In a couple of weeks' time I will be visiting my favourite tea houses in Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Oolong tea has become a drug to me; the first sip of this green tea very early in the morning before the whole household stirs, whilst seeing the sun rise, is like heaven to me. My tea is my ticket to heaven.
Today is one special day for all of the Chinese in the world - the Moon Festival, or the Mid-Autumn Festival (more like the Mid-Spring Festival for me down under). This festival has been celebrated since the 7th century in the Chinese Tang Dynasty. None of the stories, or legends, as to how and why this festival came into being has ever sounded credible to me. I hadn't thought of it before but now I think perhaps this festival began more as a way of showcasing the ancient Chinese excellence in astrology, because this day, the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese Lunar calendar, is considered the day when the moon is the fullest and brightest each year.
The Chinese poet, Lee Bai or Li - Bai (701 - 762) in Tang Dynasty, died from trying to scoop the full moon out of the lake while drinking and dancing to the moon, a drowned drunkard basically. The following is one of his poems that I love the most; I had it written in mad running style Chinese characters for me; while he drank wine, I drink tea:
I made a sourdough, intending to have it with Chinese sausage in a sort of open sandwich tonight to celebrate the full moon. I used the "trinity" for Chinese stock pot - soy sauce, sugar & garlic (and I threw in sesame oil too) to flavour this sourdough:
When I was stirring my starter in the soy sauce mixture trying to break it up, I thought I must have poisoned the little beasties - there was absolutely no sign of life. And sure enough, the dough, after 4 hours of fermentation, was flat as a pancake, dead as a door knocker! Fortunately, it sprang up in the oven, maybe by 50 - 75%. The raw garlic was so potent that while it was in the oven baking, I felt sorry for my poor neighbours. I couldn't even say I liked the smell. I don't know why I put in so much raw garlic in the first place - maybe I was trying to make a statement. It really is not good form to be biting into a piece of bread so full of garlic; I mean, not on a night of beautiful full moon!
- 350 g starter @ 75% hydration
- 350 g bread flour + 1 tsp Chinese five spices
- 190 g water
- 30 ml sesame oil
- 15 g dark soy sauce
- 20 g sugar
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced (two cloves should be plenty)
- 6 g salt
Total dough weight 1.1 kg and total dough hydration 70%