04 April 2008

Stay tuned...and a word on qi

Reviews coming this weekend and next week:
  • Lots of dancong from Imen of Tea Habitat
  • 2 unknown sheng pu'er samples from MarshalN and 1 Yiwu sample from Imen
  • 3 fresh Yunnan greens from YSLLC
  • 3 shu pu'er samples from John Grebe
  • A hopefully interesting or fruitful analysis/comparison...


I have been drinking those 3 spring greens mentioned above for the past two weeks now. Aaron Fisher, former editor of The Art of Tea and current founder/editor/author of The Leaf Magazine, once mentioned to me that green tea has little qi. I heard similar from other sagely tea information sources in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and heard it repeated by the few tea mystics I met in China.

I have been drinking green tea for two weeks and not feeling much. But, just a moment ago I had a cup of lao cong shui xian oolong and instantly feel high as a kite.

Some drinkers, of course, dismiss qi altogether as spiritual blather. Others rationalize the way tea affects their physical, mental, and emotional state by reading qi to mean "the effects of caffeine on the body". This latter idea interests me, because my experience these past few weeks appears to disprove it entirely. According to Nigel Melican (post on Cha Dao here), caffeine levels tend to be higher in bud & first leaf tips, assamica varietals, and clonal teas. My Yunnan greens meet all three of these criteria. This lao cong shui xian meets only the last, perhaps.

I cannot measure the caffeine of each tea to prove any point here, but without deeper research, it appears this tea has qi for a more complex reason. I think it's more like THC in marijuana. THC can only partially explain the psychoactive effects of cannibis. Somehow, an interaction of hundreds of chemicals produces its particular high. Likewise, I think caffeine may only partially explain the qi of tea, and many other chemicals might contribute to the full effect. Someone on teachat recently suggested an interaction of amino acids.

But I suppose we can only make moot points about qi, because I envision no funding for research into the tea high. Ultimately, the why is less important to me than the feeling itself.

1 comment:

John Will Balsley said...

Interesting, I have known certain teas to have an effect, the first time I had this was with a Darjeeling I got from a shop in Chicago, and it had a very mellowing feeling. I tried the Oolong tea you spoke about and it too had a pleasant mellowing/ calming feeling. I have only had a few Pu'erh teas from Rishi Tea and like them, but don't get too much "qi". Do you have any recommendations for a good evening tea that has heavy relaxing/ soothing qualities?

Thanks for your time, I really enjoy your blog, it's very educating.

I'm also planning to live in S. Korea soon so hopefully I can find even more amazing teas.