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.