We recently experienced an amusing
and interesting tea-tasting episode at our good friend's teapot showroom.
Four of us hunched together over an improvised teaset while surrounded by
hundreds of unusual and different teapots. We were testing a pu-erh tea of
ours (Pu-erh Tuocha "Camel Breath") and
telling Wei how much we liked it, when he produced an exotic and expensive
pu-erh tea of his own for us to try. He said it was very costly -- at least
$1,000/lb. wholesale when one can find it -- and wanted us to taste it before
telling us anything more about it.
Wei produced a gray
crackle-glaze container, uncorked it and spilled onto a sheet of paper the
finest tea we had ever seen. It was a very unusual-looking tea, with
extremely tiny leaves; each black leaf was no larger than the size
of the period at the end of this sentence. Wei brought spring water to a
full, rolling boil, chose two favorite teapots and a fine-mesh screen
strainer, and set to making his tea. He carefully measured a generous amount
of tea into one of the pots, followed by boiling water, and after a couple of
minutes, strained a dark, coffee-colored liquor into the second teapot. He
divided the liquid among us into small porcelain teacups, encouraging us to
help ourselves. This we gladly did; it was a delightful, complex and earthy
Wei then told us that this
particular tea is made from the droppings of a pu-erh tea-eating insect.
Each of those little "leaves" was pu-erh insect excrement -- or "Poo-poo Pu-erh,"
as he called it! He said the tea was purported to remove wrinkles, so he
bought a couple of small bags to guarantee future availability.
When our other friends hear of
this tea-tasting, all invariably are curious as to the tea's taste. All we
can say is that it was most excellent, thickly mellow and elemental -- very
smooth -- just the treat for a jaded connoisseur's discriminating palate!