Wednesday, May 15, 2024

2008 Awazon ManJin Raw Pu erh Cake


I had visited Awazon tea shop in Kunming in 2009 and had purchased some tea from them. This is their ManJin raw cake. This tea is harvested near the Jingmai region and has many nice characteristics of Jingmai pu erh.  

The tea when brewed has a very nice snd long aftertaste. Very mouth watering and the tea has a nice complexity in terms of taste and aroma.  Awazon described the tea as "a very good sweet aftertaste in deep throat and full mouth with lingering orchid aroma".  

Though this producer is relatively unknown, this tea is surprisingly good. Smooth, mellow and sweet and easily brews up to 10 good infusions. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Liu An Tea


Liu an tea are normally sold in small baskets with the tea wrapped in bamboo leaves.  These baskets normally come in 100g, 250g and 500g. Liu an tea are actually fermented tea that are produced in Qimen in Anhui China. 

Liu An tea is considered a medicinal tea and many Chinese medical halls in South East Asia would incorporate this tea with Chinese herbs. A customer would buy a pack of these pre mixed concoction and bring home to brew up a bowl of tea to brink.  

Today, liu an tea are now drank on its own. Some of my friends even added a small piece of the bamboo leaf to the tea for added flavour.  Sun Yi Shun tea factory is one of the biggest factory that produces Liu An tea.   Old tea from this factory are very expensive and can be very hard to find. 

I had been looking and sampling Liu An tea these past two years. Newer Liu An (about 10 years old) has a light herbal and dried fruit aroma in the tea. Very enjoyable. Older Liu An tend to be more medicinal and herbal. I had also came across a heavier fermented liu an (may be for a specific market). This tea has the characteristics of a shou pu erh tea but it has an extremely long and faintly sweet aftertaste.  I will put up study packs of Liu An tea in my store so you can further explore this tea yourself.        

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Porcelain Gaiwan vs Porcelain Teapot


Many Chinese teashops use porcelain gaiwans to brew their tea when a customer wants to sample their products.   Porcelain are a neutral material and using porcelain to brew tea will not affect the tea in terms of taste and aroma. Using clay teapots may affect the tea as seasoned clay teapots can  change or amplify the taste of the tea. 

I had noticed when teashops use a gaiwan to brew tea, the tea 'brewer' would sometimes use fancy moves when he or she brews the tea. He would open the gaiwan and used the cover to stir the surface of the tea or even perform some visual moves like using the lid to go round the rim of the tea bowl. All these moves would not improve the sampling of the tea. In fact, the tea would cool down much faster and would not infuse well. I believed that pu erh or  high roast oolongs should use boiling water (as hot as possible) to bring out the full flavours of the tea.  

Many tea drinkers I know are using gaiwans to brew their tea.  A gaiwan is inexpensive. Likewise, a porcelain teapot is also inexpensive. I prefer using a porcelain teapot when I am trying out tea samples at home.  I would also use porcelain when brewing tea like white tea or liu an.  There is a higher chance of an accidental slip when I use a gaiwan (yes, I had a few accidents) than using a teapot.  I believed teapots keep the heat better than gaiwans (especially more so in winter). 

One last tip; continue to put your kettle on a boil before you pour the water into your teapot or gaiwan at each infusion. It will make your tea session better.    

Friday, March 22, 2024

Kai Hu - Seasoning A New Teapot


Kai Hu is seasoning a teapot in Chinese.  There are many methods used to season a new Chinese teapot. I am using one method that is commonly used in China and my part of the world.  I had recently purchased a Jian Shui teapot(right of pix) and decided to season it together with a large Hei Ni teapot (from my 12 dragon collection). 

The seasoning method is simple. Rinse the teapot under a running tap to clean out the teapot. Immerse the teapot in a pot of water.  Bring the water to a low simmering boil for about 15-20 minutes. When water has cooled down, rinse the teapot under a tap again. Make a tea with your teapot. Many of us do not drink the tea and we discard this tea. The teapot is considered seasoned. 

However, in my opinion (after seasoning a teapot), there may be some lingering clay scent inside the teapot. This smell should disappear after a few tea sessions from using this teapot. Be patient, you will have a nice teapot to brew your tea. 

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Flavoured Chinese Tea


There are Chinese tea with extra flavours added to the tea.  I am sure you had heard or drank jasmine tea. This is Chinese tea, that during processing had layers of jasmine flowers piled between the tea for a few weeks. The result is the tea would have absorbed the jasmine floral aroma and you have this popular tea to enjoy.  

Another example would be tangerine tea where tea was packed into the dried tangerine husk (flesh had been taken out). As a result, the tea would smell and taste lightly citrusy. Some tea drinkers would increase this citrus level by adding a small piece of the tangerine peel into the tea as well.

The tea used in tangerine tea are normally ripe (shou) pu erh.  The one in the pix has black tea stuffed into the dried tangerine. Delicious. 

Masala tea has spices like pepper, cloves and cinnamon added to the tea.  Milk is included into the brew before the tea is served.   

Flavoured tea are actually quite common all over the world. Fruit tea are sold in many convenience stores and supermarkets. Lemon tea and peach tea are commonly seen on the shelves of many stores and eateries that sell drinks.

There are 2 points I would like to highlight about flavoured tea 

- tea absorbs smells easily. Jasmine tea is such an example. If you are storing your pu erh tea for aging, keep the tea away from strong smells. Incense, cigarette smoke and cooking smells from the kitchen are also not desirable as tea are able to absorb these scents.  Keep your tea safe. 

- some commercial tea sold in the marketplace may have artificial flavours and fragrance in the tea. Look at the labels before you buy.

And....if you are in my part of the world.  We should meet up. I will treat you to a cup of coffee and tea concoction.    

Friday, February 9, 2024

Happy Chinese New Year


Tomorrow is Chinese New Year.  It will be the year of the dragon. 

I will be making a trip or two to Hong Kong, China to visit the tea markets there. I will keep everyone updated on all the happenings about Chinese tea there. Lots of pictures as well. 

I would like to wish all my tea buddies and friends a Happy Chinese New Year. Live long and prosper. 

Sunday, February 4, 2024

2003 Xiaguan Baoyan Tibetan Flame Tea Brick


Chinese new year is next week.  I had been busy working to get my new online store up by the end of the month. 

Time to shop for Chinese New Year.  I must buy the pastries and goodies to feed the guests who visit me. I think the goodies may be eaten by me within a day or two after I buy them. 

I had selected a 20 year old tea for this festive occasion. This is a 2003 Xiaguan baoyan brick 250g.  Such tea were originally produced for export.  They were made for the places like Mongolia and as far as Tibet. The people there have little access to green vegetables and drinking the tea helped in their digestion. The tea is often boiled with salt, pepper and even adding spices like cinnamon or cardamon. Milk is also added to the tea to make it a delicious beverage. 

Xiaguan Banyan tea was regarded by tea collectors as being a lower grade tea. This tea brick has more broken tea leaves than regular pu erh tea sold in mainland China.  

Lower grade and broken me does not mean that this tea is an inferior tea.  I am sure a blind taste test of this tea will fool many serious tea drinkers. I am going to have fun with this tea when I visit China in the later part of this year.  

I am impressed with this tea. It has all the hall marks of a good traditional pu erh.  This tea is spicy  (think pepper and ginger), a little smoky with nice hints of camphor wood. Being 20 years old and aged in my part of the world, this tea is smooth, mellow and sweet.  A nice tea for the Chinese New Year.