Summit Tea Party: Roasted Tie Guan Yin at Wedgemount Lake April 07, 2015 16:46

It took us a while to post this summit tea party report, and we apologize for the long wait. We were buried in work these couple of weeks, but we'll catch up and post not one, but two tea party reports!

The spring has finally arrived, the nature is coming out of hibernation, which means it's time to get serious about spending every possible moment outdoors. If you ask us, there's no better way to celebrate spring than on the shores of a picturesque glacial lake high in the mountains. Circled by breathtaking peaks and dazzling glaciers, Wedgemount lake, just North of Whistler, captivates you at first sight. It is the splendour of the surrounding landscape and excellent mountaineering opportunities that make one return there time and again. So we returned to take in the views and enjoy a delicious Roasted Tie Guan Yin, also called Iron Goddess.

The trail to Wedgemount lake is the shortest in Garibaldi Provincial Park and well-maintained, but it is relentlessly steep, rising steadily 1200 meters uphill in under 7 km over rocky, muddy, rooty terrain (much like an obstacle course). The forecast called for rain in the afternoon, so we knew we had better hurry to take advantage of some clear skies.

For the most part, the trail runs through the coastal rainforest, but there are a few viewpoints along the way.

At the base of a talus slope

At the meadows, the grade briefly eases, which is just enough to catch one's breath before the final scramble section. It also presents a nice opportunity to appreciate the mountains across the Sea-to-Sky highway. We stopped to look at Rainbow mountain, at the foot of which we had a marvellous tea party.

The weather was getting moody

The dubbed the final section to the crest of the ridge "the wall", as it is a steep and almost vertical climb. Before that trip, we were at the lake only in summer, and we knew from experience that this was by far the most difficult part of the entire ascent.

Up, up, and up

To our surprise, the fresh and powdery snow not only didn't add a degree of difficulty, but even made it easier to climb "the wall", as loose rocks were deeply covered underneath. Three hours after we started, we stood on the crest, greeted by spectacular views of Wedgemount and Armchair glaciers, and Wedge Mountain, the namesake of the lake and the highest point in Garibaldi Park.

Armchair Glacier

We were the first to come to the lake that morning. It was foggy and cloudy, with white and grey dominating the world's colour palette, which lent a mysterious air to the whole enterprise. One-on-one with the mountains, we felt awed by their majestic beauty, but so connected at the same time. It was the right time to share a cup of tea.

Approaching the Hut

Suddenly, while we were preparing the tea, the sun came out and brightened up our surroundings. We couldn't ask for a better set up for our little tea gathering. 

Our Roasted Tie Guan Yin comes from Longjuanxiang town in Anxi region of China, that enjoys a humid and warm climate all year long. Anxi is often referred as the tea capital of Fujian province and is especially renowned for outstanding oolong teas. We are proud to offer you one of the best roasted Tie Guan Yin teas. The tea garden in Nanshantou village that produces our Roasted Tie Guan Yin lies at one kilometre altitude and ranks among the five best Tie Guan Yin growing gardens. One of the main criteria of Tie Guan Yin quality is the age of tea trees: the top grade tea is picked from 2-3 year old plants.

In the shadow of Wedge Mountain

This particular oolong undergoes a careful charcoal roasting for a period of 24 hours. The ash-covered charcoals retain the temperature between 50 and 60ºC to ensure slow and constant heat that enriches the flavour without obliterating the original character of the tea. As a result, the tea leaves are dark-drown, smooth and glossy. They produce a bright-orange infusion with a distinct toasted aroma.

Catching sunbeams

It would take a poet to worthily describe the complexity of this tea. The wet leaves emanate an irresistible aroma that represents a perfect marriage of toasted and fruity notes. With hints of dark chocolate, dates and roasted nuts, the flavour of this tea is rich and intricate with a long-lingering aftertaste. Sweet and velvety, this tea is a pure treat.  

Tea portrait with Weart Mountain

We found the tea comforting and uplifting, which was very much appreciated when the weather finally changed to worse. After a challenging and exhausting hike, it was precisely what we needed. 

Wedgemout glacier and the towering peak of Wedge Mountain

On our way back, we couldn’t miss an opportunity to check out the hut. That place was surprisingly cozy and full of artefacts: journals, maps, old trail reports.

Inside the hut

For the following tea party, we headed farther north to sample another tea from our collection. Stay tuned for this report as well. Meanwhile, we would really love to know whether you have a particular custom to commemorate the spring's arrival.

View full photo report of the Summit Tea Party at Wedgemount Lake on our Google+ page.