Traditions and Tea

People are their best selves when they stay true to their roots, just as tea tastes best when produced and brewed in the traditional way.

It is a shame to see how long it takes people to be comfortable in their own skins. When you think about it, shouldn’t it come naturally? However the world has become a place in which one must learn to be themselves. Similarly, younger generations tend to want to break away from their traditions so desperately these days, when in truth, the beauty in a human lies in what they can teach us of themselves.

I love to travel. And a huge part of that is because I love the idea of exploring different cultures, new traditions and unique ways of life. I appreciate other people’s roots because I find them so intriguing. However, I realised that even though these thought processes existed in my head I didn’t appreciate my own roots for the longest time. The world is so taken in with the west and their ways that they are quick to shrug off their own uniqueness. This is something especially true of my experience with the people around me and also myself. All through out school and college, I met a lot of people who tried so hard to emulate a western way of life all the while ignoring their own colourful heritage.

We need to realise, that being us comes naturally. We don’t have to work for it; we don’t have to put in effort. If we just let ourselves go, we can appreciate ourselves as we are. I have always considered myself to be lost spirit, a soul seeker, and I still do. But I know with conviction that while I may still be trying to find my way, I have learned to appreciate my roots. I have fallen in love with my traditions all over again. A big part of loving to wander includes the feeling of returning home.

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Similar is the case with tea. Authentically produced teas are regarded as the best, and sell for high prices for a reason. Then there’s the matter of brewing. What amount of tea to use in what amount of water, the temperature of the water, steeping time, all these things have to be considered for an optimal cup of tea. And in this, the traditional ways will yield the best results, especially for oolong teas, some varieties of which are widely considered the most difficult to produce and brew.

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Oolong or Wu long is a traditional Chinese tea that literally translates to black dragon. It is produced using distinctive procedures that include withering the leaves under strong sun and oxidation and then curling and twisting them. The level of oxidation ranges from 8 to 85%, depending on the variety and production style. Because of this their flavour profiles can differ greatly from sweet, honeyed and fruity to roasted, smoky and woodsy to fresh, floral and vegetal notes. Oolong is mainly produced in China and Taiwan.

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The oolong I bought was from True Elements. It was simply called oolong tea so I cannot name the exact variety but through some research I can only hypothesise that it is a Da Hong Pao because that Chinese oolong is known for its floral aroma and smoky flavour. Oolong is traditionally brewed in a Gaiwan (a small ceramic vessel) or a Yixing (traditional Chinese teapot made from purple clay). Though different varieties have different methods of brewing, as a rule of thumb, two teaspoons of tea per 250 ml of water should do the trick. The water should be hot, not boiling and the tea should be left to steep for anywhere from 2 – 10 minutes.

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My cup of oolong brewed a nice deep colour and it was clear and shiny, which leads me to believe it was of good quality. It also had a beautiful floral aroma. The flavour profile consisted of earthy tones with a distinct woody flavour and almost smoky tail notes. I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I did not dislike it either. The woody tones were actually interesting, and maybe if I drink it more, it might grow on me. Another reason why I feel like I might not have loved it from the get go is that I did not brew it properly because I was dabbling in videography while preparing this tea and made a small tea movie. I’m still working on it because the first attempt wasn’t the best. But it shall soon be available on YouTube! Keep an eye out, dear readers. 

All the love, T.

 

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