Ask anyone familiar with Mei Leaf’s portfolio of curated teas and you’ll find Jade Star holds a signature place in the minds of many. The series features aged white tea cakes and Jade Star IV is a blend of Mu Dan and Shou Mei material from 2010; boasting powerful psychoactive properties to the individual(s) drinking.
With this brief introduction to the tea made known, I want to let you know I will not be sharing my tasting notes on Jade Star IV, but rather recalling reflections on the sensations experienced in its time and space. The second component integral to my first experience with this tea is the album The Undivided Five from A Winged Victory For The Sullen. While I’ve been a longtime fan of both this musical duo comprised of Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran, and aged white teas, these were new to me.
Arriving home from work seeing that this new album was released, I felt called to break into this aged tea and relax. Jumping into the week after a fun-filled and inspirational tea festival weekend left me happy and drained and my tea sessions Uncertain as to what I was going to taste and hear I unwrapped the cake and broke into the loosely compressed material accompanied by what I discovered was a cohesive musical work that reflected the gong fu session.
01. Our Lord Debussy: The piano ebbed and drove waves of harmonic impressions; a comfortable starting place as I slowly took time to preheat my gaiwan, pitcher, and teacup. There was stillness and natural cadence found in warming of ceramic and porcelain materials as energy radiated through each vessel.
02. Sullen Sonata: Strings swelled into pauses of breath as I poured the rinse, and took my first sips of JS4. I left time to be felt through the descending sunset and shadows that crept along the room I sat in. The first infusion found its home here. I couldn’t tell you how long I took for each infusion, music and time dictated when, how, and the speed at which the liquor was transported.
03. The Haunted Victorian Pencil: Forward momentum encouraged a second infusion to follow during this track.
04. The Slow Descent Has Begun: Reverence took over as an ambient fog of sound washed over me and bouts of heartfelt sorrow and contemplation hit. I sat in an amphitheater in which at some point…I felt the initial effects of this aged tea material. I dared not break the experience by concerning myself with trivial questions of the day.
05. Aqualung, Motherf***er: I sat there…stoned…in a tea high. reverberation and the underlying ostinato in the music beat in time to the window screen cross-hatch patterns that swayed from the wind. Its faint shadow could be seen on the table that supported my tea tray.
06. A Minor Fifth Is Made of Phantoms: Imagine finding yourself on the shores of a familiar waterfront, but to the fantastic surprise of dense, damp, cool foggy air. Colors faded, moving in and out of focus. Deep forest ferns, warmly colored rocks, mist.
07. Adios, Florida: I’m pretty certain I did a lot of sitting in thought. I reached out to Don and we messaged back and forth as I was compelled to give him my personal thanks for the experiences I had been feeling. There was a full sense of gratitude that built up. With the intense crescendo It reached a peak and fell in what left me nearly in tears.
08. The Rhythm of a Dividing Pair: Coming away from the previous track I felt transported to a cathedral. With a sound that echoed and moved my soul I allowed what I felt the pinnacle of this session to take me away. It was a send off of sorts for by this time the impact JS4 had found a balance to my state of being and I began to come away from its strength.
09. Keep It Dark Deutschland: To be honest, this track felt to be an extension of the last and the provided a sweet lingering sensation similar to the tea. The memory of this has grown fuzzy.
Jade Star IV and this musical pairing provided an experience that was greater than the sum of its parts. It’s the first tea that I could see breaking into once a year and for those truly special and unique occasions. The entire album flowed seamlessly as one written composition, taking the tea’s journey through infusions one step further.
Have you paired tea and music together before? Was the choice of music considered beforehand? Had it been an experience shared or enjoyed alone? These are a few of the questions I’ve been asking myself when I think of creating a space with tea for others.
Also, If you’ve had any particular experiences with Jade Star IV or any of the previous iterations, I’d love to hear them. This was my first Jade Star and from discussing this tea with others, there seem to be some similarities in body sensation. If you’ve been on the fence I recommend experiencing it here