Sunday, May 21, 2017

Teabag Shopping







I have a friend that drinks and collects Chinese tea bags as hobby.  I never thought that collecting Chinese tea bags can be a hobby.  Most of his teabags were already factory packed in boxes and these boxes were normally factory wrapped in clear plastic.  Chinese teabag boxes normally comes in a box of 20 teabags or in larger boxes of 100 teabags.These boxes are quite colourful and are sometimes decorated with nice drawings usually about tea.  One tip, I got from my friend, is not to expose the tea boxes  to prolonged light as the colours on the tea boxes will fade.  My tea friend is pretty serious in his collection keeping his tea boxes mint in carton boxes and only displaying those which he has multiple 'copies/boxes'.  

I met him for lunch last month and we went round a few shops in town looking for Chinese teabags to add to his collection.  You would have noticed that I ended up with 2 tea boxes and a rice pattern porcelain jar.  I believe the right description is a milk pot/jar.  This unused late 80s milk pot is 4 inches (10cm) high and I am guessing would hold about 350ml of tea.  Yes, I intend to brew tea in it and it would be brewing with Chinese tea bags.  I was also considering to use it as a small tea waste jar when I am brewing tea by myself.  A happy purchase.

Back to the teabags.  The Da Hong Pao is produced by  Xiamen Tea Import and Export Co under the 'Butterfly' Brand.   The Yunnan Tuocha teabag is not produced in Yunnan but by Guangdong Tea Import and Export Ltd.  There were French words on the labels of this Pu erh tea box which seems to indicate that one of the major markets for this pu erh was France.  I was not surprised as I had seen a 80s Xiaguan ripe tuo in box, printed with information about the tea in French.  

I found the Da Hong Pao tea light.  Its not the teabag's fault though.  I drink my Da Hong Pao very strong, up to 10g of tea for a 150ml teapot.  The 2g of tea in the teabag was mild.  I could detect the floral scents and oolong taste but I think using 2 teabags next time might be a better solution for me.  The pu erh teabag was, to me, a more interesting purchase.  One teabag could get me a strong cup of ripe pu erh (better results when you use boiling water for teabags).  Aroma was quite pleasant and it even had hints of old leather scent in the tea.  

Buying Chinese tea in teabags will not burn a hole in your wallet.  They make for a good and inexpensive tea when you are on the road.  Can be an interesting hobby too.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Colourful Teapot










This teapot is called "Tao Se shui ping hu".  'Tao Se' literally means colourful teapot, while 'shui ping hu' refers to the classical design of this teapot.  

Colourful teapot here meant that 2 different clays were used in the production of the teapot.  You will notice the red clay used for the body while a greenish clay for the spout, teapot cover nob and the handle of the teapot.  'Colourful' teapots was quite popular for a period in the 80s.  One of the teapots in the last pix is a duan ni (yellow clay) and green clay combination.

You would had noticed that the teapot lid wall literally stands out.  Known as 'gai chiang' (lid wall), the wall is noticeably longer or higher than modern Chinese teapots.  This 'high wall' has an advantage in that when you pour tea from the teapot, you can actually tilt the teapot at a more forward angle without worrying the lid falling off as the 'high wall' would be working to keep the teapot cover on.

The disadvantage of this 'high wall' is that it will displace some tea when the lid is on.  For this small teapot, the displacement is significant.  Let me explain, I could fill about 75ml of tea to the brim of this teapot, but once the lid is on, only 60ml of tea can be retained in the teapot.  For Chinese teapot collectors, Chinese teapot capacity is measured with the lid on.  

A fun teapot to use.  Makes great tea as well.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

2009 Haiwan Lao Tong Zhi Brand - Yue Chen Yue Xiang Ripe Pu erh








I opened this cake a few weeks ago.  I had purchased this tea from the Guangzhou Haiwan distributor 6 years ago and wanted to check on the progress of storing and aging this tea in Singapore.  

Haiwan tea factory had produced a special range of tea in 2009 and I was lucky to bought some of these tea while I was in Guangzhou.  I am a fan of this tea factory and I especially enjoy their ripe tea production.

'Yue Chen Yue Xiang' is simply a Chinese phrase meaning - the longer you store the more fragrant it becomes.  This phrase is commonly used in many pu erh tea labels and many tea factories have their own versions of 'Yue Chen Yue Xiang'.  Do not walk into a tea shop asking for pu erh tea with this phrase and you might end up a number of pu erh tea cakes with such phrases on their wrappers.  

This ripe tea brews up a very strong session of tea.  7g in a 140ml teapot got me 8 strong jet black syrupy ripe pu erh tea.  Some of Haiwan's ripe tea brews up strong and I would advise drinkers to cut back a little when they have a Haiwan ripe tea session.  This tea has nice earthy and wood notes.  Smooth and faintly sweet.  A nice tea session for an afternoon break.  




Sunday, April 30, 2017

Black Million Flower Porcelain - Small Tea Set










I owned some 80s "Black Million Flower" porcelain in their original unopened packing and had posted pictures of these pieces last year (link).

This label of 'Black Million Flower' is a name given by local porcelain collectors to this design that was produced in China in the 80s.  If you read the Chinese writing on the box in the 2nd pix, the written description was 'ten thousand flower' design.  I suppose and agree that 'million flower' sounded better for this porcelain.

I managed to get an unopened and mint in box 'million flower' tea set last month.  As you will observe, this set came with a teapot, 4 cups and a tea tray.  The tea tray,  to me, was the highlight of the purchase.  The colourful flowers that were hand decorated on the tray was very captivating.  I believe that this is the only porcelain decoration made in China in the 80s that reflected the the bold colours and variety of flowers on a unique black background.

The only chop or seal markings on this set were only found on the bottom of the teapot (pix 3). 





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 .