Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Art Of Tea Magazine Issue 59











Tea Art magazine issue #59 main article was about Liu Ann Tea.  I hoped the pictures on that article will give you an idea on the production of Liu Ann tea.  This tea is mainly produced in Fujian Anhui in China.  Vintage Liu An tea are now very expensive and are highly sought after by the Chinese tea drinking community.  Liu An are traditional packed into bamboo baskets and this tea can be kept for many years allowing the tea to 'age' to a mellow and smooth tea.  

I was also told, while have tea sessions with my tea drinking groups, that Liu An tea was also drank as a medicinal drink.  A good strong brew of Liu An tea will help alleviate cold and flu symptoms. Old Chinese medical halls would often used Liu An tea as a liquid base to concoct a bowl of Chinese herbs for their customers.  

This issue also showcased young teapot potters.  Notice the interpretation of the tea set in in the 7th pix. Nice.

There was a rare article on teapots in English as well.  Written by Chi Lin Lu, the author suggested that for collecting vintage teapots, a collector must be familiar with the clay, production styles and appearance of that period before you purchased a vintage teapot.  The author compared teapot appreciation to that of buying vintage pu erh tea where a buyer must be familiar with certain characteristics of that tea citing features like type of paper wrapper used, size and thickness of the cake and even the appearance and depth of the cake centre hollow.  An interesting read.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Huang Chin Kuei Oolong






Huang Chin Kuei, or more commonly known as Huang Jin Gui, is a oolong produced in the Fujian province in China.  Fujian oolong is highly regarded by the Chinese tea drinking community as oolong produced there are considered 'traditional or original' as the tea there had been produced by many generations of tea farmers.  

Tea farmers in the many Fujian provinces would usually have a special name for their oolong tea.  The four most famous names would be Rougui, Tie Kuan Yin, Shui Hsien and Bai Chi Guan.  

This Huang Chin Kuei is produced and packed into tins by Fujian Tea Import and Export Co Ltd under the Butterfly brand.  Every tin is filled with 125g and you will noticed from the 2nd pix, that the tea is 'rolled up'.  The tea leaves will unfurl when you brew the tea and the unfurled tea leaves looks greenish in my teapot as the roast levels of this tea was medium.      

This tea makes 5-6 good infusions.  This tea has very good floral notes with a delicate sweet finish.  I found this tea very suitable, when I had the tea served and paired, with a Chinese dinner.  

Monday, May 29, 2017

Fried Rice Green Tea






When I think of fried rice, I will imagine a Chinese chef literally frying rice using a wok over a big fire.  This is one dish that I enjoy eating especially as a 'take away' meal when I have to eat dinner alone.

It was about 2 weeks ago while shopping for Chinese tea bags that I came across this Fried Rice Green Tea.  If you continue to read the label, this tea is Genmai Cha.  I went online to get more information and Genmai tea is actually green tea blended with roasted rice.  This tea, seemed to suggest, from the picture on the teabox, that this is a popular tea in Japan.  I remembered that I had tried Hoji tea in Nagoya a few years ago and that tea was actually roasted green tea.  I remembered the tea tasted earthy and had a mild sweet aftertaste.  I might still have a packet of Hoji tea in my freezer.  

My conclusion is that 'Fried Rice Green Tea' must be an episode of 'lost in translation'.  There was a time in the 80s and 90s where English translations were sometimes taken too literally that reading them would sound frightening or humorous.  The 2nd pix was sent to me by a friend some time ago.  I have no idea who took this pix.  I will give credit to the pix when I get the information.  

Sadly, there is no fried rice in this tea.  I am going to my tea cupboard to choose a tea to brew today.  Perhaps a pu erh tea biscuit.  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Teabag Shopping







I have a friend that drinks and collects Chinese tea bags as hobby.  I never thought that collecting Chinese tea bags can be a hobby.  Most of his teabags were already factory packed in boxes and these boxes were normally factory wrapped in clear plastic.  Chinese teabag boxes normally comes in a box of 20 teabags or in larger boxes of 100 teabags.These boxes are quite colourful and are sometimes decorated with nice drawings usually about tea.  One tip, I got from my friend, is not to expose the tea boxes  to prolonged light as the colours on the tea boxes will fade.  My tea friend is pretty serious in his collection keeping his tea boxes mint in carton boxes and only displaying those which he has multiple 'copies/boxes'.  

I met him for lunch last month and we went round a few shops in town looking for Chinese teabags to add to his collection.  You would have noticed that I ended up with 2 tea boxes and a rice pattern porcelain jar.  I believe the right description is a milk pot/jar.  This unused late 80s milk pot is 4 inches (10cm) high and I am guessing would hold about 350ml of tea.  Yes, I intend to brew tea in it and it would be brewing with Chinese tea bags.  I was also considering to use it as a small tea waste jar when I am brewing tea by myself.  A happy purchase.

Back to the teabags.  The Da Hong Pao is produced by  Xiamen Tea Import and Export Co under the 'Butterfly' Brand.   The Yunnan Tuocha teabag is not produced in Yunnan but by Guangdong Tea Import and Export Ltd.  There were French words on the labels of this Pu erh tea box which seems to indicate that one of the major markets for this pu erh was France.  I was not surprised as I had seen a 80s Xiaguan ripe tuo in box, printed with information about the tea in French.  

I found the Da Hong Pao tea light.  Its not the teabag's fault though.  I drink my Da Hong Pao very strong, up to 10g of tea for a 150ml teapot.  The 2g of tea in the teabag was mild.  I could detect the floral scents and oolong taste but I think using 2 teabags next time might be a better solution for me.  The pu erh teabag was, to me, a more interesting purchase.  One teabag could get me a strong cup of ripe pu erh (better results when you use boiling water for teabags).  Aroma was quite pleasant and it even had hints of old leather scent in the tea.  

Buying Chinese tea in teabags will not burn a hole in your wallet.  They make for a good and inexpensive tea when you are on the road.  Can be an interesting hobby too.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Colourful Teapot










This teapot is called "Tao Se shui ping hu".  'Tao Se' literally means colourful teapot, while 'shui ping hu' refers to the classical design of this teapot.  

Colourful teapot here meant that 2 different clays were used in the production of the teapot.  You will notice the red clay used for the body while a greenish clay for the spout, teapot cover nob and the handle of the teapot.  'Colourful' teapots was quite popular for a period in the 80s.  One of the teapots in the last pix is a duan ni (yellow clay) and green clay combination.

You would had noticed that the teapot lid wall literally stands out.  Known as 'gai chiang' (lid wall), the wall is noticeably longer or higher than modern Chinese teapots.  This 'high wall' has an advantage in that when you pour tea from the teapot, you can actually tilt the teapot at a more forward angle without worrying the lid falling off as the 'high wall' would be working to keep the teapot cover on.

The disadvantage of this 'high wall' is that it will displace some tea when the lid is on.  For this small teapot, the displacement is significant.  Let me explain, I could fill about 75ml of tea to the brim of this teapot, but once the lid is on, only 60ml of tea can be retained in the teapot.  For Chinese teapot collectors, Chinese teapot capacity is measured with the lid on.  

A fun teapot to use.  Makes great tea as well.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

2009 Haiwan Lao Tong Zhi Brand - Yue Chen Yue Xiang Ripe Pu erh








I opened this cake a few weeks ago.  I had purchased this tea from the Guangzhou Haiwan distributor 6 years ago and wanted to check on the progress of storing and aging this tea in Singapore.  

Haiwan tea factory had produced a special range of tea in 2009 and I was lucky to bought some of these tea while I was in Guangzhou.  I am a fan of this tea factory and I especially enjoy their ripe tea production.

'Yue Chen Yue Xiang' is simply a Chinese phrase meaning - the longer you store the more fragrant it becomes.  This phrase is commonly used in many pu erh tea labels and many tea factories have their own versions of 'Yue Chen Yue Xiang'.  Do not walk into a tea shop asking for pu erh tea with this phrase and you might end up a number of pu erh tea cakes with such phrases on their wrappers.  

This ripe tea brews up a very strong session of tea.  7g in a 140ml teapot got me 8 strong jet black syrupy ripe pu erh tea.  Some of Haiwan's ripe tea brews up strong and I would advise drinkers to cut back a little when they have a Haiwan ripe tea session.  This tea has nice earthy and wood notes.  Smooth and faintly sweet.  A nice tea session for an afternoon break.  




Sunday, April 30, 2017

Black Million Flower Porcelain - Small Tea Set










I owned some 80s "Black Million Flower" porcelain in their original unopened packing and had posted pictures of these pieces last year (link).

This label of 'Black Million Flower' is a name given by local porcelain collectors to this design that was produced in China in the 80s.  If you read the Chinese writing on the box in the 2nd pix, the written description was 'ten thousand flower' design.  I suppose and agree that 'million flower' sounded better for this porcelain.

I managed to get an unopened and mint in box 'million flower' tea set last month.  As you will observe, this set came with a teapot, 4 cups and a tea tray.  The tea tray,  to me, was the highlight of the purchase.  The colourful flowers that were hand decorated on the tray was very captivating.  I believe that this is the only porcelain decoration made in China in the 80s that reflected the the bold colours and variety of flowers on a unique black background.

The only chop or seal markings on this set were only found on the bottom of the teapot (pix 3).