Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tea Poetry

Hong Xiang Fei Tea

We picked this tea up along with our Emei Mao Feng at one of the small tea shops along the street in Baguan Village. It has the most unusual tea leaves and that, quite frankly, is why we bought it. I can find no reference to this tea anywhere on the internet. The name is in pinyin and means something to the affect of Red Fragrant Concubine. The Xiang Fei part refers to concort or concubine from Kashgar to the Emperor in Beijing. The story goes:

Although accounts vary as to some details, the basic story amongst Han Chinese recounts the discovery by the Qianlong Emperor of an Uyghur girl named Iparhan, granddaughter of Apak Khoja, a local leader in the oasis city of Kashgar. Even more remarkable than her beauty was the scent her body naturally produced; captivated, the Emperor sought her as an Imperial Consort for his harem. She was given as a gift to the Emperor and carefully escorted all the way to Beijing, washing every day along the road in camel's milk to preserve her mysterious fragrance.

Upon her arrival to the imperial palace, the Fragrant Concubine, was gifted with a garden and a luxurious room of her own as a sign of the Emperor's devotion. Homesick and distraught, she remained disconsolate as the Emperor made ever-increasing efforts to recreate her distant village, building her a mosque, miniature oasis, and bazaar outside her windows in an effort to bring her happiness. Finally she relented and came to love him when he sent messengers to Kashgar to return with an jujube tree bearing golden fruit, and the Fragrant Concubine became the emperor's cherished consort until her death. An enduring symbol of national unity and reconciliation, her body was borne back to her home of Kashgar, where she is now entombed, in a procession of 120 bearers in a journey that took over three years. (

This is a panorama of the Fragrant Concubine's Tomb in Kashgar. We visited it back in 2005 on our Silk Road Adventure.

The leaves are strange looking and got our attention immediately upon seeing them.

This is definitely scented tea. It tastes strange and is quite strong. Since I, once more, had not eaten breakfast before trying this tea, I had some stomach problems with it. I have to learn not to do this in my excitement in trying new teas.

This tea might be ok later in the day when I can sit back, relax, and savor its taste. Maybe I will do that today.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Meng Ding Gan Lu

Yesterday, two of my students brought this tea in for me. They went to Ya'an for the National Day Holiday and I had asked them to pick up some Mengdingshan Gan Lu for me. I had failed to do enough research into the best tea to buy from that region. Thought it was Mao Feng but it was, instead, Gan Lu or Sweet Dew. In fact, it was supposed to have been this Gan Lu that first became famous from this area. The first trees cultivated in China were on Mengding Mountain and the best tea from these plants was reportedly Gan Lu.

So here is my new addition to our tea cache. It was not cheap but currently is the best tea we now have. Certified to be (by some accounts) in the top ten traditional teas of China.

The sack says where it comes from. The students bought it from a tea store in the ancient town of Shangli

Beautifully boxed as all expensive and famous teas seem to be in China. I guess this is called Presentation Tea or Gift Tea.