Red Circle Tea

Pagoda Temple and New TKY

When we arrived at the tea house this morning they were loading the 5 gallon water bottles into the truck. A late night tea gathering meant there was no water left this morning, and they were headed to the spring a day early. Since we had planned to visit the Pagoda Temple today here in Guangzhou with Shi Fu, we decided to keep with our plan, and will attempt to visit the spring again before we leave. We would have tea first, then leave for the temple after lunch.

We began by having a brief discussion about Wu Yi tea flavor. Wu Yi is a very difficult tea to describe in terms of taste. It is called a "rock tea" because it is grown on the cliffs of Wu Yi mountain, in northeast Guangdong and has a "rock" quality flavor. If you have ever been to a river on a hot summer day, needed a rest and laid out on a large, flat rock to catch some sun and leaned over to smell the rock, you'll know what the smell of rock is. It's that iron-rich mineral quality coupled with the actual smell of the heat rising off the hot rock. It's comforting and relaxing. With Wu Yi tea, rock is the predominant base note. The beauty of Wu Yi tea is in the top note: a soft perfumey orchid quality that lingers. Wu Yi tea is also interesting because of it's thickness. All tea has a specific viscosity that is specific to the varietal, but Wu Yi tea almost coats the mouth and rests under the tongue and at the back of the throat.

For lunch, we ate at the tea house, they make a family style lunch and dinner every day that staff and visitors eat. It's better food than any restaurant and incredibly inexpensive because it's homemade. Lunch, served at 1pm, is accompanied by afternoon CCTV news. You've heard about the earthquake in Sichuan, and we see it on the news daily. It's possible there are other news stories, I haven't heard them. Most of the pictures are of rubble and destruction, trying to get equipment and supplies in to clean up what is left. The coverage centers around the few people who have been rescued, speeches by public officials, and promises of help to come. On another channel there is a telethon to raise money for clean up. Stars and entertainers all sing karaoke and ask for donations. A ticker at the bottom of the screen reads out the donations coming in.

After lunch, we headed to the Pagoda Temple. This temple was built in 1100. When you enter, there is a large courtyard and three main temple buildings, one to the left, in front of us, and to the right. There is also the Pagoda. We climb the 8 stories through tiny staircases that do not allow you to stand up straight. (Is it possible that only small children were made to care for the upper stories of the pagoda? I ask Shi Fu and he laughs. ) At the top is a breathtaking view of Guangzhou high rises and hazy hills in the distance. Below are stone houses with rooftop gardens and the ever present laundry drying on the line.

The Pagoda in 6 Banyan Temple. Guangzhou, China

Back at the tea house, we have good news. This year's Ti Kuan Yin harvest will be the best it's been in the last 7-8 years. It's looking good. We tasted a first batch sample from a mid grade TKY and it was lovely, a little rough at the back, though. We're waiting for a higher grade to come in, and we'll see what that holds. Stay tuned!

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