Monday, July 1, 2019

Pardon Me, But What Is Your Cup Size?











In the late 80s and early 90s, there were teapots that were sold by their cup size. I have a collection of teapots made during this period that actually had the 'cup size' clearly labeled on the tea box. You can see from the 2nd pix,  3 teapots and their respective sizes on the box - 4,6,8. The 6 cup teapot stated that it was for 6 cups. I measured this teapot and the teapot could hold about 90ml ....which would suggest that a 6 cup teapot can fill up 6 teacups of 15ml each.

I was intrigued. I asked my teapot collector friends and yes, it was considered, in the 80s, that a standard teacup size was 15ml. I managed to lay my hands on a few early 80s tea sets (see pix 3) where the teacups came in 15ml sizes.

Today, teapots and teacups come in many sizes. Teapots are sold with pretty accurate description on the capacity usually in ml.

Wouldn't it be great if teapots today are sold by their cup sizes? On the other hand, would it be better if we drink our tea in 15ml sized teacups?   



Monday, June 17, 2019

The Case For Drinking Older Pu erh









The famous fairy tale of Aladdin is a well beloved story that even movie adaptation of this story can be a money making business even to this day.  We can fondly remember the royal sorcerer tricking Aladdin's wife with the 'new lamps for old' exchange so that the sorcerer (the baddie) can get his hands to own the genie that resided in that old lamp.  

Older pu erh is like an old lamp that has a genie inside.  This genie inside your older pu erh is called complexity.  There is complexity in older puerh that is not found in newer pu.  This complexity is made up of a combination of taste and aroma that is only present with 'time in storage'.  The pu erh must had been stored away for a certain period and in a climate that will aged the pu erh.  In my opinion, about 8-10 years for raw pu erh and 6-8 years for ripe pu erh.  The tea when stored away, will age to a smooth, sweet and mellow cup of tea.  You can actually taste the difference between a newly pressed pu and an old pu.  

Another reason you may consider buying older pu erh is the price.  Yes, older pu are and should be more expensive than newer made ones.  But if you looked harder, you can actually can buy a decent older cake that is comparable in price to a new tea now available.  The 1st pix shows a 2007 Xiaguan.  This 12 year old tea can still be purchased for about $80 (I found several online and teashops that sells this tea for under $80 as I post this blog).  For this price , you are not only paying for the tea, you are also paying for the 12 years of storage.  New pu erh can be expensive.  This would be due to the higher cost of production (salaries, rent, warehousing).  I have seen a couple of anomalies where a previous year's production is cheaper than a current year's pu erh tea.  If you are a tea drinker and wished to age some tea yourself, may I humbly suggest buying a slightly older tea (3-5 years old) that will already give you a head start in your storage adventures.  Storing away a 10 year old tea for another 10 years.....you will get a 20 year old tea for your efforts.  

Thats my 2 cents worth.  Time to watch Aladdin.  Its a whole new world out there! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Fukien Tea Shop High Roast Tie Guan Yin - A Happy Anomoly








When it comes to high fired or roasted oolong, many Chinese tea drinkers would like to drink older and aged versions of these tea.  Such oolongs with some age in them are highly prized and can be quite expensive as well.  The high firing tea, after aging, would be more subdued and the aroma and taste of the oolong would become more smooth and mellow.  

There is a anomoly - The Fukien teashop Tie Kuan Yin

Fukien teashop in Hong Kong produces and sell a high roast oolong.  The roast levels are very high of about 40 hours of roasting over 2-3 days.  The result - a high roasted but sweet caramel finish.  This very popular tea has gained fans from Korea and Japan that a few of these loyal customers would patiently stand outside the shop in the mornings waiting for the doors to open (10am).

I had a tea drinker friend that had purchased this oolong and found out to her dismay that the tea lost its flavours and became 'flat' and mellow after the tea was opened and kept for a year.  

I was in Hong Kong last week and bought out this concern to Mr Yeo, the proprietor of Fukien Tea.  He explained that the high roasted oolong would mellow out after one year and the 'roastiness' of the tea would decrease after a year.  Mr Yeo explained that this tea was produced to be enjoyed for its high roast and this tea should be consumed within 1 year.  This tea is not designed for aging.  

A loyal customer myself, I buy the tea for the roast and the aromatic caramel results of this roast.  This appreciation of this tea is different when compared to the traditional high roasted oolong where it is more desirable to age the tea to reduce 'high fire' oolong to a more mellow and smoother finish.   

I buy my tea from Fukien about 3 times a year in small quantities and will continue to do in years to come.  

A happy anomoly.  Time for tea.  




Sunday, May 12, 2019

Roku Gin - Sencha And Gyokuro Tea Botanicals







This is an adult post.

This Roku Gin is a Japanese Gin from Suntory. I was intrigued by this bottle as I read, from the label, that this gin had included the following botanicals - Sakura flower, Sakura leaf, Yuzu peel, Sencha tea (green tea), Gyokuro tea (refined green tea) and Sanshō pepper. Further traditional botanicals were also added which include eight traditional botanicals ; juniper berries, coriander, angelica seed and root, cinnamon, cardamom, bitter orange and lemon peel.


Tea in gin?  Interesting.

I bought this bottle at the airport duty free and decided to try this 'tea'.

I drank it neat (I recommend adding a cube of ice) and at another time, followed the Suntory Roku website recommendation, of adding a few slices of ginger, ice and tonic into a tall glass.   I admit gin is not on my drinking list, but this Roku made me relook at gin again. The aroma is fresh, floral, citrusy and sweetish ( I thought there was eucalyptus).  43% APV.    A refreshing drink...a little intoxicating though.  Yes, this is a tea blog....there is a little tea in the drink.  Counted. 

But I digress.  I will be on a business trip next week (20-25 May) and I will not be able to mail out any tea during this period.  Apologies in advance.  

To all mothers....Happy Mother's Day 




Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Book Of Matcha









This book is a fun book to read.

"The Book of Matcha" is written by Louise Cheadle and Nick Kliby. Published in 2016 by Sterling Epicure.  This is a tea book that delves into the world of matcha, from history production, health benefits and the recipes included in the book would make you reach out for your matcha and give the tea a new twist.  

This book is easy and fun to read and the illustrations and pictures are lavishly included to make reading the book a breeze.

The authors categorise Japanese green teas into 6 classes; matcha, sencha, genmaicha, kukicha, hojicha and gyokuro.  The last, gyokuro is considered by the authors as one of the most expensive green teas as follows:

"Gyokuro Tamahomare (its full name) is one of Japan's most precious teas revered for its purity and richness of taste.  Mainly grown around Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital, gyokuro males up less than one percent of Japan's tea production.  Produced from just one harvest a year in late May or early June, twenty days before the tea leaves are plucked the tea bushes are covered with a netting. Covering the bushes in this way increases their production of chlorophyll (the pigment that makes the leaves bright-green) and amino acids.  As with matcha, the leaves are rich in L-theanine, which gives the tea a lovely sweetness.  Gyokuro is also known as 'jade dew' and is one of the most expensive green teas."

The matcha lemonade  recipe was one of my favourites.  Half teaspoon of matcha, syrup, lemon juice, club soda and ice with a garnish of mint leaves are all thats needed to make this drink.  

Yes, to make matcha ice-cream, you will need lots of matcha, 1-2 spoons full.  This would suggest using a lower grade as high end matcha would be too expensive.  

The authors misspelled Singapore as 'Sinagpore'.  Nevertheless, it is a good read.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Closer Look At Tea Infusers








Tea Infusers are tea ware that help you brew tea leaves in a container, which acts something as a teabag.  Tea infusers will contain your loose tea leaves and prevents  bits of tea leaves (most of it anyway) from mixing into the teapot or kettle.  

In most cases, it makes easier cleaning of the teapot when you are trying to remove and a dispose the tea leaves after a tea session.  The big teapot at pix 4 gave me a hard time when I try to remove the tea leaves when I am washing up.  I would normally fill the pot with some water and turn it upside down to wash the leaves out.....which may be take an additional rinse or two most of the time.  

Should you get a tea infuser?  No....its not necessary.  But if your teapot comes with one as in pix 1 and 2, then it might be a fun experiment to try brewing your tea with the infuser.  

But for the bigger tea pot in pix 4, I would now brew my tea in a smaller teapot and pour all 10-12 infusions into the bigger teapot.  

The stainless steel tea infuser in pix 3, is about the size of a baseball.  This can be opened by unscrewing the infuser and placing your tea leaves inside.  This infuser comes with a chain and you can use it like a giant tea bag and jiggle it in a teapot of hot water.  

There are now many fanciful infusers available for you to use.  I have seen the Star Wars Deathstar model and even a Jaws shark infuser.  These are eye catching and may even be a collectible hobby for the tea enthusiast.  


Monday, April 1, 2019

2005 Taetea Dayi Raw Pu erh Tuo








Taetea or Dayi tea is a popular tea among the Chinese tea drinking community.  Many tea drinkers will easily rattle out Dayi's famous and popular tea like 7542, 7572 and even list the many special Dayi editions like the recent Colourful peacock.

Dayi produces tuo shaped pu erh tea too.  They are not as popular as the Xiaguan tuos but older Dayi tuos are now hard to find as most of these are in the hands of collectors. Newer tuos and even some Dayi teas post-2013 had a change in the processing of tea.  My Dayi collector friends in Malaysia and China call this new process as 'dark horse technology' and had stopped collecting these tea except for special Dayi editions.  I shall devote a blog entry on this issue.

Pix shows a 2005 Dayi 100g too.  It is no surprise that the tea is composed of pu erh tea leaves harvested from the Menghai region as the factory is located in Menghai.  I enjoy tea from the Menghai region for its signature floral bitter sweet taste and the fragrant sweet aftertaste.  This tea did not disappoint.  Strong bitter herbal taste with a sweaty chi after downing a few infusions.  Impressive  - the 'kick' as good as banzhang in my opinion.  

This tea is hard to find. Will keep my eyes open when I go shopping for tea when I am overseas next month.