Itzhak Perlman, Dung Ti Oolong and being in the presence of Greatness (Part 2)
I recommend reading Part 1 of this piece before Part 2 to fully appreciate the meaning.
Perhpas you’re scratching your head and wondering what the relation is between Itzhak Perlman and Dung Ti Oolong – or any tea for that matter. The relation is quite simple – it’s Greatness. For a tea lover, answering the question – which tea is your favourite – is incredibly difficult. For all the reasons that I love tea, I am hard pressed to narrow down my answer to one. The types, styles and flavours of tea vary so greatly that a different one can be chosen to fit a time of day, the temperature in the air or the mood in your heart. If however I must choose – then I choose a category – and that is Oolong.
Many people will argue that Oolongs are the most complex teas to produce. So much of the end resulting flavours will depend entirely on the skills of the tea master who has produced your tea. Oolongs are partially oxidized teas. They are picked and wilted in the sun for a short period of time. They are then placed in baskets and shaken in order to bruise the leaves. This bruising process allows the juices/enzymes within the leaves to be exposed to air allowing the oxidation process to begin. The leaves are then spread out to dry and finally fired in order to stop the oxidation process. Oolongs are allowed to oxidize between 5-80% – hence the vastly differing flavours in your cup.
So now that we have all the technical data behind us – where does the Greatness and the Dung Ti Oolong come into play? If you’ve ever had a really great Dung Ti Oolong – you are familiar with the sweet floral notes that linger through your nose and in your mouth. This particular Oolong is referred to as Jade style – it is very lightly oxidized – about 5-10%. Dung Ti or Tung Ting Oolong grows in the Nantou County of Taiwan. The story goes that in 1855, a villager named Ling Fung Tse went to the WuYi Mountains in the Fujian Province of China. He brought back 36 tea trees from his journey and being grateful to his friend Ling San Yen for financing his trip, he gave him 12 of the tea trees. These trees were planted along the mountain roads that surround Chi-Ling Lake which is where this unforgettable tea is still picked from.
The first time I brewed a cup of Dung Ti, it brought a smile to my face – the light liquor and the sweet aroma is breathtaking – not only in aroma but in flavour as well. I drank it slowly enjoying every drop and I gave thanks to the tea master who had had the skill, the wisdom and the talent in knowing at exactly what moment to stop the oxidation of this tea in order to produce the heavenly flavours that I was now enjoying thousands of miles away on the other side of the world.
We are surrounded by Greatness – but stop and recognise it sometimes and it will humble you when you become aware, conscious and acknowledge the Greatness that may be before your very eyes. Sometimes it’s as obvious as listening to the giant Itzhak Perlman – sometimes it’s in a cup of tea – sometimes it’s in the person next to you.