The rather relentless schedule of a new semester is making it hard to drink much tea, much less talk about it.
For class this Thursday, we’re talking about Tang dynasty tea, which means that I will at least give it an honest try to make it in class. I’ve never done it before, nor has anybody else I know. It’s a bit complicated, because if you read Lu Yu’s (sparse) instructions, there isn’t much to go on. There are a lot of problems. First is selection — what tea to use? Nothing we have nowadays approximate what was produced back then. The closest might be some sort of poorly sha-qinged green puerh. Then, the roasting, which should be done on the spot but is again a difficult thing to negotiate. After you roast, there is the mashing/grinding. Obviously, I don’t have the proper grinder for tea — I need to find some silversmith to make me one, some day, somehow.
Even thinking about this, not to mention the salt that I might add to the water, really makes you appreciate how truly different tea was back in the day. We’ve come a long, long way from Lu Yu.