Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cambodian Kampot Pepper and Lemongrass Infusion






I bought this tin of 'tea' when I was in Cambodia last December.  This is a blend of crushed Kampot pepper seeds with dried lemon grass strips.  This tin held 30 grams of 'tea' and came nicely packed in a fancy looking aluminium tin. This packing is suitable for tourists and this product should do well as a Cambodian souvenir.  

The instructions say to add 2g into a cup and adding hot water would get me a cup of Kampot pepper tea.  Kampot pepper is a famous pepper grown in the Kampot province in Cambodia.  I enjoy cooking and I found this Kampot pepper to be one of the spiciest pepper I had came across.  It is hot and aromatic and would make a nice addition to your spice rack.

I brewed up a cup with 2g of this 'tea' and found the tea pleasant.  The pepper pods and lemongrass float to the surface and I suggest you spoon these away before you start drinking.  I added honey in my second session and my family preferred this sweetened version.  

A fun drink.  

Thursday, April 6, 2017

2004 Xiaguan 'Old Smoky' Tuo







I was at the Xiaguan distributor in Guangzhou last month and was sampling some of their tea when the manager there asked me whether I would be interested in an older raw pu erh tuo that is considered by the store to be one of the smokiest Xiaguan tea in his store.  I was immediately interested.

I like smoky raw pu erh tea.  Yes, a few reader friends dislike the smoke and a few do think it is like having a cigarette after a tea session.  I think the smokiness adds an additional dimension to raw pu erh.  This is especially seen in older raw pu erh (10 years or more) where the smokiness would had receded over time leaving a faint smoky scent.  I like old raw with this faint smoke.  I feel such tea gives a more punchy taste and feel and makes a tea session more enjoyable.  Interestingly, most vintage tea cakes (20 years or more) do have that faint smoky signature and these old vintages are today very highly sought after and highly prized as well. 

I named this tea 'Old Smoky'....it is 13 years old and the smoke is strong in the tea.  This tea is smooth and the smoke is strong especially in the 1st 4 infusions.  I found the smokiness had made this tea slightly 'ginger spicy' in the aroma.  Interestingly, the tea has a very light hint of fruity sweetness in the later infusions.  

For readers who are interested in 'Old Smoky', I have made this 100g tuo available in my online store (link).

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!