As Farmer Chen brewed the third tea for us, he said, "To roast a tea this heavily takes courage. I have failed with thousands of jin 斤 (a weigh measurement of 600 grams) in order to learn. The temperatures goes up to 130 celcius. Normally people stop at 120." He said he wanted his tea to climb mountains, go to the peak, come back down to the valley, and then go back to the top. He said that when his tea arrives on the top of the mountain, it says thank you, and the mountain peak would talk back and say thank you as well. How beautiful! I savored the tea while busily translating.
He then talked about the Chinese character for "tea 茶." He said the tea character has three parts: grass, human, and tree (tea plant). The human does the work for the grass and the tea plant. While I was translating, everything made sense. Now I can't quite remember what he really meant! Well, I will ask him when I see him next time.
We drank more tea and his wife came out with some tea plums and crackers for us.
The farmer continued,"the third time when he shakes the green, he knows what the tea will be." He used Do-Re-Mi as an analogy. He said a good tea keeps going up from one infusion to the next. He said, "when making tea, I pull it in, let it go a little, pull in, let it go a little. I don't let my tea shine right away. My tea is more for the long haul. It keeps turning, and changing. I want my tea to be an endurance tea. I control when it peaks and how long it lasts by how I make it."
His smile and pride shone through his face. I felt so honored to share his knowledge with this incredible group of people, so open and so eager to take everything in. With my son's laughter in the background and delicious tea in front of me, I have to say, I am very lucky, and it was indeed a very good day!
*Thank you, Stephanie Wilson, for sharing the notes!
*photos provided by Matthew Kraus.