Sunday, June 10, 2018

Alcoholic Pu erh






If you are below 18 years of age, do not read this blog entry.  If you think you are young and feel like you are below 18 years of age, do not read this blog entry.  This is because of the high alcoholic content in this article.  

A tea buddy from Yokohama Japan, Mr Sato, emailed me last May.  Mr Sato enjoys Chinese tea especially raw and ripe pu erh.  He told me to try drinking pu erh tea with alcohol.  He recommended using whisky, one part whisky and 2-3 parts pu erh.  He mentioned to drink it cool.  My guess is to drink it when the tea had cooled to room temperature or I had to add ice to the tea or drink. 

I was excited to try this tea (it has more tea than alcohol anyway).  I realized that I had finished my bottle of scotch over last Chinese New Year and will be refilling my alcohol stash when I buy a bottle at the duty free airport during my next oversea trip.  I could not wait so I went online to get a bottle. You can buy literally everything now on the Internet.  My daughter recently got herself a metal drinking straw with brush which I see as an attempt to be more environmentally conscious.  

Anyway, I bought a Japanese whisky.  I had wanted to try a Japanese one as I had read an article that the Japanese made ones were quite good.  So I got a Hibiki Harmony.  No age statement on the bottle but I had read reviews that there was good age and maturity in the whisky.  

I brewed up a 2006 Xiaguan iron cake, poured out the infusions into cups and and left the tea to cool to room temperature.  I used 1 part whisky/2 parts tea and sat down for a drink.  Gee......the tea or drink tasted nice. Sweet, spicy, woody and fruity.  Very good chi....I think from the alcohol or tea.  I had another round, this time with ice.  This time, the drink is more minty with a sweeter aftertaste.  Xiaguan on steroids.

I am going to try, next time, this bottle with ripe pu er and high roasted oolong.  I will also experiment adding a few whisky drops to a cup of tea.  I will report my findings to my readers.  I do not think this bottle will keep till Christmas.  

But I digress.  The Kim-Trump summit is happening here in Singapore on June 12.  I hope something meaningful comes out from that meet.  A toast to peace.  

Sunday, June 3, 2018

2008 Haiwan 8808











This is my earliest pu erh purchase from my China trips. I had purchased this tea during my 1st trip to Kunming back in 2009.  I met a few Kunming tea dealers there including Scott Wilson of Yunnan Sourcing.   

This 2008 Haiwan 8808 cake was produced by Haiwan tea factory for the Kunming tea markets.  I wanted to bring back some tea home and I managed to lugged a few tongs of pu erh tea which included these 8808 cakes.

Last week, I decided to open a tong to check on my storage of this tea.  I had stored in an empty bedroom and and left it for more than 9 years.  Cake is clean and dry and compression of the cake is high that I need a pu erh pick to open up the tea cake.

This tea is woody and herbal.  The 'woodiness' seem to remind me of old antique furniture.   Good workhorse brewing up 10 strong infusions easily.  I am happy the tea is smooth and clean.  Pix of tea in cup in the 4th infusion (8g in a 130ml teapot).

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Pek Sin Choon Unknown Fragrance Oolong












I had introduced to my readers on Singapore's Pek Sin Choon teashop in my previous blog entry.

This is their flagship and famous tea. They called it "Unknown Fragrance". The shop described the tea as follows:
"Renowned Unknown Fragrance is a locally blended traditional tea. When the founder, Bai Jin Ou, was naming the tea, he found that he just can’t describe the fragrance in words and thus the renowned unknown fragrance became the rightful name for the tea. Because of its uniqueness in taste, this tea has been unsurpassed in the Bak Kut Teh (pork rib soup) segment. The tea soup is dark red in colour which is luscious at first sip and produce great aftertaste. Due to its unique mix of tea species, the tea is good for slimming, reducing blood pressure, reducing blood sugar, reducing cholesterol, anti-aging."


This tea comes packed in a tin of 50 packets.  Each packet is individually hand-wrapped at the shop. Each packet weights about 16g.  Notice 2 pieces of paper (pink paper inside) used to wrap the tea.  

I was told that this was a blend of Wuyi and Anxi oolong. This would explained the appearance of the tea leaves; rolled Anxi leaves and straight Wuyi leaves.  I was told that this blend used premium tea leaves and it was about 2-3 times the price of regular oolong tea even when this tea was introduced in to the tea market about 60 years ago.   

This 'Unknown Fragrance' (also known in the hokkien dialect as 'Put Tee Hiong Tea') is very aromatic.  I enjoy the bouquet of floral notes and the lightly sweet finish.     An interesting and refreshing tea.  

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Pek Sin Choon Tea Shop












You will think that you are in a time capsule when you enter Pek Sin Choon tea shop.  Chinese tea are still hand wrapped in small paper packets and sold in aluminium 'biscuit' tins.  This Singapore tea shop, established in 1925, with their famous 'shepherd boy on buffalo' logo has been selling tea to tea drinkers and eating establishments for more than 90 years.  Now managed by the 4th generation, Kenry Pek runs this tea business  faithfully keeping to the traditional methods of blending and packaging the tea.  

Pek Sin Choon has recently produced a commemorative tea box to showcase the company's history of producing Chinese tea.  This metal tea box come with 5 of their famous hand wrapped teas and a specially made gaiwan with 2 cups.  Notice the 'shepherd boy on buffalo' on the cover of the gaiwan.  The box has an incision on the cover that allow the tea box to be used as a mini tea tray or small saving coin bank.    

Information on the box detailed the history of their teas.  The table tennis, aka ping pong tie guan yin wrapper was designed in 1959 to congratulate China winning the World Champion Men's Table Tennis for the 1st time.  Kenry told me that his family was pretty patriotic at that time.  

For the tea drinker and collector, make a point to visit Pek Sin Choon tea shop.  Located in Chinatown - 36 Mosque Street.  Own a piece of Singapore tea history by getting the metal gift box.  I got mine signed by Kenry.  Do remember to purchase a tin of tea and savour every drop of nostalgia when you brew up a cup of tea. 

And....Happy Mother's Day to all Chinese Tea drinking mums.     



Sunday, May 6, 2018

Tea Stains on Wrapper








Remember this Ba Jiao Ting I had blogged in Nov last year (link).   I had noticed that there was significant tea staining on the tea wrapper.  I examined the wrapper and found that these tea stains were dry. The surface of the tea cake was normal. There was nothing extraordinary that I observed about appearance of the the tea cake.

I had initially thought that these tea stains was due to water damage.  This might be due to the production process, that the cakes were not fully dried out and wrapped causing the stains.  I had also thought that storage of the tea could be another factor, that the storage facility was damp.  Checking with my supplier of this Ba Jiao Ting, it seems that this was the only tea that had these tea stains.

I was in Guangzhou last March, and I asked out this 'tea stain on wrapper' with my tea dealer friends. A Chen Zhen Hao (famous for Banzhang) told me that there were many teas, across many brands, that has this 'tea stain on wrapper' phenomena for 2010 batches. Even the zodiac series of the Chen Zhen Hao had this tea stain issue. This tea dealer told me that it was possible there was a change in weather just prior to the pu erh tea harvest. It could have been very cold or hot, causing the pu erh tree to retain more 'tea oil' in the leaves. The stains on the tea wrapper were actually tea oil and will not affect the pu erh tea in any way, except for the slight ugly appearance on the wrapper.  A retired tea production manger in a tea drinking group in Guangzhou told me that some old pu erh tea, that had this phenomena..... the wrappers are now full with holes.  He said there was nothing wrong with the tea. He also reminded that this was not an issue and reminded to sample any tea before I make a purchase regardless of the wrapper condition.

I like this tea.  The medicinal herbs taste is very pronounced. Quite addictive.  Did the tea stains affected the tea in any way?  I do not know.   This was a tea cake that I finished in 2 months and I am already on my second cake.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Teapot Maintenance






If you are using a Yixing teapot for brewing your Chinese tea, I am sure you felt that your tea tasted better brewing with a Yixing teapot than a porcelain gaiwan or teapot.

There are a few reasons why the tea seem to taste better
- frequent using of a clay teapot will have a coating of tea patina inside the pot.  It is like a layer of tea being brushed on the inside of the teapot every time the teapot is used in a tea session.  Somehow, the patina will affect and improve the taste of your tea.
-  it is possible that Yixing clay retains heat better than other material (like porcelain or glass) and the difference in taste and aroma of the tea could be due to the warmer or hotter tea.
- there are many other possible reasons and it could be even a combination of  factors that could explain the improvement of your tea.

But.....you have to maintain your teapot to continue having similar good tasting tea.  Another important  reason is that your teapot would look nice and shiny and 'seasoned' over time.  Some of the factors listed below may be already practised by you.  Others may be unheard of and even eye opening.  I had collated and listed below a few of these 'practices' from observing how my teapot friends maintain their teapots.

1.  Dedicate a teapot to a type of tea.  Use a teapot for pu erh and and another for oolong.  Some teapots might have retained the aroma or flavour for the tea from a previous tea session.  Chinese tea drinking purists think that the appreciation of a tea, say oolong, would be more accurate and precise.  Many of my Chinese teapot user friends even dedicate teapots exclusively for raw or shou pu erh, heavy and light roast oolong, floral Taiwanese oolong, Liu Bao and Liu An tea.  For me, my pu erh teapots are used for both raw or ripe pu erh and my oolong teapots are for types of oolongs (light or heavy roast).  

2.  Wiping down  your teapot after use. Do this method only to the exterior of the teapot.  The teapot on the right of pix.....I wipe down the teapot after every tea session.  I would wash the teapot for a minute under a running tap and take a cloth to wipe and dry the exterior of a teapot for another minute.  I would than place the teapot (upside down) and on dish drainer and keeping away the teapot the next day.  Teapot users believe that wiping down a teapot would give an even sheen to the exterior of the teapot. The teapot on the left of pix, was not wipe down at all after the teapot was washed.  This teapot was originally more 'light yellow' in colour but has now, as you had noticed, changed to a more dark amber look to the teapot. I have used the teapot on the right for more than 500 tea sessions while the teapot on the left of pix went through about 250 tea sessions. 

3.   I believe that your teapot must be dry and clean before using it for a tea session.  If the teapot is still damp and not dried out completely from a previous tea session, the tea may taste and smell different.  One Malaysian tea friend dries his teapot using the following method; he washed the teapot after use, but then filled the teapot with hot boiling water and leaving it for 1 minute before emptying out the hot water.  I do noticed that the 'heated' teapot will help dry out the inside of the teapot much faster. 

4.  A Guangzhou teapot user, utilised a toothbrush to lightly brush the exterior of the teapot after use.  He claimed there are certain areas of a teapot that will be more 'stained'  and brushing these areas would even out the staining and make the teapot more pretty.

5.  Another common practice I observed was using the 1st or 2nd rinse of the tea and pouring this rinse over the teapot.  Many users believed this 'help' make the exterior of the teapot more seasoned in its appearance.  

There are many methods teapot users employ to maintain their teapot or to seasoned their teapot.  Do you use any interesting technique on your teapots?  Do share.  Thank you.  

Sunday, April 15, 2018

2008 Taetea Dayi 8582








Taetea's (aka Dayi) 8582 raw pu erh is one of Dayi's flagship tea that is produced almost every year.  Not as well known as the famous 7542 cake, this 8582 is a quiet favourite among Dayi's tea drinkers and collectors.

For those newer tea drinkers of pu erh tea, there are famous pu erh cakes that are named as numbers rather than a 'proper name'.  A 4 digit number is named for the various cakes. You will actually asked for the cake by this '4 digits' when you are at the tea shop.  The teashop will also then tell you which vintage year of that tea they have.  Sound complicated.  It is not.  You can even sample the tea (at tea shops in China, Hong Kong and Malaysia) before you make your purchase.

As mentioned, 8582 is actually a popular pu erh tea.  The tea when brewed has a very good herbal taste and aroma in the tea.  There is a nice faint sweet finish and a nice warming sensation after a tea session.  A few of my Malaysian tea drinker friends actually prefer the 8582 to the famous Dayi's 7542 as the 8582 has a stronger emphasis on dry medicinal herb aroma and taste. 

It is my opinion that if you intend to drink a 8582, look for the older cakes (its not that expensive) as the mellowness after a few years of storage does make this tea more smooth and delicious.