Saturday, March 18, 2023

2011 Tea Urchin Ding Jia Zhai

This tea cake is produced by Tea Urchin, a tea business setup In Shanghai.  This business is owned by a couple Eugene and Belle.  Eugene was from Australia  before he settled down in Shanghai where he married Belle.

I had written about them way back in 2012.  This couple were quite hardcore when they set up the the business in 2004.  They made frequent trips to Yunnan to source for their own tea.  They visited the smaller tea families and farms and try to find and offer to their customers the rare and lesser known pu erh tea.  I believed they have a few kids now and the recent pandemic had prevented them from visiting Yunnan to personally source the tea.

This cake is the 2011 Ding Jia Zhai. This tea is primarily from the Yiwu region.  I had stored this cake for almost 10 years and had now broken up the cake and put the pieces in a tea caddy.  This tea is aromatic; wood and hay aroma.  This tea is extremely mouthwatering.  I would not serve this tea to new tea drinkers.  There is hardly any sweetness in the aftertaste. No sweetness or fruitiness.  This tea is slightly herbal bitter with a strong qi. I felt sweaty after the tea session.  This is the type of tea when you want it to be strong without any fuss. I like. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Late 90s CNNP 7581 Ripe Brick

This is a late 90s CNNP 7581 ripe brick.  I had acquired a carton of this tea during one my early visits to Guangzhou. I was introduced to a Chinese tea drinking group and I had later got to purchased this tea from a retired CNNP tea manager in that group. It was from him, Mr Chen that I started learning about pu erh tea and storing pu erh tea as a hobby. 

This tea survived my trip to Europe. Unlike my raw pu erh tea, this 7581 did not "hibernate' during the journey here. The taste and aroma was good exhibiting old earthly notes of old books and leather. This tea is a workhorse brewing up more than a dozen good infusions in a tea session. 

This only thing I found challenging was brewing tea in this cold wintry weather. The tea cools very fast. I like to drink my tea reasonably hot, but over here in Paris, the tea cools down and was luke warm after 10 min. I had to finish my tea quickly in between infusions. I wonder whether Chinese tea drinkers, in winter, drink their tea quickly in between infusions. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Case Of The Hibernating Pu erh


It is winter in Paris and I am brewing and drinking Chinese tea.  I had, in my previous blog entry, decided on the tea I had selected for my overseas adventure. One reader asked "no xiaguan? ".   Yes, I managed to packed some 2006 Yue Shang Raw tuo.  

I had brewed this tea a couple of days before my trip. I enjoyed this tea a lot and I was eager to brew this tea when I arrived in Paris. 

The tea tasted different. It tasted less vibrant and aromatic. I tried a longer infusion time but the results was not any better. I thought it may be due to the water. I tried a ripe 7581 pu erh tea the next day and the tea tasted alright. I concluded that this tea went into hibernation during the air flight and needed time to 'adjust' to the new climate. This phenomena was highlighted by many tea experts (residing in USA) who had ordered tea from overseas and tried the tea when the order had arrived.  Cwyn renown for her 'death by tea' blog recommend to rest the tea for a couple of weeks before you brew the tea.  This allow the tea to adjust to the new climate. It is like awaking the tea or Xin-cha in Chinese. The tea will taste better after a couple of weeks. I cannot explain this awaking phenomena but my many overseas friends has 'sworn' to rest their newly ordered tea for a couple of weeks before brewing the tea. 

I am going to let this tea rest and drink my other tea stash. As a reward of my clever sleuthing, I had rewarded myself with buying a Sherlock Holmes novel, printed in 1893, from the famous Abbey Bookshop in Paris.   

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year.  2023 is the year of the rabbit. and falls on 22nd January.   My essential checklist include Mandarin oranges, red packets of money to give to parents and kids, lots of snacks and of course Chinese tea.

One last reminder - I will be closing my online store for about 6 months as I will travelling a fair bit. Europe in next 2 months and USA in summer.  Hopefully Malaysia and Hong Kong in between.  

I wish all my friends and readers a Happy Chinese New Year.  Live long and prosper. 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Selecting Tea For My Overseas Trip


I had written in my previous blog entry that I will be closing my online store for 6 months - Feb thru July.  I will be travelling and hope to meet tea friends and hope to have a tea session with them. 

For 2 months (February and March), I will be in Europe; specifically Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels.  I do not many opportunities to go to Europe and I hope to do the touristy stuff while I am there. If you want to meet me for tea, please let me know. We will have a tea exchange as well. 

I will follow up with trips to Hong Kong in May and to USA in June. 

I intend to bring some older tea for my trip. I have decided on a late 90s Langhe raw pu erh cake, a late 90s CNNP 7581 ripe brick and a pack of Hong Kong Cheong Hing Tie Lo Han. I will also throw in a 100g of 90s y303 oolong. As for tea ware, I will show you pix when I am brewing and drinking my tea overseas.  

Looking forward to my oversea adventures in every cup. 

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year 2023

Happy New Year to all my readers and friends. 

An important announcement. I will be travelling a fair bit next year and I will be suspending my online store sales for about 6 months from mid January 2023.  More updates on my trips to follow.  I will be posting less tea stuff during my travels and I hope to update my store; more tea, better pictures and hopefully better prices.  More info in later posts.  

Happy New Year 2023.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Back To The Future or Forward To The Past


We are coming to the end of the year.  Here are my year end thoughts and findings for Chinese tea for this year. 

1.  The Chinese lockdown to curb the covid pandemic was a mixed result for Chinese tea. Tea drinkers, old and new, were buying tea and tea ware during the lockdown. Online sales, as expected were higher during this period. My Chinese tea dealer friends took this opportunity to sell tea at a retail level selling tea to families and tea drinkers.  Sales were good but dried up immediately when the lockdown was lifted. At the same time, my tea dealer friends had also observed that major tea factories had reduced the tea for sale. Production batches of Chinese tea were also reduced.  Selling prices for such new tea had also gone up by more than 10%. 

2.  The profile of Chinese tea buyers in China - There are less younger tea drinkers. The younger generation prefer to drink coffee at fancy establishment like Starbucks or prefer to drink bubble tea instead. My tea dealer friends noticed less people were willing buy tea for investments now. Present economic conditions are not conducive for tea investment even in Malaysia and Hong Kong.  My 3 visits to tea shops in Malaysia these past few months indicated that tea business there was 'quiet'.  

Chinese tea drinkers drink their tea 'neat'. We do not add pumpkin spice creme or cinnamon powder to our tea. There is no Chinese tea outlet where we can bring our laptop to sit by a window and do our work.  At home, Chinese tea drinkers do not have fancy machines to brew tea. No capsules or drip tea. Only a gaiwan or a teapot. Many people still associate drinking Chinese tea only at Chinese eateries or brewing Chinese tea bags at home. 

Serious Chinese tea drinkers should not be hermit tea drinkers at home. Invite friends and relatives over for a cup of tea. Let them enjoy the fragrance and taste of a good cup of Chinese tea. That is one sure way to increase the Chinese tea drinking community.