Green Tea shaped in hearts
While people usually attribute the story of Romeo and Juliet to William Shakespeare, and certainly his rendition has become the most celebrated, the tale was actually first told well before his time. The earliest known version of the tragic story of love and death was called Mariotto and Gianozza of Siena, written in 1476 by Italian writer Masuccio Salernitano. The next adaptation came in 1530, Giulietta e Romeo by another Italian, Luigi da Porto. Still another version, Giuletta e Romeo was written in 1554 by Matteo Bandello, included in his book Novelle. The next rendition of the story, while it was the first to appear in English, still doesn’t take us to Shakespeare. This was The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, written in 1562 by English poet Arthur Brooke. It is believed however that his version served to inspire Shakespeare to write his famous play in 1599. It would appear that from writer to writer, a great tale has the ability to transcend time and the storyteller who tells it. That said, for genius along the lines of Shakespeare to occur, the right ingredients need to be in place - in this case a great story, and some incredible writing abilities.
Which is a lot like great tea. The ancient tea makers of Yunnan, who developed the method of pressing tea into miraculous shapes back in medieval China, knew that when things were done well, amazing results could be achieved. To start, they knew that you couldn’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. Which is to say that the world’s greatest tea techniques were useless if they didn’t start with the best ingredients. Subsequently, to create their works of art, only the finest teas from gardens high in the clear air of the Yunnan mountains were used. When processed into their tiny forms, whether a bird’s nest, crown, flower or in this case a heart, the teas they created took on a life of their own, transcending the time and place of their creation.
Nowadays, a visit to Yunnan will show that the same level of care goes into the production of the province’s famous pressed teas. The finest leaf available makes its way to the factory where it is steamed and pressed into forms before drying. Like the famous love story, this tea has the power to take you away to another time and place. Thankfully unlike the tragic story, this is a happy place where the tea is fresh with a cup that’s light on the nose, grassy and full-bodied hinting at honey with subtle astringent notes. Shakespeare would have loved this one.
Hot tea brewing method:
Traditional method (see note below): When preparing by the cup, this tea can be used repeatedly - about 3 times. The secret is to use water that is about 180°F/82°C. Break apart and place 1 slightly heaping teaspoon in your cup let the tea steep for about 3 minutes and then begin enjoying a cup of enchantment - do not remove the leaves from the cup. Adding milk and sugar is not recommended. Once the water level is low - add more water, and so on and so on - until the flavor of the tea is exhausted. Look at the pattern of the leaves in the brew, not only do they foretell your fortune but you can see the bud and shoots presenting themselves, looking like they are about to be plucked.