Wednesday, November 27, 2019

An Inexpensive Tinned Lung Ching brew

In my many years of tea adventures, I was told, or under the impression, or 'explained to me' that Lung Ching tea should be drank fresh.  Buy the spring harvest of 2019 in May or June and enjoy the tea.  Enjoy and appreciate the freshness of spring in the tea.  Refrigerate your Lung Ching to keep it fresh but try to finish the tea as soon as possible.  

When I visit Fangcun tea wholesale centre during the sale of freshly picked Lung Ching, I noticed the freshly harvested tea leaves were refrigerated (some in chest freezers) to keep the freshness and they were sold out within a month ( the better ones ).  The 'better ones' were expensive and 100g of the better grade can easily set you back at $100-$200.  And that's wholesale prices.  

I buy very small amounts of fresh Lung Ching tea every year and I enjoy the fresh, sweet and nutty taste of the tea.  

I noticed there are tinned Long Ching (and shrink wrapped ones as well) on the shelves of the Chinese tea section in Chinese department stores. The prices are very low about 10-20% of fresh Lung Ching.  I wondered who would drink this tea.

I was at such a local department store last week when I noticed an elderly gentlemen selecting a tin of Lung Ching and was about to pay for his tea.  I asked him whether he could tell me about tinned Lung Ching.  He replied, in Cantonese, that tinned Lung Ching ('Long Zeng' in Cantonese) was a much lower grade.   He had to use much more leaves for his tea session.  He told me he brewed this tea using a large mug, throw in some leaves and let it infuse for a few minutes before he drank the tea.   This method of brewing, also known as grandpa brewing is an easy way to enjoy a cup of tea.  He also told me that he kept the tin in a fridge after opening but  he would normally finish the entire tin within a month.  

I bought a tin.  125g of tea produced by Zhejiang Tea Group Co Ltd. This is a 4th grade tea.  The tin came double lidded and looked quite air tight.  

How is the tea?  Compared to newly harvested Lung Ching that I have drank, the aroma and taste of the tinned version is much subdued.  And...I had to add more tea leaves to my brew.  The tinned version is only good for 2 infusions.  

This would suggest this tea is not good.  No....It has the aroma and taste of Lung Ching and has that signature nuttiness in the tea.  The price of this tin is less than 10% of the fresh ones and I recommend you, the reader to try a tin if you like Lung Ching.  You would have to add more leaves and I recommend you 'grandpa' your tea.  Add leaves in a cup and put hot water. Allow tea to infuse for a few minutes and your tea is ready t drink.  

I used a large porcelain teapot and made one litre of the tinned Lung Ching.  I allowed the tea to cool and proceeded to chill the tea.  My family enjoyed this chilled Lung Ching while having a fried rice dinner. 

This tinned Lung Ching was a surprise too me.  For its price point, it is worth it.  This tea is much better than many Chinese tea bags in the market. 

To my American readers,  Happy Thanksgiving.  


Sunday, November 3, 2019

Buying Expensive Tea

This Rougui costs me $500 for a 500g pack.  This is to me, an expensive tea.  I could have used the money to buy a return air ticket to Guangzhou, maybe even adding a couple nights hotel stay if I had travelled during the low season.  I could also get myself a nice noise cancelling headphones, which will be extremely useful like if there was a crying baby in the airplane.  Yes, the money could be spent on so many other things.  

I would normally spent between $1-2 for a tea session for myself at home.  I use about 7-8 of pu erh (raw or ripe) and 5-6g of oolong per tea session.  Spending $2 for pu erh session would imply that the pu erh cake (357g) would had cost me about $100 (if I had broke the cake into 50 portions of 7g).  A $2 oolong tea session (5g) would mean a cost of $40 for 100g of oolong.  

Back to this rougui.  This tea is $1 per gram and $6 per tea session when I use 6g of this tea.  

When you buy an expensive tea, say 2-3 times more than what you normally pay, do not expect the tea to be 2-3 times more aromatic in terms of taste and aroma.  My regular oolong tea I drink normally can make 4-5 strong infusions and this rougui could also make 4-5 infusions (not 10-15).  When I pay more for an older tea, I am paying for the following reasons - a particular vintage, taste or aroma.  The tea may had reminded the drinker of a pleasant memory.  This rougui is not more tasty or aromatic.  It is slightly more smoother as it is old but I had purchased it for its finish.  This tea has a very light perfume finish and the aroma stays longer in the mouth for a few minutes after the tea session.  

When you buy an expensive tea, I can only give you an advice.  You must be able to try or sample the teas before your purchase.  You cannot depend on reviews, forums or opinions to make the purchase.  Every drinker’s taste preferences is different.  What I like, you may not like or agree.  The description of taste and aroma is different for everybody. You must know what you are buying as such purchases can be an expensive mistake.  Conduct a simple experiment......get a tea buddy to send you 2-3 packs of tea, just naming them sample1, sample2 and sample3, preferably one cheap and one slightly more expensive.   Brew and drink the tea and see whether you make a good tea connoisseur.  

Most importantly, we must be happy with our tea.  Good tea need not be expensive.