Can you tell us more about tea and the brewing process?
Tea is very organic, so brewing is always different. I mean, even tea leaves are always different. Even if you try to achieve the exact same thing, each experience will have some minor differences. With a complex tea with different flavours, it can be very, very interesting to experience all of the different layers, and you just really get sucked into the whole thing—brewing, drinking, then even after you drink the tea, breathing the fragrance of the tea. It’s a very all-encompassing experience, and it keeps me coming back to tea.
Do you have a favourite type of tea?
I drink a lot of rock teas, which is a category of teas, so as for my favourite type, it would probably be something that gives me comfort. There are times where I just really crave or just really want to drink a longjing. Longjing is a kind of Chinese green tea. A good one is very sweet. It can be a little bit floral and a little bit nutty, but ultimately it’s not a very punchy tea. Or at least not in the way that I brew it.
As I’m enjoying it, I just have this feeling of clarity. I always describe it as if you’re peering through a clear pond right down to the bottom. Only when something touches the surface, then you realise that there’s water there. That’s the kind of feeling I get when I drink longjing. So I guess that would be a personal favourite of mine in a way. You feel very mellow when you’re drinking it, but after you’re done, you’ll realise you’re quite awake, because green teas have quite a lot of caffeine.
That’s a beautiful description. It feels like I can really imagine the tea.
Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to describe taste, because it’s very intimate, but sometimes you can just get a feeling. Once, I was having a very rushed and busy day, and I sat down to drink that tea. It was served to me, so I didn’t brew it myself, and when I tasted it, I was so moved by the flavour that I just cried. Tears just came out even though nothing happened, and I didn’t expect it either. It just connected with something within me. So tea is like that sometimes. It’s very moving.
What’s one thing most people might not know about tea?
I think one thing about tea is it’s more subtle and delicate than many other things. Even in its taste, It’s less forward than many foods or drinks, and to notice and experience its charms, you really need to give it a chance by slowing down. Otherwise, you will just miss all of that.
What’s your favourite part about brewing?
The tasting. Brewing tea is like trying to bring a chorus of voices out harmoniously, so that one is not louder than the others, and so that things are in balance. It’s sort of like a journey. Some days, it really feels like a struggle (laughs). But I guess the most joyful part is in the tasting. I mean, you always want to find out how it tastes. Like, is it good? Is it different from your expectations.? That’s the fun part.