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Monday, November 30, 2009

Fun Alliance Bi Lo Chun

First I should remark on how small these are, though they appear to be mostly whole leaves just tiny little buds of the plant. Upon opening the bag an amazing aroma of freshness filled the surrounding area. Its odd to say but the aroma of the dry leaves reminds me almost of anise.

Spring Snail

The Funny thing about this tea is the anise flavor is evident at nearly every single step, not that I'm complaining I like it well enough. Though I think the big thing about this tea is it has a long lasting finish which just holds onto many of the great flavors this tea has to offer.

Its very strong throughout two infusions and milder but still passable on the third. I might give a go for a fourth but we will see.

A seed of anxiety dwells inside my very core
spring snail taking root eagerly in the mighty Gaiwan
a gentle sniff and gleeful slurp and peace warms my center.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Has it already been over a year?

So a thought occurred to me today, to check when I started my blog. The very first post was a year and thirteen days ago. Mind you if you go back in history there are very few posts for a month or so, as I completely refocused the direction of my blog earlier this year and deleted many posts I felt did not fit in to the big picture of my blog.

So In that regard I have a little bit of advice for people just starting out, though I'm rather new in the area also, I think I would have had a very hard time getting this far without this advice.

It is very important once you start to realize what teas you like that you focus your taste on one or two categories. This in my mind leads you to form a good idea of quality. Such as lately I've been posting on Japanese teas, and I feel my experience with Yancha only leads to let me better dial in the Japanese greens and see them at their fullest potential.

Basically learning several teas in a great amount of detail lets you better understand every other tea you come accross. I feel without focusing on a small section of teas, its easy to get discouraged at the many options availible. And your stuck focusing on big picture differences, whereas if your consantly persuing similar teas you start to pick up on minute differences, and with time comes a vocabulary for describing those tastes.

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone in the United States.

O-Cha Oku Yutaka

This is a deep steamed, fukamushi sencha from shizouka. I'm giving my Hagiyaki a break, so I'm using these nice little cups my mother had picked up for my sisters previous birthday.

The aroma is very plesant. Though I need to establish a whole new set of terminology to differentiate these aromas. As this one is uniquely different and I want to say much more intense.

And the taste is nice and mellow with a nutty undertone.

I want to see what the second infusion of this looks like in these cups with white inside. As all sencha's especially fukamushi's have been producing an amazingly green second infusion, which is amazingly stunning in the Super Ao hagi.

Green Tea - For Your Health
green tea

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

O-Cha Yutaka Midori

So I'm breaking out of chinese tea right now, and venturing into Japanese greens. I've had limited experience with Japanese greens before and know that they can be really really good or really really bad, usually depending more on the person behind the teapot than anything else.

So This Yutaka Midori came in a Green Tea gift set, which I think is nice as it includes two of the tins Japanese tea lovers just love so much. Now this tea is 100% from Kagoshima, and deep steamed (Fukamushi).

Its aroma is something I've only really smelled from Japanese teas. Which is slightly nutty, but very grass and vegetal in nature. Its taste is on the divine side though. Springs playing soccer is all I can really say. Especially on those wet and rainy days. But in all honesty the taste is grassy, slightly sweet like fresh rain, and its finish is a lingering spinach note.

Yutaka Midori

In short I find this tea great, and my new hagi just completes the experience.

Super Ao ONI-HAGI, Sakazuki Hai

Green Tea - For Your Health
green tea

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tea and its embodiment of Nature

So most of you only know me through this blog, few of you know that I'm actually a hopeful mathematician. So last night and today I was at a conference at which I gave a talk. But the purpose of this post comes from the thoughts I had on the several hour drive home from the conference.

Driving through the mountains in Pennsylvania tonight, there was something in the air of the slightly moist leaves on a cool evening with sparse civilization around, perhaps a few burning fires. But for a solid half hour if not more of the trip, all I could smell was puerh tea. Now this is odd as I had not had some since my last post here, yet all I could smell and fantasize about was puerh tea.

I'm sure it was one of those flukes with sensory perception, but then I started thinking what was it I was picking up in the aroma? Decaying leaves, a wonderful earthy aroma, and a subtle hint of smoke possibly from a bonfire somewhere in the distance.

This caused me to think back on posts I have made, as I believe I said many times that Yancha makes me think of fall, whereas I believe I also said at least once that puerh is quite like fall. But pondering the differences, I realized yancha reminds me of stuff baked in fall, whereas puerh is the nature in the fall.

And I'm sure we all have ideas about what times of year certain teas remind us of. I have heard many times about green tea being a great symbol of spring. I do not know if thats from the freshness that green tea imparts or the fact that its usually released late spring, and spring is often anticipation for the upcoming release.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

1994 Menghai #8582

This tea already looking rather aged, and definitely more aged than the 96 which I thought was fairly dry stored. And the liquor on this one a nice brown color with hints of a redness to it.

1994 Menghai 8582

I'm brewing it in the 60 ml Zhuni pot, which although I liked it for aged oolong I think I prefer it for aged puerh more so. That and the fact that its hard to consistently find aged yancha in the west, whereas I know of several places I can go to to get quality aged puerh.

Its got a mild camphor aroma, with hints of spices, and its taste is equally spicy with a hint of mint like freshness to it. This tea has a slight bit of strength left but still a very pleasant taste.

The obscured drop

This tea when pushed has a great bit to it, which feels almost powdery afterwards.

This tea is quite long lasting, and good throughout its many infusions. I should note that the leaves are mostly mangled and from larger leaves. But still makes for a very tasty drink.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My thoughts on Yixing

Yancha Pot
Originally uploaded by Adam Yusko
This photo is of my yancha pot, and reflecting on my most used pot there are some remarks I want to make.

Many people ask questions about pairing a pot with a certain tea and what to look for when considering the pairing.

What I first want to say is Consider your tea habits and its probably only worth while to get a pot if it you drink that type of tea excessively. Or you wish to collect pots and you find that pot exceptionally alluring.

As for pairing with tea the best thing to do is brew several different types of tea in it. But Keep in mind the shape of the pot, if it is tall and narrow its going to be difficult to fit in long twisted leaves like yancha.

This pictured pot is my yancha pot, I like it as its low and flat and can fit leaves in it that are easily several inches long. It is also the pot that has been used the most, and I like how it has developed over these past several months.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jing Tea Shop Qi Lan

I must say I have one more wuyi to try from Jing tea shop, and so far I have been thrilled, I hope this one does not disappoint. But I'm already guessing it will not as the dry leaf aroma is very sweet like caramel with almost a woodsy hint to it also.

The unfurled leaf is the same huge leaf from The Tea Gallery's Hundred year tree. I pressed it in a book and now I have this little memento.

I should note that I'm boiling the water in my Lins Kettle which should probably be assumed for Aged Teas and Oolongs from now on. Possibly greens also. But I did not like what it did to young sheng one bit, it took away just about all life from it.

I know much has been said about harmony but in my wuyi experience, which on the scale of things is somewhat relative, I have a hard time finding Yancha's that are more balanced. I brewed this strong becaue I wanted strength, but at the same time its pleasantly sweet, but just biting enough to not be cast aside.

Shan Shui Cup

In later infusions the sweetness and bite merge together into a mollasses like taste, and with its color and way it sticks to your mouth I'd almost think I was drinking mollasses.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chinese Kung Fu Tea Arts 2009 Da Hong Pao

This is a small store I stumbled upon, and despite my hesitation on some of their older Yancha's possibly from the same source who I believe stored them in the same room they smoked. I was actually talking with him the other day regarding his business. He runs a store through ebay, and if you are in the market for a hand painted Gaiwan he is supposedly going to start carrying them in a partnership with another seller.

But while my conversation with him did not stray far from tea, he seemed very helpful to answer any questions I had about his products, but like any vendor he's trying to make a living so everything must be taken with a grain of salt.

Onto this tea... This tea already shows great promise as its lacking the cigarette smoke aroma and coming off rather sweet and fruity smelling.

The tea itself is very candy and floral smelling, while it tastes like a mixture of brown sugar and butter.

And I am completely sure my new Lins Ceramic Kettle is altering the water I even did a bit of a side by side taste test. And I am really enjoying this oolong, but I do not know if it is the oolong or the altered water, but I'm getting next to no astringency out of this, a bit of a sharpness but no bitter and drying astringency. This second infusion was rather creamy and cooked root vegetables.

All in all I like this tea, but there is little anything spectacular about it other than its sweetness. It is a standard wuyi not quite as complex as others, but perfect if you want to drink a nice smooth and gentle tea, with some flavor.

Monday, November 9, 2009

New teapot and 2001 DHP

Zhuni and Tea

Sometimes though a puzzle comes a great idea which turns out to be not only correct but surpasses even your initial hopes. I got this pot somewhat on a whim, as I liked its shape and I was sure I could find something that would work in it. Well when it arrived I was quite shocked at its size, 60 ml never looked quite so small before. But alas I was determined to figure something out.

So Aged oolongs tend to run on the smaller size as they are either rolled or somewhat decomposed slightly. The other possible idea I had for this pot was aged puerh but upon seeing it the idea off trying to cram even a large wuyi leaf let alone a large puerh leaf into this seemed laughable.

So while I admit I did not put this pot through rigourous tests I feel sastified in the Aged oolong approach or at least aged Wuyi Yancha. As I took my 60 ml gaiwan and brewed up an infusion, and poured half into this pot and half into my current wuyi pot. Now I love my wuyi pot and its shape just screams long twisted leaves.

But this tea I tried once before and it had a strong charred flavor, almost ash like like it was stored in a chain-smokers room. But perhaps the opening up of the many tiny little packets to let it acclimate to the surroundings helped also. I left one packet unopened to run a test at a later date seeing if the acclimation makes much of a difference.

But the new pot seemed to liven up the tea, there was still the heavy base note, but it covered the base note slightly and emphasized lighter flavors that were bogged down in my wuyi pot.

So as for this tea, It is from an ebay store "Chinese Kung Fu Tea Art Store." This tea is not my favorite but I think its somewhat of an acquired taste. Its somewhat fruity, in terms of fall fruits, but a very strong charcoal note, that sort of crys out for attention, and is hard to ignore.

But the good news is it lost the sensation of being around a chain smoker after less infusions now. (Still persistent in the first 1-3).

A teapot has a personality not unlike you and me
It learns, develops and grows to limitless possibilities,
A new life is devoted to tea, but not without its trials.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blending Tea...

I've always had mixed feelings on blends, and while I do enjoy a good Earl Grey or Irish Breakfast on occasion, I often feel that the sum of the parts is of lesser quality than each individually. But this has troubling interpretations when viewing it in light of certain teas.

I had the two Jing Tea shop Shui Xians left and together they had enough for one pot full. In retrospect I should have practiced with my small gaiwan as I've been a bit out of practice with my gaiwan. But I combined the two into my yixing and brewed. It is rather dissapointing to say the least, its like the characteristics that make each one unique are fighting with each other, and they do not come together elegantly.

I understand that there are blenders out there whose sole purpose is to produce consistent results, and avoid any unharmoneous results, but my view on blends holds the same for my view with Whiskey.

A blend is never as good as its components though ultimately easier to reproduce within a very small margin of error.

What does this mean with Tea?

Well in puerh it seems all mass marketed cakes are blends, in part as it is the only way to get such a massive quantity, so these and our breakfast blends will not taste much different ten years from now than they do now, bar any major environmental or industrial changes. But the question is do you want to be tasting the exact same tea for 10 years straight over many different production runs?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gaiwan got you down?

Big hands or tiny gaiwan?

Learning how to properly handle a gaiwan is rather difficult. So here is some advice for those starting out and learning their own technique. First things first, before leaf hits the gaiwan, first pratice gripping the gaiwan and pouring while keeping a good grip on both the gaiwan and the lid.

Once you are used to handling and holding the gaiwan, move on to icecubes and water. Why icecubes and water? Well simply put its easier to get burned then frost bitten. And you just have to think in analog that if the gaiwan is very cold where you are holding it it will be very hot holding it the same way brewing tea. So pratice pouring the water out of the gaiwan using ice cubes and water in the gaiwan a few times and try and have a steady flow, but somewhat minimal, as to not allow leaves out when pouring.

This is very important so you don't break your gaiwan, after praticing with ice water, warm it up in your hands and let it warm up slowly before adding hot water, as ceramics are prone to cracking when temperatures change to rapidly.

Gaiwans take pratice and in my mind really stress the gong fu like method to tea production, as it takes much more skill to use a gaiwan properly then to use a yixing pot.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jing Tea Shop Traditional Shui Xian

I am not sure which teas I have come to think of fall more when enjoying Puerh or Yancha (Rock Tea, wuyi mountain oolongs).

But this tea I seems to give a good representation of what a Shui Xian should be like when young. Sweet root vegetables with a decent bit of roasting. Something about this reminds of of Sweet Potatoes/ Yams.

I'm going to make this a short post, buy saying when brewed gong fu everything that happened in the head to head, a few posts back, holds except stronger and more pronounced. But a rather enjoyable tea.

Enticing aromas from a simple little tea cup.
How I would desire you to be forever steaming
with seasons progression is reflected in your spirit
--Adam Yusko

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