The Living Art of Tea 生活茶會
This past weekend was the Living Art of Tea Club's annual event at the Lugu Farmers' Association in Nantou, Taiwan. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this local tea club hosting formal tea parties. Each year, the event is held in a different season and with a different theme. This year's event was called 春山沐月 which means "Spring Mountains Bathed In Moonlight". The title refers to this time in early spring when tea farmers anticipate spring rains that will nourish the first crop of the year.
The event is formal in that it is by reservation only, and follows a set program. There are four sessions over two days, with 75 guests attending each, and the event is always sold out The atmosphere however is natural and serene with no prescribed etiquette. In a word, it embodies the Taiwanese Art of Tea.
This year, two types of local traditional Oolong teas were served. The first was a type of aged Red Oolong that was very close to Black Tea in that it was heavily oxidized and roasted just enough to preserve freshness, so no roasted flavor was evident. It was very balanced, mellow, and sweet, with a lingering fragrant aftertaste. The second tea was a Champion Prize winning tea from Yong Long Community Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competition. This competition warrants a slightly heavier roast than the neighboring Lugu Farmers' Association. So this tea was an especially hearty brew with an amazingly complex aroma and aftertaste - a true joy to experience!
In commemoration of its 20th annual event, I was requested to recite a poem. Since I provided musical accompaniment to the debut event in 1995, I thought it only fitting to sing a song instead. Upon short notice, I managed to compose a piece that expressed my personal gratitude for my life in tea country. Here is the insert to the program of the lyrics:
As I sat at the table of my tea mentor Lisa Lin and took it all in, the familiar setting and pleasant atmosphere, and the faces of so many people that have become friends over the years, I couldn't help but feel blessed. Here is the current team of club members with the founders Tony and Lisa Lin in the center. Some more shots of the tea party follow.
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The prominent features of this batch of tea are the growing region, the farming methods, weather conditions on the day of harvest, and the degree of oxidation in the leaves in their processing. These factors offer us a premium quality High Mountain Oolong Tea.
The brewed tea offers a creamy, soft pine aroma with a smooth, savory/vegetal character that is very satisfying. It has a lingering, thick yet mild floral aftertaste, with a touch of heady spice. It's this integrated composition that we have come to appreciate most about High Mountain Oolongs. When there is sufficient complexity, combined with a thick, smooth constitution that actually shines the most after it has cooled down, it rates high on our Oolong score chart!