The dark colors of this 30 year old loose puerh tea displays the sign of age but hidden from sight lies a deeper and more profound transformation. The energy of old tea is soft and nurturing whilst being expansive and powerful.
I am a heavy drinker of puerh tea and have been for well over 10 years. It is a passion, a hobby and a love that I am thankful to have for the very least it has occupied my time sufficiently to keep me away from life’s other more dangerous and unhealthy pursuits - of which I would be only marginally guilty :). I enjoy both young and old teas but the younger days of once possessing the remarkable tolerance and recovery of youth for me has passed. My body can no longer tolerate the rough and harsh characters of young puerh like before and as such I am allowed limited enjoyment in this regard. Thus my attention in recent years has turned toward older teas. It is a transition that has allowed me to explore and reflect more on the deeper meaning of tea that goes beyond satisfying my primary senses of taste and smell but examines a more meaningful necessity that is based on achieving and maintaining an overall sense of well being and comfort. This has lead me on a path that is more focused towards exploring and understanding Cha Qi (aka tea energy) especially in association with old teas.
There are many different analogies that are used to describe the way of tea and people’s experiences with drinking tea. Such experiences are a reflection of the quality and power of the tea leaves and where each of us stands in our tea journey in enabling us to decipher each unfolding tea session. I feel that all teas have Cha Qi but it takes a special tea that will make you take notice and leave a lasting impression. It has been my experience that the energy of young and old tea is different and can be better understood when we observe the energy of the sea. The rough waves that come in with the tide and crashes on to shore is comparable to the energy of youth. It is stimulating, raw and pounding in its effect but too much of this crashing energy over a period of time can wear down a person and be disruptive to the body’s Qi causing weariness and discomfort. However underneath the rough surface of the sea lies a more soothing, expansive and powerful undercurrent where sea life flourishes. This deeper energy flows smoothly and more steadily. Its effect is nurturing and supports the body’s internal Qi. I have felt this energy present in old teas like Puerh, Liu An, Liu Bao and Heicha. The more powerful this energy is represented in an old tea, the more valuable and highly prized that tea will be. It is my belief that this kind of Cha Qi in old tea was the reason why age Liu An amongst others were adopted by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners for use in their treatment. The records of Chinese history shows that these old teas were used as medicine and in some instances to enhance the effects of herbal formulas and to complement other treatments.
Wishing everyone a happy holiday and success in the New Year to come. See you all in 2016! VP