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Three Ways to Prepare Tea

We discovered a wonderful oolong from Taiwan named Eight Deities. This is a perfect example of a semi-oxidized oolong; it has just the right touch of the roasty aroma and smooth, medium-bodied characteristics of darker oolongs (Twelve Tree or Crooked Horse) and the light, vegetal, flowery notes of greener oolongs like the Nantou or Pouchong.

These are Frank's notes on preparing tea:

I used the new oolong to illustrate the various methods of making a wonderful oolong. This is because the most frequent questions I get are: "How much tea should I use?", "How long should I steep it for?", and "What temperature should the water be?"

First, the scientific method. Using 3 grams of tea to 6 ounces of water at 205 F for 3 minutes. This yielded a fine cup of tea with all the representative characteristics: medium body, a nutty fragrance with hints of green. Very nice, very pleasant.

Next, the gaiwan (lidded cup) method. This is the simplest, quickest, and most widely used method in Taiwan and China. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of tea and add water at 205 F. The wash/rinse released an intense fragrance from the leaf that I could only describe as a cross between poached pear and fresh-baked bread... if there is such a thing. The first steep (about 5-10 seconds) yielded a wonderful cup of golden liquor, with a smooth, medium body and characteristics not unlike a Tieguanyin. Slightly more roasty and nutty then the first method.

Lastly, using a Yixing teapot, a decanter, and a set of smelling and drinking cups. Tea filled to about a third of the Yixing. The hot Yixing pot with the dry tea released an overpowering fragrance of roasted chestnut... and fresh-baked bread. The first steep (about the same time, just long enough to let the water drip off the Yixing) yielded a more intense cup of tea, pure golden in liquor. And the lid! It was transformed into pure sugarcane. There's no other word to describe it.

As you take a sip and bring the smelling cup to you nose and note the gradually intensifying sugarcane aroma, it spreads the taste in your throat and intensifies the sensation, almost opening your chest, clearing your nose, and making you feel you can almost smell more, your lung capacity seems to have just been magnified, your breath deepened...

And in the time that I wrote this, the sensation has just spread to my stomach, opening, cleaning, and seemingly purifying it in a way.

I guess that's what tea is all about, waking the senses. Enjoy!

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