Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chinese Tea Ceremony and Happy Hour

The subject of Kumi's email said, "Chinese Tea Ceremony and Finger Food Potluck." Our response was, "Where?! When?!" We leapt at the opportunity to enjoy Shuai Chen's tea ceremony.

After a summer home in China with family and friends, Shuai has returned to Humboldt County and her studies at HSU. At this tea gathering Sunday afternoon, she made tea for a dozen or so friends and acquaintances, including Kristin, Harvey and I. Our gracious hosts, Ange and Chantal Lobue, opened their home for tea, snacks, libation and lively discussion. We enjoyed seeing Shuai again, and of course, Kumi and Jay. We also made some new friends with whom we hope to share tea again soon.

The tea Shuai served was called "Red Robe" which she brought back from her recent trip to China. She explained that it had a special fragrance and flavor of a particular "rock" but I was not close enough to the center of discussion to hear clearly what that particular rock was. I did, however, appreciate Red Robe's unique flavor and aroma.

The photos above show Shuai steeping and straining the first infusion, then warming the aroma cups (tall cups) and drinking cups.

The aroma cup (the tall cup) is rolled between the hands
while appreciating the tea's fragrance.

One detail I noticed which I did not remember from Shuai's demonstration at HSU in April: When steeping the tea in a small covered cup, she twirled the lid around in a circle, as if to allow a little steam out or a little air in. Was it unique to this ceremony or variety of tea? Or did I forget this detail from April?

Shuai twirls the lid while steeping tea.

After we appreciated several infusions of Shuai's tea, we enjoyed snacks and drinks, and made new friends. We hope to gather with them again for Japanese tea appreciation later this fall.

If you can't enjoy Shuai's tea in person, read her latest offering of Tea Tales for North Coast readers:
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