Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tea filled tangerine

The owner of a local chinese tea shop gave me this tea.  A sniff of the tea wrapper reminded me of oranges rather than tea.  This is the "gold horse brand" of tea stuffed in a dried tangerine.  This tea, made from loose ripe pu erh tea, is stuffed in a dried hollowed out tangerine.
The description on the wrapper call this tea "nee er siang" - translates as scent of a lady.  

This tea is slightly bigger than a ping pong ball.  I sliced the tangerine in half and use just one half of the tea leaves to brew a pot of tea(200ml).  The tea is not bitter and is pleasant.  I found this tea reminded me of earl gray tea, but with the citrus scent and taste up a few notches.

This inexpensive tea filled tangerine can be easily bought from chinese tea shops or on the internet.  I would recommend this tea to tea drinkers who like their tea to have a citrus scent or to buy it to add variety to their tea collection.   I found the tangerine scent to be strong , in a sense that the tangerine aroma took centre stage than the tea.  I could easily make 5 drinkable infusions from this brew.  

Saturday, August 15, 2009

2008 Menghai ripe pu erh "hong yun" cake 100g

 This 100g ripe cake is from the Menghai brand.  The cake comes in a paper wrapper (2nd pix)) and then housed in a paper box (1st pix).  You can also buy them in a 5 box pack where you can get 5 pieces in a bigger box.  This tea, as I write this blog, is easily available especially on the internet.  It is also inexpensive about us$6 per piece, freight inclusive (I had bought 5 pieces).

The description on the box claims that this is a high quality selected tea with a good and prolong aftertaste.  Yunnan sourcing (which sells tea on the internet) describes this tea as "This is the one of the highest grade premium ripe teas released by Menghai tea factory for the year 2008!  It is also the first release of this mini iron cake which is called "Red Rhyme" (Hong Yun 红韵).    This collectable mini tea cake is composed of grade 3 and higher leaves, all smaller leaf fermented material with plenty of flavor to give up when brewed".

Observations - tea is well packed with a paper wrapper and housed in a box. This, for the tea collector,makes storage of the tea a breeze.  The tea cake is tightly compressed and I had to use my large swiss army knife to split the cake in half.  I could then break the cake, by hand, into 12 pieces for storage.   I could make 10 infusions (after discarding the 1st 2 infusions) for drinking.  Tea is not bitter with a  pleasant characteristic ripe pu erh fragrance.  I find the taste of the tea nicer, when the tea had cooled down to room temperature.  Well the tea brews well, and you must keep your 1st few infusions of the tea short....about 5-10 seconds (your preference).  It is a tasty tea but  my thoughts on this tea are that because this is a new tea (manufactured oct '08), the potential of this tea may /would be better after a few years of storage.

One advantage of buying this tea, well for me because its  a small cake(100g), and the size allows me to finish the cake in about 12 brews and I can move on  to try other cakes.  I have allocated 4 ripe pu erh containers in my tea cupboard. and I will only opened another ripe pu erh when one of the containers are empty.  At this moment, my 4 ripe pu erh I am drinking are, 07' haiwan lao cha tou, '07 loose royal pu erh I had purchased during my latest visit to Kunming, '02 cnnp, and this '08 menghai.  

One other strong advantage of buying this tea on the internet is  to fill your tea order in terms of weight, to the nearest kg.  You must remember that the postage on your order of tea is based on weight. Example -when you have made an order of tea and it weights 1.7kg,  you can add a couple of these pieces of this tea, or any other tea to make your order's weight within 2 kg, without incurring additional postage charges.

Would I buy this tea again?  to drink now - no because this quality tea has potential to be better after a few years of proper ageing  .  But for storage and filling up the weight for a tea order - this presently inexpensive 100g menghai tea - yes.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Straits Chinese Porcelain teacups

Straits Chinese porcelain is an overglazed enameled porcelain, made in Jingdezhen China from 1900s to 1960s , for the exclusive use of the Straits Chinese community (aka peranakans) found in Malaysia and Singapore. 


Common characteristics of this porcelain include peonies and phoenixes.  You may also see insects, and on the borders of most straits chinese porcelain, auspicious chinese symbols.  These porcelain comes in a myriad of colors from white, green, yellow, pink, coral reds and even blue.


The pictures attached are straits chinese teacups.  These teacups are used for weddings or birthdays.  In the 1st pix, this elaborate teacup comes in a beautiful combination of color and design.  You will observe a phoenix in flight amidst poeny flowers.  Notice the border patterns on the exterior rim of the cup. This very rare teacup, which I had the opportunity to purchased as one pair, is so elaborate that the interior of the teacup is also decorated.  The 2nd pix shows the interior of the teacup decorated with the flowers of the 4 seasons.  The 3rd pix is another teacup with a stylized phoenix in flight on a pink background.  Some of these teacups come with a lid (gaiwan style – see pix of my blog 27 jan ’09)


The lasts 2 pictures are illustrations from 2 books namely, “Peranakan Chinese porcelain” by Kee Ming Yuet and “Straits Chinese porcelain” by Ho Wing Meng. 

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tea may reduce stroke risk

Drinking green or oolong tea consistently is linked to a significantly lower risk of Ischaemic stroke due to reduced blood flow to the brain.

Ischaemic stroke occurs when oxygen-delivering arteries in the brain become partially or completely blocked reducing the blood flow to the brain. Previous research has suggested that tea or its components might reduce high blood pressure and other risk factors.

To ascertain the relationship between drinking tea and risk of ischaemic stroke, researchers studied the tea drinking habits of 838 Chinese men and women, aged around 70 years. Information on frequency and duration of tea drinking, quantity of dried tea leaves, and types of tea consumed, together with habitual diet and lifestyle characteristics, was obtained from participants using a questionnaire.

Of all, 374 participants had a medically confirmed ischaemic stroke, and 464 (the "control" group) had no history of cardiovascular disease or medical conditions that raised their risk of stroke. The stroke group had a higher occurrence of elevated blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. The control group reported higher fruit and vegetable intake and a longer duration of tea drinking. 

The researchers also took into account gender, body mass, level of education, lifelong physical activity, smoking, alcohol intake, the presence of high blood pressure, cholesterol level, diabetes, and diet.

Those who reported drinking at least one cup of tea per week for more than 30 years had a 60 percent lower risk of ischaemic stroke. Those who drank more than 2 cups of tea daily had about a 40 percent lower risk of such strokes. The risks were even lower in those who drank green or oolong tea, a traditional Chinese tea. Those who drank green or oolong tea had 72 and 79 percent lower risk for ischaemic stroke, respectively. Using more tea leaves was associated with a 73 percent reduced risk of stroke.

The above findings are consistent with previous research from Japan that drinking tea cuts stroke risk. However, further investigations are needed to ascertain whether tea consumption can enhance survival of stroke patients.


Article from 28 Jul ‘09