One of the brighter moments over the haze of the holidays was preparing one of my absolute favorite teas in the kitchen where I grew up. I suppose that's what defines a home: a place that no matter how long as has passed since you've been there, you still know where everything lays. And in this kitchen, each cup, even every counter surface has such a patina of memory on it that I'm surprised they're not more visible than a few faded stains.
Jia Long was certainly not something I ever tasted growing up, unfortunately, but it's such a richly scented, deeply sweet oolong that the first time you do, it instantly becomes a visceral memory. Even in the cold air of New England in December, the aroma- like warming honey- filled the room. Everyone in my family who walked by while I was making it stopped and said, "What is that?"
As we sipped together, I told them about visiting the teahouse and farm of Mr. Chen, the incredibly talented farmer who makes this tea in northern Taiwan. As evocative as it is to taste here, having it prepared by the producer himself was transcendent.
His tea farm was also stunning, the scent of the leaf mingling with other heady tropical aromas, of wild ginger flowers and neon pink dragonfruit growing like weeds out of cracks in a stone wall.
I'm still surprised I was able to leave.