When enjoying an afternoon cup (or two, three and more.) of tea, I like to take advantage of the endless possibilities of where, when, how and with whom I can enjoy one of my favorite drinks and pastimes.
Just this week my very good friend Cannie (who is not pictured) introduced me to a local artist who not only enjoys tea but is a true specialist in the art of tea making. Candy, who you can see pouring one of a variety of teas from her collection, welcomed me with open arms into her studio and home to share with me some very special Taiwan tea. In fact, I had the pleasure of meeting her twice - in the very the week - allowing my taste buds to be swept away in a flurry of sweet, sparkling tea.
These two encounters once again helped to remind me of the very special experiences enjoyed during not only the tea making process but also the education that always comes from several hours of interesting conversation. Candy shared with me three very special types of tea: Oolong Black Tea, LuGu High Mountain Tea and GuiFei (Honey Oolong) Tea which is quickly becoming my favorite tea.
I hope to introduce these uniquely flavoured teas to my collection of wonderful, high quality and great tasting Taiwan teas.
Thank you, Candy. It was a wonderful week spent with close friends drinking tea, engaging in conversation and creating new relationships.
Next week, I will be traveling to Tokyo, Japan, for what should be a fun and exciting adventure. The weather will hopefully welcome my family and I with open arms and the experiences should leave us with many wonderful memories to cherish.
It wasn't long ago that we ventured off Taiwan to explore more remote areas of Japan, including Kyoto, Osaka and Nara. The weather was much cooler (after all, it was December!) and we were not prepared for the bitter temperatures. However, this time around we won't be fearing the frigid temperatures that we were greeted with as June is certainly in place to shower us with hot, hot weather.
I have a strong desire to escape into the traditions that make the strong tea culture in Japan.
Armed with a strong set of legs and an abundance of endless enthusiasm, I wish to track down some details about the Japanese tea culture. While similar in some ways to other cultures throughout Asia, I have come to understand that some traditions in the Land of the Rising contrast others in many distinct ways.
Only time will tell and once I have explored the depths of it's history I hope to return to Isle Formosa (Taiwan) with a better understanding of Japan and it's love affair with tea.
Have you traveled to Japan in search for some special and unique traditions that make up Japanese tea culture? Have you descended upon some memorable places in and around Tokyo that bring back pleasurable memories with regards to the culture of tea?
If so, please leave your comments at the bottom of this note. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
It could not have been more than a few weeks after I arrived in Taiwan that I was granted the pleasure of experiencing my first Kung Fu Tea Ceremony. Unlike the standard grab-and-go cup of tea or your cup of java (coffee) with that morning newspaper, the Kung Fu Tea Ceremony takes on a life of it's own.
To explain all the intricacies and fine detail that go into the perfect ceremony would take many pages to explain, so I will simply touch upon a few of the highlights that make this experience something to be cherished and repeated many times.
The Ceremony begins with the set up and display of the tools and other such items that will be used during the preparation and consumption of the tea. The equipment used to make the perfect cup (or two, three, etc.) of tea is cared for with the utmost integrity and respect and is brought to the table in pristine condition.
Once the table has been set guests are welcomed by their host (or in some cases by their Tea Master) to sit down and make themselves comfortable. At that point the 'Master' will prepare the tea using a very methodical and rehearsed method to ensure that each and every cup is made to perfection.
While I have had the enjoyment of producing hundreds of great tasting cups of various flavours of tea, I have yet to produce one that comes anywhere near what a 'tea master' brews for his 'students'. Still, I enjoy inviting my dear friends and strangers alike to spend afternoons and evenings exploring this wonderful world of tea either in the park or in someone's home. I call them Tea Outings but you can call them whatever you like.
Our next Tea Outing will take place in Taichung City, Taiwan, on June 29th, 2013. If you find yourself traveling through this fantastic City and would like to sample some of the tea that I enjoy sharing, feel free to send along an email for all the details.
I hope that you find a comfortable and relaxing way to enjoy your tea, your way.
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”