Monday, December 20, 2010

Tea for two at Nigiro.

Gunpowder Temple of Heaven. Blood Orange. Blooming Richness. Flower Gate. Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls. Spring Rain. 
The menu reads like God's will.

At the back of the Origin shop on De Waterkant there's an intriguing glass enclosure. This is not a smoking room. Welcome to Nigiro. Origin backwards.
 Neo told us that learning the skill of the tea ceremony is akin to learning one of the martial arts. It was a wonderful thing to watch - his graceful hands with sure, slender fingers and all the bits and pieces that fall into place to form this ancient ritual.

 We drank seven infusions of Ali Oolong Mountain tea, watching as the leaves unfurled and became almost new again. Aromas came and went: poppies, hay, wheat, rice, asparagus, candy floss and pencil shavings. With each addition of warm spring water, the brew changed, unlocking new qualities. The final pot was silky and cool on the tongue, almost minty, with the other flavours all still present - like ghosts of their former selves. 
It was easy to imagine those mountains.

A steamed bun filled with pork, cabbage and carrot. Sticky soya. Chopstick negotiation...

Show time: the tight bud opens underwater, like magic. A golden crysanthemum. As the flower blooms, it releases small osmanthus blossoms. The flavours are fleeting and delicate. Caramel and grass.

I ask about red tea and Neo shows us a disc of compacted Pu-erh tea from China. Matured for fifteen years, it's rare and costly, sold by the gram like hash or truffles.

Dessert: a moon cake, to share. Flaky pastry filled with sweet red bean paste. Earl Grey two ways.

We left three hours later, calm and lazy. 
Tried on dresses for an hour.
Thanks T, for a dreamy morning.


Chris said...

please take me there in February!

tanja said...

aiiy ohhh, as they would say in Kaohsiung,Taiwan (sucking breath in gently and inclining the head just a fraction).

a lovely post about a lovely thing indeed. steamed buns. tea of refined good quality properly appreciated. mmm.

though sweet bean paste buns you can chase me with. beans and sugar...just not the thing, say I.

here, in the garden, the last of the snow lies on bamboo leaves. will have a cup of green tea, just for you.

xxx T