Thursday, July 21, 2011

雲腳, Feet of the Cloud

A fine mist is filling the air today in Seattle, making the air both crisp and full.  Quintessential northwest coastal weather.  My favorite kind of precipitation.

Today I'm enjoying a session with the 1980's Menghai Green Brick from The Mandarin's Tea Room.  A nicely aged puerh that's said to be a mixture of cooked and raw, although it tastes mostly like an aged sheng to me (which would make sense since that's what its primarily composed of).  Deep tobacco notes in the flavor and aroma with a pleasing hui tian arising here and there.  A beautiful mellowing cha qi, too, providing the perfect complement to the quietly falling mist outside.

Flower reflection in the 80's Menghai Green

Feet of the cloud on the 60's GYG
I recently learned about something I'd seen in some of the puerhs I drink.  Have you ever noticed a beautiful dancing pattern of fog or steam playing across the surface of the tea in your cup?  I first noticed it when drinking the 60's Guang Yun Gong that The Essence of Tea carries.  It was such an interesting and beautiful sight that I took a series of photos of it, although at the time I had thought it was just the play of steam on the surface of the tea and nothing more.  It turns out there's a name for this phenomenon, "feet of the cloud," and the reason why I've only seen it a few times is that it's something only well-aged teas exhibit.  Apparently, as a puerh ages and continues to ferment and mature, the particles of the tea leaf get broken down to finer and finer degrees.  Eventually they become so fine that they rise with the steam, settling just above the surface of the tea soup, floating on what I'm guessing are unseen currents of heat and air (if anyone can speak to this more knowledgeably, please do!).  Starting at about 20 years of age you can begin to see this dancing pattern of fog on the surface of the tea.  I watched for the cloud feet this morning as I drank the 80's Menghai and did see it, although it was fleeting and fickle, only flashing across the surface briefly here and there, looking very much like footprints of clouds running across the surface.  By contrast, the cloud feet of the 60's GYG was significantly more pronounced, staying a long time on the surface of the tea soup as it slowly moved about in the most beautiful patterns.  Truly fascinating to watch.

Dried longan fruit.. mmmmm....
My friend Michael Fung, whom you "met" in the last post and is the proprietor of Canada's Best Tea House, recently did an interview on Canadian Chinese television.  Unfortunately for me, the interview is in Chinese (although the conversation is sprinkled with English words and phrases), but I know some of you might be able to understand it.  And anyway, it's still fun to watch (I think so anyway).  The link is here.  The two-part interview is found at the top, next to the picture of the woman in a red snow jacket standing in front of a bright pink star, episode (or set) 44, from July 17.  Toward the latter half of the second part of the interview Michael talks about using tea in food and cooking.  I'm definitely going to try the sauteed shrimp with green tea -- yum!  The tea-stained eggs are beautiful, too.


  1. Very nice photos. Thanks for the explanation about the "feet of the cloud." I have noticed this phenomenon quite a few times without having a clue about what was happening.

    As a matter of fact, I ordered a sample of this very tea yesterday.

  2. Thanks David :) And by the way, you have one of the most beautiful tea blogs on the 'net. A pleasure to read :)

  3. Well, I don't know if I deserve such a compliment, but it is very nice of you to say. :-) Thanks you.

    I also like the aesthetics of your blog very much. Nice read all the time.

    Nice weekend to you.

  4. So beautiful photos - I have have startet to follow your blog, together with MattCha, Tea Masters, and others... inspired by that, I have included some chinese tea tastings in my blog (in english), originally about the japanese tea ceremony (in danish)...
    Here is it:

  5. Such an awesome photographs. I am really very thankful to david for sharing this great information and photographs with us.

  6. hello rouge :)
    So glad you like the photos and info, although my name is bev, not david :)