Bites that Love You Back

Savvy Travelers, Heads Up for The Sensational 8-Treasures Tea

The Elixir

Eight Treasures Tea ingredients, Wing Lei Palace. Cotai, Macau/ Photo by author

The phoenix nods 3 times.

Winds howled, dust soared, fogs rose in the mountains. Come in, my friend. The Silk Road traveler washed his hands and settled down, relieved to see his welcoming hosts in ancient western China. Generations have served this rejuvenating brew to many a weary guest. The Hui, especially Dong Xiang people, knew best.

The tea in the lidded bowl (蓋碗) should be warm, not hot. Sweet, not bitter. A show of self-respect and respect for the guest. The wisened traveler would take a fresh helping of dried fruits, walnuts, rock sugar, and tea leaves for the road. Revitalizing. That’s been happening for centuries.

The health benefits are well-known: Serenity, relaxation, skin hydration, blood circulation, and energy and immune system boost.*

I love this heady modern-day eight treasures tea (八寶茶), a celebratory brew for the Lunar New Year and weddings. A touch more sophisticated than sugar. Legend says Empress Dowager Cixi of the late 1800s had a similar version as an elixir.

First, golden pekoe tea buds awake the senses. Floral scents whisper. Savor. Patience. Honey-soaked licorice fired dry with a hand torch (the kind used for caramelizing creme brulee) and soothing American ginseng stream in. The complex fruity sweetness of goji berries, red dates and longan then sweeps warmly down.

Pleasantries go round, conversations progress. Aromas and flavors circulate in the mouth. Fragrances from chrysanthemums, rosebuds, and, eventually, all shoots and roots deepen and rise to the beckoning of the palate.

Ahh…the layers unfold like a good story.

Engraved antique teapot symbolizing a phoenix, spouting clear water into tea bowl (a set with saucer and lid)/ Photo by author

The phoenix? The precious bird gracefully makes an appearance in the form of a special teapot, distinct with auspicious engraving and a shapely spout. When our tea sommelier artfully pours pristine water into the tea bowl, the spout looks like the phoenix’s beak spewing a heavenly flow, gushing from high mountains (高山流水), and gently streaming when dipping, three times. Flowers, tea, and fruits roll and come alive in the pond.

It’s an art calling for wrist control and a pure mind. Pure. For the beauty and respect of tea, the self, and the receiver. The phoenix nods 3 times (鳳凰三點頭). A symbol of harmony, love, bliss, and blessing of the honest and the kind.

The receiver of the fortune? The fortunate receiver should hold the tea bowl with one hand supporting the saucer, and the other the lid to gently smooth the brew’s surface of floating ingredients. This combination — lid, saucer, and the tea drinker— makes the auspicious act of consonance with the times and the environment (天時地利人和).

The phoenix nods 3 times. It brings a peaceful, loving year to our hearts.

Tea bowl set/ Photo by author

Seu
© PseuPending 2022

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PseuPending (Seu)

PseuPending (Seu)

Leisure is a path to the thinking process. Museum Educator/ Contemporary Art Researcher/ Modern Nomad/ Lover of Good Eats. Top writer in Food

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