Friday, November 23, 2018

2005 Changtai Bulang Raw Puerh Cake

2005 Changtai Bulang Raw Pu erh cake.  400g cake at $74.  18.5 cents/gram.

The above 'information' are used by tea reviewers to give the readers a summary overview of the cake that is being discussed.  

This information is good and is important to the reader.  You get to know the age of the tea and the tea factory that made the cake.  You can see that this cake is a 400g size.  And.... finally you get the price of the cake including a technical price per gram basis.  You can 'calculate' the costs per brew if you buying this cake.  If you are using 7g our session, you are looking at about $1.30 per brewing session.  

I think we can do more.  

When you buy pu erh tea, you are not only buying the tea, you are buying the storage.  

This 2005 Changtai is 13 years old.  This tea had been Malaysian stored for more than a dozen years.  This 13 years of storage should be an important feature in a assessment of this tea.  13 years of storage, in my opinion, is a pretty long time.  The tea would have some age in taste and aroma.  I would expect that the storage would comprise at least 40-50% in an overall assessment of the tea.  

And this 'assessment' is not easy.  There is the issue of different storage consideration.  This tea would taste and smell different under different storage conditions.  Such conditions would include different climate / countries where the tea is stored or even whether the tea cake is broken up and stored in a tea caddy or if the drinker chipped off a piece of tea to brew.  I myself find assessing a tea difficult.  When I sample a tea stored in Hong Kong, Kunming, Taiwan, Guangzhou, a same year Xiaguan tuo has considerable differences in taste and aroma.  It is not better or worse, but it is the result of the storage....and I would present the tea to the reader as it is.  I learnt / try to appreciate the tea and the respective storage.  It Is this uniqueness that should be appreciated and enjoyed.  The storage of pu erh tea should be / must be highlighted.  

Yes, my perceptions of the tea with regard to sweetness or bitterness or feel of the tea is subjective.  As a reader, you will also realise that your taste preferences are different and may change with time.  So I can only suggest - when you like a tea, it is a good tea.  And....a cheap tea can be a good tea.    A $1/g tea does not mean that it is 5 times more aromatic and tasty than a 20 cents/g tea.  For me, giving the reader the price per gram is just telling the reader how much a tea brew would cost to brew.  It does not indicate a bargain or quality.   Never use price to judge a tea.

But I digress. I would not mail out tea for about 2 weeks before Christmas.  No Haiwan spa for me this time as I will helping out in a poorer community in Vietnam.   If you are getting tea or exchanging tea with me during this time, please exercise some patience.  Thank you. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Things to improve a puerh tea session - Part 2

Continued from Part 1 - link

3.  'Xin' Cha -  this is the Chinese term for awakening your tea.  I believe that  pu erh tea needs awakening at certain times.  Let me explain.

a). you would have read from the tea forums that many pu erh tea drinkers that had bought tea online found that  their tea tasted better after letting the tea rest for 1-2 weeks. 
When your tea had travelled for many miles and spent some time flying by air before your order reached your doorstep, it might be possible that your tea went into a moment of 'hibernation' and needed time to stabilise. I cannot provide a scientific explanation for this phenomena, but many of my tea friends 'swore' that tea was better after some time of rest.

b) I also propose that you break up your cake, too or brick into small pieces and store your tea in a tea caddy for 2 weeks before you start on the tea.  
You can do simple inexpensive experiment where you break up half a cake of your tea and place the tea pieces in a tea caddy.  Do a comparison testing after 2 weeks.  I am also unable to provide a scientific explanation, but tea stored in a tea caddy is more aromatic and tasty compared if you break off a piece of tea and brew up the tea.  

4.  Attend or have a small group pu erh tea session.  Many of us are 'home alone' tea drinkers.  We tend to brew and drink tea at home.  It easy and comfortable to drink tea alone at home.  You choose your time and brew whatever tea you like, whatever way you like; gaiwan or teapot and no one will say anything.  You buy your tea on the internet from round the world and may even participate in tea forums giving your thoughts on the tea.  

But I recommend that you join or conduct small pu erh tea drinking groups.  It is fun to share your knowledge on tea and at the same time, actually get to 'socialise' literally.  You get to see the different interpretations of tea in terms of tea brewing, tasting and other stuff like storage.  Do a tea exchange.  Yes, tea can be appreciated alone but as a group it is just as fun.  It is sad that many of us are 'busy' in this present 4G society.  We have more friends and followers on the internet, but to have friends that sit right across a table is more meaningful, in my opinion. Yes, there will be many things you may be uncomfortable or disagree when you have a tea session with fellow tea friends.  It is all in good fun.  
Invite me to one of your tea sessions. Who knows I will really appear.  By the way. I intend to / hope to visit my Czech And Scottish tea friends real soon.  They do not know it yet.  

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Ipoh Leong Swee Sang (Bliss) Liu Bao Tea

A collector had put this bag of Liu Bao tea up for sale last month in Malaysia and I had an opportunity to sample this tea. 

This tea is the Ipoh Leong Swee Sang Liu Bao.  It came packed, all 40kg, in a thick white bag.  The available literature was that this tea was exported through Hong Kong to Malaysia in the 80s.  Such Liu Bao tea in the 80s was a popular tea among the Chinese tin mining community in Ipoh from the 30s to the early 80s when the tin mines was depleted.  Note the big pink neifei with the Chinese 'fu' character.

This tea has a nice medicinal aroma and taste in the initial infusions.  Good for more than a dozen infusions, this tea now is expensive and highly sought after.  

Pix 2 shows the tea in its 5 or 6th infusion.