Thursday, February 20, 2020

Xiaguan Iron Cake

I have been drinking about 2 sessions of tea per day.  At about 7g per tea session, that meant 14g per day.....and if its pu erh...and at this rate would imply more than 1 whole cake a month.  That is a lot of tea and I would like to advise my readers again not to have a tea session on an empty stomach as it may cause the stomach to produce more acid in your empty tummy.

Readers would know I use a plier to break up my iron cake. I found that I could easily get small chunks of tea and have less tea dust from using a plier. 

I thought iron cakes would take a long time to age compared to regular pu erh cakes due to their high compression.  I was however surprised when I open up this cake in my collection.  This 2007 cake when brewed, has a very dark amber colour and there is very good hints of aged taste in the tea.  This tea is fabulously complex in the taste.  There are hay and a honey notes.  I  felt there were nice herbal and Chinese medicinal herbs in the tea as well.  This tea is a strong workhorse.... I use lesser tea about 6g with a 120 ml teapot.  I allow longer infusions but I could get 15 strong infusions easily. 

Older Xiaguan iron cakes are still inexpensive but are now slightly harder to find in tea shops.  I recommend. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Better Cup Of Pu erh Tea

If you had been browsing the internet tea forums and videos on pu erh tea, you would had discovered (recently), that there are many recent articles on pu erh storage.  This is very useful to readers who are residing in temperate countries, where the humidity and temperature are much lower in winter, and these articles had suggested ways to mitigate and store your precious pu erh tea properly for the long term.

As I had mentioned many times, such efforts to age puerh tea, would be rewarding to the tea drinker or collector as aged pu erh tea would have a complexity in taste and aroma after time in storage.  

You would have also noticed that when there are reviews on puerh tea by tea experts, they would normally use a porcelain gaiwan than a Yixing teapot to assess the tea.  Using a porcelain gaiwan is considered a neutral tea ware to brew tea while using a Yixing teapot may affect the assessment of a tea. 

Is a Yixing teapot so magical that it affects the taste of a tea?  Maybe the teapot holds temperature better, the clay could have affected the tea or the tea patina of a seasoned teapot changed the taste of a tea.  

I had posed a question to a tea expert that reviews tea on the internet - if many of your followers (say more than 50%) had over time, transited from using a gaiwan to using a Yixing teapot, should you use a Yixing teapot (on more occasions) to review a tea?...or use a Yixing teapot when you are not reviewing a tea.  

Anyway, the pix above shows a pair of Yixing teapots.  I had bought (about 7 years ago) 4 similar teapots from a Yixing teapot enthusiast in China who had made these teapots from one batch of clay.  The teapot on the right is one of my frequently used teapot for the past 7 years.  I would use it for raw pu erh about 2-3 times a week.  This would suggest that I had more than 500 tea sessions (raw pu erh) using this teapot for these past few years.   I did a few raw pu erh tea comparisons with these teapots last month.  Tea from the seasoned teapot felt more mellow.  I had used newer and older raw pu erh in this test.  Maybe 'mellow' is the wrong word to use.  The pu erh tea, especially the newer ones tasted less astringent while the older pu erh tea has a slightly better mouthfeel in the taste.  These taste comparisons are actually quite subtle and it could be my imagination running wild. 

Does a Yixing teapot brew up a better cup of pu erh  tea?  Yes.