Monday, February 13, 2012

A Healthier Life with Tea

The Qing Emperor Qianlong ruled China for 60 years from 1735 to 1796. At 85 years old, he finally expressed that he had enough and needed to retire from being emperor.

One of his officials said to him, “We cannot have a country without an emperor for even one day!” Emperor Qianlong lifted a cup of tea and said, “Jun [emperor] cannot live without tea for even one day.”

Qianlong had few favorite teas such as Iron Kwan Yin (a half green, half black tea), Silver Needle of the Gentleman Mountain (a yellow/white tea) and Dragon Well (a green tea).

I, too, enjoy these same teas today. Here is my advice on how to enjoy tea as part of your daily routine.

Rise up early in the morning. It’s nice to drink cup of fragrant tea to refresh your mouth. It will lift your spirit, and arouse the appetite. Having some snacks or breakfast after the tea is then indeed a pleasure. I usually drink Iron Kwan Yin or other type of oolong1 tea in the morning. It’s bit stronger than most green teas but not as strong as black tea, so it’s best for me in the morning to help me stay awake and start the day.

In the afternoon, if I have exerted myself and feel the need for another lift, I will have another oolong tea or a gunpowder tea2. If my energy remains strong, however, I will have a very light silver needle3 tea. One of my favorite silver needle teas is An Ji, a silver white needle tea from Zhejiang Province. Since I take small sips, one cup of tea will last me for half the day.

In the evenings, I like to drink jasmine tea or dragon well tea. Dragon well tea is considered to be among the finest and most representative of green teas. It has been described by The New Tea Book authors Sara Perry and Alison Miksch as the "ideal" beverage for "quiet, contemplative times."4 Its name comes from a well whose water is said to mimic the body of a twisting dragon. Green tea is all about how freshness. The fresher the leaves, the better. Since I am from Zhejiang Province (near Shanghai) where dragon well tea comes from, I grew up drinking fresh dragon well in my childhood. That’s also why dragon well is one of my favorite green teas.

As we know, jasmine tea is not particular kind of tea, but green tea mixed with jasmine flowers. Sometimes, when I want to have not only the jasmine scent, but also the smooth taste of dragon well tea, I mix both of them together to make my special Dragon Well Jasmine.

The Chinese word “jun” (emperor) can be also translated to English as the word “gentleman.” I would like to leave you with these words: “A gentlemen can’t live without tea for even one day.” A peaceful and calm life is always completed by a nice cup of tea.

1. Oolong refers to tea that has been produced through a unique process using sun, oxidation, fermentation, and twisting and curling of the leaves.

2. Gunpowder is a tea in which each leaf is rolled into a small, round pellet, resembling gunpowder grains.

3. Silver Needle, or Bai Hao Yinzhen is the most expensive and most prized variety of white teas. Only the leaf buds and shoots are used to produce the tea.

4. Perry, Sara and Alison Miksch (2011). The New Tea Book: A Guide to Black, Green, Herbal, and Chai Teas. As referenced in “Longjing Tea” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 8 Jan 2012. Web. 11 Feb 2012.

Copyright 2013 Huan's Tai Chi

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