Saturday, September 9, 2023

Xiang Mu Hai Chien Liang Cha


This is Xiang Mu Hai tea factory's Chien Liang cha. This is a black tea. Black tea produced in Henan, China were traditionally compressed in to 'log' like sizes, wrapped in bamboo, stored in a cloth bag before they are sold to the public. Such log sizes can vary in weight from 1 kg to more than 30 kg. These logs are kept in shops or homes standing proudly while they age away. From what I gathered from black tea drinkers, these tea are normally allowed to age for more than 10 years before these logs are cut to smaller slices. 

What Xiang Mu Hai tea factory did was to produce these logs and proceeded to cut them to slices before these slices are individually  packed and sold to the retail market. 

This Chien Liang cha is the factory's premium product called Fu Yong Chien Liang chan literally from Fu Yong (hibiscus) mountain. Sold as a 600g slice, this tea is very aromatic with a floral fragrance that lived up to the floral name of this tea. Noticed there is some 'jin hua' (golden flowers) in the tea leaves.  The compression of this tea slice is light.  I noted there are more leaves than stems in this tea.   

This Chien Liang cha is produced yearly and I have the 2020 version.  When I brewed up this tea, the perfumed fragrance is enhanced by a lightly sweet aftertaste.  Good for 6-8 infusions. A delicious tea session.    

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Plastic Bag Liu Bao

I had seen this liu bao tea for sale in a tea shop and at a tea expo in Malaysia a few years ago. I was intrigued.  I had never seen tea sold in plastic bags at retail level. Yes, I had observed wholesale oolong tea (10-20kg) that are packed in a large plastic bag before the tea is further packed in a carton box.  However, such oolong at tea shops would be 'nicely repackaged' either in fancy foil packets or placed in a pretty tin or box.  

As you can see from the plastic bag, this 1 kg liu bao was packed using the '4 gold coins' brand of liu bao.  This brand  is a highly regarded by serious liu bao tea drinkers,  There is also a line (last line) that seem to suggest this was a commemorative production for a Chinese bank (Chang Tong bank), perhaps for a promotion gift.  There was no information who had packed the tea and who the actual distributor was.   

Back to this tea.  I was told there were 2  (2005, 2007) productions of this tea.  There is no date on the bag to tell which year the tea was packed for sale. Both places where I had saw this tea claimed they had the 2005 version for sale. The first 2005 version was perceived as more expensive as it was deemed like the '1st edition' production. When I pressed further for more information, the shop claimed he had gotten the tea from a tea collector in Malaysia. Likewise, the stall at the tea expo told me he had gotten his supply from another tea collector as well.  Both sellers were unable to show proof or documentation that their plastic bag liu bao was a 2005 production.  

In addition, one tea drinker told me he believed the tea was originally packed in Hong Kong. I was even more curious. I contacted my tea shop buddies in Hong Kong to find out more about this tea. It was a surprise that they informed me there was no such tea produced in Hong Kong and banks in Hong Kong do not give away tea in plastic bags.  Another old tea drinker buddy believed that this tea was packed in Malaysia and only sold locally there.  No one seem to know who had actually produced this plastic bag liu bao.  

I had sampled the tea and it tasted about a mid age tea.  It is quite a decent tea.  I have no experience whether it is a 4 gold coins tea.  I will continue to find out more on this mystery. I had bought few bags of this tea and will put them in my online store so my readers can taste and experience this mysterious plastic bag liu bao tea.    

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

My Online Store - Time To Revamp


I am suppose to reopen my online store when I had returned from my USA trip last month.  I will need a little bit more time. 

I want to tinker with my product offerings. Let me elaborate. You would agree that the prices of tea had gone up significantly, especially after the 3 years of covid.  Many goods and services, beside tea, had seen their prices gone up. My regular local chicken rice or beef noddle meals had increased by more than 25% and I find that my overall monthly expenses had gone up.  I can imagine as a Chinese tea drinker as myself, ordering and buying tea can burn a little hole in your wallet. 

This is what I plan to do in my online store. I will like to give my buyers a more exciting, informative and hopefully a happy and inexpensive experience in my store. I am thinking of offering tea that you can compare say within a brand, or a vintage year or comparing tea being store in different regions ( Malaysia, Hong Kong or Guangzhou storage). You need not buy entire cakes of pu erh but I will offer you an economic option of purchasing in say 50g or 100g. This meant say you want to try a 2009 Dayi 7542 and a 2009 Dayi 8582, I will be selling as a set of 50g of each tea. Like wise you can also try selection of old pu erh storage from Hong Kong vs Malaysia in 50g packs. This would allow you to appreciate the many varieties of pu erh as well as the results of storage from different regions. 

We can also have a tasting discussion online where we can have a live chat or even a group video face to face discussion where we can exchange our views or even disagree whether there is a sweet aftertaste in the tea.

I hope this inclusion of 'study' tea packs will provide you a wider appreciation of the Chinese tea without hurting yuur wallet.

So stay tune while I tinker and consider the tea that I will offer as 'study 'packs.  If you have suggestions what you like to see in my store, let me know. Thank you.    

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Tea Exchange


I had been talking about tea exchange in my posts and one reader asked how he can exchange tea with me. 

A tea exchange with me is simple. When both of us get to meet .......we would exchange a tea or tea ware with each other.  You can tell me what you would like from me; whether it's a pu erh, oolong, liu bao or other tea you like. It may also be a teapot or teacup....provided I have extras.  In return, you can give me a tea or tea ware in exchange. I hope that we can experience and appreciate the different tea storage conditions of our collections. 

This exchange can take place in Singapore. if you are local or visiting Singapore, let me know and we can not only have a tea exchange but have a meal together as well. Same when I am overseas, we can meet, have a meal and a tea exchange as well. I had met and made many new tea buddies this way. 

We can also meet up overseas when we 'happen' to be at the same place at the same time.  I am hoping to travel to Malaysia, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and possibly Seoul later this year. Tea exchange anyone? 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

2013 BaiShaXi Black Tea Brick

I have added black tea into my tea drinking repertoire. I now brew black tea at least once a week. The pix above is a 2013  black tea brick produced under by the Baishaxi tea factory. This factory primarily produced black tea and is like the 'Dayi' brand of pu erh. 

What is black tea?  It is actually a popular tea that is enjoyed all of the world. Really. Those teabags you see sold in supermarkets are black tea. Many of this black tea is produced in China, India, Africa and Sri Lanka. Yes, the teabag you jiggle in your mug (sometimes milk and sugar is added) came from these major producers. The aroma and flavours of the tea from these teabags are 'blended' that the tea would taste the same in taste and aroma today, next month and even a year from now. 

This black tea brick is more in a raw form in that nothing has been blended into the tea.   Moreover long term storage of this Chinese black tea, which is highly desirable, make this tea an aromatic and delightful drink. 

This 2013 black tea had undergone fermentation during the production process.....something like shou pu erh. However the taste and aroma is different. While shou pu erh is more earthly or has toasty bread aromatics, black tea is more like a Chinese herbal medical tea concoction with a light sweet aftertaste. I had mentioned a tea buddy in Penang, Malaysia who brewed 7g of black tea into 500ml water and slow simmer the tea over a charcoal stove. You can imagine the intensity of the taste and aroma of the tea. I will try this setup soon, but meanwhile I brew my black tea in a teapot and and let it infuse for a couple of minutes per infusion. Good for 2-3 infusions.  

Friday, June 2, 2023

Malaysia Pu erh Tea Club 10th Anniversary Cake

How do you commemorate a pu erh tea club 10th anniversary?  Duh...obviously with producing a puerh cake. Yes, this was what they did.  This is the 2014 10th anniversary raw pu erh cake. This tea were from the Lincang area and the cake was pressed iron cake style. The pressing is different from the traditional Xiaguan iron cakes in that this cake is smooth on both sides unlike the Xiaguan version which is spiky on one side of the cake. 

I decided to open a cake and brewed up a session of this tea. There were many things Iike about this tea.  This tea brews strong. There is a long lightly sweet aftertaste. A wispy smoky camphor aroma makes this tea a delightful drink. 

I will take about 50g of this tea for my USA trip (Portland, Chicago and Seattle). If you like to have a tea exchange with me, please let me know and I will look forward to meet you. 

It is a pity that many new pu erh cakes produced are so much different now. Many newer pu erh  tea are more floral 'green tea' taste.  I am happy to have enough of the old style pu erh in my collection to last me a long time.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Questions About Dark Tea


I had posted an entry about dark tea last week and Peter, a reader  posed the following question -

"I've been to Penang and seen that these giant bricks are very popular with older tea drinkers. Is it because they are so cheap? There are tea shops that seem to only sell these teas."

He was referring to those very heavy (about 1.5kg) bricks that you see in the 2nd pix

Here is my response:

1.  Yes, Peter you are right about black tea is generally cheaper than say oolong or pu erh tea. Gram for gram, those black tea bricks whether the small (1st pix) or larger bricks (2nd pix) are cheaper than pu erh tea. 

2.  One reason is that there is a much larger pu erh (or oolong) tea drinking community than the black tea drinker groups. There is also a very large group of pu erh collectors that buy to store for  investment. It is actual commodity trading except this time its pu erh tea. It is interesting to know that many limited and high end pu erh factory productions for the past 10 years are often sold out at product launch. These tea are never drank but are bought and sold like trophies. As far as I know, these black tea bricks are mainly purchased for drinking. Yes, there are collectors that aged these black tea bricks to sell but these resold black tea are usually bought up to be consumed. 

3. Black tea includes other fermented tea that include liu bao and ripe or shou pu erh. Older versions of these tea can be quite expensive now. 

Who knows. Black tea bricks may be the new investment tea in the next few years.