It's been an unusually warm winter in Southern California. There are days that I long for the chance to wear sweaters and boots, but those days have been few and far between. Then there are days with just a hint of crispness and the morning sun has that twinkle of spring that bounces off the dew drops covering the blades of grass and shoots of lavender.
It was on a morning like this that I brewed up a cup of something very special. I had received a gift from Le Palais de Thes, a Grand Cru. Long Jing Premium 2014. Long Jing is arguably the most well known Chinese green tea in the world, but the description of this particular one makes it even more exciting and enchanting.
The tea leaves are harvested starting on April 5th, a holiday known as Tomb Sweeping Day, and continues for several weeks. The very first leaves harvested during the first three days are not sold. These are specially gifted to Chinese dignitaries.
There is quite an art to shape these leaves into "Buddha's eyelid," with the resulting leaves looking like a young shoot. There is roasting for a specified amount of time and movement that requires extreme precision. In the end, something very special is created.
As I inhale the fragrance of this highly prized brew, I encounter spring in my cup. I can't wait. Time for the first sip. The tea itself is the height of luxury, so smooth, so rich. There are hints of nuttiness that float on the bed of earthy green hay, with the lightest citrus rounding out the edges.
In moments like these, I don't mind that winter never really appeared. I'm happy to welcome spring.