Life Beyond the Teabag – February 2015

Diane Eddy

A cup of fine oolong tea puts one in mind of a summer garden, highlighted with the aroma of peaches, lilacs and gardenias. Lovely to look at, finished oolong teas come in myriad forms, colors and flavors. In their astonishing variety, oolong teas, sometimes called Wulong or blue teas, are the most interesting in their complexity. Exceptional oolong teas from China and Taiwan are the most complicated teas to manufacture, being hand-crafted and refined to a greater degree than any other type of tea. Ranging from small compressed balls to long, slightly twisted leaves or loosely folded open leaves, oolong teas require several infusions for the leaves to unfurl and produce the appealing and sophisticated taste for which they are known.

From the light golden color and highly fragrant citrus and floral taste of Wenshan Baozhong to the stone-fruit taste of the darkest Formosa oolong, these teas came into being within the last three to four hundred years. First produced to please the Chinese emperors, oolong teas are indeed magical and exquisite, gaining in intricacy and flavor with each successive infusion. Each oolong tea takes just minutes to steep, but a lifetime to forget. Whether you are a tea enthusiast or a tea novice, you will be awed at how oolong teas elevate a beverage from the mundane to an almost spiritual refreshment.

In our continuing study of fine tea, oolongs hold a dear and special place in our hearts. We will explore and discover these complex and intriguing teas in our Tuesday, February 17 tea tasting class. Come join us in learning about the stories behind the mythical Ti Kwan Yin, the Iron Goddess of Mercy and Big Red Robe oolongs. Learn why Milk Oolong tea tastes like milk, although it doesn’t contain milk. Learn the processing secrets of Black Dragon oolong and why it is a world-wide favorite and is so delightful tasting.

Additionally, during this class we will participate in the inspiring Taiwanese Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. Wu-Wo is a fairly recent style of tea ceremony that originated in Taiwan in 1990 and has become an international cultural event. The Buddhist basis for the ceremony is reflected in the two Chinese words. “Wu” means a void or absolute emptiness of the senses and represents infinity and “Wo” means self or being. Combined, they are meant to convey a sense of letting go of our attachments to appearance and achieving a state without self.

Whether you are a tea enthusiast or a tea novice, Diane invites you to join her for the February 17 oolong tea tasting class held in the Sun Lakes Country Club Navajo Room. Class is from 10:00 a.m.-noon. The cost for the class is $4 and each student should bring a teacup and saucer.

Class size is limited and reservations are necessary. Please call Diane at 480-266-5562 or send an e-mail to [email protected] for more information and reservations.