Saturday, June 06, 2009
Dong Ding Trip, Day II
I woke up early today and decided to look around on my own. It was still misty and not too hot. The tea farms around the house looked pretty well taken care of. I thought those must be Lin's farms. When I looked closer, I found there were many different varietals of tea plants. I went through each farm and looked very closely at the shapes of the tea leaves. I didn't know that farmers in Dong Ding chose to grow many different varietals.
I ran back to Farmer Lin's house. His wife saw me and asked me to sit down and have breakfast. I told her that I was not hungry and asked him why there were many different tea plants, and asked him if he could show me how to identify each one of them. He said, "Why do you want to know the varietals? The point is to taste a tea and tell if the tea is good or not. Our ancestors brought us soft stem Oolong. It's the best." Later my mother and Konghai got up so we had breakfast together. Mrs Lin knows her husband well. She asked me if I needed to take anything for Konghai and she could help me. I knew she was going to show me the tea plants. I asked her if she could help me on the stroller.
I told Mrs. Lin that I will learn as much as I can and I am grateful that her husband spent so much time with us and showed us around. She showed me some tea plants, picked different leaves for me and told me what they were. On the way back to her house, I was thinking why I needed to tell the differences of tea leaves. I was thinking about his words: "When you drink a tea, can you tell if it is good?"
I asked them that I wanted to try a couple of teas that I had yesterday to confirm which one I liked the most. In the end, I was debating on two of the teas. Mrs Lin could tell. She told me," I think you should buy..." Mr. Lin said" You can't tell her which one she should buy. She has to learn how to experience a tea. She has to choose for herself." I didn't feel bad at all with what he said. He is right. I am the one who decides which tea tastes the best to me. After sampling the teas, he told me that he wanted to show me the neighborhood.
I was very happy to walk around. Farmer Lin took me to his own farm. He told me that there were not many farms left and that people were lazy. They went to do different things and tried to make money faster. We went to a hill and saw tea brushes here and there. He told me that those were wild teas and they made delicious tea. Many of the leaves were already bitten by bugs. We picked some leaves and they already had a very sweet aroma. Later we went by a farm that grows soft stem Oolong. We picked some leaves, too and I compared the fragrance between the soft stem and wild leaves. Both of them smelled very good, but the wild leaves had stronger aroma.
In the evening, I asked him if he had any aged tea. He told me yes and was thinking about whether or not he wanted to sell me any. He eventually sold me a bag without letting me taste it.
My mother doesn't really drink tea, but she told me that she could tell they had good tea. She asked me which one she should buy. I told her my opinions. She went to them and wanted to buy the one I said. Mr. Lin told her not to buy that tea. He said," Your level of tea learning is not as high. You wouldn't fully appreciate the quality of that tea. Your daughter can tell. That's why I sold her that tea. You should choose this one." He went to pull out a bag of tea and sold my mother a tea that he thought she would be able to appreciate.
After I left Dong Ding, I was felt pretty sad. One thing to make me sad was Dong Ding is not producing much tea anymore. People make tea elsewhere and call it Dong Ding. Another thing was that I felt Mr. Lin was living in the past. Even though he didn't teach me direct tea knowledge , he taught me tea spirit. I was thankful that I got to know him. Like what he said, it is an affinity to get to know a person and to get to share tea.