Tea of the month – January

The rolled tea slowly unfurls with each infusion.

Dark Roast Ti Guan Yin

An Oolong tea harvested in Spring 2019, grown and made by Chen Mao Sheng in Sumatra Indonesia.

Ti Guan Yin is a famous style of oolong tea named after the Buddhist divinity Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. I am particularly sentimental about this tea as it was the first tea I used for my own tea meditations and I drank it after the birth of my daughter, in January 2017. My daughter smiled from the day she was born and is now approaching three years old. The tea perfectly suited the era of what was a whirlwind year which started in a small flat in East London where we had no intention of leaving and ending with a new baby, in a new home in a new country. Tasting its sweet notes brings back fond memories of being with the not knowing, a true period of mercy. This version of the tea is truly delicious.

To write up the description I have used the information sent to me about the tea from a monthly tea subscription I had with The London Teaclub. I met Cecilia at a brunch workshop close to where I lived in London, I was fortunate enough to be sat next to her and we were both in the last trimester of our pregnancies. She invited me to a fullmoon tea ceremony and so my adventure in tea began. This group and that ceremony gave me the inspiration to run the ateliers I currently offer. Lots of things are woven into this tea, I hope you’ll get the pleasure of tasting it in one of January’s ateliers. Sadly The London Teaclub is no longer offering tea subscriptions as postage costs made it no longer viable. Cecelia moved back to San Francisco where she continues to sell tea and run tea ceremonies, you can read more about her work there here.

The Tea’s Story

The style of tea originated from china but this version is grown in the mineral rich, volcanic soils of Sumatra island. After being rolled and oxidized, the tea is fired with charcoal. The result is a thick, warm, amber-coloured brew. The sweet caramel and dark chocolate flavours are peppered with notes of smoky cinnamon.

The London Teaclub

In 1977 The Chou family opened up a small tea shop in Taipei, Taiwan. The family then planted heir first trees ten years later in the Wushe mountains in Nantou county, Taiwan. Two years later in 1989 they purchased a tea garden in Indonesia, the garden has a high elevation and they use the conventional farming methods for this tea.

They chose the gardens for their unique terroirs where there are sharp differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures, this allows the tea to grow more slowly,this causes the tea to develop more aroma an sweetness; in addition to this the abundant clouds and fog surrounding the mountains allows the tea to absorb more moisture.

Preparation

1 tsp of leaves per cup is used with water heated to just below boiling point. This can be reached by allowing boiled water to cool for 1 minute.

The tea can be steeped in a gaiwan or teapot for 2-4 minutes. Or alternatively it can be enjoyed ‘grandpa style’, where the leaves are put directly in the cup and topped up with hot water and enjoyed throughout the day, simply blowing the leaves out of the way whilst you drink. This is a beautiful way to observe the leaves unfurling, I have tried to capture the process in the picture above.

Tea Meditation

During each atelier we take tea and weave it into our meditation, it punctuates and aids the transition from the silent practices. It brings us back again and again to the present moment and is a very sensory meditation.

You can replicate this at home by making yourself a hot drink at home, paying attention to the details of preparation as well as mindfully drinking the infusion. To begin with closing your eyes and connecting to the breath ad then moving through the practice slowly, deliberately and with attention. Each time your mind wanders congratulating yourself for noticing and returning to the felt sense of the experience, with compassion and kindness and perhaps some gratitude for your body making most of its movements without you noticing.

How easy it is to make drink a cup of tea and not notice any of the experience.

I’ll toast with Iron Goddess of Mercy on each one of her birthdays.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s