Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Smokiness






Smoke is used in food and drinks.

We have smoked meats. Common examples where you can find smoked food in a supermarket (the bigger ones) are smoked ham and smoked salmon. I liked them as the smokiness give the meat more flavour and taste.  It was a cheap way to preserve or cure meats.   In bbq parties, the serious party host may use special wood like hickory or cherry wood to scent the smoke. I had even noticed, on cooking shows, where a 'smoker gun' was used to smoke the food. The cook would simply put some aromatic wood chips in the smoker, light it up and the smoke was 'hosed' into a bag (I thought I saw a ziplock) and the food was bathed in the smoke.  I also recalled another cooking show where they smoked a cola drink by dunking the smoker hose in the drink, resulting in a smoky soda.  


Whisky is an unique showcase for smoky drinks.  There are smoky whiskies that are appreciated for their smoke.   In Scotland, peat was a cheap and easily available fuel to dry barley.  When peat is burnt, they give off smoke and as a result, the barley absorbed this peated smoke and this smoke was even retained in the alcohol when the barley is distilled.  I have tried heavily peated whiskies and I can say that I felt that I was drinking smoke than sipping a whisky.  It was to me an eye watering exercise than a mouthwatering experience.  Pix shows a Talisker 10 year old, a moderately peated whisky.  

If you find smoky pu erh too smoky for you, I would warn you to stay far away from smoky whisky.  It is many times more smoky.

Likewise, wood fuel was a cheap and easily available fuel (90s or earlier) to fry and stop the pu erh leaves from oxidising.  As a result, the tea leaves absorbed this smoke and when you brew these tea leaves, you may detect smoke in the tea.  Nowadays, electricity are used instead of wood fire in pu erh tea processing.  There is no smoke in the tea.  The famous Xiaguan brand do continue to produce some smoky pu erh and these  smoky tea are now limited in production.  I liked smoky pu erh as the aged smoky ones, in my opinion, taste more complex and aromatic than the non smoky ones. 

Enjoying smoky food or drinks may not be your thing.  I can understand this as I myself am unable to appreciate the highly peated whiskies that made me cringe when I sniff into the glass.  I am, however, extremely happy with my smoky pu erh.  

Time for an old smokey.  



Tuesday, September 17, 2019

2006 Xiaguan YueShang Tuo






I am a fan of Xiaguan pu erh tea.  In particular, I liked their smoky pu erh tea.  When these tea had been stored away for more than 10 years, the smoky character  seems to be quietly subdued, changing the taste and aroma of the tea into a more complex drink.  There were a few older Xiaguan in my collection which seem to have an extra camphor finish in the tea which I enjoy.  And....the iron cakes - the complexity in taste and aroma is something I enjoy everytime.  However, most of the tuos and iron cakes are extremely tightly compressed.  It can be a health hazard trying to pry open the tea.  I have poked myself more than once with a tea pick.  I have recommended you use a normal plier (new) to break off pieces from your iron cake or tuo. 

This 2006 YueShang 200g tuo is non smoky and I liked it a lot.  I call this the honey tuo as this tea has a honey aroma that reminded me of floral honey.  When I brew this tea, there is a nice sweet aroma intensifying with herbal scents that make this tea very enjoyable.  There is a baked apple pie hint in the tea which I like as well.  Under all these honeyed notes, there is a herbal complexity in the tea as it is already 13 years old.  Smooth, mellow and sweet.  This tea is similar to the Xiaguan gold ribbon tuo but this YueShang is heavier on the honey profile.  

This tea was on my 'to buy' list during my Guangzhou trip last month.  I managed to lay my hands on a carton and it was to me, my 'find of the year' (so far). Really nice.  

Monday, September 2, 2019

Countryside Tea Factory Of Yunnan China









I am guessing you are shaking your head in disbelief when you read the title of this blog.  I am not tea drunk.  There is, really, a 'Countryside Tea Factory'.  Just look at the wrapper on the last pix. 

I got this 50g tuo as a gift from a tea distributor in Guangzhou last month.  He told me it was from his personal collection.  

My guess is this tuo is about 15 years old.  This mini tuo is highly compressed and I almost 'poke' myself with a tea pick as I was dismantling the tuo.

These are my findings from 2 sessions of this tea.  There  was hardly any sweetness in the tea.  This tea is strong in both taste and aroma.  There were strong herbal notes in the tea; almost medicinal herbs and a bitter tree bark taste in the initial infusions.  Middle infusions were quite mouthwatering with a herbal soup taste like lingzhi and ginseng roots.  I felt the aftertaste is a little dry.  This tea made a dozen good infusions in one sitting.  I believed my tea distributor friend liked the unique herbal medicinal profile in the tea.  An interesting tea....from the countryside. 



Saturday, August 17, 2019

Bottled Water






Water make up a big part of your tea.  Many of us are willing to spend considerable amount of $$ on our tea.  For many tea drinkers, we may spent a few dollars for 10g of tea leaves for a session of tea.  I have yet to read on tea forums or blogs about the cost of water in a tea session.  

I suppose water is considered cheap.  If you are lucky (like me), the tap water in your country may be drunk 'straight from the tap' and I would be using this tap water to boil and make tea.  In countries where tap water is not directly drinkable, one would consider maybe adding a filter to 'clean' the tap water or may use bottled water in the home.

My friends in China, Hong Kong and Malaysia had told me to drink bottled water whenever I travelled to visit them.  I noticed, in all these 3 places, that my friends used quite 'high tech'  electronic water filtration devices in their homes to filter their tap water.  The tap water is ran though 4-5 filtration modules before it is 'considered safe to drink'.  The filters, I was told are changed 2-4 times a year.  

When it comes to tea, my friends and teashops in these 3 countries would used bottled water for their tea sessions.  There are many brands of water available but in Malaysia, the 'Spritzer' brand is preferred and in China. the 'Nongfu' brand is used for tea brewing.  I am sure these folks have tried many brands before settling on these preferred brands.  If my math serve me right, it cost about US$1.50 to buy about 2 litres of water in these 2 countries.  So if you use 2 litres of water in a tea session, than the water cost is US$1.50 in this example.  

It was surprising, or not surprising, that I found the water from these 2 brands tasted quite similar to each other.  When I brewed ripe pu erh tea at home using these 2 brands, the water tasted a tiny bit sweeter than my home tap water.  It was a fun experiment to do and I urge my readers to try the occasional bottled water in your shops to see whether you can discern any difference in your tea.  

I also encourage that you use 100c (boiling water) when you brew your tea....it does make a difference.  Do also remember to use boiling water as well for subsequent infusions as well. 

I also know a few of my hardcore tea buddies (3 of them)  would go outdoors to collect spring water and bring home to brew tea.  They tell me its the best water.  

We should be thankful we have water to drink.  I have read articles that there will be future wars among countries whose conflict will be over water.  







Thursday, August 1, 2019

Lin Ceramics Purion Teaware - Revisit





During my more than 10 years of blogging about tea, I had written that there were many small ways or ideas that may improve a tea session.  

Some of these ideas (you may disagree with me) include: 

a) using a clay teapot than a gaiwan to brew your tea
b) experimenting with water - trying bottled or filtered water and see the impact on the aroma and taste of the tea.  Use boiling 100c water to brew pu erh and high roasted oolong is an exercise I recommend.
c) breaking up a pu erh cake and storing it in a tea caddy for 2 weeks before you try the tea
d) a slightly expensive option is to use clay kettles to boil your water and the possibility of using a Japanese iron tetsubin for boiling water as well.  


The Lin Ceramics purion clay is, to me, an interesting phenomena.  When I brew pu erh in a Lin's purion teapot, the aroma and taste of the tea seem slightly amplified.

I brought over a teapot (3 years ago) to my tea drinking group in Guangzhou, China and my friends there (mainly in their late 40s and 50s and had never seen a purion teapot before) could discern this difference in taste and aroma.  These friends are now owners of  purion tea ware and they would occasionally brew tea in a purion teapot to enjoy this phenomena.

I cannot explain the reason.  My thoughts are that the higher iron content in the clay could have affected the taste and aroma of the tea.  I am still intrigued by this purion teapot after so many years of use.

One local tea buddy considered that using purion teapot would  'artificially' enhanced the tea and does not give a true representation of that tea.  I can understand his argument but many of us do try to make a tea as 'tasty' as possible, and may use those ideas I listed in the beginning of this blog to brew their tea.  I was quietly relieved that he does not know that I occasionally concoct an alcoholic tea session......he would have fainted.  

I would like to add that this difference (using purion) in the tea (taste and aroma) is only discernible by 'hardcore' (close to it anyway) tea drinkers and this difference is ever so slight.   If you consider yourself as  'hardcore', I suggest you should 'beg, borrow or steal' a purion tea ware and try it yourself.   

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Wuyistar Lao Cong Shui Xian










I was supposed to try this tin of tea last Christmas, but it was not opened (perhaps overlooked).  This is the Wuyistar brand of shui hsien oolong.

Wuyistar is quite a big oolong factory in China and I had noticed, these few years that this company was trying to get a bigger presence outside China.  I saw a shop outlet in Hong Kong just outside the exit of Prince Edward subway station.  They are even represented in Singapore, located at Yue Hwa emporium.  In the Malaysia tea expo last year, Wuyistar took up a big central booth in the expo to showcase their products.

I opened a 2017 tin.  Information on the box indicated that this 125g tinned oolong was from the famed Wuyi mountains and  it was 1st grade oolong.  Notice the double lids and the extra foil top when you open the inner lid.  This metal foil are commonly seen in powered milk tins.  The tea leaves are shiny and plump.  Keeping oolong tea in tins than just packets will help keep the leaves from breaking into small bits.

I filled my teapot with about 75-80% of oolong and proceeded to make 6 strong infusions of this tea.  I could see the tea weakening in its colour by the 6th infusion.  This tea is heavy roasted and strong in aroma and taste. Mouthwatering with good salivating sensation after drinking a cup of tea.  A good tea but the box description of classifying this tea as a 1st grade Wuyi oolong was a little exaggerated.  

In my limited experience of drinking shui hsien, I found or felt that there are 2 main variants - one where the tea was more mineral in taste and another where there is a very slight floral or 'perfumed' aroma in the aftertaste.  Sea Dyke brand of Lao Chong Shui Hsien is an example where it has this 'perfumed' finish.  I enjoy both versions.

For the Shui Hsien tea drinker, do consider buying a tin of Wuyistar if you come across it.  








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.    




Saturday, March 16, 2019

Tea Strainers













I am sure you have seen tea strainers in action during a Chinese tea brewing session. You may be using one yourself when you brew your tea at home.

When you are a teashop sampling tea, almost of these tea sessions will employ the use of a tea strainer.  The tea is your teacup would be free of mini bits of tea leaves and you can examine and sample the tea 'in more detail'.

Most teashops would use a simple strainer as the one in the 1st pix.  It is simple to use.  The tea is poured through the strainer into a cha he (server) before the tea is poured out into the tea cups.  

There are now more fanciful strainers.  The 2nd pix show a bamboo strainer while the 3rd pix is simply a dried leaf.  That leaf, I was told, is called a pu ti leaf.  From Taiwan.  You simply pour tea over the leaf into your tea server.  The leaf stays 'strong' - it does not wobble or spill over when tea is poured through it.  A marvellous conversation piece to have in a tea session.  




Saturday, March 2, 2019

Silver Kettle






No, I did not buy a silver kettle.  I was at a tea drinking session at a tea buddy's house last month and a silver kettle was used in our tea session.  This was my 2nd experience drinking /brewing tea using a silver kettle and I would like to share my thoughts on such kettles with my readers.  

Silver kettles are very expensive.   I remembered seeing a similar Japanese made (about the same size as pix) with a price tag of a few thousand dollars.  Silver kettles are very pretty.  The 'bling bling' shine did made me stare at the kettle a few times during the tea drinking session.  

Boiling water in a silver kettle makes the water softer.  Some tea friends call it sweeter.  Personally, I find that this is good for newer tea like pu erh.  The astringency and 'roughness' of a new raw pu erh tea is much reduced making the tea easier and pleasant to drink.  However, when the kettle is used on older tea,  the flavours of the tea, in my opinion, seem subdued.  I had also tried drinking older tea from a silver cup and also experience this 'subdued' taste in the tea.  

When I used an iron Japanese tetsubin for my tea brewing sessions,  there wasn't  a drastic change in the taste of the tea when compared to using a silver kettle.  I personally think that clay and iron kettles are better in this instance.  This is my own opinion.

Buying a silver kettle is an expensive proposition.  I recommend you try out a few teas with one, if possible, before you decide on a purchase.  

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.