Friday, February 9, 2024

Happy Chinese New Year


Tomorrow is Chinese New Year.  It will be the year of the dragon. 

I will be making a trip or two to Hong Kong, China to visit the tea markets there. I will keep everyone updated on all the happenings about Chinese tea there. Lots of pictures as well. 

I would like to wish all my tea buddies and friends a Happy Chinese New Year. Live long and prosper. 

Sunday, February 4, 2024

2003 Xiaguan Baoyan Tibetan Flame Tea Brick


Chinese new year is next week.  I had been busy working to get my new online store up by the end of the month. 

Time to shop for Chinese New Year.  I must buy the pastries and goodies to feed the guests who visit me. I think the goodies may be eaten by me within a day or two after I buy them. 

I had selected a 20 year old tea for this festive occasion. This is a 2003 Xiaguan baoyan brick 250g.  Such tea were originally produced for export.  They were made for the places like Mongolia and as far as Tibet. The people there have little access to green vegetables and drinking the tea helped in their digestion. The tea is often boiled with salt, pepper and even adding spices like cinnamon or cardamon. Milk is also added to the tea to make it a delicious beverage. 

Xiaguan Banyan tea was regarded by tea collectors as being a lower grade tea. This tea brick has more broken tea leaves than regular pu erh tea sold in mainland China.  

Lower grade and broken me does not mean that this tea is an inferior tea.  I am sure a blind taste test of this tea will fool many serious tea drinkers. I am going to have fun with this tea when I visit China in the later part of this year.  

I am impressed with this tea. It has all the hall marks of a good traditional pu erh.  This tea is spicy  (think pepper and ginger), a little smoky with nice hints of camphor wood. Being 20 years old and aged in my part of the world, this tea is smooth, mellow and sweet.  A nice tea for the Chinese New Year.  

Friday, January 19, 2024

Yi Yuan Long 60

If you are a tea drinker, you would have drank black tea on many occasions.  Really. Those regular tea bags you buy from the supermarkets and as well as the ones you drink at the office pantry are made with black tea.  The tea would most probably come from Sri Lanka, India, Kenya or from China. 

These black tea bags has comforted many tea drinkers round the world and many drinkers add milk and sugar to their tea to make it a tasty beverage. 

Black tea from Anhua, China has a long traditional history. Many serious Chinese tea drinkers would know that such tea are famous and the tea were normally compressed into long tea 'logs' which weigh more than 30kg. Such logs are bought by the public and proudly displayed in their homes for many years before they are cut up and drunk. The taste and aroma of old tea 'logs' are renowned for their sweet herbal taste, like a herbal soup that black tea connoisseurs enjoy.

Anhua Liyuanlong Tea Co Ltd (LYL) was founded by Mr Wu Jian Li.  Mr Wu, in my opinion, was very passionate in the production of black tea. Not only does the tea factory produced tea logs, My Wu was forward looking in introducing black tea with a more scientific and scientific processing standard. He converted many tea farms in his region to go organic and had obtained organic certification for these farms.   Most of his teas are now very popular with the Chinese black tea drinkers.

My Wu celebrated his 60th birthday in 2018 and produced a limited edition tea log for this auspicious occasion. This LYL 60 tea log is a smaller 2.175kg.   Compression is moderate and the tea can be easily broken up for container storage. 

I like this tea. The taste and aroma is unique. There is smoke, a tasty spicy mouthfeel (pepper and ginger) and a long sweet aftertaste.  If you are a pu erh tea drinker, you might mistake it for an old aged pu erh.  There is actually some resemblence to an old camphor-like raw pu erh cake. This tea is a very nice find and I will put it in my online store next month and share this special tea adventure with you.        

Monday, January 1, 2024

2007 Jing Mei Tang Lan Tie Pu erh

This is a Jing Mei Tang pu erh cake.  Produced in 2007, this tea cake is based on an old pu erh tea blend recipe call Lan Tie.  If I am not wrong, this is an interpretation of the blue mark pu erh that was sold in the late 90s. 

Jing Mei Tang had engaged Changtai tea factory to produced this tea. Moreover Jing Mei Tang had also arranged to have a bulk of this tea stored in Malaysia. This Lan Tie cake is from this Malaysian storage. 

With almost 17 years of Malaysia storage, this tea has mellowed well. This tea is strong with a complexity of bitterness, oak wood and a tinge of fresh bread crust. I liked the high oiliness in the tea. Here, I refer to the mouthwatering and smooth finish. Hardly any sweetness but the tea was pleasantly slightly intoxicating. I would not recommend this tea to a pu erh newbie. This tea is strong.

But I digress, many readers and tea friends had been asking what happened to my online store. Well.....I am redoing a new store front. Apparently, many of the 'widgets' used in my present online store had became obsolete. I have to redo the store. It should be operationally ready in a month's time. 

Happy New Year 2024.  

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Tea Of The Year 2023


I had written about tea for many years and I had not had a 'tea of the year' entry since I started. It would be fun to end this year with such a post. 

The tea, in my opinion, has to be good; have some age and for its price levels not break an arm and a leg to acquire such a tea.  These are simple parameters. Finding such a tea from an obscure tea factory would be an extra bonus as well. 

I present to you the tea; 2005 Shuang Xiong raw pu erh cake. 

This is a Yongde Shuang Xiong tea factory production. I could not find much information on the internet about this factory and it is possible that this factory had closed its operations. Yongde region is now well known for its pu erh tea harvested from nearby Bing Dao and Da Shue San (big snow mountain). These tea regions were not well known 20 years ago but now these pu erh tea are now commanding high prices in the Chinese tea markets.

This tea brews strong. The color of the tea and tea leaves when brewed was dark rusty amber. Initial aroma was like being in an old book or antique shop. The woody aroma and taste was like a whisky or wine that had the oaky aftertaste. The tea is smooth and rounded.  Mouthwatering and having a salivating sensation in the aftertaste. The almost 20 years of clean Malaysia storage was good. There is good mellowness and roundness in the tea. A strong complex tea and yet there is a soft and gentle side to the tea. Whenever I brew this tea, the tea session is short; finishing 6-8 infusions within a short time. Addictive.     

Friday, November 17, 2023

Japanese Gaiwan Variations


When it comes to brewing Chinese tea, one would normally use a teapot or gaiwan (the one in white in pix).  Add tea leaves and hot water into the gaiwan, hold up the gaiwan and tilt the cover a bit and proceed to dispense the tea. Tilting the gaiwan cover a bit will prevent the tea leaves from being poured out so you can continue to make further infusions of tea. 

Japanese also use a teapot and a variation of the gaiwan to brew their tea. There are 2 major variations; shiboridashi (bottom left) and the Hohin(right). The Shibo has no strainer but has grooves incorporated in the design. You need not tilt the cover to dispense the tea. This is less risky than the gaiwan, in my opinion as it might reduce any accidental slips or spillage of the tea. The Hohin is a spouted gaiwan with a built in strainer. This vessal is also easy to use. 

I enjoy using Japanese tea ware. They are more elaborated in terms of design and material. My Japanese tea ware collection are vintage pieces so I am more careful and deliberate in my tea brewing when I used them. Fun to use. 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

2007 Changtai Ripe Pu erh Cake


This is Changtai tea factory ripe tea cake. Produced in 2007, this cake was a special order made for a Taiwanese tea shop called Jing Mei Tang.

Changtai tea factory does special orders for their oversea clients. I am aware beside Jing Mei Tang, Chang Tai also made cakes for Cloud Tea House, a Hong Kong setup owned by the famous tea writer Chan Kam Pong. Changtai had also produced cakes for a Malaysian tea shop as well.

Jing Mei Tang had stored a portion of their Changtai tea to age in Malaysia (for 12-15 years) before moving back the tea back to Taiwan a few years ago. My Jing Mei Tang collection is from this Malaysian storage and I am very pleased with their storage results.

It was also an opportune time to refill my ripe tea caddy. This cake is called 'yi wei' (translated as one flavour or aroma). This tea, when brewed is complex, with a mix of fresh bread and leather. This unusual aromatic combination somehow worked very well together and is quite addictive. Already more than 16 years of storage under its belt, this tea is smooth, mellow and sweet. I found that adding an extra gram when I brewed this tea was even better, amplifying both taste and aroma of the tea.