I had a great saturday today. We started off with an art visit from Moof. I was so happy to see her. Her sketches have progressed soooo much since the last time she was over visiting! Was super impressed. We also got a chance to catch up and touch base. It has been soooo long! Unfortunately we had to end it early because I had another appointment that was only slightly art related in that I was going to indulge in one of my vices. One evening on the way home after a night of gluttony at an afgani restaurant, we passed by a charming tea shop. The lights were off but from what we could make out it had the potential to be a paradise for tea lovers and sinophiles. Being both, I was excited to find out from my girlfriend L. that they hold private tea ceremonies there. We signed ourselves up for one not knowing what to expect. Before I continue let me just tell you one thing: Oolong and green tea (chinese or japanese) to me is what opium was to Sherlock Holmes, what cocaine was to…ah well you get my point. I can live without coffee, cigarettes and gin, but take my tea away and I will literally not function. Anyway, today was the day and admittedly, I was so into finishing my latest painting and hanging out with Moof, that I almost wimped out. Luckily Moof’s better half called for her and she had no other choice but to go, and D.K. was able to motivate. We arrived a bit early so we had a chance too look around. First of all, it was my idea of paradise. If I had the choice, I wouldn’t ever want to leave that place. The air was so fragrant, there was a bubbling spring in the middle of the front room which lended this calm safe and quiet atmosphere. The merchandise which accompanied the many many cannisters of tea came mainly from Taiwan and Japan. It was as if the owner had created an oasis just for people like me! Soon after L. and Y.T. arrived, the tea ceremony proceeded. It wasn’t a tea ceremony in the japanese sense. It was more intimate, more relaxed, more taiwanese. Our hostess, Pei, guided us through 3 different types of oolong tea. One was from my family’s home province of Fujian, a high mountain tea named Huang Jin Gui: creamy with a note of ginger. This was a sublime young tea, vibrant and fresh. The second tea came from Taiwan, also a high mountain tea from Alishan a mountain famous for its sunrises according to Pei. Songs have been written about Alishan and nostalgic chinese from the mainland dreamt of the sunrise in Alishan before they were allowed access to Taiwan as tourists. These days the chinese tourists flock and flood the mountain tops. Alishan Jinxuan Oolong, songs should have been written about you! When I drank it, a flood of memories of my grandmother came back to me. It had a more intensive aroma than its fujian cousin, more bloom, and a sweetness which we all wanted to wear.
As Pei-Jen was walking us through the fermentation process and history of the teas, and as we drank more and more of the Alishan oolong, we all became more and more relaxed around each other and started to engage in funnier conversations with her about Taiwan, Tea culture, Germans…we were having a great laugh. (Honestly, I think I was kinda high from the teas). By the time we got to the last tea, we were all joking around with her as if we had known her all our lives! The red oolong…had the most interesting story and the most intense taste which made my mouth pucker. It is not a high mountain tea and it is harvested from the east coast of Taiwan. I will not give away the story, that is Pei-Jen’s story to tell 🙂 Lai Fu Fu is located on Mailingerstrasse 14 in Nymphenburg-Neuhausen…Take the U1 to Mailingerstrasse and walk 5 minutes from the underground, you will not regret the trip there. Tea ceremonies are limited seating, she can take a maximum of 6 people, it costs 25 euros for the 2 hours –oh and delicious snacks from Taiwan are also to be had including one delicious egg/almond fluffy pastry cookie thingy, and delicious dried mangos from Taiwan–best dried mangos I have ever had! What a saturday art & oolong, it can’t get any better than this!