Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The Art of Tea Magazine No. 4
The latest issue of The Art of Tea magazine arrived last week, and as always I am enjoying learning about tea culture elsewhere in the world. One of the articles, "The Aromatic Cuppa," is about Taiwan's practice of enjoying the "aroma cup," or a small cup of tea poured strictly to be sniffed. I find this so intriguing because the scent is actually low on my "tea enjoyment" priority list, but perhaps my sense of smell isn't finely tuned enough to concentrate on tea's aroma. I do enjoy the scent of a nice Earl Grey and something cinnamony in the fall. It seems that the strongest tea scent for me, however, comes when I open the tea container, not once the tea is brewed, and I'm not sure I ever really smell the "base" tea.
As always there is information on vintage cakes of Puerh tea, those pretty round packages with Chinese lettering on the paper wrapper. This issue has a piece about the various tastes found in Puerh tea. Because it is translated from the Chinese, I continue to notice some language differences in this magazine, and I find them quite charming. Example: "In order to boost the standard of appreciation of tea, I experienced many Yunnan Puerh teas from different cultivation areas in the past years. I have the following comments to share with readers so that I hope this can help and bring more fun to the tea drinkers." (I love that this tea fan wants to "bring more fun to the tea drinkers" and totally agree!)
There is a wrap-up piece on the 2007 World Tea Expo in Atlanta and the author's impressions of it compared to such expos in Asia. And one of the most beautifully photographed pieces in this issue is of the Yixing teaware made by a master potter, Madam Zhou Guizen. The magazine is printed on nice, thick paper, it's 130 pages, and at $12.99 I think they charge a fair price for what amounts to a quick course in tea appreciation and culture. I get my issues from Hou De Asian Art and Fine Teas in Houston, Texas, and they give fast and reliable service every time.