Friday, July 31, 2015

Quotations About Tea

My pu is bigger than your pu.

I was browsing the internet when I chanced upon this site that actually complied quotations about tea. There was no author I could credit to this collection. I found it pretty amusing reading these tea quotes and I have selected a few quotes for my readers from this nifty website. Do check this site out (and there are many similar sites on the net as well).

1. Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage. ~Catherine Douzel

2. A true warrior, like tea, shows his strength in hot water. ~Chinese Proverb

3. Perhaps it is while drinking tea that I most of all enjoy the sense of leisure. ~George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, 1903

4. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water. ~George Orwell, "A Nice Cup of Tea," Evening Standard, 12 January 1946

Friday, July 17, 2015

2004 Yiwu Sheng

I had purchased this puerh cake from Sin Fook Tea House in 2013.  Sin Fook Tea House is in Hong Kong and is located at 83 Tak Ku Ling Rd, Kowloon City.  This tea shop was formerly operating at Kowloon City Shopping Mall but have moved into a shophouse unit (2 streets away from their former shop) few years back.  Kowloon City is primarily a housing estate comprising of many apartment blocks, and shops there like Sin Fook mainly cater to the local residents.  

This 2004 Yiwu Puerh cake is dry stored.  This tea was not stored in the traditional Hong Kong 'higher humidity' warehouses where pu erh tea are characterized by a slightly more aged taste and aroma and a hint of dampness in the tea.  Many serious tea drinkers in Hong Kong I know are now preferring their pu erh to be dry stored.  

I like this tea cake.  This tea has nice floral and honey notes  that is characteristic of yiwu.  The nice long lingering fragrance of the tea stays in the mouth after I had downed a cup of tea.  There was a nice warming sensation after a few cups.  Being a 11 year old pu erh, the tea is smooth without any harshness seen in many newer pu erh offerings.  

New Yiwu cakes are getting very expensive.  I have seen many new YIwu cakes retailing at over US$100 per cake.  With the many economies of the world including China experiencing slower growth, I am hopeful the speculative element for Chinese tea will be reduced and prices will be lower for tea drinkers like us.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My souvenirs from Japan

I performed my tourist duties well when I was in Japan. My kids wanted everything Japanese. On my last day in Japan, I went to a local supermarket and stuffed a bag with Japanese cucumbers, fruits, rice, seaweed sheets, confectionary and more Japanese tea, which included matcha teabags. Sound crazy, but I do save up to 70% when I purchase these things here. I even got myself a Canon G16 camera, which I had been eyeing for some time. It was less than $300 here, a 50% savings. Now with HD pix and wifi, my pictures should be slightly better.

And………I bought a Tetsubin. I dropped by a Nambu showroom and came out of the shop with this kettle. The sales staff reminded me that this was a kettle for boiling water and I had to discard the 1st boiled water in the tetsubin before actually using the kettle.

The tea drinking culture in Japan is strong. Whether you go an eatery (where you choose and pay your food choices from a vending machine and give your selected coupons to a waiter) or a high end restaurant, you will be served tea. Tea is easily available. At convenience stores, you have fridges full of teas for your selection, from matcha latte to unsweetened hojicha. At a town at Kanazawa, I stopped by a famous sushi eatery for lunch. Notice the condiment bottles, where the green bottle is actually matcha tea where you squirt matcha powder in your teacup and fill you cup with hot water from the dispenser on your table. What more could you ask when a plate of 10 piece sushi comes with a bowl of traditional salmon soup, drink as much tea as you want - all for only 500yen or $5.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Vacation In Nagoya

I had just returned from a week's vacation from Nagoya, Japan.  I always loved Japanese food, and upon landing in Nagoya and checking my bags at the hotel, I rushed over to Unagi Horaiken, queued for more than an hour for my table to enjoy the famous Unagi set meal.  Unagi is roasted eel, and the preparation of this dish at that restaurant was magnificent.  

I spent most of my Japanese holidays outside the city of Nagoya including staying 2 days in Shrirakawa, a Unesco world heritage site where this town had very well preserved Gasso-zukuri, which are farmhouses that are characterize by steep thatched roofs.  It was a fun 2 night stay at one of these farmhouse, where the proprietor personally cooked meals for all her guests.  

I also stayed in Takamaya, another old town where I chanced upon this tea shop.  This tea shop only sells Japanese tea.  Green tea are sold as loose tea leaves in packets of 50g.  The shop also has roasted Japanese tea known as Hojicha, also sold as loose tea leaves.  Lastly the shop has matcha, which is grounded green tea (think face powder).  Matcha is normally prepared in a large bowl and the tea drinker need a traditional tea whisk (chasen) to whipped up a creamy froth, making the tea a very refreshing drink.  The matcha sold here were packed in 30g packets.  In that shop, there were 3 grades of tea, whether green, roasted or matcha tea.  You can select from standard, No.2 or No.1 grade.  I bought their top grade tea except for matcha, I purchased their No. 2 as I felt a little fishy scent in their top grade matcha.  I am happy I had also purchased similar amounts of tea from a few more Japanese tea shops, while on my trip, and I look forward to brewing them and learning more about the various grades of tea.   

Though the proprietor of the tea shop could not speak English and I could not speak Japanese, I felt we had a common connection with the tea. He described his higher grades matcha's aroma as very long, stretching out his arms.  He also reminded me to brew with 90 degree celsius water and to keep my tea in a refrigerator. 

This tea shop also sells green tea ice-cream.  He even sprinkled my ice-cream with matcha, which made this treat a very enjoyable snack.