Saturday, March 16, 2019

Tea Strainers













I am sure you have seen tea strainers in action during a Chinese tea brewing session. You may be using one yourself when you brew your tea at home.

When you are a teashop sampling tea, almost of these tea sessions will employ the use of a tea strainer.  The tea is your teacup would be free of mini bits of tea leaves and you can examine and sample the tea 'in more detail'.

Most teashops would use a simple strainer as the one in the 1st pix.  It is simple to use.  The tea is poured through the strainer into a cha he (server) before the tea is poured out into the tea cups.  

There are now more fanciful strainers.  The 2nd pix show a bamboo strainer while the 3rd pix is simply a dried leaf.  That leaf, I was told, is called a pu ti leaf.  From Taiwan.  You simply pour tea over the leaf into your tea server.  The leaf stays 'strong' - it does not wobble or spill over when tea is poured through it.  A marvellous conversation piece to have in a tea session.  




Saturday, March 2, 2019

Silver Kettle






No, I did not buy a silver kettle.  I was at a tea drinking session at a tea buddy's house last month and a silver kettle was used in our tea session.  This was my 2nd experience drinking /brewing tea using a silver kettle and I would like to share my thoughts on such kettles with my readers.  

Silver kettles are very expensive.   I remembered seeing a similar Japanese made (about the same size as pix) with a price tag of a few thousand dollars.  Silver kettles are very pretty.  The 'bling bling' shine did made me stare at the kettle a few times during the tea drinking session.  

Boiling water in a silver kettle makes the water softer.  Some tea friends call it sweeter.  Personally, I find that this is good for newer tea like pu erh.  The astringency and 'roughness' of a new raw pu erh tea is much reduced making the tea easier and pleasant to drink.  However, when the kettle is used on older tea,  the flavours of the tea, in my opinion, seem subdued.  I had also tried drinking older tea from a silver cup and also experience this 'subdued' taste in the tea.  

When I used an iron Japanese tetsubin for my tea brewing sessions,  there wasn't  a drastic change in the taste of the tea when compared to using a silver kettle.  I personally think that clay and iron kettles are better in this instance.  This is my own opinion.

Buying a silver kettle is an expensive proposition.  I recommend you try out a few teas with one, if possible, before you decide on a purchase.  

Monday, February 11, 2019

Fukien Teashop Tie Kuan Yin - Thailand Blend









This Tie Kuan Yin is produced by Fukien Teashop in Hong Kong primarily for their Thailand customers.

This oolong is very high roasted and this tea is specially hand wrapped in small packets. Each packet contains 1 liang of tea. This is an old Chinese weight measurement where 1 liang is approx 37.5g of tea.

I was told that Thai businessmen had been patronising Fukien tea shop since the 70s when Hong Kong was the place to purchase Chinese goods and commodities. Oversea Chinese businessmen from South East Asia would go to Hong Kong and purchase Chinese goods and foodstuffs and had it shipped back to their countries. The elder Mr Yeo of Fujian Teashop told me that the Thai businessmen liked a particular version of the shop's oolong and would regularly purchase this tea whenever they are in Hong Kong. Mr Yeo realised that this tea was a favourite of the Thai community that the 2nd and 3rd generations of these businessmen would continue buying the tea to this day. Though the demand of this tea is not big, Fujian teashop continues to pack and sell this tea.

This oolong is high roasted and very aromatic. There is a dried floral component in the aftertaste and a caramel sweet finish in the tea.

This tea is nice.  A little history in every cup.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Happy Chinese New Year





Happy Chinese New Year 2019.

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year.  This will be the year of the pig.  Pigs were pretty important in the olden days where pigs serve as a source of income and food for the Chinese communities.  The Chinese word, Jia, for home is  is actually a pictorial of a pig in a home.  The year of the pig symbolises great abundance and happiness.  If you are born in the year of the pig, you are a happy and possibly rich person.

Looking back, there had been recently many economic uncertainties - Brexit and US/Sino trade disputes are some the highlights or main causes of these uncertainties in the world today.  However, this bodes well for us, the Chinese tea drinkers.  I do not see any significant price increases in the Chinese tea market.  There is a also a possibility of 'big time' collectors selling their tea to generate cash in these wild economic times.  I will be making my Guangzhou trip after April this year and I should get a clearer picture of the tea prices In China when I am there.  

Have a Happy Chinese New Year.  I wish all my readers happiness and good health.  


Saturday, January 19, 2019

My Fondness For Traditional Hong Kong Oolong








I enjoy drinking Hong Kong traditional oolong.  This is an acquired taste.  Some of these oolong have some age in them and most of these tea are highly roasted.  

Here 'highly roasted' is literally super high roast.  The Tie Guan Yin in the 2nd pix sold by Fukien Tea is roasted close to 40 hours.  There is a delightful caramel aroma and taste in the tea.  Addictive......and  now there are many faithful followers of this tea from Japan, Korea and recently from Russia (I happened to be at the shop when 2 Russians walked in to ask and purchase this tea).  These tea drinkers, I was told, would turn up regularly (at least once a year) at the shop buying few packets to bring home   

The Tie Lo Han, in the 1st pix, sold by Cheung Hing is similarly high roasted.   There are old plum notes in the tea that lingers in the mouth throughout the tea session. Holding a sip of this tea in the mouth, breathing in through the mouth and out through the nose makes the aroma of the tea stays within you for a nice few minutes. I enjoy this tea and would brew it at least once a week.

The present prices for high mountain Taiwanese tea and Wuyi mountain oolong are pretty intimidating to many tea tea drinkers (myself included).   I prefer my oolong to have some age and a higher degree of roast.  These inexpensive high roast oolong from Hong Kong makes me happy every time I have a sip of the tea.

I am currently exploring more 'older' tea shops and trying and sampling more tea, which I look forward to introduce to my readers.  

I feel extremely thirsty.  









Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Vietnam Oolong








Happy New Year 2019.

Time literally flies.  I looked at my very 1st blog post 10 years ago and it was about my first trip to Taiwan, staying a few days in Alishan and living with a family that owned a few plots of land specially growing Alishan oolong.  It was an eye opener watching within 24 hours the tea process from harvesting the tea in the early morning, drying the tea in the afternoon and processing the tea late till the next morning.  

I also had the opportunity  to 'check out' the tea scene in Taipei visiting the tea shops there.  While sampling the local teas there, a teashop owner told me to be careful when I buy Taiwanese oolong as he was aware that some of the Taiwanese oolong tea sold had a mix of Vietnamese oolong.  Vietnam oolong was much cheaper and could 'passed off' as local oolong. I did not think much of this information.  

Wind forward to April 2108.  I am in Taipei again at the teashops drinking and sampling local oolongs.  A sales staff there told me their tea was '100%' Taiwanese oolong.  She mentioned that there were some Taiwanese oolong sold in the city that were not 'pure'.

I was in Vietnam last month and I managed to buy a packet of Vietnam oolong. I did not visit any tea shop there and I only manage to buy a 'top supermarket grade' oolong there.  I am sure there were better grades than the packet I bought.

To 'pass off' as Taiwanese oolong, a tea must, in terms of aroma and taste, have certain similarities to make the grade.  I took this tea to a my local tea drinking group and also had a few sessions of this tea by myself.  

This tea could last about 5 infusions.  There is good aroma and taste especially in the initial infusions.  Fragrant with the signature hint of 'egg white' taste in the tea.  This tea did not perform well later infusions weakening badly from the 4th infusion.  

In my opinion, a higher grade of Vietnamese oolong could be quite impressive.  That is an ideal excuse to make another trip to Vietnam and spend time looking at the oolong there.  I like the food.  And the egg coffee there is super yummy.   








Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2011 Teahouse Hong Kong Puerh Tea Cake










This is a Lau Yu Fat house cake.   This is their 1st ever 'house cake'.   Produced in 2011, this cake is a blend of Bulang and Bada tea leaves.  

I had been their customer for more than 7 years and I will always pay a visit to the shop whenever I am in Hong Kong.  I would also use this opportunity to 'practice' my Chinese Teochew dialect with Senior Lau, who had on many occasions explained to me the history of the Hong Kong tea scene for the past 50 years.  This teashop had been around since the 60s and is now managed by the 3rd generation of the Lau family.  

Back to this tea cake.  This cake is strong in both taste a aroma.  There is no fresh floral notes or hardly any sweetness.......maybe very very faint sweet hints in the aftertaste.  There is good herbal bitterness but the tea is very smooth.  I am angry with myself for opening his tea cake.  This tea is still 'newish' as evidenced by the harshness of the tea.  This tea would be very impressive if stored for another 5 years or more.  I had already stored this tea for more than 6 years in Singapore.  Sigh.    I will break the cake in a tea caddy and will open this canister again after a few years.