Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Pulse of Tea

I've always been a believer that there's a natural rhythm to everything. Heisenburg's Uncertainty might add that lovely dose of randomness we call free will, but on the macroscopic scale, life moves in waves. Everywhere I go has a tide. A natural ebb and flow, resulting from everything from the pattern of traffic lights in the surrounding area, the socio-dynamic forcing of the weather outside, and the cultural make-up of the people around me. Being able to feel that push and pull is a boon when working in that environment. For one thing, it makes the temperament easier to control.

This seems to be doubly true in sales, and I'm not entirely sure why. A salesperson is at his or her best when he can feel the pulse of his shop, knows the personality of his product, and understands what the customer needs (and that's not always what they came into the shop looking for). The retail industry spends a lot of time calculating these things. It's the modern version of Feng Shui, and while I understand it with a sometimes-bitter cynicism, I realize that it works.

My problem is that I get caught up in the moment. The vagaries of the politics between the property managers and the retailers. The latest craze relevant to my store (pu-erh teas, thanks to Dr. Oz) and the shortages that follow when corporate can't predict (or the industry can't supply for) these crazes. In a month, few will still be drinking pu-erh, mind you. That's not the point. It's the shortages, the lack of this tea or that tin, and the conflict between following the instructions of my bosses and the instructions of those who can tell my bosses to close shop.

But if you get a moment, step outside the shifting tide, and just take a moment to watch it flow, suddenly it all makes sense. You find the pulse again, know your place within it, and relax.


I want to share with you a particular tea that I've drank a lot of lately, and the class of tea to which it belongs. You've already heard me talk a little about oolong teas (sometimes wulong), which are fantastically mild little things that are great for your skin, teeth, hair, and metabolism, and are traditionally used in the practice of meditation (because their subtle tea gives you something to deconstruct, I suppose).

There is, however, a subclass of wulong which are smoked, and these are called the Dan Congs. These are smoked, as they are dried, and this adds both a certain level of boldness and extra layers of flavour to take the time to unwrap. Lately, I've been drinking the Phoenix Mountain Dan Cong at work (unfortunately, I don't have any at home). It is marvellously complex, getting moreso with age. The three minute steep time gives me time to breathe.

I could go on for ages about this particular tea. It comes from trees that are centuries old. Dan Congs from the Phoenix Mountain range in Yunnan were imperial tribute during the Song Dynasty. Teas which once graced the lips only of the Song Emperors and their favourites are now mine to dissassemble. Fantastic.


  1. I also love dan cong teas. Before I tried them, I remember being curious about their ability to imitate various natural fragrances, like fruits or flowers. Before I had tried them, I had assumed that these resemblances would be subtle, but I have since tried some dancong that so closely resembled stone fruit, particularly peach and apricot, that it tasted more like these fruit than a number of flavored teas that had been flavored by extracts. But I agree that they are also very complex...even the ones that strongly resemble fruit have a lot of other aspects to their aroma as well.

  2. I definitely have a fondness for Dan Cong that just isn't seen in my co-workers or even my clients, which probably supposes why there is only the one available to me in an entire city.

    I find that the only "simple" teas I end up with are the ones with lots of fruit added. I like a nice raspberry mate or pomegranate green as much as the next person, but when you're drinking something like that, the fruit that's added tends to be the only flavour.

    Which isn't to say that they don't have their place! They're fantastic iced!