Sunday, December 19, 2021

2021 To All The Tea I Drank Before


Yes, sing this phrase 'to all the tea I drank before' to the famous song 'To all the girls I loved before' and you would had realised you are now a hardcore Chinese tea drinker.  I had bought and drank some nice pu erh tea, within my budget, and I am happy my tea stash is more than enough till my next tea adventures abroad.

I recently had an online chat with my Guangzhou tea dealer friend and both of us agreed that the investment/ speculation aspect of pu erh tea had made both of us sit up and pay more attention to the pu erh tea prices.  

Yes, I buy buy and sell tea. My motivation for selling tea, which I started an online store few years ago, was simple. When I go for my tea adventures overseas, I would buy the tea I like and to get a good discount, I would buy a carton of that tea.  One carton of tea would take a long time to finish. Buying a few cartons every trip would add up, in terms of space, and I made the decision to keep a few tongs of tea from a carton and selling the remainder of the tea. This will free up space for me to get more tea and let my tea readers and buddies buy and drink some Singapore/ Malaysian storage tea.  My readers would had realised that the tea selection in my store is small and limited.  This is a hobby based business and I will continue to add more tea from my stash and from my tea adventures when I start travelling next year. 

My tea dealer friend and myself noticed many new pu erh tea that are now sold are not drunk.  These tea are kept to be resold for a a higher price.  This investment phenomena is not new but it seemed that the volume of these investment purchased is now more pronounced.  Common teas like Taetea 7542 is an example. People now buy the 7542 and store them away hoping to sell for a higher price,  Taetea realised this phenomena and raised its prices of their new 7542. The demand for the new tea remained strong (in spite of higher prices) and the tea continued to be bought up.  Xiaguan tea factory has joined this investment tea climate by producing Hong Yin and Banzhang limited edition cakes this year.  My tea dealer told me that most of the buyers of these new tea are investment buyers than drinkers.  Tea dealers had to ensure the cartons of such tea sold, must be in mint condition....any dents of damage to the unopened cartons are rejected by the buyers.  My tea dealer friend remarked there is no necessity now for buyers to sample the tea before a purchase of such tea.  

This uptick in pu erh tea investment is a worry as many of these investors do not appreciate or drink pu erh tea.  The main goal is to profit from reselling tea.  There is no concern on aging the tea.  It is a strong possibility these buyers are more focussed in maintaining the 'mint' condition of the unopened carton of tea.  Humidity and temperature may be adjusted to keep this 'mint' carton box and the tea may not age well inside the box.  

The entry of some many new 'investment' buyers had caused some anxiety in me.  Tea would be more expensive and may deter new Chinese tea drinkers to take up tea drinking as a hobby.  The last time Chinese tea was heavily speculated (around 2007) caused many losses to investors when tea prices fell and left a negative impact in the Chinese tea industry.   I should get a clearer picture of the tea markets when I travel next year and will let you know my findings. 

Till then, thank you 2021 and I look forward to 2022.  

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

2009 7542 903


Pu erh tea drinkers including myself love numbers.  We not only enjoy buying, drinking, storing our pu erh cakes, we even name our pu erh tea by numbers.  

Ask any pu drinkers to name popular pu erh tea and you will get and hear numbers like 7542, 7581, 7572, 8582 along with exotic names like Banzhang, Yiwu or brand names like Dayi and Xiaguan.

I just opened a popular pu erh tea cake - 2009 7542 903.  

These numbers meant - 

2009 - year of 2009

7542 - name of the pu erh tea cake

903 - third production batch

All these numbers sound so scientific.  Yes, we tea drinkers are quite smart.  If you had noticed the World Chess Championship that is going on as I write this blog, one of the players actually brought a hot flask of tea on stage to drink while he analysed the chess moves.  I bet the tea is pu erh tea.

Back to this tea.  7542 is a very popular pu erh tea.  This tea was originally produced by Taetea (aka Dayi) tea factory. This tea rose to fame when a Hong Kong tea seller found a old batch of 1988 tea in his warehouse and found that the tea had aged to a very nice drink,  That tea was nicknamed '88 Qing'. 7542 tea became famous to this day.  Today a new 7542 cake commands more than $120 per cake.

I had kept this 7542 in my personal collection for more than 10 years.  This tea brewed up strong.  Non smoky, woody, notes of dried herbs.  There are still astringent notes.  Even though the tea is already 13 years old, I felt the tea would need another 5 more years of storage.  Though the tea brew is a nice dark amber colour, I felt the tea would be even better with more age. The are still some 'roughness' and some bitterness in the tea that need to be smoothen out with more time in storage.

I had sampled many 7542 post 2014 and there is a significant difference in the tea.  Many tea drinker friends and I felt that the newer 7542 had changed.  The processing of the tea is different. The new 7542 is lighter in taste.  There are fresh floral notes in the tea.  It is more drinkable to 'drink now'.  I am personally not sure how the newer 7542 will taste when you store it away for 12-15 years.  I had also observed that the newer 7542 are a good success for Dayi tea.  They had raised the prices of the new 7542 and most of these tea had sold out. However, my tea distributor friends had also observed that the newer 7542 though sold out are never drank.  The tea had now became an investment commodity.  Investors would buy cartons of these tea, keeping these tea away in its pristine condition, unopened carton and all, and selling the tea for a profit. Any dent or damaged to the unopened carton would meant a lower price for that particular tea.

It is unfortunate that many new tea now are expensive and many buyers treat the tea as an investment.  For tea drinkers like myself, tea should be enjoyed and be drunk.  Chinese tea is more than just tea bags and bubble tea.      


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Tea For One


Tea for One.

I had received a few questions about drinking tea for one much tea do I drink in one session and what is the size of the teapot or gaiwan used.

These questions are important as many of us brew and drink Chinese tea alone at home.

When I brew tea for just myself, I would normally use approx a 90 -100ml size teapot. I do use a gaiwan occasionally to brew my tea as well. Such a size, to me is good as it allows me to drink up to 6 to 8 infusions in one sitting.  It is a lot of tea as the tea may add up to half a litre (the tea leaves expands after every infusion) and I estimate the overall tea I drink would be close to half a litre.  

I normally go a quick double rinse with pu erh and once for oolong. I use boiling water for each infusion. 

Drinking 6-8 infusions of tea can be a leisurely affair for me. I would be reading the newspapers, check on my measly investment portfolio or listening to some music.  I normally finished my tea session within an hour.    

You would have noticed I used 2 teacups In the pix as each cup can accommodate 2-4 sips.  

You can also use a large teapot (about 500ml), add some tea leaves and boiling water and enjoy the tea like in a dim sum restaurant. 

I am thirsty.  


Sunday, November 7, 2021

2004 6 Famous Mountain Pu erh Yellow Label

There are many things I like about this tea.  This is a 357g pu erh cake produced by 6 Famous Mountain Tea Factory.  Stored in Singapore for more than 16 years, the hot and humid South East Asian climate had done much to help age this cake to a mature and sophisicated tea session.

The tea brews very strong. I could use less tea and yet get 10-12 dark amber infusions. Spicy, woody with a nice faint sweet aftertaste. The added complexity of the tea can be detected from a much subdued smoky camphor profile.  I will reach out for this tea on quiet afternoons, where I do my work while savouring every sip. 

I always believed that pu erh tea should be drank old and this tea had supported this thinking.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

1993 Y303 Oolong


This oolong is a 1993 production.  This tea was given a name - Y303.  This Chinese oolong was a special order for a Japanese beverage company. Packed in carton boxes of 18kg, this large consignment of tea was meant to be shipped from China to Yokohama, Japan, via Singapore.  However, the Japanese company that ordered the tea experienced financial difficulty (bankruptcy) and this tea was 'stuck' in Singapore before subsequently sold to a local tea merchant.  

This 28 year old tea is very smooth and mellow. The aroma is perfumed like with a sweet lingering aftertaste that stays in a mouth for about a minute. There is also a light mineral taste in the tea.  Smooth, mellow and sweet. Good for 6 to 8 infusions.  

 A vintage tea.  Happy days. 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The World Of Tea


You got the whole world in your hands.  My tea set up comprises of the following:

1.  Japan Nambu Tekki cast iron tetsubin kettle.

2.  Taiwan purion teapot. This teapot is sitting on a vintage Chinese porcelain plate where the owner had etched the family surname 'Lu" on the surface of the plate.

3.  Teacups; blue ones made In Frankfurt, Germany while the green ones are Korean celadon teacups.  

4. Coasters are made from rattan; handwoven in Lombok, Indonesia.

5.  Tea is a  2008 pu erh tea cake from Yiwu, Yunnan. This was a special order cake from teashop in Malaysia.  The teashop owner had even got his tea calligraphy friends to help design the wrapper of the tea cake.  Tea had been stored in Malaysia for more than 12 years. 

This is my adventure in every cup. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

De Hong Pu erh

This 100g small iron cake was made by a lesser known factory in De Hong, Yunnan.   There is no date on the brown paper wrapper and my guess, from the taste and aroma, would be slightly more than 10 years old.  

I call this pu erh - the peated whisky without the alcohol. I enjoy Scotland whisky and there is a type of whisky that is peated in aroma. This is due to the drying process where the distillery used peat and burn the peat to dry the barley. As a result, the alcohol distilled from the barley contains this smoky, peaty profile. This pu erh has a similar smoky peaty profile; smoky like burning embers, peaty, camphor and mint aroma, spiciness and a faint sweet aftertaste. 

Not for the faint hearted.  If you are not used to smoky pu erh, please belt up. You may like or not like the smoke but you will admit that the smokiness do add an extra dimension to a pu erh tea session.   If you enjoy peated whisky like me, this tea is up your alley.  

Monday, September 6, 2021

2004 Nan Qiao Tea Factory Raw Pu erh Cake


I chose a 2004 Nan Qiao raw pu er cake to refill my tea caddy last week.  Readers would now I have a few tea caddies specially dedicated for pu erh tea.  I have 3 caddies for raw and 2 caddies for Shou or ripe pu erh.  I believed that breaking up a cake, brick or tuo and storing the tea in tea caddies do bring out the taste and aroma of the tea. This time, 3 caddies need to be refilled and I am happy choosing the teas to put in them. 

This 2004 Nan Qiao cake is very strong in my opinion. This is not a tea to introduce to a new Chinese tea drinker.  This tea is strong with woody and herbal notes.  There is a nice woody taste with an oak-like wood aroma (like those oak cask notes in a Scotland single malt whisky).  There is a bitterness of herbs.  I had sat down for about 30-45 min to have a tea session of this tea and there was a mild sweatiness and intoxicating sensation which lasted a few minutes.  There is hardly any sweetness but the oily sensation in the tea was very good. Mouthwatering and the tea simply slides down the throat.  There are some seasoned tea drinkers that prefer a more floral and sweeter such tea like this Nan Qiao may not appeal to all pu erh tea drinkers. 

If you like being 'tea drunk' or 'in a state of stupor" from drinking tea... such tea would be a good choice.  

Monday, August 16, 2021

Kettles For Brewing Chinese Tea


No, I do not collect tea kettles. But I own about 8 tea kettles. Why talk or write about tea kettles?  Aren't these kettles used for boiling water?

Yes, kettles are used for boiling water.  People in some parts of the world boil water for baths.  Where there is no water heater in the house, pouring a kettle or two of boiling water into a pail or tub would make bathing a warmer experience.  People in many countries boil water to sterilise the water for drinking.  Today in modern urban cities, we boil water in kettles to make hot drinks.  There are also now hot water 'on tap' where electric appliances or water dispensers can fill your mug with hot water without any waiting time.

When it comes to brewing Chinese tea, many tea drinkers and teashops would use a kettle in the tea sessions.  Having a Chinese tea session, whether by yourself or with a group of friends, is a more deliberate affair.  Tea is brewed and drunk more slowly than just 'gulp and go'. Chinese tea is unique in that a serving of tea (in this sense like 7g of oolong or pu erh) can make several infusions.  There are differences in each infusions (ever so slightly).  Each cup of tea taste different in terms of taste and aroma.  This uniqueness is further seen, when you revisit or have another session or the same tea.  The tea would have aged and taste even slightly different.

Using a right kettle or tea ware can make a tea session better.  That's what I did, I own kettles and tea ware that would make the Chinese tea I am brewing better in taste and aroma....again ever so slightly. Many tea users who used a Japanese tetsubin (cast iron) claimed the water is more smooth and 'softer' in the mouth.  There are also Chinese tea enthusiasts that believed clay kettles made the tea more vivid, amplifying the taste and aroma of the tea. There is a teashop in Malaysia that use the Hario kettle.  This stainless steel kettle was designed for drip coffee where one can control the pour of the hot water.  I enjoy using the Hario kettle as the pouring looks and felt more deliberate.

Pix shows 3 kettles.  The clay kettle is a vintage. The cover rest loosely on the rim and will rattle when the water is boiling. It is like a whistling kettle. The Japanese tetsubin has an unusual 'brown soil' colour on the exterior. It holds slightly over a litre of water; suitable for 1-2 person tea session.  The stainless steel kettle is the Hario 'drip kettle'.  It is great fun to use. 

I would try to have one tea session a day.  It gives me a mini 'get away' session from the hustle and bustle of city living. A time to contemplate or dream or just rest for a few moments from daily work.  I am happy sipping the tea for a few blissful minutes.  

Monday, August 2, 2021

An Inexpensive Tea

Good tea does not mean that the tea has to be expensive. 

If you had been reading my blog, you would had known that I sometimes bring some old Sea Dyke tea to tea meet ups and gatherings with friends. A few of my tea friends had claimed to had accumulated vast knowledge on oolong appreciation, and more often than not, will often look down on oolong brands like Sea Dyke. labelling them as cheap, inferior supermarket teas.  I will usually not tell my friends much about the tea I had brought for such gatherings.....just brew the tea and enjoy the tea.  A few oolong 'experts' will often liked the Sea Dyke tea and they go into a state of disbelief when they found out that they had drank Sea Dyke.  Many of my friends were similarly also 'tricked' thinking my older Xiaguan iron cakes were very expensive old pu erh after a tasting session (old Xiaguan tea are getting expensive and now harder to find this past 2 years).

I just opened a 2010 Sea Dyke red tin Ti Kuan Yin.  Such tea by local law had to have a expiry date, in the case 2013; where the tea are allowed to be for sale for 3 years from production. This oolong was high roasted (the Sea Dyke shui hsien are heavy roasted ).  The aroma is pleasant, like a bouquet of dried flowers, almost perfume like. Smooth and pleasant.  The 11 years of storage had given the tea a mild aged taste as well.    Good for 6 infusions.  

This tea was easy to store.  I had just kept the tea in its original packaging and had kept it away for many years in my storeroom.  I would like to suggest that you buy a couple of tins every year for the next 10 years and you will a nice stash of old oolong to drink for the following 10 years.   

I like this tea. Inexpensive. Cheap and good.   

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Casual Tea Drinker


Over the past few months over emails, calls or small meet ups, I had asked my 'non serious tea drinking' friends what tea they were buying and drinking.  You will see a few of these answers below.  They are in no particular order. 

- earl grey, oolong, matcha tea ice-cream, lemon tea, bubble tea and Lipton tea.   

Matcha tea ice cream?  Yes, counted. I had 2 responses to matcha ice cream.  Anyway, as a reader, you would not be really surprised with these answers.   General tea drinking people would had drank such a selection at home, office or at an eatery.  I myself, do drink the above mentioned tea.  I would order the iced lemon tea concoction in small noodle shops in Hong Kong, matcha desserts in Kyoto and I enjoy chewing the tapioca balls from a bubble tea beverage.  

My casual tea drinking friends did not name pu erh, liu bao, long qing or other popular Chinese tea.  It would seem that the more serious Chinese tea drinkers are few and rare in between. One of my neighbours who works part time in a supermarket, noticed more coffee being sold this past year.  She even noticed more capsule coffee machines were being sold as well. I suppose working from home routines had seen a rise in sales of such coffee machines.  Yes, you need to be awake when working at home and a cuppa might be an answer to keep the eyelids open.  

For the 'serious' Chinese tea drinkers, working from home provides an opportunity to drink more tea and have 1-2 more sessions of tea in a day.  An oolong in the morning and even a pu erh in the afternoon. 

Do you buy more Chinese tea when you are working from home?  I suppose so.  You need to refill your stash, try something new or even buy a tea on impulse.  It is easy to buy.  Use a phone or laptop and you can complete a sale within a minute.  My family are very good at buying stuff on the internet (most of the purchases are non essentials)....from food, clothing and accessories, vitamin supplements, books and electronic stuff.  My kids told me that they earmarked the items they want and they would patiently wait for a sale or promotion to go on before they make a purchase, saving them 20% or more.  In China, 'singles day sale' is an important event where many buyers can get good discounts on their purchases. 'Black Friday' is an example of good sales in western countries.  I can imagine some shops doing very well during such sales promotions and have very quiet sales on normal days. 

I am looking very much to resume my tea travels and find out how the tea markets and tea dealers have managed their businesses during this past 2 years.     

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Small Jingdezhen Porcelain Tea Sets


I had assumed that these Chinese porcelain tea sets were more for decoration or display and not for brewing tea.  I was wrong when I saw these small sets in action during my tea adventures abroad.

These tea sets you see from the pictures are made in the late 80s in Jingdezhen province in China. Jingdezhen porcelain is much appreciated by porcelain collectors round the world and today, this area continues to make high grade porcelain products. 

These tea sets are small.  They comprise of a tea tray, a teapot and 4 cups.  The size of the tea pot is about 80ml with 20ml sized cups.  I have collected quite a bit of these sets and I was fortunate that most of these sets were in their unopened, unused factory cardboard boxes.  I have the red 'Wan Shou Wu Jiang' (aka longevity), rice porcelain, black 'million flower' as well as a gold phoenix and dragon set.  Many of these sets were primarily made for export and in my opinion, it is more difficult now to find them in pristine condition.  I kept them as these sets marked a moment in time for Chinese tea history.  Maybe I was hopelessly dreaming I could be a zillionaire when I sell them in my sunset years.  

Brewing tea in these small sets requires me to be more deliberate in a tea session.  I find myself slowing down to prevent spills or even accidents.  Drinking tea from small teacups is a 'refreshing' style. I could get 2 small sips or a small mouthful of tea per cup.  It takes a meticulous effort to appreciate the aroma and taste from each cup.  If you had observed me having a tea session, it will appear I was like a kid playing with a tea set but I do enjoy the slow deliberate style in brewing and drinking tea from such tea sets.  It is for me, a few quiet minutes of bliss.   

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

2018 Wuyistar Da Hong Pao


I had recently opened a 2018 tin of Wuyistar Da Hong Pao. This black tinned edition is packed with 125g of oolong. I like tinned oolong that are double lidded as it does keep the oolong dry and somewhat airtight. This would help prevent the oolong losing its aroma or going flat in the taste.

I had tried Wuyistar's tinned version of Shui Hsien oolong and I am pleased with the the tea. Wuyistar has quite a good following of oolong tea drinkers and they offer a wide range of oolong to cater to their customers.

This tea goes for around $30-36 depending on where this tea is sold in your region. Such tea are getting expensive that 1 kg of this tea would cost $280 (if $35 per 125g tin calculation is used). Perhaps this is one of the reasons why smaller teapots are used to brew such oolongs.

This oolong roast levels are high. There is a nice fragrant aroma that stays in your mouth after a cup of this tea.  There was a flowery finish in the aftertaste.  This Da Hong Pao does, after brewing 6 infusions, weaken in hurry. A very decent tea.  I personally prefer Wuyistar's canned offering of Lao Chong Shui Hsien as it offers a more punchy and vibrant taste and aroma. Do let me know your thoughts on the Wuyistar oolong cans.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Lao Cha Tou


Lau Cha Tou? What is that? Lao cha tou is actually ripe pu erh tea. During the manufacturing process of fermenting ripe pu erh tea. Some of the tea leaves clumped together and looked like tiny nuggets or pebbles. Tea manufacturers would collect these nuggets from their many ripe tea productions and pressed them into bricks when there is sufficient quantity of these lao cha tou. 

I had just opened a 2007 Haiwan Lao Cha Tou. This tea came compressed in a 500g brick. The Taetea (Dayi) version, for your information, comes in a 250g brick.   Notice the tiny clumps of tea in the brick. 

There are not much reviews or write up on this tea.  Why is that?  As I had stated, lao cha tou is produced and made for sale once the tea producer had enough of such tea to put up for sale. This would imply that the producer would need to collect the tea clumps from many ripe tea productions. Haiwan and Dayi, in my opinion, are 'big time' producers of ripe tea on a yearly basis and more often than not, most lau cha tou sold are invariably from these 2 sources. 

Pu erh purists hardly review such tea. You can conclude that this tea would have subtle variations in taste and aroma in the tea. Not surprising as lau cha tou is a collection of various ripe tea.  These subtle differences can be discerned from different production years or from different bricks from the same production to differences within each brew. It is this inconsistency that tea purists avoid doing a serious review of the tea. 

I like this tea for this very reason.  It is a tiny surprise in every cup. This 2007 brick is already 14 years old.  The tea is smooth and mellow. There is sweetness, toasty and herbal notes in every cup. There are differences but the taste and aroma but on the whole, the tea does average out to a very pleasant tea session. 

I am tempted to buy more lau cha tou when I see them for sale again......I really miss travelling for tea. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

2004 6 Famous Mountain Silver Bud Tuo


I had blogged about a 2004 6 Famous Mountain tea cake last month. This was a mellow and aged tea with lightest hint of smoke.  

Today's blog post is a tuo, also a 6 Famous Mountain production.  This is a 2004 vintage and is 100g in weight.  This raw pu erh tuo is composed of silver buds.  'Silver buds' is a term used by the pu erh industry to describe the use of very young pu erh leaves in the production of pu erh tea.   It would also suggest that the harvesting of these silver buds would be slightly more labour intensive, which in turn would explain for the slightly higher prices of 'silver bud' pu erh tea.

I am no expert in silver bud pu erh tea. This tuo's taste and aroma has a unique dried sweet berry taste and aroma with  light notes of freshly baked pastries.  Long and sweet aftertaste.  Quite addictive in that I finished the entire tuo in about a month. 

An Interesting tea. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Drainage Hole


I bought another tea tray.  Actually, Chinese tea drinkers would tell you you only need one tray.    This new acquisition  is visually quite unique. You see a stone tray to place your teapot and quite a wide space to position a few teacups and even a fairness cup. You will also notice, on the side of the tray where the teapot is, a knob like thing that is sticking out from the tray.  This is the drainage hole.

This drainage hole is where all the tea waste water will 'exit' when waste water is poured onto the tea tray.  I was supplied with quite a long plastic hose where I need to attached one end of the hose to the drainage hole and having the other end of the hose directed to a container or pail at the bottom leg of the table.  Users even use cable-tie to secure the hose to a leg of a table.  

You will often see such set up In a tea shop where Chinese tea is brewed all day long and the amount of tea waste water may be quite substantial. 

If you are brewing tea at home, you may not need to have a 'hose to pail' set up.  Reasons being that if you are brewing tea yourself, the amount of waste water may be minimal and you are better off using a tea waste bowl instead.  There are some teashops I had visited that do not use such set up either. They used a tea waste bowl, and are more deliberate in their tea brewing (more careful with less spills). They employ a tea towel to wipe off any water that is spilled onto the tea tray.   

I noticed there are now, very pretty tea waste bowls and they can even make nice conversation pieces when you are brewing tea with friends. 

I am interested to know to see my readers' tea brewing set up.  Do send pix to me and I will have a page to show off your setups.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Tea For The Special Occasion


Do you keep aside some tea for a special occasion? It could be a tea you especially like and this tea is now too expensive, hard to get or simply no longer available.

Many people celebrate milestones in their lives; like a birthday, graduation or buying a new eating or drinking something special.  It is common to see people popping a bottle of bubbly or having a party to celebrate such occasions.  

I keep some tea I liked for such occasions.  I would make a brew of these tea.  I do not consider these tea to be top grade or expensive tea  but I had purchased them some years ago and drinking these tea make me happy.  You will notice its not much tea.....I will simply replace them with some other tea when I have finished with this batch of special occasion tea. For me tea is meant to be appreciated and drank and not kept as a butterfly collection.   

Sunday, April 4, 2021

What A Difference 17 Years Make


As I turned on my Spotify to listen to 'What a difference a day makes' by Dinah Washington and at the same time typing out this blog entry (that's multitasking for me), I am drinking a 17 year old 6 famous mountain raw pu erh.

17 years of storage is quite a long time.  Things were quite different ....... we were younger and I believed things were more simple.  This raw cake was produced in 2004 by an old factory called 6 famous mountains. Located in the Menghai region of Yunnan, this factory is a well known among pu erh tea drinkers. 

I remember having a sample of this tea many years back and it did not leave any buying impression to me.  I found this tea again in Singapore and the sampling session this time was a treat.  With 17 years of storage under its belt, this tea is simply smooth, mellow and sweet.  There are complications in taste and aroma that is only achieved through very long term storage.  Herbal, spicy, Chinese medicinal and dried floral notes with an ever so slightly lingering whiff of smoke.  Quietly intoxicating.  I find myself finishing a session of this tea very quickly. 

What a difference 17 years make.   

Monday, March 15, 2021

Aluminium Tea Trays


There are Chinese tea drinkers I know that do not like aluminium tea trays.  It is either you like it or you don't. Negative comments include 'it is so metallic' (yes, aluminium is metallic), 'its so shiny', 'wood trays are more classy and traditional' to 'its too cheap looking'.  

I happen to use and own one round aluminium tea tray that I use weekly when I brew tea in the kitchen.....and I had been using it for almost 10 years. I had no issues with it except now that the tea stains are now quite difficult to remove. 

As you can see from the pix, I had actually lined the replacements for my current aluminium tea tray in the event it broke (which is unlikely). I got myself a similar round one and a rectangular version. Both lids are removable and are easy to maintain. They can be washed with detergent can easily be kept away. 

I have to agree that the wood and stone tea trays are visually more attractive. Wooden ones may have a limited life span as the wood joints may deteriorate after long contact with water. The hardier stone trays may be a hassle to stow away especially if you need the tea brewing space for other activities. 

You can even dispense with the use of a tea tray.  All you need is a bigger tea waste bowl and careful pouring of your water and you can have a happy tea session without a tea tray. 

Tea trays are not expensive and one tray would last you quite a long time. Are you using one?

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

How Do I Brew My Oolong ?


When I have an oolong session at home (usually alone), I will literally brew up 5 infusions; one brew a cup.  I might brew up a few more infusions when I had finished drinking the 1st 5 cups.

It is, to me, an easy way to enjoy my tea.  When I am reading or working on my laptop, having a few cups of tea beside me is a good keeps me seated than making one infusion at a time. I do drink the tea fast, about 15-20 minutes. An oolong, like the one in the pix is generally good for about 5-6 infusions before the tea weaken in a hurry.

It is quite similar for pu erh tea.  I brew 5-6 cups at a go, one infusion per cup and repeat this brew for the next 6-12 cups.  It is quite difficult to drink so much tea alone, so I do sometimes keep the later infusions in a vacuum flask where I can enjoy the tea later or when I am out for errands.  

When I am in Guangzhou buying tea, I do ask for a small sample (after I had tried the tea in the shop) on those tea I am interested in and I brew the tea back in the hotel room.  It is not easy to assess the tea in a room but it helps me a little before I make a buying decision.  I do bring along a flask during my travels and get the tea shop to pour a couple of infusions into the flask so I can continue to 'drink' the tea I had shortlisted to buy.  

Readers will know me that I do not describe a tea by each and every infusions but rather by initial and ending thoughts.  I enjoy the complications of a tea, the aging results of storage and the pleasant sensations after finishing a tea session. 

Time for tea.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Some Thoughts On Oolong storage

Storing your oolong would primarily depend on the roast levels of your oolong.  

1.  Lightly roasted oolong.  Some examples are Taiwan high mountain oolongs like Ali Shan oolong. I had also tried a very high grade (aka expensive ) Tie Kuan Yin from China which is also lightly roasted.  I liked these teas.  It has a refreshing quality, a nice bouquet of fresh flower aroma with a light lingering sweetness in the aftertaste.  

These tea are not meant for aging and need special attention in storing these tea.  Refrigeration is a commonly used to keep these tea.  I suspect the tea leaves may be placed in the freezer.  I had seen, when I was in the Guangzhou tea wholesale centres where high grade Long Qing tea was also kept in deep freezers to maintain the freshness of the tea.  

2.  Medium to high roasted oolong.  I recommend you store them in tea caddies.  The popular tinned versions are, to me, very nice oolongs and I keep them in their factory packed tins. Most of these tins are double lidded.  It is reasonable air tight. Many of these teas do well with age. They do not ferment like pu erh tea, rather oolong oxidised with time. Old high roasted oolong are very highly sought and are very expensive. Even the older canned versions can cost more than $100 per tin.

3. Specialty oolongs.  One of my fav specialty oolongs comes from Hong Kong. Its their 40-hr high roast oolong. The tea taste and aroma is a surprising caramel like. A super tea in my opinion. However, this tea is meant to be drank within a year as the roasted aroma will diminish significantly after a year.  Its a drink now tea.  In spite of its shorter life span, this is a popular tea among many oolong tea drinkers worldwide. I look forward to going to Hong Kong again to purchase this tea. I may consider freezing some of this tea when I return.