Today I had tea with a friend and her daughter, and what a learning experience! It lasted nearly 5.5 hours. I always considered myself a tea connoisseur but after today realized I still have a lot to learn. The four teas we had were Oolong, Matcha, Pu’er, and Jasmine Pearl. All were delectable and topped off with two different cakes that her daughter had graciously baked. (Kudos to her) One tasted like a Pound Cake and the other was a South African Malva Pudding Cake.
Malva Pudding Cake
We started with the Oolong Tea (a semi-fermented Chinese Tea), since it was one of my favorites. As she prepared everything, she taught me a little about its history and how it was served in China.
*Chinese oolong tea culture developed to a climax during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and it was at this time that “Changzhou Gong Fu Cha,” the traditional tea ceremony for oolong tea, originated and spread across China. https://www.esgreen.com/info/traditional-oolong-tea-ceremony/
First she showed her daughter and I the leaves, allowed us to smell them and we all had to share what it smelled like to us. She mentioned how when this process was done in China, it was important that everyone at the table opinions’ were respected, no matter their station. So it is considered a peaceful time because any opinion shared, was done without fear of ridicule
Next she rinsed the leaves by pouring hot water out of an elevated teapot and into a smaller teapot containing the Oolong, while afterwards pouring the water into the water-catcher tray it sat on, hence rinsing the leaves. Following that she poured water onto the leaves, and let them steep. It was interesting watching the leaves start as tiny buds then grow into big leaves as we continued to reuse them. I posted pictures below to give a visual of this process. After we were finished the pot, we took turns smelling the leaves in order to see how differently they smelled after the first notes wore off.
The next we tea we had was traditional whipped Matcha. She explained how the Japanese would do the ceremony for Matcha then she scooped out two almond size Matcha with a bamboo stick, placed it in the bowl and added a little cool water (this is a step I normally miss at home). I asked her why she added cool water and she said it was to eliminate the lumps in the Matcha. Next she poured in hot water, took the bamboo whisk and began to stir rapidly until it became frothy. We took turns smelling the bowl and was surprised that it had a milky/latte smell to it, then we drank about three small cups.
The third tea we had was Pu’er or Pu’erh which is a variety of fermented tea produced in Yunnan province, China. It looks like the picture below, pieces are broken off from it and placed in the teapot to steep.
Pu’er/Pu’erh one had a rich history and important medicinal qualities to it, which I will list below:
According to WebMD, there has been a connection to lowering cholesterol.
*There is interest in using pu-erh tea for lowering cholesterol because, unlike other teas, it contains small amounts of a chemical called lovastatin. Lovastatin is a prescription medicine used for lowering cholesterol. Investigators think that bacteria that sometimes contaminate pu-erh tea may somehow make the lovastatin in the course of their normal life cycle. Animal research suggests that pu-erh tea might lower certain blood fats called triglycerides as well as total and “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. It might also raise “good” high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1169/pu-erh-tea
*It also helps with digestion, cardiovascular health and weight loss!! https://nakedmetea.com/6-reasons-to-drink-pu-erh-tea/
*Pu’er tea processing, although straightforward, is complicated by the fact that the tea itself falls into two distinct categories: the “raw” Sheng Cha and the “ripe” Shu Chá. All types of pu’er tea are created from máochá (毛茶), a mostly unoxidized green tea processed from Camellia sinensis var. assamica, which is the large leaf type of Chinese tea found in the mountains of southern and western Yunnan (in contrast to the small leaf type of tea used for typical green, oolong, black, and yellow teas found in the other parts of China). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pu%27er_tea
With this tea, we had the Pound Cake with blueberries, strawberries and a dab of whip cream because Pu’er pairs well with sweets. I must say that it did, it was very good and did not lose its taste even though we were eating cake with it.
The last but not least tea we had was Jasmine Pearl and it smelled like a wonderful perfume. We had it with the South African Malva Pudding Cake and it paired well together. It was my first time having the cake, and it was so good that I found the recipe online and plan to share it with others! I must say the Jasmine Pearl Tea had the most calming effect, the smell literally filled the room and transported you to another place.
Jasmine Pearl Tea before steeping
In conclusion, Tea Time has become a lost art that needs to be reinstated again in all homes and places of work in America! (Just my opinion, I will get off my soap box now)
But imagine how much more calmer we all would be if we could simply stop what we are doing at a certain time, and have a spot of tea.
Tea Time builds friendships and allows people to stop and smell the Jasmine Pearls, lol. I would highly recommend everyone have a friend who happens to be a Professional Tea Reviewer, you could definitely learn a thing or two about Tea and one another in friendship.