What I mostly appreciate, on very cold winter days, back from a long walk, is a warming chinese red tea from Qimen (Anhui). The Mao Feng types are picked on early spring days. The one I’m tasting is from the very first days of harvest, and offers small buds with a very tender leaf.
The leaves appear to be quite dark, with just a bit of golden down. They also are very curly, and not that easy to handle.
An intense flowery and malty fragrance is released when pouring water into the zhong. That’s already a warming sensation. The liquor is a shiny dark red, pure and clean. The very first brew offers a surprising gentle flower aroma.
The following brews give more chocolate and malt flavors. But the flower note is still present in mouth and throat. The velvety texture melts into the body providing a very soft and soothing sensation.
This is one of the finest Qimen Mao Feng I have tasted so far, and I find the floral aromas quite unusual. After five or six brews, the fragrances and flavors start to slowly fade away.
For this tea session, I chose a Jingdezhen porcelain zhong, ivory white pitcher, and gorgeous celadon flower cups. The choice of the accessories is very important on the general feeling you’re going to have about the tea itself, and tea time. Because tea is also poetry. And when I think of tender spring buds, I naturally want to associate them to delicate butterflies, and cups suggesting a flower shape in a subtle green color. And when the sun shines on such a tea set, although it’s so cold outside, you can almost feel blessed by Nature’s harmony. And most of all, you are not freezing any more !