Monday, August 15, 2022

Golden Key Oolong

This is Golden Key oolong.  Oolong produced in Fujian, Xiamen have names given by a tea village or town.  Such names are meant to give a uniqueness to their oolong produced there. You would know the popular oolong names like Shui Hsien, Tie Kuan Yin and Rougui. Other lesser known oolong names include thousand mile fragrance, Fo Shou (buddha palm) and half waist squat (I kid you not).

This Golden Key oolong (2018 production) I had purchased is from the famous Sea Dyke factory. Sea Dyke labelled this tea as Golden Key rock tea that suggested that this tea may had been harvested from the Wuyi mountain region. Packed and sold in a metal tin, the 100g of tea leaves are long and vibrant. 

When I brewed a session of this tea, initial aroma is very fragrant and perfumed like. Very pleasant. The roast is high and the aftertaste is pretty long lasting.  Good for 6 infusions before weakening.  This tea is less robust than Sea Dyke Lao Chong Shui Hsien (yellow tin).  

An inexpensive tea.  I would recommend you get a tin. 

Monday, August 1, 2022

Afternoon Tea At Fort Sanctuary


I had afternoon tea at Tea Sanctuary.   Tea Sanctuary is a tea shop in Singapore located in an upmarket mall at Esplanade (where indoor concerts are held).   Esplanade is our equivalent of Sydney Opera House, except that our building closely resembled a local thorny fruit called the durian. 

Tea Sanctuary only sells Wuyi oolong tea. There is no pu erh, no liu bao and no white tea. Only Wuyi rock tea.  Oolong grown in the mountainous region of Wuyi mountains are called rock tea due the terrain of the mountain there.  Tea Sanctuary labelled their tea as numbers instead of specific oolong names, like Shui Hsien or Rougui.  A 3 digit number is assigned to a tea. 

My wife and I visited the shop yesterday afternoon and had a session of one of their tea namely 528. One of the directors who was manning the shop, Miss Lau Hui Zin, did the brewing the tea for us. She poured out 8g of 528 into a gaiwan and proceeded to brew the tea for us. She had quick hands in brewing the tea.  She used a fairness cup (gong dao bei) pouring 2 infusions in the fairness cup before serving the tea to us. This meant a round of tea would comprised of 2 infusions.  She explained the shop used only distilled water, porcelain gaiwan and cups so as the tea presented was simple and a customer can replicate this brewing method easily at home as well. Happy to say she used close-to boiling water as well. Before I forget, we were served a cup of chilled oolong before the actual tea to 'clean our palate'.  Miss Lau was very meticulous in her service, brewing up the next infusion only after we had only finished our cup of tea. 

The tea 528 was described by the shop as 'This fragrant tea expresses the prestigious terroir of Wuyishan with a powerful demonstration of intensity, rich and deep flavours, luxuriously smooth and soft, seemingly everlasting and deliciously rich aftertaste, mouth watering and sweet'.  Miss Lau continued to explained to me that the company brought in the Wuyi tea from China and final roastings of the tea are done in Singapore before the tea is ready for sale. One interesting fact was that the company is continuously tweaking their tea (in terms of roasting and resting) so that when you do a repeat purchase of a tea say the 528,  the tea may be slightly different as the company is trying to improve the tea itself. 

How did I find the tea? The early infusions of the tea was very good. This high roasted tea was aromatic. Quite a long pleasant aftertaste. The taste was robust with good minerals in the tea. I felt the tea did weakened after the 6th infusion. There was a slight sourness (later infusions) in the tea and it was more evident when the tea was cooler. This 528 tea was not the shop's top shelf tea and there were more expensive tea in their offerings.  The 528 tea is being sold in an box of 6 packets, 8g per pack, for $63 per box.   Miss Lau told me the shop will be offering some aged oolong nearer the end of the year.  I will be looking forward to have a session of that aged tea. 

Having a tea session (12 infusions) cost me $31 (US$22). This tea session was more suited for 2 people so I recommend you bring a friend with you when you have your tea there.  


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

2006 Langhe 8539 Raw Pu erh


This 2006 Langhe raw pu erh cake has been stored in Singapore for almost 16 years.   

I had a tea session of this tea last weekend. There was strong Chinese herbal soup flavours in the tea. It was like having a bowl of Chinese herbal chicken soup. Lots of Chinese herb taste and aroma with every sip. I thought I tasted some ginseng as well. There was also a strong woody profile in the tea. The wood is like aromatic wood that gave the sensation of a smoky flavour. The oaky finish resembled old Scottish whisky where the oak barrels had 'infused' the drink with a wood scent. Somehow this 'marriage' of wood and herbs worked very nicely in this tea. With a mouth watering aftertaste, this tea made for a nice tea session. 

When brewing pu erh tea, the flavours of the tea would be more vibrant if one use boiling water for every infusion. I had been to a few tea shops and even watch some tea reviews online where hot water was used to brew tea (that the heat was off for more than 1-2 minutes). There is a clear difference in taste and aroma when 'cooler' water was used. Don't waste your tea. Use boiling water for every infusion.   

Monday, July 11, 2022

Kamjove Art Tea Cup - Stainless Steel Version


I had bought another Kamjove tea infuser kit.  The last one was bought many years ago and I remembered it was a fun experience using it. 

This is the stainless steel version. Model no - TO650. 650ml capacity. The plastic tea infuser is twisted onto the steel mug. Everthing else work the same way. Drop some tea leaves into the infuser and add hot water.  Wait.  Press the top button to release the valve and the tea flows down into the bottom of the steel mug. Pour out to enjoy the tea and you are ready for your 2nd infusion. 

Compared to using a gaiwan or teapot, cleaning out the tea leaves after a tea session takes a bit more water and time to clean out the tea infuser.  I had comments from readers the last time, that the built in filter will stain over time. A reader buddy told me a simple solution is to soak the infuser in a bowl of water and throw in a denture cleaning tablet into the bowl overnight.....and the stains would be removed. It is a safe method though it sounded a bit yucky.  

Overall, this Kamjove tea infuser kit is still fun to use,  If you are a serious pu erh and oolong tea drinker, you will be surprised and pleased with the infused tea made by Kamjove tea infusers. It also make a nice conversation piece when you use it in a tea session with your friends. 

I had purchased with the intention of bringing this tea infuser for long overseas trip next year.  I am still of 2 minds and I may take a teapot with me instead. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Some feedback on pu erh tea storage


I received a feedback on my tea storage. 

He is coincidentally a fellow local.   He claimed and believed that my tea storage is considered wet storage. Singapore has a climate which is hot and humid throughout a year.  As I did not take special steps to reduce the exposure of my tea to this hot and humid climate, my tea is not 'dry stored'.  This reader stored his tea this way - plastic cling wrapped his paper wrapped tea, then placed in a zip lock bag and a pack of drying agent is inserted to this bag and the tea is kept away in a cardboard box.  This seem to suggest that the reader is 'minimising' his tea to humidity and airflow.  

Here are my 2 cents of thoughts:

1.  I do not expose my pu erh tea directly to the Singapore climate. I do not bring out my tea to my yard and expose them directly to the weather of Singapore.

2.  I keep my tea in their original tongs (whether bamboo or paper) in a pu erh box. I keep all my tea in 2 empty bedrooms just for tea storage.  Windows are closed and curtains drawn. I do nothing else.  I let time do its work. The rooms are clean and dry. I considered my storage as dry stored but in a climate outside that is hot and humid. My tea had been stored under these conditions for more than 10 years.  

3.  Traditional Hong Kong tea shops used to store their tea within the shops (pre war shop houses) in the past. They might have a basement where the tea is kept. The storage conditions there would be slightly more humid and a seasoned tea drinker can actually discern the humidity within the tea when the tea is brewed. Today, such tea storage are non existent in Hong Kong and the pu erh tea are now kept in clean dry rooms. I happened to have a few older pu erh tea that was slightly exposed to the old style humidity but was later stored in drier conditions during the later part of the tea storage. I enjoyed such tea and they have a pleasant distinct aroma and taste in the tea. 

4.  Taiwan tea shops sells old pu erh. Most of these old tea were purchased from Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong and were resold in Taiwan. It is not surprising that the older pu er found in Taiwan has taste and aroma characteristics of Malaysia and Hong Kong. 

Pu erh tea stored in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Kunming will have its own storage's taste and aroma. I bring my tea tea every time to these places and have tea with my tea buddies from these countries. Yes, I have loyal tea drinkers that believe their country's storage is best and would regard other countries' storage as less than ideal. However,  they would have a different opinion when they do a blind taste taste. 

I am not saying a particular country has a better or best storage. Every country storage is unique.  Tea drinkers should enjoy and appreciate the various storage conditions of pu erh from different regions. It is an adventure in every cup. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Malaysia Tea Expo June 2022


I had just returned from Kuala Lumpur and had the opportunity to attend the Malaysia tea expo last week. The expo this time was held in a large new shopping mall; Tropicana Gardens mall. I like this new mall. Lots to see and lots of unique eats.  Very convenient as the train has a stop at the mall.   

This tea expo was a small scale affair.  There were no foreign exhibitors and some local ones were not represented in this expo.  I counted less than 30 booths and they were all local tea dealers.  Yes, big local players like Taetea, Xiaguan and China Tea were all present. There were numerous Liu Bao booths and I managed to snagged 1 kg of old Liu Bao.

This tea expo was a chance for tea dealers, collectors and tea drinkers to meet up.  I sensed a bit of 'revenge buying' - everyone was walking and holding a bagful of tea. I suppose after 2.5 years of 'no tea fair events', there was an 'urge' to buy some tea.  Overall, it was a well managed and successful event to those dealers that had booths during this event.

What did I buy besides the Liu Bao?  I had a good time sampling many new pu erh.  Many of the new pu erh tea are now processed differently.  The tea tasted lighter and greener. I managed to buy some traditional old Xiaguan tea that were strong, aromatic and has a smoky characteristic. Such old tea, if new was difficult to drink and had to be stored away for some time.  I suppose I am old fashioned.  I like my tea strong and aromatic with some age in the tea. Some of these tea I had bought, are about 15 years or older, stored in Malaysia and in my opinion is now only ready to drink. I am happy. 


Monday, May 30, 2022

The Price Of Tea


I thought we would emerged into a better place after more than 2 years of covid pandemic.   However, as of today, I do not think we are in a better or happier place.  There is a war in Europe and there are people worldwide who are still waiting to be vaccinated.  

Things are getting expensive and may be even more expensive for the rest of the year.  Call it whatever you want; inflation, stagflation or recession. If you are spending $2000 a month, you will continue to spend $2000 a month except that this money now will get you less things.  You  have to provide  a bigger allocation to essentials like food and gas. I was told by my American tea buddy that gas is now 5 bucks a gallon. I am not laughing, it is expensive over here in Singapore as well. Everything is expensive. 

How about Chinese tea?  Yes, Chinese tea is getting expensive too. Labour and production costs have gone up. My tea distributor friends in Guangzhou had confirmed that new tea this year will be more expensive than tea last year.  Not surprising.  Yes, a 1-2 year old pu erh tea cake may be cheaper than a current year tea cake.  Older pu erh tea is more desirable to many tea drinker and collectors. Now it is technically cheaper. But......the costs of freight is getting astronomically high due to the high cost of fuel. So. Chinese tea overall will be expensive.  Time to drink more from our tea stash. This is the 'rainy day' for us. 

Pray for peace.