Tuesday, February 24, 2009

White Peony Redux

It is more White Peony today. I can't seem to get enough of its elemental white tea-taste. I have already had several infusions of the tea this morning and am not ready to call it quits just yet. I sipped the tea from the gaiwan, swirling the foresty green leaves with their silvery white tips in the liquor and watched the interplay of the steeping leaves on the deepening yellow color of the liquor they impart.

Suffused by the warmth of the tea, I found myself going back in time to my childhood. This was in part due to an e-mail I received out of the blue from an uncle I had not heard from for thiry four years.

A whole other life seemed to unfold before me as I thought of a childhood spent in another country years ago. Many memories which lay dormant, surfaced. However, there are those that have always stayed with me; the image of my grandmother sitting for hours on end next to
an endtable on which her tea things were arranged is one of these memories. Her grey hair neatly pulled back in a knot, with her slippered feet tucked beneath her chair, she would pour cup after cup of green tea from her teapot, the latter cossetted in a multicolored rattan cosy. The tea that emanated from this teapot seemed limitless to me -a manna derived from the camellia sinensis leaves. Her capacity to drink tea likewise appeared to be miraculously prodigious to my seven-year old's eyes.

In reality, I think that she would brew infusion after infusion from the same batch of tea leaves; the fresh leaves were deposited anew into her trusty little teapot every morning and made good use of for the entire day so that the caffeine content would become quite attenuated after several infusions. She leaned back in her chair holding her thin-lipped teacup, placid and content, as I noisily chased my brother and sister around the spacious living room.

Now, as the cats, in their turn, scampered over me, and I extricated myself from a mouthful of tea leaves gulped accidentally from the gaiwan, I was glad to carry on this tea-drinking tradition.


arachne solitaire said...

O.k., Cha Sen, I'll admit it--I've been following your blog throughout February, and I'm beginning to feel a small yearning, getting more insistent with each posting, to live the variegated life of a true tea lover. I am not promising that I WILL actually give up my coffee-drinking ways, but you have endowed all your teas with such personality that I can begin to imagine a place for tea at different hours in different places. And your teas seem always so lovely and warm and distincive that I can almost taste them.
Would it be alright if I ask you some questions. I'll only begin with one now: When you steep a tea made from loose leaves in your cup, do you sip through the leaves instead of straining the tea?

Cha sen said...

Your slight inclination in the tea drinking direction heartens me to no end, Arachne Solitaire:) Perhaps the yearning may be whetted soon even more ...

I usually place the tea leaves in a metal infuser when brewing tea and remove the infuser with the leaves and just drink the liquor from a cup. But occasionally I would steep the loose leaves directly in the gaiwan, sans infuser (the Chinese teacup you seen in the photo) and that's when through not so adroit techniques, I get gulps of tea leaves in my mouth when drinking it.