This past May I made my way from the City of Brotherly Love to the City of Sin, but I was only betting one thing, tea. Having the opportunity to join one of my clients at the World Tea Expo, I forutnately found time to sway through the aisles of international tea experiences.
From reading the first issue of Tea Magazine in flight, exploring New Zealand through a steep of Zealong oolong tea, to watching green tea leaves being ground into matcha powder via a 400 year old stone mill, to chatting with with the beloved James Norwood Pratt, I was swept up in the whirlwind of steeped adventures. Throughout the expo I continued to gravitate towards a particular table in the Taiwanese Oolong section of the show. Max was a tea farmer from Nantou who shared some of the most luscious sips of floral oolong that I've ever tasted. Walking away with a tin of his very best and a business card, I was armed with the ingredients that I needed to continue this semi-oxidized journey. However, I was disheartened to return home and find that his website was no longer in service.
As I savored the green oolong that was layered with perfumed floral notes, I desperately searched to find a match for the tightly rolled leaves lingering in the unnamed tin. I scribbled down what I could about the tea leaf appearance, dry leaf aroma, taste and suggested steeping time printed on the foil bag. I am happy to say that I may have identified this special steep as a Nantou Si Ji Chun Oolong from In Pursuit of Tea. But it will take an email and an order to determine the full truth.
Let me step back to reflect on the magic that existed in that Las Vegas convention center, aligning steeped stars and bringing tea enthusiasts together from around the world to celebrate what we all keep in our cup. I'm anxiously awaiting next year's expo and am hoping that the mysterious Max returns so that I can fill my bag with his spring 2013 si ji chun oolong. Consider it the ultimate carry on.