Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mt. Ah Li - Farm2

After sleeping and the ordeal of trying to find food the night before, we woke up hungry. But we also woke up late for breakfast on the farm. Still, we humbly asked for any type of breakfast service. Our host looked over his shoulder for a quick glance. He was showing a bit of reserve as if to say, “It might not be good enough for you.” Then, he kindly showed us to the kitchen after we demonstrated hunger in earnest. I knew that drinking loads of tea on an empty stomach would not do me any good.

Over breakfast of rice porridge known as “zhou” or “xi fan,” we discuss the plan for the day. The food was fresh, but cooled after sitting out and the chill was still strong in the early morning air. Who knows what time this food was originally prepared, but it was cold now. I wanted to eat a lot. Not only as a big fan of the breakfast, but also because tea was in the air. We had no formal plan for the day, so it was over breakfast that my friend said, “Listen, that tea from First Stop won’t be ready until well into the day, so let’s drink and see what kind of tea this guy has.”

With time to kill in the tea mountains, let the slurping begin! One bowl of zhou for the better and I am staggering down another set of stairs, into the out-of-doors, but only for a second. The sunlight feels good and the mountain air is light and calm. This courtyard leads to the main hall where the tea is brewed. From our room to the kitchen to the main hall…we went from one large room to another, all of which had ceilings at least forty feet high. Trophy plaques commending best regional tea adorned the walls. Most tea growers have such artifacts on display, but I'd never seen anything like this. Wall after wall, covered with the trophy plaques and it seemed as if they had kept building halls just to have more room for their growing award collection.
View of tea plants when entering into the main hall
As we entered the main hall, our host invited us to sit at the tea table. It was a modest table, clearly an understated and well loved tea station. The glass brew ware contrasted beautifully on the carved black stone brew plate. Glass is a confident choice as it is the material least prone to enhancing the tea flavor. Our host isn't interested in deception, rather as the glass would indicate, relying on transparency. Exciting! He invites us to sit in this informal setting, across from him and apologizes for having such simple brew ware. Then he proceeds to make us tea with no explanation of what type of tea he is making. It is assumed that he will be making us what he has harvested recently. The oolong is a green heart varietal and the oxidation is light. We drink the tea and after a while, and finally I am reminded. “Have you come to your senses yet? Are you buying this tea or not?” This sounds so much better in Chinese. I do come to my senses and say to myself, “I should buy this tea.” If you would like to buy this tea, it is available on our website here: Mt. Ah Li Tai He Sun link.

Our host's brew station

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