of the tea to those of fresh young bamboo leaves.

Each pale green leaf lays plumb as a ripe snap pea pod. Upon opening the individual tea packet, the fragrance waded towards me with a refreshing bamboo leaf's aroma. And what a delight to see the leaves swelling, drifting, swimming and gently diving down to the glass bottom.   The first sip met all my anticipation of a good tea: a light mouth feel along with a pleasant, soothing taste.  After enjoying the first steep,  I felt as if I was sitting on a mountain clearing surrounded by nature's beauty.

Afterwards, I chanced to read the tea company's press release dd July 2011.  It recorded a French winery host's comment after an invitation tea tasting : "I can taste nature in this tea." 

(note for readers: click on the google tool bar for web links' translation)