Monday, April 12, 2010

Adventures in sinaesthesia: Shangri-La

Pu Erh Toucha
Like the James Hilton novel that began the craze for the fantasy of the lost utopian fairyland in the Himalayas, this is going to be an exercise in orientalism. After all, I have never been to Yunnan province, so I can only project my own desires and fantasies onto that place.
But Orientalism, like every decadence, can be wonderful in moderation, so I invite you to come with me on a trip to Shangri-La. Since Yunnan is the original home of Camellia Sinensis, you must brew yourself some Pu-erh tea. This is a dark, earthy, yet somehow floral tea, ad it tastes exotic and unique. Sip it lyunaningeringly, and enjoy it while wearing Jean-Claude Ellena’s masterpiece, Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan, which I consider to be his very best tea scent, minimalism done exactly right. Note how well the scent of the tea and the imagined floral tea interact with one another.
 
I also recommend watching the chapter of the BBC’s Wild China on Yunnan Province. It is absolutely gorgeous, and it seems like the next best thing to taking a trip there, which I desperately want to do someday! You can get the episode (no. 2, “Shangri-La”) right now on Netflix instant watch, if you subscribe to that. Once you have done all that, freshen up your fragrance, brew a pot of tea for the road, and head outside for a hike in the greenest plOsmanthusace you can think of in your area—you can imagine that you, too, are one of the first lucky explorers to discover this magical isolated fairyland. Sigh.
I know this is not good enough—if you’re like me, nothing but a trip to the province of Yunnan will do now--but we travelers of the imagination can always keep trying to visit places in our minds.  Maybe one day we’ll get there in real life, but for now, merci, monsieur Ellena!


The Colorfull Waterfall







Tea and Fragrance, part one
credits: pic of Yunan, Sumtselin Gompa Monastery, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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