As with many young adults, I had a window of time when I got to explore the world a little bit. I lived in Pau, France for a semester during college and took every opportunity to experience the sights and cities within my reach. One adventure led me and a couple of friends to Barcelona, Spain, where we had 2 encounters with the local police. The first was when we arrived by rental car in the city at 2 a.m. and couldn't find our hostel. We flagged down an officer and attempted to ask for directions. In return, we received a police escort to the hostel's front door. The second was when we awoke in the morning and discovered that our rental car, a cute little red Clio Renault, had been towed at some point during the night. We flagged down another officer to ask for directions on where to reclaim our car and got a ride in the back of his squad car. Quel service.
|"This will go down on your permanent record"|
Besides making good friends with the local authorities, we also saw some amazing things. Park Guell, Sagrada Familia cathedral, Las Ramblas. And, because I was travelling with P, it was no surprise to run into someone she knew: our next door neighbor at the hostel. (That girl knows Everyone. Literally Everyone.) Our limited budgets and humble accommodations didn't get in the way of the experience, the moments of connecting with our surroundings, and soaking it all in irrevocably.
While many tea magazines focus on traditional British afternoon tea and the associated decor and recipes (which I love, mind you), I've seen fewer publications that immerse you in the world of tea itself. This is where Global Tea Hut fills that void for those who might take a more academic or purist approach to their own tea experience.
The magazine, courtesy of the Global Tea Hut Team, arrived with a sample of Old Man Dong Ding, the highlighted tea of the month. I granted myself a half hour to sit in the morning sun, brew the Dong Ding, and be transported to Taiwan where this tea was grown, processed and finished in a time honored tradition.
Using a gaiwan, I infused the tea several times, steeping for seconds, as opposed to minutes - gong-fu style. There's an art to Gong Fu, and I'm very much a novice, but I enjoyed as each steeping took me on a journey. The flavors started deep, roasted, and nutty. As the steepings went on, the edges were worn down, the nuttiness smoothing out to a brighter tone, as though I was walking through a deep, dense forest that slowly opened up into a bright, grassy meadow.
As I sipped my tea, I journeyed through the magazine and was taken in by the stories of oolong (which means Black Dragon), and how culture and popularity nearly erased the old techniques and textures that make a true Dong Ding Oolong. One article laid out the chance meeting and a shared memory over tea, which led to the opportunity to breathe new life into an old methodology. And so, the introduction of Old Man Dong Ding, which was then in my cup. Art brought into life. My life. A beautiful moment.
Travel is meant to expand your world, and it's nice to know that I don't always have to hop in a plane (or a rented Clio Renault) to explore new people, places and things.
*Side note - If you do want to hop in a plane and physically immerse yourself in The Global Tea Hut's world, you can visit Tea Sage Hut in Taiwan, a tea and zen center that operates purely on donations.