Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Vintage Korean Celadon Teacups

I recently purchased a set of Korean Celadon teacups online.  The seller indicated that this 5 teacups were made by Kim Jonmoku Tongoku. I have no idea about this maker and I would need my Korean readers to give me more input on the maker as well as on Korean celadon.  I had noticed that there are many Koreans that enjoy drinking Chinese tea and many of these drinkers do take very nice pictures of their tea and tea ware and posted online especially on Instagram. Do check them out.

I found these teacups fascinating as the looked like they were made from jade when held against the light.  The signature 'cracked' glazed lines seen on the cups gave the impression that these cups were delicately made. 

I am very fascinated with teacups.  I felt that Chinese tea does taste different with different teacups.  Lin purion teacups were unique that they held heat very well (the cup stays hot for a long time) and the tea tasted very pronounced in taste and aroma.  This Korean celadon teacup gave very good results.  I gave one of these cups to a collector in Guangzhou and he felt that the tea was 'hua' (smooth) compared to his regular cups.  Even a good lady friend that is an expert on coffee, told me that coffee tasted better using older Chinese porcelain cups.  

Are we mad thinking that teacups would make a difference in the tea? Yes, yes yes .

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Final Infusion

How many infusions of tea do you brew when you have a tea session?

For me, the average would be about 5-6 for oolongs and 6-8 for pu erh tea.  This does not include the initial flash rinse I perform on the tea before I start my session.  If the tea still brews strong, I may set the teapot aside and return to brewing more tea later in the day.  

Then you have the last or final infusion before you discard the tea leaves.  I suppose for many tea drinkers, myself included, the final infusion would be considered the weakest in taste and aroma. 

Let me recommend a fun and interesting brew for your final infusion :
- empty the tea leaves in a small metal pot
- add 2-3 teapots of water
- boil the tea for 5-10 minutes

Surprise! Your final infusion will taste and smell slightly different.  It will be strong as well.  I have tried it on pu erh, oolongs, Liu Bao and white tea and have pleasant results so far.  I think you will like the results as well.  If you already had too much tea to drink, I suggest you keep that last infusion in a small thermos and drink it when you are ready for tea again.  

Time to relook at your final infusion.  Have fun and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

1993 Dayi Menghai Tea Factory Ripe Pu erh

I gave myself a treat opening an old Taetea (aka Dayi) ripe pu erh tea over the Chinese New Year weekend.  This is a 100g loose ripe pu erh packed in a paper box.  Produced in 1993 (you can see the stamp pressed impression in the 3rd pix), the tea leaves appeared to be  small leaf grade.  

This is one of my oldest pu erh tea in my collection and when I started brewing this tea, I had or was expecting, I don't know, maybe fireworks coming out of my ears or getting seriously tea drunk after the tea session.  None of these dramatic effects were present, but instead I was treated to a very comforting pu erh tea session.  The tea was very smooth with aromatic old antique wood and herbal scents and the tea glided down the throat easily.  8 very good infusions. 

But I digress.  When you are having a tea session with friends or you are at a teashop sampling tea with 3-4 drinkers present, you can tell whether a tea drinker likes that particular tea - that is - the tea cup empties very fast.  You will also observe that the tea drinker will (myself included) be 'looking forward' to each cup of tea.  One more thing, when you are at a teashop sampling tea and when you had enough of  tea, stop drinking or your teacup will continue to be refilled.  Alternatively, you can drink up the tea and tell politely,  while returning the empty cup to the host, that you do not want any more refills.

I noticed my tea sessions with this Dayi ripe pu erh normally finished in a very short time.  I drink this tea fast.      

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Taetea Dayi Sampler Presentation Boxed Set

Taetea (we call the company Dayi in our part of the world) in 2015 introduced a sampler box of their teas.  This very large presentation box (I placed a gaiwan on the box to give you a sense of the size) was very fancifully designed with 10 compartments within the box.  30 different Dayi teas were individually packed in the box, each pack containing 30g of tea.  There were 15 raw teas and 15 ripe teas.  

Information of the box indicated that the tea were of various ages from 2007 to 2015.  The intention of this sampler box was to give the buyer a better perspective of Dayi tea, the large assortment of raw and ripe tea and at the same time allow the buyer to 'taste'  the different ages of the tea.  I personally felt that 30g was a good minimum sample size as it will allow the tea drinker to have at least 3-5 brews of a tea so as to have a better appreciation of that tea.  

Although you get a total of 900g of tea, the overall size and weight of the box may deter some online shops from carrying this product.  So if you are overseas and want a good tea souvenir to carry home, this Taetea sampler box may make a nice gift for yourself or for a Chinese tea drinker friend.  Just make sure to have luggage space for this sampler box.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Valentine Tea Present

Valentine's Day is this coming Tuesday, Feb 14.  It is the time of the year for a few romantic gestures.   A gift to your tea lover partner may demonstrate your passion for everything hot and steamy.  Get ready to infuse your love by giving this heart shaped box containing pu erh balls wrapped in pastel colors suitable for this occasion.

Produced by Xiaguan Tea Factory, this heart shaped tin contains 22 balls of pu erh, 11 raw and 11 ripe. Turn on the kettle and be prepared for a wild night of tea drinking session.  It will be a little hard to over infuse your tea as each tea ball is only 3g of tea.  

And to my new readers....I hope you will know by now that Chinese tea drinker friends are fun people to be with.  Really.   Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

2004 Double Lion Raw Pu era

I gave myself a treat during the Chinese New Year weekend by opening a 2004 'Double Lion' cake.  This cake was produced by Qiu Xiang teashop, a Malaysian tea company and used the 'double lion' label on the wrapper.  You can just figure out the 2 prancing lions on the wrapper in the third pix.    I had remembered that this lion label were also seen on old vintage cakes and I was told the cake recipe follows the old cake tea production.  

Information on the neifei, or enclosed label of this cake told me that this 357g cake used wild pu erh tea leaves found in the Bulang region of Yunnan province.  I had bought this cake in 2011 during one of my visits to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  I sampled the tea and like it.  There was also the 'Malaysia' print on the wrapper that made me buy this cake.

This tea brews very strong.  There is some bitterness, camphor, herbal and medicinal taste and aroma in the tea.  I got a light pleasant buzz from the 3rd infusion and a little tea drunk with the next few cups.  A nice tea....must remind myself to use less leaves for subsequent brews (I had used about 7g for a 130ml teapot).

But I digress.  I was told and I believed it myself that to look for new pu erh tea to store away and age, that new tea should be aromatic and taste strong. The logic being if the new tea is mild in taste and aroma, it would be unlikely that aging the new tea would result in a stronger taste and aroma.  So choosing a new tea strong in taste and aroma might be a 'better chance' that the tea would aged better after a 7-10 years of storage.  Happy to say that its 'so far so good' on my teas being aged in Singapore.  Do you agree with me?  Do share your thoughts. Thank you. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year 2017.  The first day of Chinese New Year falls this Saturday 28 Jan 2017.  This will be the year of the rooster.  Those born in the rooster year are supposed to be hardworking and dependable. 

Chinese all over the world would be busy preparing for this important festive occasion.   Families would be baking pastries and buying special treats for the traditional family reunion dinner on Chinese New Year's eve.  Kids would be delighted to wear new clothes and look forward to receiving red packets containing some money (a blessing given by adults to children).  It is one my favourite time of the year to meet relatives and friends, eating lots of food and snacks and the 3 day long weekend holiday would also allow me, hopefully to have extra tea brewing sessions.  

I will be making a few trips later this year to China and Hong Kong and if you, the reader want to have a detailed look at the tea scene there, do contact me and I will be happy to show you the tea markets there.  It will be mainly semi budget, some shopping, lots of eating and you should be tea drunk by the end of every evening.  More importantly, you get to see the variety of tea and tea ware available, talk to the tea distributors directly and have tea sessions with tea drinkers who are passionate about Chinese tea.    A 7/8 day trip would see us having tea adventures in Hong Kong (3 days) and Guangzhou (5 days).  

I would like to thank all readers for your support - reading this blog, sharing your thoughts with me and supporting me recently in my online tea store.  Thank you very much.

To all my readers, Happy Chinese New Year.  May the odds be forever in your favour.