Monday, February 11, 2019

Fukien Teashop Tie Kuan Yin - Thailand Blend

This Tie Kuan Yin is produced by Fukien Teashop in Hong Kong primarily for their Thailand customers.

This oolong is very high roasted and this tea is specially hand wrapped in small packets. Each packet contains 1 liang of tea. This is an old Chinese weight measurement where 1 liang is approx 37.5g of tea.

I was told that Thai businessmen had been patronising Fukien tea shop since the 70s when Hong Kong was the place to purchase Chinese goods and commodities. Oversea Chinese businessmen from South East Asia would go to Hong Kong and purchase Chinese goods and foodstuffs and had it shipped back to their countries. The elder Mr Yeo of Fujian Teashop told me that the Thai businessmen liked a particular version of the shop's oolong and would regularly purchase this tea whenever they are in Hong Kong. Mr Yeo realised that this tea was a favourite of the Thai community that the 2nd and 3rd generations of these businessmen would continue buying the tea to this day. Though the demand of this tea is not big, Fujian teashop continues to pack and sell this tea.

This oolong is high roasted and very aromatic. There is a dried floral component in the aftertaste and a caramel sweet finish in the tea.

This tea is nice.  A little history in every cup.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year 2019.

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year.  This will be the year of the pig.  Pigs were pretty important in the olden days where pigs serve as a source of income and food for the Chinese communities.  The Chinese word, Jia, for home is  is actually a pictorial of a pig in a home.  The year of the pig symbolises great abundance and happiness.  If you are born in the year of the pig, you are a happy and possibly rich person.

Looking back, there had been recently many economic uncertainties - Brexit and US/Sino trade disputes are some the highlights or main causes of these uncertainties in the world today.  However, this bodes well for us, the Chinese tea drinkers.  I do not see any significant price increases in the Chinese tea market.  There is a also a possibility of 'big time' collectors selling their tea to generate cash in these wild economic times.  I will be making my Guangzhou trip after April this year and I should get a clearer picture of the tea prices In China when I am there.  

Have a Happy Chinese New Year.  I wish all my readers happiness and good health.  

Saturday, January 19, 2019

My Fondness For Traditional Hong Kong Oolong

I enjoy drinking Hong Kong traditional oolong.  This is an acquired taste.  Some of these oolong have some age in them and most of these tea are highly roasted.  

Here 'highly roasted' is literally super high roast.  The Tie Guan Yin in the 2nd pix sold by Fukien Tea is roasted close to 40 hours.  There is a delightful caramel aroma and taste in the tea.  Addictive......and  now there are many faithful followers of this tea from Japan, Korea and recently from Russia (I happened to be at the shop when 2 Russians walked in to ask and purchase this tea).  These tea drinkers, I was told, would turn up regularly (at least once a year) at the shop buying few packets to bring home   

The Tie Lo Han, in the 1st pix, sold by Cheung Hing is similarly high roasted.   There are old plum notes in the tea that lingers in the mouth throughout the tea session. Holding a sip of this tea in the mouth, breathing in through the mouth and out through the nose makes the aroma of the tea stays within you for a nice few minutes. I enjoy this tea and would brew it at least once a week.

The present prices for high mountain Taiwanese tea and Wuyi mountain oolong are pretty intimidating to many tea tea drinkers (myself included).   I prefer my oolong to have some age and a higher degree of roast.  These inexpensive high roast oolong from Hong Kong makes me happy every time I have a sip of the tea.

I am currently exploring more 'older' tea shops and trying and sampling more tea, which I look forward to introduce to my readers.  

I feel extremely thirsty.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Vietnam Oolong

Happy New Year 2019.

Time literally flies.  I looked at my very 1st blog post 10 years ago and it was about my first trip to Taiwan, staying a few days in Alishan and living with a family that owned a few plots of land specially growing Alishan oolong.  It was an eye opener watching within 24 hours the tea process from harvesting the tea in the early morning, drying the tea in the afternoon and processing the tea late till the next morning.  

I also had the opportunity  to 'check out' the tea scene in Taipei visiting the tea shops there.  While sampling the local teas there, a teashop owner told me to be careful when I buy Taiwanese oolong as he was aware that some of the Taiwanese oolong tea sold had a mix of Vietnamese oolong.  Vietnam oolong was much cheaper and could 'passed off' as local oolong. I did not think much of this information.  

Wind forward to April 2108.  I am in Taipei again at the teashops drinking and sampling local oolongs.  A sales staff there told me their tea was '100%' Taiwanese oolong.  She mentioned that there were some Taiwanese oolong sold in the city that were not 'pure'.

I was in Vietnam last month and I managed to buy a packet of Vietnam oolong. I did not visit any tea shop there and I only manage to buy a 'top supermarket grade' oolong there.  I am sure there were better grades than the packet I bought.

To 'pass off' as Taiwanese oolong, a tea must, in terms of aroma and taste, have certain similarities to make the grade.  I took this tea to a my local tea drinking group and also had a few sessions of this tea by myself.  

This tea could last about 5 infusions.  There is good aroma and taste especially in the initial infusions.  Fragrant with the signature hint of 'egg white' taste in the tea.  This tea did not perform well later infusions weakening badly from the 4th infusion.  

In my opinion, a higher grade of Vietnamese oolong could be quite impressive.  That is an ideal excuse to make another trip to Vietnam and spend time looking at the oolong there.  I like the food.  And the egg coffee there is super yummy.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2011 Teahouse Hong Kong Puerh Tea Cake

This is a Lau Yu Fat house cake.   This is their 1st ever 'house cake'.   Produced in 2011, this cake is a blend of Bulang and Bada tea leaves.  

I had been their customer for more than 7 years and I will always pay a visit to the shop whenever I am in Hong Kong.  I would also use this opportunity to 'practice' my Chinese Teochew dialect with Senior Lau, who had on many occasions explained to me the history of the Hong Kong tea scene for the past 50 years.  This teashop had been around since the 60s and is now managed by the 3rd generation of the Lau family.  

Back to this tea cake.  This cake is strong in both taste a aroma.  There is no fresh floral notes or hardly any sweetness.......maybe very very faint sweet hints in the aftertaste.  There is good herbal bitterness but the tea is very smooth.  I am angry with myself for opening his tea cake.  This tea is still 'newish' as evidenced by the harshness of the tea.  This tea would be very impressive if stored for another 5 years or more.  I had already stored this tea for more than 6 years in Singapore.  Sigh.    I will break the cake in a tea caddy and will open this canister again after a few years.   

Sunday, December 2, 2018

An Old Ni Xing Tea Set

I managed to buy a Ni Xing tea set.  No typo.  It is Ni Xing clay.  This Chinese clay is from the Guangxi region and this clay a popular clay for making ceramics pottery.  This clay comes in a spectrum of colours from dark brown to light red.  This clay is not so popular or as pricey as the famed Yixing Clay.  I guess is that Ni Xing clay looks more muddy in colour so perhaps less appealing to the eye.  

I do not own any Ni Xing tea ware till now.  It was my good friend Su from Ipoh that told me to get a Ni Xing tea pot.  In her words; "Once you use, you will fall in love.  Especially if you brew a lot of old tea.  New sheng don't brew up so well but old teas are fantastic, steeped in good well seasoned teapot".

I had been looking for a ni xing  teapot for a few months and was over the moon when I saw this unused set.  I was told this set was made in the late 90s.   Notice the set came with 4 cups and a covered pot / container.  This container could act as a tea tray for tea waste bowl as well.  This workmanship appears rough to me but I am not complaining.

Time to season the teapot and cups.  I am using an old traditional seasoning style
a) Wash teapot and cups under running water.  Place teapot and cups in a large pot of water and low boil for 30 min.  When water has cooled, rinse teapot and cups well.
b) brew tea in teapot.  5-6 infusions.  Do not drink and discard the tea.  Wash and air dry the teapot.
c). The teapot is ready

I look forward to my 1st tea session with this Ni Xing teapot this Christmas holidays.    

Friday, November 23, 2018

2005 Changtai Bulang Raw Puerh Cake

2005 Changtai Bulang Raw Pu erh cake.  400g cake at $74.  18.5 cents/gram.

The above 'information' are used by tea reviewers to give the readers a summary overview of the cake that is being discussed.  

This information is good and is important to the reader.  You get to know the age of the tea and the tea factory that made the cake.  You can see that this cake is a 400g size.  And.... finally you get the price of the cake including a technical price per gram basis.  You can 'calculate' the costs per brew if you buying this cake.  If you are using 7g our session, you are looking at about $1.30 per brewing session.  

I think we can do more.  

When you buy pu erh tea, you are not only buying the tea, you are buying the storage.  

This 2005 Changtai is 13 years old.  This tea had been Malaysian stored for more than a dozen years.  This 13 years of storage should be an important feature in a assessment of this tea.  13 years of storage, in my opinion, is a pretty long time.  The tea would have some age in taste and aroma.  I would expect that the storage would comprise at least 40-50% in an overall assessment of the tea.  

And this 'assessment' is not easy.  There is the issue of different storage consideration.  This tea would taste and smell different under different storage conditions.  Such conditions would include different climate / countries where the tea is stored or even whether the tea cake is broken up and stored in a tea caddy or if the drinker chipped off a piece of tea to brew.  I myself find assessing a tea difficult.  When I sample a tea stored in Hong Kong, Kunming, Taiwan, Guangzhou, a same year Xiaguan tuo has considerable differences in taste and aroma.  It is not better or worse, but it is the result of the storage....and I would present the tea to the reader as it is.  I learnt / try to appreciate the tea and the respective storage.  It Is this uniqueness that should be appreciated and enjoyed.  The storage of pu erh tea should be / must be highlighted.  

Yes, my perceptions of the tea with regard to sweetness or bitterness or feel of the tea is subjective.  As a reader, you will also realise that your taste preferences are different and may change with time.  So I can only suggest - when you like a tea, it is a good tea.  And....a cheap tea can be a good tea.    A $1/g tea does not mean that it is 5 times more aromatic and tasty than a 20 cents/g tea.  For me, giving the reader the price per gram is just telling the reader how much a tea brew would cost to brew.  It does not indicate a bargain or quality.   Never use price to judge a tea.

But I digress. I would not mail out tea for about 2 weeks before Christmas.  No Haiwan spa for me this time as I will helping out in a poorer community in Vietnam.   If you are getting tea or exchanging tea with me during this time, please exercise some patience.  Thank you.