Thursday, February 28, 2013

Master Han's Wild Picked Yunnan: Symbol of Culture and Tea!


    There never been anything as inspiring and equally surprising than one painstakingly handmade from those of a craftsmen! Timeless beauty and precision that no machine could ever achieve  no mass marketing could ever promoted, nor even the captains of industry who time and time again turn products into nameless and ordinary objects could ever turn Mr.Han's mind! Like every crafts person in the world, such as that of Natela 's Georgian Old Gentleman that signify devotion to a dying trade, Mr.Han has outdone those whoose multi-billion dollar farms that produces mockeries of a drink  and earning status among the few brave souls who dare defy profit barons in this world. Who ever said the age of craftsmanship is finished? Certainly not I or the many who loves a simple but special beverage!
           Wonderfully beautiful and best of all natural! There are no time tables for quotas, no schedules to determine a harvest or seasons to pluck a bush naked. Its the natural charms and beauty of a crop that beckons one to pluck at ample amounts, love for a beverage and culture that centers between sentiments and tradition of social gatherings and appreciation of nature. Even the very leaves that makes each cup is determined by the tea tree alone not coaxed into producing tasty tea yet a grandmother's love and care to
know what's best for anyone at a dinner table! As much surprising as it is unexpected  it has the most complex aromas and flavors so indicative of Yunnan. Its far more than earthy, the aromas of the dried leaves is reminiscent of linen, smoked wood, hints of liquor and the usual earthy aroma. In contrast the wet leave smell has a stronger smell of linens spray, hints of citrus with liquor notes that come at the back end of the palate.                                      

          Infusing this tea also brings a sense of youth and age. My first infusion at 195 degrees had  fruitiness and crisp linen taste imparts a sweet and clean taste while the Keemun plumy/ smokiness adds an aged appeal that goes well with its earthy character. It fits quite well with this tea being plucked from a wild tea tree, its varying complexities almost interwines inexorably  with each flavor complementing without conflict.

The second infusion at 40 seconds over time had a prominent starchy character. Its much like boiled plantains or boiled rice when entering the palate, with hints of linen that accent the flavor giving it an sharp strong note midway at the palate. At the last, a fruity finish complements the plant like taste that reminds the dear drinker of undying youth in all people while still being matured. The third infusion at 60 seconds has stronger starchiness that one normally associates with roasted tubers, bananas, or rice, its accented with a fuller fruity plum note that gives the real depth of age much like pu-erh.
            At the last, an empty cup, a happy individual, and another day such teas would still be around to be savored. What is there in the world that offers so much yet can be as simple as leaves? There are lots! Markets today seem to be morbidly obese men that are bursting with products with so much offer and not just at the local level but international.   Foods once exotic and not defiled (yes I said it!) by native tastes are becoming shadows of previous forms, turning into something so painful as Doritos Tacos!  This really strikes a point, Is there anything any different? But in a whole other level is the food any different or even special? Sure, we love something special sometimes, buy a little something that touches the heart, pay those who are willing to give out their best and praise them. But lets face it, people like Mr.Hang is facing stiff competition these days. Micky D's, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart is too good of a genie with promises of quick and fast satisfaction lifestyle at a cost. All the while, people like Mr.Hang still plucking leaves, meticulously processing  perfection from imperfection  tasting the teas at his village! Could a machine or even a slew of company "experts"  and an eye for profit can replace the quality that is of heart and hands? Quality and wholesomeness? Pride and Devotion? A culture and symbol that is world renowned and beloved? Certainly a product like this says a lot but importantly meaningful for the mind and the tangible.
           Versatility:1.0; while a tea with a great potential to be blended, its own properties that are complex and noteworthy is all what is needed to be enjoyed in its own rights. This tea could be enjoyed hot or cold, cold being quite fruity and hot having most of the subtle notes apparent.

           Taste: 9.0; beyond great!  Complex and mellow with fruity undertones, very surprising notes of linen, hints of plum, olive oil, and even a brandy. Really there is something to pick up on depending on the taster's imagination.

           Disposition: Mellow and a slight astringent with flavors that would lighten up the most cynical of naysayers! Though it maybe unsual to those unacquainted with some tastes, it provided a meaningful experiences that would open worlds of flavors.

           Palate: Mellow, Complex, slightly astringent, smooth.

                                                 Drink on Tea Lovers! Cheers!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tea Connoissuer or Tea Snob: There is a Big Difference!

     Coming off from many forums, places of warm kindred spirits all conspired against Snobbery! Worst yet, they associate it with Connoisseurs. I myself is a type of a connoisseurs of tea in a way ( who wouldn't!), I have grown for a taste of a shrub that is deliberately grown for enjoyment and not just stimulation! I do encourage arts of tea making, having to toil in fields plucking young leaves, artfully withering it, and tasting it for the appreciation of beauty! This is a connoisseur's opinion of tea, the sheer appreciation of crafts, the enjoyment of many flavors, a labor of love, and commitment of the few (and fewer) tea artisans wanting still some space for tradition that is rapidly disappearing in the face of industry. The snob...oh the snob is in all for  societal status! Brandishing a bag of  "tea", wonderfully wrapped in the most discerning of packaging, yet possessing them a mockery of a tea! They go about to their equals  symbolizing how far they have come to afford luxuries, that garners pride and reverence while their subordinates writhes in envy and jealousy. Snobs care not for qualities inherent in tea, they don't have opinions as (most possibly) they see themselves higher than tea, nor do they care for its promotion, consumption, and continued survival of a craft! The moment another symbol comes around that matches their perceived superiority, they abandoned that bag of tea for a Lambo or a Leer Jet.  Shallowness guaranteed but for the connoisseur who loves and take tea into their hearts is a matter of unbridled passion for such a simple drink. Its not caffeine, its not just for flavors, its for something that snobs do lack in : Meaning! It is meaning that drives us connoisseurs to love tea for it history that has impacted cultures to come around and be harmonious, enjoy life slowly and the flavors so rich as time  be made through its liquid . This is the main difference between us connoisseurs and Snobs, the two maybe similar but different in many ways...never can it be so similar.

Wonderful Humanity with Tea!

    In a world so increasingly stressful, where life almost occurs at a blink of an eye you can at least suspect in this new century of ours  covets  music and food at least is held to a highest regard to salve ones dreadful days of sleepless nights, rising petrol prices, and corruption? There the last blow was struck right into the guts of many, the heart was ripped out just when it healed, and the spirit that was honesty, hard work, reverence, and duty abandoned for profit and surplus! Now I can't be too hateful of a system that has provided a wealth of products to people of various circumstances at cheap and economical prices! I mean I can't simply pass by gas at three dollars and a quarter nor a flat screen at 300 dollars ! But this consumerism of which I have so much decried in my other posts as reinforcing  greed, unconscious consumerism to the exploitation of people and environmental damage, but most of all the we hold dear! Quality!
    That's right!  I say products now are more mediocre than ever! When people cant get enough of musical high, when musicians just cant keep up with storied symphonies and lyrics, where musical talent in vocals and instruments counts less to profits then sentimentality what you get is Popular Music (or what I call Prolefeed)! Then when that's not enough to exploit on, companies want to ride that gravy train on to oblivion before hopping off they go on to food! That there is not just a natural extension of capitalism itself , by no means a venture to fill stomachs and satisfy minds but to produce more crap foods, laden with chemicals, fats, sugars, dyes and the whole periodic table for profit. 
    To those who say that "such evils are necessary to a world so tried in finite resources and growing populations that quality in some means has to be sacrificed " I say its an excuse not a necessity!  The human mind is smart enough to realize what is really bad to what is needed, simply equivocating the two will condition what is inherently wrong  (i.e. mediocrity) in people. The same way how people in America has so grown fond of coffee yet seem to hate tea due to companies poor efforts of varieties and quality. The same could be said of music where each style has fused into a popular medium or high demands caused by extreme greed of music demands  "junk food"   music that comes and goes year by year or even days! The depravity even goes on with music and tea, that companies tries to sell their idealized and "popular" products on the public as a truth rather a twist! The marketing goes on to sell their "truthful" mockeries of music and tea, to stocks selves and  be emptied so often in mega marts, while the artisans of both struggle to even survive where even handcrafted music or leaves becomes strange and arcane. This not only breeds a mentality among people to consume past their needs yet brings them to the nihilism or the death of uniqueness in the world! The only healthy feeling that breeds character in this world.
    It is only after people had their fill of tasteless music and maybe tea, they look around their homes cluttered with dime a dozen ornaments, unused appliances, collection of I-Pods, and rotting food that could have feed Africa! These people who devoted their lives into material possession  now suddenly fill empty in their hearts...nil. Its the worst feeling (besides the debts) when all that a person could ever had is bought or eaten, as if it has been experienced already. The reality to this is as empty as their wallets! They have traded and confused uniqueness for materials without any sort of meaning, any attachments, history to describe themselves through these objects but nothing more than having the most than the Jones family. 
     It is not surprisingly they view anything  as mundane practicality or frugality ( now delivered from excesses), musics to keep their high which is nothing more, food is nothing more but sustenance and sensations, and even life is a plain routine to be repeated over and over! What then do the companies react to this whom are partly to blame? They once again adopt to "consumer standards" and this time around there is no need for uniqueness its costs too much, more fillers, more cheaper additions and solutions, mass produce it and profit over their highs! If there is any true evil out there, they are the few man and women who themselves lost humanity, will do anything to get profits even if it degrades people down to addicts...evil enough to mistake any (if at all) honest businesses for profit and social service as evil! This is where artisans come to die, where something handmade with a history behind their crafts, meanings to explain their intricacies, colors, rhythms, sensations, and beauty all disappears to be mundane.
      As products become more available to the masses, products do adapt to their consumer demands whether stimulated by corporate interests or cultural attitudes. This phenomenon is of course the most natural of market exchanges but  damaging a certain products intended on delivering an idea (say for instance tea and music) becomes mired in profit and conformity to  consumers. Products like tea becomes popular in a certain region, but given that certain region  has an affinity for sugary, milky, and "flavorful" additives with a propensity for high caffeine won't settle for a good tea in loose form with an "odd" smoky flavor to it?! No and Yes! There are certain minorities who love such smoky teas in loose form but not enough to sway a majority who will have producers making tea to suit another taste. Now I know there are people saying out there "...well tea can change in ways unintended or intended but has to be accepted because its a part of the market system." , I say they may be partially right, tea is a commodity which is a product sold and made specified by its consumers who influences it.  Yet that same concept has allowed products like tea to be confused over adulterated and bagged substances by companies that have given over to the demands of consumer appeal thereby producing a tea fit for appeal. Throw in the usual company practices of frugality, shortcuts and mass production will yield a product that resembles nothing of its original form and intentions. No wonder tea got a bad rap! Its companies like Unilever, misguided and ill informed consumers so bought on to an idea but never appreciates originality  has sunk the crafts of tea and music to a low!  Its at least worth knowing the proper direction and promotion of a product won't hurts consumers, the crafts, and  culture.
    As much as have discussed, the relations between companies and society has allot to do with the many problems and mediocrity! Yet, there is a deeper problem within us...its been a silent partner in crime that seems to plague society yet we can't be  aware off. Human Nature. Its human nature that gets me excited to write posts everyday! Its human nature that gets people like me to drink tea with enthusiasm and reflect! Its human nature to get people to explore and love the world...yet while our conscience is busy with stimuli, reacting  properly its impulsive and unhinged unconscious brother gets the best of us! All those deep dark thoughts, prejudices, arcane instincts, and impulsiveness to action acts before the conscious and melds in with it at the act. Nobody notices it yet to those with keen minds who meticulously reasons will find that we people living in this modern world as still humble yet blundering oafs making a mess of a history!
    One day we find health to be more appealing, associating with good habits and food, yet scornful of the bellied and portly, yet thousands feasts in fatty foods, drinks that are sugary, foods overwhelmingly salty, big and bold flavors. We humans have the intelligence to know that such foods will drive us to becomes those we so mercilessly loath, yet that little devil of the unconscious with really primitive instincts besides vanity is the hunger drive for food (mainly fats and salts) that stirs us into hypocrisy! Here we are saying to drink healthy green tea, asking for great tea...though the Teavana stores and Starbucks sells those sugary flavored teas where people drown themselves in! A more unsettling but amusing tale to this is how people find a compromise between  indulgence and health, they find tea to be healthy and popular but then load it up with sugars and flavors  to feel secure while still encouraging bad health habits. We are all guilty of this! I'm certainly am, yet its no excuse to let loose those instincts to reinforce attitudes to an industry that will profit in anything, and let ourselves be controlled by instincts that has no understanding of health or regard to its environment Certainly products should not be cater to our instinctual needs too often that evolves into to a junky product . There is a reason why humanity got  far in society, we began to think and saw through primitive ambitions to create society and culture...why not practice awareness?
     If instincts and the unconscious has allot to do with our woes, its our nature to correlate and generalize a group, objects, or beliefs regardless of specifics to differ. Here we see people relating obese people with laziness and self-abuse, we regard the disabled as incompetent and burdensome, the "oddballs" as the shunned and scorned, or foreigners as blasphemes, vile interlopers deserved of suspicion and contradictions to a way of life. These petty, merciless, and extremely arrogant and ignorant blanket thought processes not only defies reason but overlooks reality of objects, groups, or beliefs that's been branded with stigma. There are of course lazy piles eating their way to oblivion, yet there are those who are genetically damned to keep girt no matter how much exercise is exerted. The odd balls of society may hold scorn and banishment due to group survival conformity...yet ours is an age where individual survival depends on skills alone in the urban landscape, mere quirks are uniqueness not hindrances now! I could go on with each stigma and guilty association but the lessons learned here is that stigmas don't hold anymore value and reality form whence its commonplace. These are dark traditions that holds same of people who think of tea as bland, bagged and nasty, yet mistaken to the fact there are a world of varieties and possibilities that stigmas don't recognize. Critical thinking is where stigmas and knowledge that finally puts a dampener on stigmas.
      The future of society and its storied cultures with its wonderful products have changed humanity  for the better, but the matter of utilization and minds at work needs modernizing. Consumers who are deeply driven by instincts alone with a fraction of conscience working, always seeking a fix and primordial needs yet wanting to exercise caution and intellect constantly work counter-intuitively for a better lifestyle. We look for escapes, ways to bend rules, and ultimately get manipulated and exploited! Companies naturally wants to cater to every needs of society for some profit, yet some companies goes a length to create a cycle of needs for people through cultural and psychology. These are those nefarious companies that goes about and seeks to standardized people into buying their products, believing in their spiel, and providing their "fixes"! This is the very nature of society today, the matters of freedom and individuality is at stake but mostly dear to our hearts is enjoying the simplest things in life, the many uniqueness, and varieties is fast disappearing for the bottom-line, profit, and conformity. If these companies in the near future destroys what declining cultures we have  be it: Tea or Musical crafts is twisted into their needs and becomes a mere sensation to be sold and die off month by month,to be mass-produced, similar, cheap and there really anything left worth of beauty and uniqueness? This is a question I posed to any reader of this blog to reflect and wonder what impacts and message you are giving off to society? What it means to the companies and their stake? Is it helping the crafts? Society or livelihood? Buying, selling, consuming is not at all simple but a complex system of which I hope it will change for the better.