October 6th, 2013 marked a very special event for us at Cannata Imports. Kenneth Cannata had the honor to serve the oldest food and wine society in the world: La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs™. The Chaîne has an aspect to their society called "Mondiale" where they educate their members on the very large world of fine beverages. These are primarily alcohol-related educational seminars. However, as not all Chaîne members consume alcohol, they hosted us for an afternoon of delving into the world fine teas: more specifically, Pu-erh tea—a most exotic and sought after treasure from southwest China.
We started the day with a brief introduction into who we are and what we do by speaking on the key aspects of therapy, economy, and philosophy within both the history of tea and its contemporary implications. It was a delight for most to learn that wine and tea are quite analogous, not only in terms of their rich histories and massive consumption the world over, but in terms of more unique qualities inherent to particular regions and vintages. The fact that tea is fermented and aged by indigenous tribes throughout Yunnan province, China, provided a context and rich tapestry of a more complex world awaiting further exploration with their foreign palates.
Upon consideration for this situation we chose three teas that would be suitable to demonstrate quality of production, character of flavor, and a subtle power latent in vintage pu-erh. Starting with our 2012 Yiwu Ancient Tree raw pu-erh we showed that young pu-erh should be smooth and delectable as well as consumable immediately and after years of storage. The second choice was our vintage 2006 Old Leaf Ripe pu-erh, mild and inviting with crystalline brews that get sweeter with every steep. The ripened pu-erh teas are famous as digestive aides and have numerous therapeutic values associated with daily imbibing. This tea brought many smiles to our guests' faces, perhaps because of the vast differences between ripe and raw pu-erh, or maybe because they might have found a libation that intoxicates as well as sobers them up after a day of wine tasting. Then finally we brought out a famous vintage tea named WanXiang Yu (Evening-Fragrance Jade). This is a treasure found in few tea collectors' storage--a 1998 raw pu-erh from ancient trees found in a famous region called JingMai. Words rarely do justice to the time and pleasure of rare tea drinking, so we decided to recite Kenneth's translation of the famous "Seven Cups" tea poem. It felt like an appropriate and timely venture out of the didactic and into the more magical potential that filled those cups.
After taking a quiet journey into the culture and history of the Chinese through their poetry we then finished the afternoon with a tea and chocolate pairing. Our 2012 Wild Black tea infused our TeaChocolate™ delicacies. We didn't have the chance to assign designated drivers, and as aged teas can be relatively inebriating we thought it fitting to enliven everyone up at the end.
The afternoon was a complete joy and success, marking a wonderful movement forward with Cannata Imports becoming a leader in providing rich educational experiences rooted in the traditions of the past, yet tuned in and acculturated to our present. We are very grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Maurer for hosting us in their lovely 50s style home that sits adjacent to the magnificent Cathedral Rock in Sedona AZ. We are also grateful to the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs for welcoming us into their Mondiale educational outreach aspect of their esteemed society.
Keep a look out for blog posts on other events, classes, as well as looks back into our many travels and experiences within our international world of tea.
Sincerely, and until the next tea!
Kenneth Cannata: Happy tea-searcher. Also known by some as their friendly neighborhood "TeaBoss".