Saturday, January 28, 2012

2006 Yuan Rui Chang Ripe Pu erh

I had included this 2006 ripe pu erh in my latest order from Yunnan Sourcing last month.  This inexpensive cake was described as "Made from medium to coarse grade leaves from Menghai area fermented material.  2005 fermentation material, and pressed in 2006.  Stored in Kunming for more than 5 years already.  Similar to a 8592 blend except without the smattering of tippy leaves on the face of the cake.  Nice burgundy liquor both bright and clear!  Taste is clean, sweet and smooth, with a camphor aroma."

This 357g cake was very aromatic when I unwrap the tea cake.  The cake looked darker than most ripe cakes I had recently consumed and the compression was not too high, in that I could break the tea cake apart, with my hands, for storing the tea in a container.  I like such lighter compression tea cakes/bricks as it does not result in lots of tea dust when the cake is broken up.  

I have to disagree with the description on the cake provided by Yunnan Sourcing.  I found a strong aromatic boiled beans scent and did not detect any camphor scent on the cake.  This boiled beans scent is quite pleasant and I found that the tea tasted better when you brew with less leaves.  I normally use about 8-10g for a 200ml teapot but this tea tasted better with 6-7g.  There is a mildly sweet aftertaste as well.  For those ripe tea drinkers who are looking for that boiled beans aroma.......this is a good candidate for your consideration.  Inexpensive too.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year

All Chinese will celebrate the Lunar New Year on 23 Jan 2012.  Based on the Chinese Zodiac calendar, this is the year of the dragon.  A dragon year is popular among the Chinese to have babies, as the dragon is deemed to be a strong and powerful symbol. And yes, you will see all Chinese homes celebrating the festive new year with lots of food, goodies, fire crackers and red packets.  

For the Chinese tea drinker like myself, you would have realized that the prices of tea, especially the new harvest, are more expensive.  Higher demand as well as higher production costs had driven up the prices of raw commodities which include tea.  I forsee higher prices for 2012 teas as well. At least I console myself that my pu erh tea stash, which I overspent, is enough to last me for a long long time.   

For myself, I am drinking lots of ripe pu erh and am starting to explore raw (sheng) pu erh.  I am starting my raw pu erh adventures with a focus of those pu erh with a smoky scent in them.  Somehow, right now, I feel that the additional smoky scent do enhance the overall raw pu erh brewing session.  

I intend to go visit China and Malaysia this year explore the tea scene there.  I had made many tea friends from these regions and I look forward again to having "tea-jamming" sessions with them.  

The 2nd pix shows a 1997 yiwu raw tea sold in Malaysia.  Yes the tea cake looks really worn but in my personal opinion, this particular tea stand outs as a very impressive tea in terms of taste, aroma, woodsmoke, woody camphor and sandalwood notes and a very pleasant herbal-sweet and satisfying aftertaste.  Its really very good and very expensive.

I wish all readers every happiness and good health.  Time to brew a pot of tea.  Happy Chinese New Year.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Malaysian Tea Purchase

I took my family to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the last week of 2011.  We had a good time trawling the malls and eating all the Krispy Creme doughnuts almost on a daily basis (its not available in Singapore...yet).

I took one afternoon to meet my teapal, Chua (aka auhckw) while my family caught a movie in one of the huge shopping malls in the city.  Chua is very popular in tea forums and is a serious tea and teapot collector.  This time, he took me to a couple of teashops trying out the teas on offer as well as meeting his tea buddies, who were 'hardcore' tea collector enthusiasts as well.  

I was at JDX Tea Distributors Sdn Bhd, the popular teashop which is also the distributor for Menghai Dayi tea (known as Taetea).  I got to sample the special boxed edition of the 2010 Dayi "tien ren ba pu", a raw pu erh cake commemorating the Beijing Opera.  The unique woodsmoke and the aroma of this tea, made me buy a cake immediately.  This tea is really nice.

Yes, from the last pix, you would have deduced that I had carried back close to 5kg of tea home from Malaysia.  I had also purchased a tong of the 2010 Gold Dayi.  My tea buddy, Auhckw, was very generous giving me an old 2000 raw tuo and a pack of the Xiaguan iron cakes (pix 3).  He also gave me many Dayi ripe samples as well.  I am very grateful for his generosity.   I intend to visit him again, real soon, to experience his immense generosity again.  

I will write about the teashops in Malaysia as well as the tea drinkers and collectors there.  Stay tuned. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2008 Xiaguan FT Happy Tuo 100g

I bought this 2008 Xiaguan happy tuo with much anticipation of the happiness that comes when I brew a teapot of this tea.  The term "FT" which you see sold on some Xiaguan tea products, refers to the collaboration between a Taiwan 'Fei Tai' business, together with Xiaguan, that exported pu erh tea from China to Taiwan.  I heard rumors that FT Xiaguan pu erh use a better grade tea which may explain the higher prices.  I will be ordering and drinking a bit more of these teas and I will give you my thoughts on this rumor.

This 100g tuo is raw pu erh.  The compression of the tea is tight and this time, I use a shorter pu erh pick to break the tuo.  A shorter pick, in my opinion, is easier to manage and break open a tuo as the pick would not easily slide out and cause an accident.  

This tea is very pleasant and nice.  Compared to the 2007 Xiaguan teji tuo (13 dec 2011 blog), I felt this tea is slightly more robust.  Like the teji tuo, this FT tuo has that pleasant sweet flowery bouquet aroma.  Most importantly, this tuo has a nice smoky scent when I brew this tea.  This combination of woodsmoke and the nice fresh aroma does makes this drink a happy experience.  There was the slightest hint of sweetness in the pleasant aftertaste.   I also found that the tea taste better when drunk hot or warm.  I did not like this tea when it has cooled down to room temperature and I would heat the tea again before drinking ( yes, many of you readers will frown on my reheating the tea, especially in a microwave.....give me your thoughts)

Overall, this is a nice tea.  Not too expensive and Yunnan Sourcing has this tea on their site....I think about $5-6.  The wrapper and box looks really pretty and this tea would make a nice inclusion in your next online order.