man, tea, nature, heaven: the experience of drinking aged tea
Drinking quality tea is both an aesthetic and energetic experience. Good tea has the potential not only to awaken the senses, but to awaken ones spirit as well. The reason why puerhs were so highly valued in old traditional culture was their ability to shift ones state.
The variety of experiences is vast and depends both on the quality and age of the puerh a well as the sensitivity of the drinker. One will see from my sample sets that there are certain aged teas which put one in a quiet meditative or reflective state while others charge one with vigorous energy. Each puerh cake has its own personality formed by quality of tea, storage factors, age and a large array of subtle environmental factors.
There are some botanical reasons why these teas are so powerful from a Chinese medical perspective. Many of the trees are between 100-1000 years old. The older trees develop alot of qi over time. Their roots can go 60 feet or more into the earth, drawing up deep nourishment and energy over a vast field. Many of the trees also grow in natural habitats where they interact with many other fragrant and potent trees and plants. Also the air and water, at least until fairly recently has been very pure there. Because of the exponential recent increase in demand for these teas, leaf is now being taken from younger, sometimes farmed trees. This will effect the outcome and potency of some new cakes.
On the aesthetic level aged puerh is loved for the amazing variety of tastes and sensations it offers. Old peurhs may taste/smell like dried cherries or plums, fresh cut woody smells, pine, citrus, camphor, wild flowers and a host of other subtle essences from nature. Like good oolongs these flavors may open, develop and change from steeping to steeping.
Hui gan is a highly prized trait in Chinese tea culture. It a general way, it refers to the flavor and sensation left on the breath after drinking the tea. Many good teas can be savored long after a sip by opening the mouth a little and breathing in and out. Sometimes it is a minty coolness, sometimes a sweetness, sometimes it is almost as if the tea leaves a "perfume" on the breath.
Another looked for trait is "mouth feel". This refers to the sensations one has as you drink and swallow the tea. This includes such feelings as viscosity, qi vibration on different parts of the palate, the way the flavors react or appear in different parts of the mouth, and the way in which the tea slides down the throat. These are just a few examples of numerous subtle experiences, but experiencing the different mouth feels, tastes and aftertastes is a wonderful part drinking tea for the puerh lover. Each cake presents a whole new experience.
Each brick or cake can be seen as a living being, with its own unique personality and character. This personality is dependant on its origins, (quality of leaf, mountain of origin, time of year picked) upbringing (storage conditions over the course of its life) and the period of life in which the cake is in (newborn, adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood, and old age). All these factors create a unique cake that is never exactly like another in taste, character and qi qualities. A adolescent cake may have many wild flavors and aromas that although good, may not be in harmony with one another. An adult cake may offer mellowness and maturity of sensation and experience to the drinker, etc.
On the deepest level, some very old puerhs can put one in quite profound states: meditative, ecstatic, expansive, dreamy, transcendent, humbling, loving, deep awareness of self and nature. All these experiences and more can be hidden within aged puerh, waiting to be unfolded by a human and some hot water.
The best way to sensitise oneself to both the aesthetic and energetic/experiential aspects of puerh (and tea in general) is with each tea, to sit quietly weather alone or with others. With each cup simply relax, feel, taste, and quietly absorb the experience as it unfolds. You will find that over time your discrimination and sensitivity to the more subtle aspects of the tea will grow in quality and depth. From this point you make tea drinking a living art form.
Heavens Tea: Sacred Teas
Aged Puerhs, Aged Oolongs, Aged Chinese Teas, Wuyi Rock Teas, Senchas
Heavens Tea: aged pu-erh, aged oolong, tea tastings, sencha, wuyi oolong, young pu-erh, aged tea, Chinese teas, rare tea sample sets, pu-erh sample sets, tea consulting, tea education.
copyright 2007, heavenstea.com portland, oregon