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. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Pu Is Bigger Than Your Pu - The Sequel

There were never plans to make a sequel to my "My Pu is bigger than your pu" blog entry I made in 2010 (link). That 2 kg raw pu melon is still sitting in storage. That melon is already 10 years old (2007 production) but I am still figuring out how to break open that melon. I had even dreamt of using an industrial saw I saw at a butcher shop that should be able to nicely slice the melon into manageable 'cuts' without too much wasted tea dust. I told myself to keep away from giant pu. Yes….. to us pu erh tea drinkers….size does not matter. Really? I had noticed however these few years that size actually matters. The new cakes are getting smaller and getting more pricey as well. I see many new cakes now made in 150g to 200g sizes. 'Downsizing' seems to be the marketing strategy now. Even my bag of potato chips seemed lighter nowadays. 

Let me explained how I ended up with this 3kg cake. A tea shop owner had included a sample of raw pu erh tea in my carton of tea which I had bought from the shop last year. I found the sample nice. It had hints of a variety of floral scents and came with a hint of smokiness which I enjoyed. I made calls about the tea and I was quoted a very good price for the tea. I remembered I heard that it came in 3kg. I had assumed that with the new marketing strategy by pu erh manufacturers, the tea would be in packed in either 150 or 200g sized cakes packed to a 3kg box. I confirmed an order of 6 kg.

When I went to pick up my order last month, my eyes nearly popped when the tea shop took out 2 huge boxes of tea……with each pretty giant box neatly holding a 3kg pu erh cake. Perhaps, the pu erh gods were kind to me….my Malaysian friend who drove me to the teashop quietly asked me whether I could spare him one of the cakes. All is well and I only had to hand carry one 3kg cake on my flight home.

A happy and humorous tea adventure. Another tea for the collection. Can any reader out there loan me an electric pizza cutter?

Should I consider another sequel? Till then (hopefully not, must not and shall not), my pu is bigger than your pu!

Monday, January 2, 2017

2004 CNNP Raw Wild Pu erh

Happy New Year 2017.

I opened a 2004 CNNP raw pu erh cake to welcome the new year.  I had purchased this cake last month In Malaysia while I was at the tea expo.  There is a red chop  on the wrapper indicating the pu erh is composed of wild harvested puerh.  I had never seen this cake before and it was even more intriguing that the inner label or neofei is a yellow mark 'cha' which is different from the outer wrapper which showed a green 'cha'.  

I was surprisingly impressed with this tea when I unwrapped the 357g cake.  I bought this cake without sampling and the cake gave off a strong camphor, old book leather scent.  This tea brews very strong.  I enjoy old pu erh that brews strong and heavy in aroma. I could detect mild sweaty and slightly intoxicating sensations.  This cake is well stored in Malaysia; a clean and dry cake.  A lucky buy in that I purchased a couple of these cakes without sampling.  

But I digress.  I am grateful to everyone that supported my online tea store that I opened in July 2016.  The response was extremely gratifying.  Thank you.  I had noted your feedbacks and I will 'put out more tea, new and old especially the obscure ones as well'.  I will be introducing next week 2 raw pu erh which I enjoy very much.  Thank you once again and Happy New Year 2017. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Cambodian Holiday

Merry Christmas! Hope you are enjoying your Boxing day shopping today. I was in Canada last year and witnessed the shoppers in Montreal having a wonderful time buying stuff at discounted prices offered by most stores there. 

I was in Cambodia last week and I had a wonderful time there. The city of Phnom Penh appeared to me more like a city catered for the expats or the richer rung of the Cambodian society. Everything there was priced in US$. Yes, even the tuk tuk (motorized trishaws) was charging US$3 per trip. Supermarkets and most eateries had their products priced in US$. The only Chinese tea shop, aptly named China Brand Tea (address 735, Monivong Blvd) sells their tea in US$ as well. This is quite a large tea shop selling oolongs, tea ware and pu erh tea. They even collaborated with a Yunnan distributor in having their own pressed Yiwu tea cake (US$50). The owners had been in the tea business for about 3 years and they tell me that the locals are starting to be interested in their Chinese tea products. I wished them the very best.

My main purpose of this trip was visiting a couple who runs a mission in rural Cambodia. They mainly focused on providing basic education to the young kids there. The rural villages in Cambodia provided a totally different picture when compared to the city of Phnom Penh. Here the people are poorer and their livelihood was mainly rice production. Unfortunately, due to the system of the country, the farmers only get a price for their grain that is near subsistence level and as a result, the standard of living is relatively low. Basic hygiene like soap, shampoo and toothbrushing is not at the top of the list of these villagers. I was involved in teaching a village of children basic toothbrushing. It was unintentionally comical watching the children wincing to their first taste of toothpaste. I was quietly humbled and thankful for the rest of that day.

On my last day in the city before I returned to Singapore, I found an interesting tea product in a supermarket. Its a 'tea' that blends the local lemongrass and pepper grown in the Kampot province in Cambodia. It looks intriguing and I will devote a blog entry to this 'tea' next month.

To all my readers, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017.