Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Puerh, Pork and Poetry

I read hundreds of poems each year but I am lucky to find even one which captures my heart.  I eat pork every week and even subpar bacon can cheer up a hard day.  Wouldn't it be great to find a puerh which has the transcendant lift of poetry as well as the magical comfort of bacon.  I ask too much.

Today for lack of anything too useful to say, I finally use the lazy tea blogger's cheat card. (I'm trying with futility to buck the growing trend of blog slowdowns.)

Seven Bowls of Tea  by Lu Tong
The first bowl moistens my lips and throat.
The second bowl banishes my loneliness and melancholy.
The third bowl searches my barren entrails to find
      nothing there but five thousand scrolls.
The fourth bowl raises a light perspiration,
       And all life's inequities pass out through my pores;
The fifth bowl purifies my flesh and bones.
The sixth bowl calls me to the immortals.
The seventh bowl I need not drink,
      feeling only the pure wind rushing beneath my wings.
Where is Penglai Island, Yuchuanzi wishes to ride on this sweet breeze and go back.

half moon bay

That's some tea that Lu Tong is enjoying.  I myself am happy enough if I can get to that second bowl. Perhaps it's such poems that goad tea drinkers to hold onto unrealistic expectations of tea.  Some amazing teas and humble teas have sent me to Lu's fourth bowl, but I seem I cannot go further for my weary flesh and bones are beyond redemption. Yet I persist in drinking new teas ever hopeful to find that magical rush. Who has been called to the immortals?


  1. Maybe the poem is less a commentary on the tea's quality and more on the quality of Lu's mind? (Even though he is lonely and melancholy- perfect state for a tea drinking poet-type) Maybe he's just drinking some 6FTM dust he found in the corner of a bag in the back of the cupboard? Maybe he's drinking motor oil, or nothing at all? I mean, how can he fit any tea in there with all those scrolls stuffed in his entrails?

    1. Dear Israel,

      Thanks for inducing a few giggles. The entrails line is the most confusing one for me- my innards are rather resistant to anything scholarly but I'm not a lonely poet. Lu Tong probably drank that compressed powder Tang Dynasty tea. Given how few beverage options he had back then, the stuff may have very well been amazing.


  2. Thanks for keeping up your blog ... this trend is indeed sadening. And, no - I wouldn't think of this entry as a cheat card. Actually, for me, it speaks straight to the heart of the tea matter.

    I share your sentiments regarding expectations that prove unrealistic after a while ... Last Saturday as I was tasting a new Fancy Oolong, mind still buzzing from a busy week ... suddenly an unexpected moment of silence seemed to come just out of nowhere, only to pass quickly, and return shyly later on ... These are the moments, but they seem not quite enough.

    And, yes, there are these experiences early on (like in your "first hit ..." article), that one can never quite replicate ... I will always remember my first (concious) pu erh ... I dare not admit, it was a shu, and not even anything refined ... As I just curiously sat down with it the evening it had arrived, I quite unexpectedly and uncharacteristically hit a state of deep groundedness and calm. I don't know if it was the fact that the aromas reminded me so much of my grandparents wood fired farm house -? Unfortunately, never again did this tea do that for me, nor any other shu, or sheng.

    Still I believe it is worth while to get to that second, or even third cup. And to be forgiving with oneself, if one doesn't, and be open to learning.

    - Martin

    1. Dear Martin,

      Thank you for understanding me. Truly. Thank you. When drinking tea, we are the most unreliable variable. Even humble shu can wave a magic wand over us.
      But being open does not mean we always receive. The magic portal only opens rarely and even a brief glimpse keeps us going. One day we will enter through.