I was sitting at a table outside, at a retreat center in France, with just about an hour left before I had to travel to Paris to catch a flight back to the states. After travel, rigorous retreat and some late nights with friends, I was a bit sluggish. I walked over to a little cobblestone wall that was more secluded, pulled out my gaiwan, cup and thermos and had started steeping some san lin she.
It turns out that three steeps of highmountain oolong was just the medicine I needed. I felt strong and ready for the day.
I wanted to share more about the way I drink tea, what is really my focus, which naturally ends up being my barometer for the teas I curate as well. I of course enjoy eccentricities, stories, rarities of all kinds. I enjoy surprising and complex or surprising flavors. In the end, the way I experience tea at the core, and choose what is really stellar and worth sharing is by how a tea makes me feel with three steeps of gong fu cha.
When I can, I like to have the space to sit relatively uninterrupted for three steeps. This might be a luxury you have every day, while for others it could be a weekend morning that they find the moment. With three steeps, I can feel the building cumulative effect of the tea session. In the morning, with a good high mountain oolong, it is like building one layer upon another of fortitude for the day. A white peony in the early morning feels more like successively clearing out the channels, or the cobwebs behind my eyes and in my circulatory system. Each tea is different, and each situation, time of day, etc.
This is not exactly revolutionary, as people have always enjoyed tea for its effects. That's the main draw. Thus enjoying multiple steep of the tea becomes equal parts noticing how the tea changes, and noticing how oneself changes. The two are of course related.
People will talk about specific feelings of the tea, like the huigan, a rising of energy after the drinking, or mouth feel, throat feel etc. A tea could also make your warm, or cold, or activate feeling in your head or belly. All of this fun, and is certainly a deeper dimension than flavor, but in addition to all of this there is just the really simple level of how it feels.... you know... just like... how it feels... which is more my speed :)
I thought I'd share this with people who are enjoying Daoist Lifestyle Tea, so that they can glimpse my inspiration for choosing a tea, or just simply join me in this facet of tea appreciation.