Wynn Las Vegas Magazine by MODERN LUXURY

Wynn Las Vegas - 2017 - Issue 3 - Winter

Wynn Magazine - Las Vegas

Issue link: http://www.ifoldsflip.com/i/914167

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Page 36 of 99

eroic vases, gilded drapes, jade accents and peacock motifs—Wing Lei Palace at Wynn Palace in Cotai feels more like a whimsical palace than a restaurant. Designed like a three-tiered European theater, every seat in the house offers a view of the hotel's 8-acre Performance Lake, where a choreographed water, light and music show shoots to life at regular intervals all day and throughout the evening. In a private room overlooking the scene, tea sommelier Jacky Zhao is per- fecting another kind of performance. Zhao places a 1-inch clump of black, loose-leaf Pu'er tea inside a gaiwan tea bowl (a porcelain bowl with a lid). He then swirls water (heated to a precise 212 degrees Fahrenheit) to "awaken" the leaves, pours out the liquid, and repeats the process one more time. On the third pour, he brews the tea for no more than 15 to 20 seconds— watching the leaves slowly uncoil with the heat. Zhao then transfers the liquid into a delicate glass carafe, from which he serves it in bijou teacups, so petite they hold just three or four sips. A 30-year-old Pu'er that's meant to be savored is Zhao's favorite brew at Wing Lei Palace and the most expensive on the 50-tea menu, at $20 per person. The steaming liquid smells of earth and rich wood, with a mild, nutty flavor. The color, glowing and translucent, is a perfect shade of golden brown. Each of the restaurant's prized Pu'er teas—aged from 12 to 30 years—has been harvested in Yunnan province, in southwestern China, a region revered for its ideal terroir. "You can grow the Pu'er tea leaves anywhere in the world, but Yunnan has the best geographic advantages because of the weather, soil and the humidity levels," says Zhao. Originally from the Sichuan province of southwestern China, Zhao has been studying tea for the past 15 years. In Sichuan, green tea is the norm, and the sommelier didn't taste his first glass of Pu'er until he moved to Guangdong province, in southern China, in 2007. It wasn't long before Zhao developed an appreciation for the earth-brown beverage. "Just like art collectors, Pu'er connoisseurs will find really unique, prized vintages to keep and share with other Pu'er lovers," says Zhao. "I was with a friend, a tea producer, and he brought out a rare Pu'er. He said it was different from all the others that he has tasted. It not only has this smooth woody aroma, which most Pu'er lovers are looking for, but it also has this kind of ginseng taste. I've never been able to find it again." Pu'er's celebrated complexity and elegant taste date to its regal beginnings, in the Eastern Han Dynasty (circa 25-220 A.D.). According to legend, the Pu minority group invented the fermented brew by accident, while delivering tea to the emperor. At the time, the large black tea leaves were usually consumed fresh, according to Zhao. But the villagers found that after many months in transit, they had aged to become mellow and delicious. The tea quickly became a valuable commodity, often traded along China's Ancient Tea Horse Road, which weaved through the coun- trysides of Tibet, Yunnan and Sichuan. Traditionally, Pu'er tea is left to ferment naturally. The time-intensive process requires several steps: After harvesting, the leaves are pan-fried, rolled and dried. Then tea producers "cook" the tea by piling leaves into mounds and letting bacteria do their work. During this decomposition process, the leaves develop complex flavors, tannins and aromas. This "raw" Pu'er—also called black or sheng tea—is then usually packed into dense Frisbee-like discs, bricks or bell-shaped nubs to make it easier to transport and store. Similar to wine, Pu'er requires highly specific storage conditions—little direct light, 50 to 70 percent humidity and a temperature between 68 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. There's no such thing as peak maturity, but generally speaking, the majority of Pu'er teas have been aged from 10 to 100 years. The older the Pu'er, the more complex and well- balanced the tea will be—given careful conditions. 35 董花瓶,金色簾幕,翡翠綠色與孔雀圖案點綴 其間—位於澳門路氹永利皇宮的永利宮,令人 感覺恍若置身瑰麗奇幻的宮殿。樓高三層的設 計猶如歐洲歌劇院,每個座位均可欣賞到酒店8 英畝大的表演湖璀璨美景,每天日夜定時演出的噴泉表演配合撼動人 心的音效及燈光系統編排,令人目眩神迷。 在坐擁表演湖景觀的私人宴會廳中,侍茶師 Ja c k y Zh ao趙先生也 在進行極具觀賞性的表演。他拿起一撮約1寸大小、烏黑而蓬鬆的普 洱茶葉放入蓋碗(帶蓋的瓷碗)中,以精確加熱到212華氏度的熱水沖 泡,輕輕旋動蓋碗,謂之「喚醒」茶味,然後將茶水倒掉,再重複一次 醒茶過程。 沖泡到第三次,趙先生讓茶葉在碗中浸泡15到20秒,等待茶葉在 熱水中緩緩舒展。然後將茶斟入一隻精緻的玻璃公道杯內,再分斟到 幾隻小茶杯中,茶杯如此小巧,每杯大概是3到4啖茶的容量。 3 0年的陳年普洱是趙先生個人在永利宮裡最喜愛的一款茶,也是 5 0道茶單裡最貴的一款,價格是每位20美元。氤氳的茶香裡帶著泥土 的芬芳與豐富的木香,以及柔和的堅果香味。茶色明亮澄澈,閃耀著美 妙的金棕色。 餐廳裡每一款名貴的普洱茶都採自最適合製作普洱的地區 —中 國西南部的雲南省,年份從12年到3 0年都有。「世界上任何地方都能種 植普洱茶葉,但雲南省的地理優勢是最大的,氣候、土壤和濕度條件都 極佳。」 趙先生來自中國西部的四川省,研習茶藝15年。四川省以飲用綠茶 為主,趙先生是 20 07年搬到中國南部的廣東省時,才第一次品嚐普洱 茶,並立即愛上了這種深褐色的飲品。 「就像藝術收藏家一樣,普洱鑑賞家會尋找真正獨特而珍貴的陳 年普洱來收藏,並與其他普洱愛好者分享。」趙先生說:「我曾經和一 位茶商朋友一同品茶,他帶來一塊極為稀有的普洱茶餅,是普洱愛好者 們夢寐以求的,茶香中有種人參的味道。其後我再也沒有品嚐過那樣 的普洱茶了。」 普洱以茶味豐富和優雅著稱,其歷史始於東漢時期的皇室(約公 元 25年 -220年)。傳說當時的少數民族普族在向皇室進貢茶葉的運輸 途中,偶然發現了發酵茶葉的製茶方法。據趙先生說,當時大家習慣用 新鮮的大葉紅茶來泡茶。但村民們發現茶葉經過數月的路途運輸,變 質之後的味道更加柔和美妙。於是這種茶迅速變成昂貴商品,在橫貫 西藏、雲南和四川鄉村的茶馬古道沿途廣泛交易。 傳統上,普洱茶經自然發酵而成。長時間的製作過程需經過這幾 個步驟:茶葉收成後先在鍋中炒製,搓揉並乾燥。然後製茶工人會將 茶葉堆積成堆,讓微生物發揮作用來「漚熟」茶葉。在這個分解過程 中,茶葉會慢慢產生豐富的味道、單寧和香氣。 這種「生」普洱也稱為黑茶或生茶,通常包裝壓制成的緊實的飛碟 形、磚形或鐘形的茶餅,使其更容易運輸和存儲。普洱與葡萄酒一樣, 需要非常嚴謹的儲藏條件 —不能直接光照,濕度介乎5 0%至70%, 溫度在6 8至85華氏度之間。普洱沒有絕對的成熟標準,但一般而言,大 多數普洱茶會經過10年到10 0年的發酵。在儲存良好的情況下,普洱越 陳年,茶味越豐富醇厚, H 古

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