I had tea today with the owner of the blog Mount Awakening Aroma in Columbus, OH, a rather unlikely location for a meeting of two Chinese men drinking some tea.
The two Chinese men were not alone, as there were others who joined in the drinking. We went outdoors, to a park nearby, and sat down and had tea in a picnic area, complete with a shade and a usable (but unused today) barbeque.
Making tea for a lot of people pose unique challenges. There were a total of 13 people at the meeting today. I thought we were getting maybe 5, so I brought with me my black pot, which would work well with 5-6 people using small cups. 13 people, however, completely changed that.
The Hermit of Mount Awakening, however, was better prepared, and brought along one of those 300 ml pots that are well suited for such large gatherings. We first had a Taiwanese gaoshan oolong, from Nantou. Those teas work well in these circumstances, pleasing all at the table and being rather easy to appreciate. The pot performed admirably, although the table was so long as to require passing of the fairness cup from one to another, because it was impossible to pour otherwise (these are basically park benches, you see…)
I tried to make tea using my black pot, with the biyuzhu that I brought along. It worked out better than I imagined, since the tea rebrews very well, so I was able to get three combo steeps of three infusions (i.e. pour infusions 1, 2, 3 into fairness cup, distribute, repeat). Then we had to move on to something else, and I was using my pot more for my personal drinking and for my neighbours while we had a lull in the tea making – mostly between water boiling for use.
Two more teas were made — a rather nice competition tea from Dongding, fired appropriately and thus removed of any trace of grassy notes, and then another Taiwanese gaoshan oolong, not fired as much and thus, in contrast, has much grassy character. There’s a reason, I think, why oolongs used to be much higher fired than they are generally today. I think I like it the way it was.
It’s always nice drinking tea out. I should learn how to better make tea for a larger crowd. I think being mostly a solitary drinker recently has really made me less adept at doing it for many people — it was ok when I was getting lots of practice at Maliandao, but not so much now. Sigh, even these things can get rusty.