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Monday, February 07, 2005

New hobby

I just started a new hobby yesterday - drinking traditional chinese tea. In fact, it shouldn't be call drinking 喝茶 'he cha' coz there's only one mouth in the character 喝 - meaning drinking alone. The sifu taught me that it's called 品茶 'pin cha' instead - three mouths; appreciating tea with three person, drinking tea in three way. In fact, drinking traditional chinese tea is an art.

As a starter, I bought the 宫廷 gong ting boh lei (boh lei is kind of tea) - meaning Boh Lei of the Palace. One of the best boh lei around, it was only drank by emperors in the past - hence the name Palace. And expensive too - costing RM38/100gram. It has an intense, bitter aroma, which the sifu told me he was quite suprised I chose that tea as not many youngster like me will buy that tea. Actually, my family have a habit to drink boh lei (not the gong ting) so I developed a liking to the bitter taste.

My sister and I sat down to have a chat with the sifu - he taught us how to appreciate and brew chinese tea, tell us stories and the philosophies of brewing quality tea. The art of brewing tea is really beautiful (and complex). Do you know that tea was supposed to drink hot/warm? Boh Lei need to be made with boiling water above 100 degree celcius while green tea and flower tea (jasmine, rose etc) need to made with water around 80 degree celcius (no boiling water!). Apart from that, different tea need different shapes of cup and teapot. p.s. Never use the same pot to brew flower tea and other type of tea, be it bohlei, oolong etc. coz the scent of the flower will linger and affect the quality of the non- flower teas.

We also bought the special clay teapot to make tea (it's so small it fit into my palm) - very expensive, so we go economic and bought the RM35 one (the good ones start from RM100). The sife advise us to buy the expensive one only when we improve on our tea making skill. Along with the teapot I also bought some tools which eventually amount to RM100 plus. Pretty costly for a jobless gracuate like me, I am afraid to say. Anyway, I feel it was worth it.

Advise: Never drink cold tea or overnight tea because it is harmful to our body! However, overnight tea is a good remedy for athlete foot and skin problems (use it to wash the affected part, NOT drink).

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