If you’ve ever left a cup of puerh tea out for a couple days, or tried putting some in a thermos, you know that once it’s a liquid, it changes very rapidly. A young puerh will quickly turn from yellow to orange within about ten minutes if it’s particularly active. This probably has something to do with the microbes in the tea, although I don’t get how they could possibly be alive after being hit with boiling water multiple times. Perhaps it’s some form of oxidation, but that doesn’t really happen to green teas, so I don’t know. Maybe you do?
Puerh is a complex chemical soup that takes about five seconds to make. What other soup is that instant? Ramen? Once it’s made, you have to let it cool down for a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on your tolerance to heat. It depends on the airflow in the room how fast everything cools. If you set up a fan a few feet away and turn it on low, or open a window to bring in a gentle breeze, it can speed up a session drastically by lowering cooling time. However, I don’t really like to do that, because once the fan is on, all I can think about is that there’s a fan blowing wind across my tea table, and it becomes a fan session, not a tea session. A breeze from a window makes more sense, but it depends on the season if you can do that. I do enjoy some breezy tea. It’ll cool you off if the tea makes you too warm.
Apparently certain teas will warm different parts of your body, but I never know if it’s actually because there’s sun coming through the window. I need to drink more tea in the dark to figure out really what’s happening to my body as I drink my puerh soup. I have read that young puerh is by nature cooling, but it can also cause your ears to feel like they are on fire while your toes are going to freeze off. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s something to think about, or feel about, while drinking your tea: how does the tea make my body feel? You can do one of those body scans where you start at your toes and go up all the way to your head, stopping at each part of your body. Of course, you might want to do this with no tea in your system first, so you can notice the changes. Then, you can ask yourself if those sensations are pleasant or unpleasant, and it can help evaluate a tea and add dimension to a deep session.
Of course, all of these phenomena are happening whether you pay attention to them or not. One of the benefits of gongfucha is you get plenty of cups and sips, but every single one of them is slightly different. You get to experience your tea from many angles and you get many moments to focus on different areas, if you want. But it is also fun to think about nothing and let yourself drink.