Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pink Dayi

Pink Dayi??

Take out your Dayi (aka Taetea) tea reference books…….there is purple dayi, silver, gold and even rose dayi, but no pink dayi.

This is what I was told by a Malaysian Dayi tea dealer and a few Dayi tea collector friends. This pink dayi was produced around 2002/03 and was a special order for a Taiwanese tea shop. This teashop had requested that this special order tea was to be sent 'naked' when the tea was produced and shipped to Taiwan. 'Naked' here means the tea cakes are shipped without the paper wrappers that you normally see on most pu erh tea cakes and bricks. I was told that the Taiwanese shop had produced their own wrappers and wanted to wrap the tea under their house brand wrappers. Conclusion - this is just a one-off special order tea for a tea shop.

I bought some pink Dayi. They were without wrappers. No, I did not buy this tea because of its nudity but rather I liked the tea after sampling this tea. Over the past weeks (after opening this cake), I noticed that when I wanted a raw pu erh session, I tend to reach out for this tea and when I have a session of this tea…. it was a 'quickie' session, in that I finished my 6-7 infusions quite quickly.

This tea brew strong. It has the characteristic Menghai Tea factory (Dayi) taste in the initial tea infusions. It is also slightly bitter. This tea aroma changes very nicely every 2 infusions, from hay and lumber wood aroma, to  floral and herbal to sweet sugarcane aromas. And this tea gave me the 'sauna' session. Profuse sweating from the middle infusions. I hardly sweat when I drink Chinese tea and this was a rare event. Nice cool feeling after the tea session.

So….buy the tea you like. Pink dayi? Naked tea? I am loving it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Moleskine Tea Journal

I am a supporter of Moleskine products.  In fact my family are using the 'Moleskine diary'. My daughters who are still in school found the 18 month diary very useful as it starts from July to the following year. My kids would technically start using the diary  from their 1st day of university in July jotting down datelines or any event they needed to attend.  Yes, I know that our smartphones could do these functions well…..perhaps maybe it is an old habit that my family had not fully let go.

Moleskine came out with a 'Tea Journal'.  The binding is impressive; leather-like with teapot images decorated on the covers.  Moleskine also came out with a series of hobby journals like beer, coffee, gardening, dog, cat, restaurant and travel journals.  There are many other hobbies journals and Moleskine is hoping to reach out to a wider audience.  

I purchased this  'Tea Journal' last month.  This journal
had included information on history of tea, tea types, brewing and vocabulary on tea.  It had even had tabulated sections where one can record (or review) a tea, tea shop, recipes and key in your tea collection.  There were also 202 labels to 'personalize your journal'.

However, there are some things I did not like about this 'Tea Journal'
a)  it is obvious that this journal was a rushed job.  Some material on tea was incorrect and a little hilarious, to me at times.  Here are a few funny errors:

"The highest-grade oolongs of all are 'Monkey Picked' oolongs.  Legendarily, monkeys were trained to climb high up into the tea tree to pick the youngest leaves."

"Chesty - Having the smell or aftertaste from the wooden chest in which the tea was packed"

b)  The printing of the material was extremely faint and it could have been better.

My overall impression of this 'Tea Journal' is fairly good.  Do check it out when you see this journal on sale in stores.  


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Buying A Used Teapot

Why would you want a used teapot? Or even buy one?  Perhaps you have a certain teapot collection and are trying to fill the 'holes' in your collection, whether the teapot was made by a particular artist, or you are collecting a certain shape/color of teapots or maybe you heard the teapot calling out 'buy me, buy me!'.

I bought and owned a few used teapots.  The teapot in the 1st pix was purchased last month.  Its a big one (guessing about 320ml).  The clay used was the reason…. and it is so shiny.  The teapot in the 2nd/3rd pix was purchased 5 years ago at a teashop in Kunming.  This teapot was used while I sampled a ripe pu erh tea there.  I had purchased some tea there and I asked whether the teapot was for sale....and it was.  

I am no teapot expert and I am not willing to pay high prices for my teapots.  I had seen many teapots (some of them newly made) for sale from US$500-$5000.  You can imagine the careful handling of such teapots if you use them to brew your tea.  I am sure you can visualize the anguish if that teapot was to meet with an accident. 

During my tea sessions with my tea groups both locally and abroad, I gathered some pointers about buying, using and cleaning used teapots.  These pointers may not necessarily be correct so I hope my readers can share their thoughts on these points :

a)  When you are buying a used teapot, make sure it is a used teapot.  This is not a joke.  There are teapots for sale that looks like a used teapot but these teapots are 'deliberately' stained to resemble a used teapot.  Some of these teapots may have been immersed in tea for weeks or, I have heard, buried in the ground to recreate the 'buried treasure' appearance.  There a a few pointers that may help you when you are thinking to buy a used teapot.  Pix 4 and 5 shows one of my teapots.  I had used a pen to point at 2 areas of a teapot;  the area under the lid and under the spout.  You will noticed that there are prominent tea stains in these 2 areas where I had pointed.  Serious teapot users will tell you that used teapots will have certain tea stains that indicate the teapot was well used for brewing tea.  These 2 areas will be more stained ( as well as a kind of staining pattern) than other areas of the teapot. As I said…this is one of the things you look out for, in addition to other aspects, when you are examining a used teapot.  

b)  Using a used teapot.  It is ideal when you know the tea that was dedicated for that teapot.  This would allow you to continue using the teapot for brewing that particular tea.  The big teapot in the 1st pix was used for traditional roasted oolong while the 2nd teapot was for ripe puerh.  I had continued using these teapots for the same purpose.  Chinese teapot users I know, swear by the 'better tea' brewed from a seasoned teapot.  They claimed the tea is more rounded and more smooth.  This could be due to the tea patina in the teapot.  Maybe its the old clay, or maybe it could be just a psychological belief.

c)  Cleaning or resetting a teapot.  You may want to clean-out a teapot.  Perhaps it is badly stained or you may want to use the teapot for another tea.  The teapot in the last 2 pictures is a 'whitish' ben-shan clay teapot.  I was told with frequent use of the teapot, the teapot will develop a beautiful stain on its surface.  If I can remember who told me that…..I will boil him in a pot of tea.  The stains looked awful and I decided to reset this teapot.  I used a new scouring pad (those used for washing pans or dishes) and gave the surface of the teapot a good scrubbing under running water for about 10-15 min.  You can see the results are quite good.  I will give it another few more minutes of scrubbing on the inside and outside of the teapot.  I did not use any chemicals or detergent, though I know a few teapot collectors using a bit of toothpaste when they reset their teapots.  To complete the cleaning, I will boil the teapot in a pot of hot water for 30 mins and the teapot is ready for use. 

d)  Seasoning a teapot.  This is how I season a teapot (new or reset) :
- wash the teapot under running water. Use a soft toothbrush to brush the inside of the teapot.
-  immerse the teapot (separate the lid) in a pot of water and put it to a slow boil for about 30 min to 1 hour.  You may want to put a small piece of cloth below the teapot if you worry about the teapot moving within the pot.  It is believed that boiling removes any smell or residue in the teapot.
-  once the water has cooled, remove the teapot and wash it under running water.
-  Brew a tea with the teapot (4-5 infusions) but discard the tea. Wash and rinse the teapot after use.
- your teapot is ready

These are a few pointers I had learnt and used in regards to used teapots.  I would appreciate if you can share your thoughts with me.  Thank you in advance.