I was introduced to the world of serenity by Moon through her skills of Chinese tea brewing, Chinese calligraphy, meditating and exploring the sacred wisdom of Heart Sutra. A world where all your senses become more refine each time you do one of these activities. Watching her prepare the tea in her tea room brings back my childhood memories when I loved watching my grandfather prepared his tea. As a child I was too nervous to ask him questions and I assumed that’s just how everybody prepares their tea. I have inherited his tea sets and I am looking forward to have Moon teach me how to use all the beautiful varieties of handmade clay teapots and cups he brought with him from Fujian, China.
This type of tea preparation is called Kung Fu Tea – which literally means ‘high skill tea’. With each brew you should infuse more effort, dedication and your own artistic flair. It is believed this way of preparing tea originated in the 18th century in Fujian but there are also others who believe that it originated in Chaosan area in Guangdong. The traditional method involves pre-heating the cups by pouring boiling water over them on a tray that drains the water. Using smaller brewing teapot with a higher tea leaf-to-water ratio than in the western style brewing. Moon took me on a journey beyond the taste and smell of the tea. The whole experience is quite spiritual as we tried to better understand the complexity behind each cup and its effects on our body. It’s all about perfecting each serve of tea, each stroke of the calligraphy, each understanding of Heart Sutra and each moment of tranquility through her meditation.
That afternoon Moon also made a batch of pumpkin mantou (buns) using her homegrown pumpkin. It is so fluffy and has a gentle sweetness that goes very well with the Pu’Erh she brews – a unique type of fermented tea that has the ability to evolve and mature over time, traditionally made in the Yunnan province of China.
Steamed Pumpkin Buns
Prep time: | Cook time: | Serves 8-10
- 300 gr all purpose flour
- 250 gr pumpkin cubes
- 4 tbs brown sugar
- 3 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp of salt
- Steam the pumpkin cubes for around 30 mins or until very soft. Blend into a really smooth paste and set aside to cool.
- Mix all all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, instant yeast and salt.
- Add the pumpkin puree into the dry ingredients and combine well. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until you get a smooth elastic dough.
- Transfer the dough into a big bowl and seal tight to let it start rising.
- Leave the bowl on your kitchen bench for a couple of hours or until dough is doubled in size.
- Lightly flour your work surface and place dough on it. Gently re-knead the dough until you achieve smooth texture. Try not to add too much flour while kneading.
- Shape the dough into a long log about 5cm in diameter then cut into about 4cm thick buns. Now let the buns prove for another 30 minutes, cover with a tea towel.
- To steam the buns, prepare the steamer and place the buns on a steamer tray. Let it go to a boil on high heat for about 15 minutes then turn off the heat. Leave the buns on the steamer for another 5 minutes before opening the lid.
- Serve warm with a nice cup of tea.