10 Feb 2016

About this Tea and Me and this Blog // part III

Part I: http://chazichaxi.blogspot.de/2016/01/about-this-tea-and-me-and-this-blog.html
Part II: http://chazichaxi.blogspot.de/2016/02/about-this-tea-and-me-and-this-blog.html

Hello, my name is Christian, and I am infatuated with tea. Logically, that hasn't always been the case.

For some time, I sticked with making full-western single-long-litre-infusion black tea with a steel sieve in my glass pot, while improvising the XL-Gongfucha for green tea. 
In the long run? Not satisfying! I planned some change.

For the next part, I can't put the story straight anymore. So here's a list of things I purchased or received as gifts to improve the process (close to the real chronological order):

  • A Tokoname Kyusu (Japanese side-handle teapot)
  • A bamboo teatray
  • A steel waterboiler with temperature selection
  • A machine-(but well)-made Zisha teapot
  • An untreated/unenamelled Tetsubin (castiron kettle)
  • Some Japanese cups
  • A Yuzamashi (Japanese cooling vessel)
  • A thermometer
I could, of course, continue this list until today, but these are the items I got early and quite quick one after the other, quasi composing my "starter kit". As you can see, the equipment was mostly Japanese at that moment. As green tea from Japan was the tea I priorized for treating more elaborately, this made the most sense. Parallel to that, I stacked up all the Japanese greens you should've heard of: Sencha, Shincha, Gyokuro.

My momentum was irrevocable now. After having read about the basics of the six traditional tea kinds,

White - Green - Yellow - Oolong - Red - Dark

and that's just the lower left corner of the shelf.

I tried to get a picture of everything. I became a multi weekly guest in my local tea shop, strictly buying organic farmed tea, by the way. Still sort of blindly experimenting with all of it, I read loads of stuff on the internet, actually experiencing more confusion with every other information. Since my first belief was the possibility of a strict allocation of water temperatures, doses and steeping times for every kind of tea, I looked for rules about that. It turned out to be more complicated. The story as well becomes even more unstraight going further on.

I saw that I unfortunately wouldn't find all too much really special and personally traded tea in my local shop. It's not that they only blindly buy and sell things from wholesalers. They do travel to Japan once in a while and meet with some organic farmers there, but of course a vendor basically selling everything you can and cannot call tea cannot network with all the farmers. So I looked for other places for other teas. A really well-assorted (online) shop I found is luckily at least located in Germany, so I could order his stuff without month-long delivery times I later came to know when ordering directly from Asia. The organic aspect was somehow omitted in this process, as I believe reasonable farmers don't need certifications for not spraying anyway. 
And so goes on the story

More pots and Gaiwans, more cups, more coasters, more vendors, and of course more teas.

Having read Stéphane Erlers "Tea Masters Blog" (teamasters.blogspot.tw) for a while, I learned and got excited about Chá Xí (茶席). Ever since I tried it out, I close-to-never used my bamboo tray again.

Chá Xí is a concept of combining practicability with form, and enhancing completing a tea ceremony experience with the visual aspect of well-composed and wisely selected teaware on a mat, blanket, cloth or basically what you want and deem harmonious with the selected tea and ware. Composing a Chá Xí helps me find my focus for the tea and somehow myself subsequently as well. I started arranging Chá Xís on my table, but recently migrated to the floor, where they are traditionally performed (like most things in Asia I guess).

Leading to the "about this blog" part, the last part of the story: While the second half of the name should be clear by now, the first half is a bit more cunning (hehe). It has three meanings:

  1. Zi simply as the first two letters or first syllable of my last name (Zieger)
  2. Chá Zì can be understood as 茶渍, meaning tea stains. They sooner or later occur somewhere when doing Gongfu Cha. This is sure.
  3. Chá Zì can be understood as 茶字, meaning tea word, tea symbol, or tea letter. I thought this to be a nice allegory or maybe pars pro toto for a tea blog.

Thanks for reading!

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