I belong to a bookclub. I experience a book by listening to a reader’s interpretation of the story. Often, I will miss a part of the book through no being attentive or falling asleep. But with the book,”The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane” by Elisa See, I found a unique way to enhance the experience.
The story revolves around a minority people in the mountains of China that have grown tea for thousands of years. The families village and those in the area grow
pu-erh tea. I had not heard of this type of tea but a resource in the back of the book , talked about a tea distributor of this tea in this country. The author became friends with The owner of Bana tea company and allowed Ms. See to accompany her on a Tea buying trip to China.
When I went to the website for ,”bana tea company” ,the tea seller had a selection of several teas that were mentioned in the book.
I was curious and purchased a sample selection.
The selections were two types of raw Pu-erh, a fermented pu-erh and two small mini cakes that were aged for 10 years. The instructions for tea brewing in the book mirrored the instructions from the tea dealer. First the water must be at a rolling boil with the water over 190 degrees. The first water was to warm the pot and start the tea leaves to hydrate. The first water was disposed of after 15 seconds. The second pouring was steeped for 1 to 2 minutes. The tea could be poured out and a second pot could be made with the same leaves.
I found that I could make 4 to 6 pots of tea with the leaves resting or drying the tea between pots. As I enjoyed the tea, I thought of the labor intensive work involved in the several weeks of tea harvesting. The best pu-erh tea is harvested from ancient wild tea trees. The harvesters, must climb, pick and gather the leaves into a basket worn on the back.
I enjoyed all of the tea varieties but I was able to enjoy the wild taste of raw Pu-erh tea. The fermented and tea cakes, were harder to reuse. They brok apart into smaller pieces than the raw pu-erh tea. Both the fermented and aged tea cakes were milder and had no harsh taste notes.
I found my enjoyment of the book was highten by being able to touch, brew and taste what was talked about in the book. It was a wonderful reminder that are many ways to experience another culture.
The website for the bana tea company is
A Cup of Tea
In “My Fair Lady” Eliza was tempted with a cup of tea.
In “All Things Great and Small” James Herriot, starts his day with strong tea.
My tea from a bag didn’t seem the same as brewed leaves.
Then I found tea, raw, from the orginal source.
I took time and care to prepare the brew properly.
What was produced was nirvana.