When I give a lesson at The Tea School, or when I arrange a tasting for colleagues, one of the first things I do is to ask them a very simple question: once you have put food in your mouth, how many senses are in contact with this food, and which ones? The answers always vary. Now, to taste properly – and this goes for any food – it is essential to understand which senses come into play, and then to build up the appropriate vocabulary.
At this time of year, I particularly enjoy drinking Pu Erh after a meal. Firstly, it is said in China that this tea “dissolves fats” and helps prevent cholesterol. Secondly, I like its aroma of wet earth, rotting wood and damp straw; its smell of cowsheds, mushrooms and oak moss; its aroma of cellars, dry wood, liquorice, manes, wax and flint; its vegetal, fruity smell.
From one Pu Erh to another, the variety of olfactory notes is wide, another reason to try this fascinating group of teas, the only ones that undergo real fermentation. It is available loose-leaf or in a “cake”. It can be “raw” or “cooked”, depending on whether fermentation is done in the traditional manner or accelerated. It can also improve with age, like good wines.
To celebrate the New Year I’ve chosen this photo taken in Japan, in the Shizuoka region. I love rope bridges, those pathways over a void, which are sometimes crossed with a touch of apprehension that quickly disappears. I wish you a happy and peaceful year. I hope your path is joyous. I hope you live in harmony, harmony with yourself, harmony with others. I hope we can live rewarding lives among those who we may have been able to help find fulfilment.
You can say what you like, I remain convinced that education is the key to a society where everyone lives together in harmony. The key to equal opportunities. When I travel through the tea fields, I never miss an opportunity to visit the village school, to chat with the students and the teachers.