Sunday, September 25, 2016

2007 Sea Dyke Ming Xiang Oolong

I managed to snagged 2 tins of Ming Xiang oolong tea while I was at the Malaysia Tea Expo earlier this year.  This oolong is a Sea Dyke production.  Manufactured in 2007, this large tin contained 500g of Ming Xiang oolong, and is further packed into 50 smaller packets  as seen in the pictures.  These smaller packets are stapled, so if you are opening the packet, you must dispose the staple properly and not have it in your tea.

I emptied a packet into a 120ml teapot and I could get about 6 strong infusions of Ming Xiang.  Nice nutty taste with a faint sweetness.  I found this Ming Xiang oolong has similar taste profiles with Sea Dyke's red tin Ti Kuan Yin (link).

This Sea Dyke Ming Xiang is also available in 125g packed into a paper box.  

But I digress.  A reader asked me about aged or old tea with regards to pu erh and oolong.  Pu erh drinkers would know that older pu erh taste better than newer ones especially in terms of taste and aroma.  Pu erh tea actually ferments over time during storage.  This fermentation is more pronounced in raw pu erh than ripe pu.  Oolong on the other hand (I am talking about the heavy roasted oolongs) do not ferment while you store them in your tea caddies.  Yes, oolong will 'aged' but you will still get your oolong taste and aroma except the tea gets more aromatic, mellow and smooth.  I was told  by a few old tea drinker friends, that very old tea, whether pu erh, oolong or even tea like liu ann will eventually 'developed a chinese medicinal taste' in the tea.  Really?  Time will tell.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Bingdao aka Ice Island Weekend

A couple of weeks ago, I received a gift from a local tea buddy (if you are reading this..thank you very much).   It was a 2013 Bingdao raw pu erh cake.  This 150g tea cake was part of a boxed set which held 5 cakes in a box.  Bingdao (Iiterally called ice island) had been (past 3 years) the 'darling' of the pu erh tea markets, where tea harvested from the Bingdao region had seen its prices rising dramatically these few years.  I am not surprised if this cake was purchased for about US$100 (each).

I only own 2 Bingdao cakes.  It is a personal choice. The tea is nice and I enjoy the aromatic bouquet of many floral scents in the tea.  I felt that for the current prices of bingdao tea leaves, I can use the money to purchase older big factory brand pu erh instead (8-10 years old) which I enjoy very much.  These older teas I believe, gives more value for money.  As said…its a personal choice.

This Bingdao tea exhibits good floral aroma.  I  detected a number of flowers from the aroma.  Very smooth and very easy to drink.  During my tea travels, I had many opportunities to sample bingdao pu erh.  Most of these tea are newish - 1-3 years old.  One striking characteristic of this BIngdao tea (from the samples I had) seemed that the tea is ready to drink now, unlike the big branded factory raw pu erh which is very rough in taste when new.  Maybe its the bingdao tea leaves or maybe it could have something to do with the tea processing in the Bingdao villages.  Those reading this blog and are drinking bingdao pu erh….I do appreciate your thoughts.  

This cake is only 150g in weight….another cake to drink sparingly.  By the way…its that time of the year we eat moon cakes.  The Chinese celebrate mid-autumn festival where moon cakes are eaten during this period.  I bought a couple of boxes of moon cakes when I was in Hong Kong last month.  The last pix..shows only an empty box…the cakes were all gone within 3 days of purchase.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Tea Art Magazine #57 and the 'Commemorative Teapot' article

I bought this Tea Art magazine (issue #57) while I was in Hong Kong last month.  Though this is a very heavy 386 paged magazine that focused on Chinese tea and tea ware, I can say that more than 3/4 of the pages are advertisements taken out by tea manufacturers and dealers showcasing their products.  This is not surprising as magazines are extremely dependent on advertising as the main source of revenue.  I enjoy browsing through this colorful magazine reading the few articles inside while at the same time looking at the new products, packaging and new players in the Chinese tea industries.  Pix 3 showed a Malaysian Chinese tea ad taken out by my new Malaysian tea friend.  Yes, he calls himself Long Bean.  

This latest issue had an article on vintage Japanese tetsubins (pix 3-4).  I remembered one of my tetsubins I had purchased had rust issues…..Yes, I procrastinated on cleaning the tetsubin.  I will get work on it soon and will share my cleaning adventures with my readers soon.

The other article in this magazine was on commemoration teapots.  The writer chose the word 'commemoration' (I translate his Chinese literally) but I felt that these teapots are more like souvenirs or advertisement teapots.  To me it is something that was given to dealers and clients as a gift while advertising a particular product. Example - if you buy a carton of soft drink and sometimes, you may get a free glass or mug with the product name on the cup.  In this case, the name of the company or tea is engraved on the side on the teapot and these teapots were later distributed or given to dealers and customers.  These teapots may sometimes have a company name or name of a tea or even an tea related event (exhibition or competition) engraved on the teapots.  This article showcased some of these teapots that were produced from the late 1950s to the 1990s.  You will have noticed that the teapots are 'shui ping hu' designs.  I have a few of these teapots in my collection.  There are sometimes flowers being engraved on one side of the teapot and the 'commemorative' words on the other side of the teapot.  I was told by a teapot collector that the 'oolong' souvenir teapots came in a set of 4 flower design, each teapot has a specific flower design called 'xi cheun zhi' (if I remember correctly).  

There are sometimes a numeric number engraved on the inside lid of the teapot.  In the pix, there was a '6' on a lid and the author explained that the 6 meant the teapot was a 6 cup teapot that will pour out 6 cups of tea 15ml per cup implying this teapot was about 90ml in size.  I owned a few 80s teapots whose label on the tea boxes were just '4-cup teapot' or '6 cup teapot'  I am researching more about this and should be able to share more information in my later blogs.

Quality of the teapots are average.   On the rougher side…..but nonetheless highly sought after by teapot collectors.