Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Buying Tea in San Francisco Chinatown

I had a family vacation last year and we went to the USA in summer. It was a memorable trip with highlights like Vegas (buying a special deal where you can dine at a number of restaurants, unlimited food for 24hrs), Disneyland, Santa Monica beach as well as my fav city, San Francisco.

I like Frisco for number of reasons; wharfs, Sausalito, cable cars, steep hills, Mechanics Institute Chess room, great food and Chinatown. Chinatown here looked like old streets of Hong Kong. I saw stalls literally overflowing with fresh produce and everyone there was speaking Cantonese. It was really strange but the atmosphere captured the essence of an old Chinese street community. My family was delighted that the food here was pretty authentic in cooking style and it was a surprise that we had our most inexpensive meals there during our trip.

I had time to explore the shops, even stepping into a couple of grocery shops in Chinatown and snagging some pu erh. It was inexpensive. The $8.99 tea cake was a Hong Kong pu erh cake by Hung Cheung Tai Tea Co, while the $9.50 tea brick was by China Tutsu (aka CNNP). Both were ripe pu erh tea.

CNNP is a well known pu erh tea factory and this brick did not disappoint. I found the tea earthly and aromatic. I estimate the age of this tea to be around 3-5 years old. The Frisco humidity would have helped aged this tea. Pretty good, in my opinion.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the USA. One of my fav artists, Norman Rockwell painted a wonderful family reunion dinner. I wish all my American friends and readers a happy thanksgiving.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Malaysia Tea Expo 2015

This year's Malaysia tea expo was held from 12-16 Nov 2105 in the exhibition hall at Viva Mall, Kuala Lumpur.  I was on a business trip in Malaysia and I managed to squeezed out a few hours visiting the tea expo on the 1st day.  

Noticed the large bamboo baskets in pix 2.  These are the basket sizes that was used to shipped liu bao tea from China to Malaysia.  Tea in these baskets would weigh up to 30kg or more.  Some of these baskets were stored for many years (up to 40 years) in Malaysia.  The liu bao tea had naturally fermented over time and today these Liu Bao tea had became a famous Malaysian tea that is sought by tea drinkers around the world.

The last 2 pix was taken by my good tea buddy friend, Mr James Ong.  James is my 'turn to' contact for tea in Malaysia.  His in depth knowledge of Malaysian tea and his willingness to share his findings makes him an invaluable friend to have. Pix 4 shows James, having a personalized tuo cha made for him at the Xiaguan booth.  The last pix shows some of my tea drinking buddies in Malaysia.

But I digress…..My Ipoh tea expert friend in Ipoh Malaysia pointed out some errors in my previous Liu Bao tea blog.  She mentioned that traditionally made Liu Bao tea is actually black tea, normally  pressed into baskets and left to ferment naturally.  I had written in my previous blog that that was a forced fermentation during production before the tea is exported.  Thank you Su, for the clarification.  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

80s Liu Bao Tea - Hengxian Tea Factory

I was in Guangzhou last week and made time to meet my tea drinking group during one afternoon.  One of the tea buddy had bought an 80s liu bao tea to our tea drinking session.

This liu bao tea was made in the 80s and I think it was meant for export outside China.  There was, on the box, a panel in English explaining liu bao tea.  My tea buddies told me, that during the 70s and 80s, liu bao tea was the main staple tea for the Guangdong and Hong Kong tea drinkers.  Pu erh tea only gained popularity from the early 90s.   

Liu Bao tea is a black tea that is fermented for 2-3 months (like shou/ripe pu erh) before it is packed for sale.  Larger quantities of liu bao are also packed in large bamboo baskets weighing up to 25kg and some of these baskets even found their way to Ipoh, Malaysia for the Chinese workers who were working the tin mines there.  

Back to this tea.  This liu bao was manufactured by Hengxian Tea Factory.  This tea is very aromatic and there was a pronounced woody scent in the tea.  Very mellow and smooth, the tea easily brewed up more than 10 good infusions.  

You will have noticed from the pix that there are different teacups in this tea drinking session.  My friends and I normally have our own teacups when we meet for tea.  And… teacup is the biggest one.  I must remember to bring a smaller one next time.

Monday, November 2, 2015

JDX Teashop - Kepong Outlet

I was on a business trip last month and I had managed to squeeze one afternoon in Kuala Lumpur to meet my old tea buddy Auhckw for lunch. As we were in the Kepong vicinity, Auhckw bought me to JDX teashop, the first distributor of Taetea (we tea drinkers call this brand 'Dayi') in Malaysia.

This very big teashop is now transformed into a Taetea showroom. It is massive - a Dayi wonderland. It's much bigger than the Dayi shops I had visited in Guangzhou. I would recommend a visit for any Dayi tea drinker or collector if you are in Malaysia and get your Dayi tea refills here.

Dayi tea is very popular among Malaysian tea collectors. Many Dayi tea friends I know, actually invest by buying cartons of Dayi tea and selling them for a tidy profit when the prices of their tea appreciates. I know that some of these older Dayi tea are re-exported back to China as well. One of the main reasons is that the year-round  hot and humid climate of Malaysia is conducive to pu erh storage and many tea drinkers think that a pu erh tea cake stored in Malaysia ages twice as fast than a same tea stored in China.

Well I am happy that I am living in this region and I can easily have my fill of Malaysian stored tea.

Address of the JDX teashop in Kepong:
44, Block C, Vista Magna, Jalan Prima, Metro Prima (Jalan Kepong), 52100, Kuala Lumpur, WP Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia