Sunday, July 22, 2018

H2O And Tea






One nice thing about Singapore is that I can drink water straight from the tap.  I have been to a few countries where I have to buy bottled water for my drinks as the tap water is not safe for consumption

But I am fussy.  I bought a standing filter for my tap water.  I simply fill up about 4-5 litres of water into a container and let gravity do its work.  The water will flow down slowly through a few sets of filters clearing out the chlorine and other stuff.  Water pipes are old in my housing estate and the ceramic filter turns slightly brown after 1-2 months of use and thats when I have to give the ceramic filter a good brushing.  

I used the filtered water for my tea brewing.  It is pretty good.  At least....its a cheap option.

We can also buy bottled water and experiment the taste and aroma when using these bottled water.  In Singapore, I can buy water which is bottled in Europe, Canada, USA and even Himalaya water.  They cost about $1-4 for a large bottle.  

Water makes up a large component in your tea and using such water may give a different taste or aroma in the tea.  There are also some bottled water which I could not discern any difference when I used them for my tea.  

Pix shows a bottle of water from Canada. When I used it on a raw puerh tea session, the tea seem to taste more smooth.  Maybe it is my imagination.  Fun though.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Rougui Shui Hsien - A Lau Yu Fat Premium Oolong









This is a premium range of oolong tea offered by Hong Kong's Lau Yu Fat Tea shop.  This tea came from the famed Fujian Wuyi mountains where oolong tea grown there are considered the 'quality stuff'.

You will notice that the leaves are plump and dark.  Being an expensive tea and the leaves looking pretty clean, I dispensed with washing the tea and starting drinking from the 1st infusion.  The aroma from the 1st infusion is very impressive.  There is a nice complicated bouquet of flowers (fresh and dried) which gave me a nice mouth watering sensation.  

Such oolong tea or yancha would  surprise a new oolong drinker in the sense that the tea is good only for about 4 infusions before the tea aroma and flavours fade away.  Many oolong tea drinker friends would also add more tea leaves in a brewing session to maximise the 'oomph' in the tea.  Swirling the tea in my mouth while breathing in air through the mouth and exhaling through the nose at the same time would enhance or encapsulate the aroma in my mouth and throat.  This tea is very good.

However, this is a new tea.  The 'newness' is evident in the later infusions where the aftertaste seem to 'cut short'.  This tea would be better if kept for 10 years for further aging.  An expensive proposition.






Sunday, July 8, 2018

Tea Appreciation - An Alcoholic Perspective






I have been exchanging emails with Wilson.  No I am not going bonkers.  Since my alcoholic post last month, many readers now know that I enjoy drinking many other liquids besides Chinese tea.  I grind my Ethiopia coffee beans on weekends for morning coffee and I do drink a dram of whisky 2-3 times a month.

A Scotsman named Wilson (its really weird writing to myself) wrote to me last month.  He enjoys his pu erh tea and his scotch drinks and wanted to compare tea notes with me.  At the same time, he explained to me the proper way to drink and appreciate scotch whisky.

Here are some notes that will interest the Chinese tea drinker:

1.  Scotch Whisky does not age in the bottle.  You buy a 12 yr old scotch, the taste and aroma of the liquor will (should) remain unchanged in the bottle after say 10 years.  Pu erh tea will continue to age after you bring it home.  A 10 yr old pu erh cake will be aged to a 20 year old tea if you keep it for another 10 years.  

2.  A tea session is cheaper than a session (call a dram) of whisky.  A tea cake can be broken up to 50 tea sessions (assume we use 7g from a 357g cake).  A bottle of whisky can get you 28 pours (one 25ml pour from a 700ml bottle).  If you work out the math, a $100 cake will give you a bigger bang for your money compared to a $100 bottle.  

3.  You can have a tea session daily.  Or twice daily.  But having a double whisky session daily may not be good and may cause an unhealthy addiction.  

But Wilson (the Scottish One) pointed out other differences

1.  Tea set up can be expensive.  Tea kettle, tea tray, teapot and teacups can be a little expensive.  You need to boil water and you have to prepare and later wash up the utensils.  However, all you need is a good nosing glass for your whisky and a few drops of water to bring up the flavours in the glass.  It takes less effort.

2.  You can walk into a whisky bar and have a choice of 50-200 varieties of different age and character.  I answered him by saying I can walk into a teashop and sample (for free) a tea as well.  


Looks like Chinese tea is the better deal.  

Scottish Wilson explained that nosing of the whisky is very important.  He pointed out that a good nosing glass like the Glencairn glass in the pix, is tulip shaped that will encapsulate the aroma of the liquor.  He says nosing of whisky normally takes 5-15 min as one try to identify the scents and aroma of the whisky.....floral, sweet honey notes, wooden oak or sherry scents.  Yes...even smoky or scent of the sea are seen in some whiskies.  Then sipping a whisky and 'chewing' the sip to cover the whole mouth before swallowing is also carried to to maximise the aroma and flavour.  

As a Chinese tea drinker, you will notice some of the similarities in whisky and tea appreciation.  Nosing for Chinese tea take up only a few seconds as the teacup we normally use does not hold the tea aroma well.  There was a significant improvement when I used a deeper Lin Ceramics teacup, filling half the cup with tea and nosing the tea for about 30 seconds before drinking the tea.  I feel that Chinese tea appreciation could be made more interesting if we a proper nosing cup of the tea.  Yes, we have scenting Chinese tea cups but I feel a bigger and deeper cup where you can 'put your nose in' makes a significant difference.  And I am not drunk stating this....whisky taste aroma and taste seem enhanced if drank from a Lin purion cup.

That is my 2 cents worth of thoughts.  I have been invited to Scotland where Wilson will bring me to a few distilleries and bars.  He proposed we do an tea-whisky exchange.  Sounds good...... but I have to put the bottle In my checked-in luggage and hope it will not break during the return journey.   My wife is excited when I told her we may be visiting Scotland.  I left out the distillery and bar visit bits though.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sea Dyke Zhen Cang Rougui Oolong








This rougui is produced by Sea Dyke and comes in a pretty double lid tin.    This tin contains 100g and my tea was produced in 2016.  "Zeng Cang' literally meant collection which I guessed it implied this rougui was a 'collector' grade of oolong.  

This is a new tea offering by Sea Dyke and I was looking forward to this tea.  I was impressed with their newer Shui Jin Gui tea which came foil packed in 12.5g and packed individually in small orange boxes. That tea was nice, mellow and smooth.

The tea leaves in this rougui tin looked plump and pleasant.  I had looked forward to trying this tea.  

This tea did not meet my expectations.  The roast was more medium than high roasted.  I suppose Sea Dyke was trying to appeal to both medium roast and high roast tea drinkers with this roast level.   I wished this rougui to be higher roasted as the flavours seemed muted in my opinion.  There are many high roasted oolong offerings that I enjoy from Sea Dyke but this rougui is not my cup of tea.  Sigh! 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Alcoholic Pu erh






If you are below 18 years of age, do not read this blog entry.  If you think you are young and feel like you are below 18 years of age, do not read this blog entry.  This is because of the high alcoholic content in this article.  

A tea buddy from Yokohama Japan, Mr Sato, emailed me last May.  Mr Sato enjoys Chinese tea especially raw and ripe pu erh.  He told me to try drinking pu erh tea with alcohol.  He recommended using whisky, one part whisky and 2-3 parts pu erh.  He mentioned to drink it cool.  My guess is to drink it when the tea had cooled to room temperature or I had to add ice to the tea or drink. 

I was excited to try this tea (it has more tea than alcohol anyway).  I realized that I had finished my bottle of scotch over last Chinese New Year and will be refilling my alcohol stash when I buy a bottle at the duty free airport during my next oversea trip.  I could not wait so I went online to get a bottle. You can buy literally everything now on the Internet.  My daughter recently got herself a metal drinking straw with brush which I see as an attempt to be more environmentally conscious.  

Anyway, I bought a Japanese whisky.  I had wanted to try a Japanese one as I had read an article that the Japanese made ones were quite good.  So I got a Hibiki Harmony.  No age statement on the bottle but I had read reviews that there was good age and maturity in the whisky.  

I brewed up a 2006 Xiaguan iron cake, poured out the infusions into cups and and left the tea to cool to room temperature.  I used 1 part whisky/2 parts tea and sat down for a drink.  Gee......the tea or drink tasted nice. Sweet, spicy, woody and fruity.  Very good chi....I think from the alcohol or tea.  I had another round, this time with ice.  This time, the drink is more minty with a sweeter aftertaste.  Xiaguan on steroids.

I am going to try, next time, this bottle with ripe pu er and high roasted oolong.  I will also experiment adding a few whisky drops to a cup of tea.  I will report my findings to my readers.  I do not think this bottle will keep till Christmas.  

But I digress.  The Kim-Trump summit is happening here in Singapore on June 12.  I hope something meaningful comes out from that meet.  A toast to peace.  

Sunday, June 3, 2018

2008 Haiwan 8808











This is my earliest pu erh purchase from my China trips. I had purchased this tea during my 1st trip to Kunming back in 2009.  I met a few Kunming tea dealers there including Scott Wilson of Yunnan Sourcing.   

This 2008 Haiwan 8808 cake was produced by Haiwan tea factory for the Kunming tea markets.  I wanted to bring back some tea home and I managed to lugged a few tongs of pu erh tea which included these 8808 cakes.

Last week, I decided to open a tong to check on my storage of this tea.  I had stored in an empty bedroom and and left it for more than 9 years.  Cake is clean and dry and compression of the cake is high that I need a pu erh pick to open up the tea cake.

This tea is woody and herbal.  The 'woodiness' seem to remind me of old antique furniture.   Good workhorse brewing up 10 strong infusions easily.  I am happy the tea is smooth and clean.  Pix of tea in cup in the 4th infusion (8g in a 130ml teapot).

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Pek Sin Choon Unknown Fragrance Oolong












I had introduced to my readers on Singapore's Pek Sin Choon teashop in my previous blog entry.

This is their flagship and famous tea. They called it "Unknown Fragrance". The shop described the tea as follows:
"Renowned Unknown Fragrance is a locally blended traditional tea. When the founder, Bai Jin Ou, was naming the tea, he found that he just can’t describe the fragrance in words and thus the renowned unknown fragrance became the rightful name for the tea. Because of its uniqueness in taste, this tea has been unsurpassed in the Bak Kut Teh (pork rib soup) segment. The tea soup is dark red in colour which is luscious at first sip and produce great aftertaste. Due to its unique mix of tea species, the tea is good for slimming, reducing blood pressure, reducing blood sugar, reducing cholesterol, anti-aging."


This tea comes packed in a tin of 50 packets.  Each packet is individually hand-wrapped at the shop. Each packet weights about 16g.  Notice 2 pieces of paper (pink paper inside) used to wrap the tea.  

I was told that this was a blend of Wuyi and Anxi oolong. This would explained the appearance of the tea leaves; rolled Anxi leaves and straight Wuyi leaves.  I was told that this blend used premium tea leaves and it was about 2-3 times the price of regular oolong tea even when this tea was introduced in to the tea market about 60 years ago.   

This 'Unknown Fragrance' (also known in the hokkien dialect as 'Put Tee Hiong Tea') is very aromatic.  I enjoy the bouquet of floral notes and the lightly sweet finish.     An interesting and refreshing tea.