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Sunday, May 30, 2010

O-Cha Kagoshima Shincha Yukata Midori

Yukata Midori/ YM for short is definitely a classic O-Cha offering, and I can not wait to taste this Shincha. I am an affiliate of O-cha because I like their teas and feel Kevin did a great job introducing a wide variety of Japanese teas to the English speaking market. I almost feel without him peoples exposure too Japanese greens would be limited almost to a more regional type setting. Not to mention the fact that I love the massive amount of information provided on the web page of each tea.

Yukata Midori Shincha leaf

Wow this has a wonderful aroma, it is actually so very very sweet, it smells almost like a candy. The taste while mellow is nice and round with hints of hearty grains, and nuts, but its also got the natural sweetness of a carrot.

Yukata Midori Shincha Color

It feels good to be back into a more regular life style for now, and today I'm rather over indulging on tea, in the past 3 hours, I've had Matcha, and I'm on my second Shincha. (I felt in a rather Japanese tea mood today).

With a cat roaming the grounds,
the birds sound alarm.
Drink the tea with the moment,
and enjoy life for its subtle charm.
--Adam Yusko.

Green Tea - For Your Health
green tea

Friday, May 28, 2010

O-Cha Kirameki Asamushi Shincha

Ao Teb's
Now that it is basically summer, I can fully embrace spring. It has been hectic starting with finals, and working its way through Graduation. But I now own a very expensive piece of paper, and am moving on with my life.

I have been looking forward to trying this tea ever since I ordered it, and the wait was quite long as it arrived at my house about 3 weeks ago, but I only arrived here on Tuesday evening.

I do not know what made me more anxious to try this tea, the fact that I have a new Hagi Kyusu which only works well with Asamushi sencha, or the fact that this tea is quite talked about from repeat O-cha customers.

The first time I had this tea it did not disappoint, and I am hoping it will not today either.

Kirameki Leaf
The dry leaf smells potent, almost grassy and slightly nutty. I do not think the picture will do the first infuions color justice, its clear but almost toxic green in color (at least it appears that way in the blue cup). The aroma is quite nice nutty and buttery.

I went a little ligher on leaf this time, and it is still good. I recommend going heavy on the leaf if you want a very strong umami profile, but at a .6g per oz its like a refreshing soup with hints of umami and dare I say bok choy?

There are teas I try and say I want to order again, though part of this blog is about tea exploration, so I often try many different teas (though I do have favorite vendors), but as such I do not think I have ever placed an order for the same tea twice, but this is definitely on a buy list for next year.

Kirameki Brew

The green grass is constantly growing,
while the days still have the cooling breeze.
Summer is quickly approaching,
but we welcome it with fresh spring teas.
-- Adam Yusko

Green Tea - For Your Health
green tea

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bulang, Lao Man Er

Well I'm anxiously awaiting the release of Spring Semester grades, so I decided to pass the time while working through more Puerh Regions. It was nice and rainy yesterday and quite cloudy today, a good day for puerh in my opinion (or just about all teas).

Both of these are the Zhi Ming Du offerings.


5.8g 60ml gaiwan.

Initially in the aroma I notice the powdery floral almost tropical aroma puerh is known for this one is a bit more on a powdery side of things. The taste is decidedly like a mild citrus but rather smooth.

When making this one a bit stronger it comes out a bit on the unpleasant side, more so than is typical with a puerh in my mind.

Lao Man Er

5.3g 60ml gaiwan

Mmmm, this one is much more on the floral side with the aroma, with hints of fruits, but really no sign of the powder I pick up in other young shengs. With this I have to say that a taste is definitely there, but it seems much more ephemeral as if always on the edge of perception with it hard to pull into the center and concentrate on it.

I'll be the first to admit, I'm not as good with young sheng as some people, and I am starting to feel it I think another one or two would be trouble so I'll cap it off at 2 today.

I would consider these two cakes rather different, and I'm not really sure which I prefer as they are both completely different. But in terms of casual brewing the Lao Man Er never really got unpleasant with longer steeps.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Revisit 1996 Chung Cha #7432

I revisited this tea here. I found it much better than I remember it, but from the first infusion I gather that it really was the same tea, and it was only through changing my brewing drastically that it really settled down and was quite nice for me.

That being said, lesson learned, never be scared to change out of typical brewing parameters for a certain type of tea.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What is Chao Zhou style Gong Fu?

A long time ago I did a post on this, but now I feel I know a bit more and can elaborate a bit, so I decided to put together a step by step with pictures.

As always when brewing this consider how many people you are serving when taking into account the size of the pot you are going to us. I am using a 1 oz cup for myself, so I am using a 60 ml yixing, which will produce slightly more than the cup can hold (do not worry that is not a problem).

So materials:

  • Enough cups for everyone.
  • A yixing pot or gaiwan that is paired at about 25 ml in size per half ounce cup.
  • One or two faircups (one if you are using a teapot, two if you are using a gaiwan).
  • A high roast oolong, typically High fire TGY.

  1. Crush enough of the tea leaves to fill 1/3 of the yixing or gaiwan. Note do not crush as in mortar and pestle, but crush by hand till you get small broken bits, a bit of a step up from fannings. For this step I like to use a gaiwan to crush just because it gives a firm surface that I can push the tea against with my thumb. Some prefer to crush in their hands, but depending on the tea that can leave your hand feeling rather raw. (I have had some hard as rock High fire TGY).crushed leaf
  2. Repeat the process for nearly another third of the pot, but crush it a lot less, try and get medium sized pieces.
  3. Finally fill the rest of the gaiwan or yixing to about 80-90% full with full leaves. And, yes this method does use quite a large amount of tea!Full Pot
  4. This is the hard part, you want to steep the tea so that it is very dark in color and very strong, think 30+ seconds first infusion. And for subsequent steeps you want to get identical brews. Typically going for 4 identical infusions.infusion
  5. When pouring with a yixing pot have the cups arranged close together and preferably in a circle so you can go around and around and around till all cups are evenly distributed. With a Gaiwan it is easier to pour into a faircup then repeat the process. Any excess should go into the other fair cup to be saved for later.
  6. After those are over, drink the cold excess infusions in the other fair cup, there should really only be enough for one or two cups.

You are supposed to be done after 4 identical infusions, but should you feel uncertain about using that much leaf for only four infusions go a head and steep the rest of the tea out, though this is not considered part of Chao Zhou Gong fu.

This method produces an amazing brew, that my friend has likened to the Turkish coffee of the tea world.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Things Expected, short and long term.

A stuck drip of tea

First of I apologize about the lack of posts, I actually have not written anything for this blog in quite some time, and the only reason it hasn't seemed like that long is I actually was quite productive and had several posts lined up ahead of time.

But Finals exams are as always rather trying. But now that they are basically over and that leaves much more time for tea.

So things to look forward to:

  • A continuation of me working through all my young puerhs to do series of comparisons.
  • Many more Shincha reviews.
  • At least one more Wuyi Yancha.

I will be entering Grad School This upcoming fall, and we will have to take that as it comes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Mandarins Tea Room 1960's ShuiXian

This is the second time I have had a tea from the 1960's the first one was a Loose Leaf Puerh from The Essence of tea, this time it is from Toki at The Mandarins Tea Room. And this tea marks the last day of classes for a rather long year, and my last day of classes at my Undergraduate University.

The dry leaves smell more like Puerh than anything else, but its got the distinct Wuyi aroma to it assuring me this is actually Wuyi. It smells more like dried nuts, think Almonds and Walnuts, than anything else.

Dry leaves in a wet and warm pot produces a much stronger aroma, that is similar to tree bark.

With the first infusion I do not know whether to be impressed or dissipointed strictly based on the clarity. Clarity is something I started looking for in tea, and well this tea is exceptional clarity when you consider its from the 60's and a wuyi's first infusion. That being said it has the worst clarity of any of Toki's teas.

The only way I can describe the aroma is heavenly. Fruit and nuts and hints of much much more. For a 5 second infusion this is quite tasty, though I prefer my flavors more overt. The finish though is nothing but overt, full on wuyi roast.

Many more great infusions came out of this tea.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tea Blog Carnival -- Favorite Piece of Teaware

The Association of Tea bloggers have decided to start doing a blog Carnival. I have seen such things done on Math blogs, and apparently they are somewhat well known in other blogging circles but to our knowledge the tea blogging community has never organized one. The Main post is found here.

So the topic for this series of posts is:

"What is your favorite piece of teaware and why?"

A rather unsatisfactory answer, but rather true is, the latest Teaware acquired. As it is newest thing in your collection you are enamored with it, and you find its quirks appealing rather than trouble some. So as of writing this first part on April 17th. My latest piece of teaware acquired is Zhu Ni Yixing tea pot, which has been featured in this post.

But lets face it, I have a site The Hagi Project in which I mainly catalog my Hagi Yaki collection. So I would be lying if I said that my "favorite child" is not a piece of Hagi yaki. I hate to say that around my Yixing, or Lins Kettle, but the way Hagi change and feel. The fact that they seem to be border line alive.

The Hardest question is: Which Hagi piece is my favorite?

This is hard, as I really like Tebineri (pinch work) pieces, and Oni-hagi pieces. Oni-hagi is extra coarse clay, often with large noticeable, pieces of sand.

Tebineri pieces feel amazing in hand, and due to the pinch work nature, they tend to be a bit more unique and different than typical hand made pottery pieces. I know all hand made ceramics are unique, but the fact that masters artists can make hundreds of pieces that look rather similar, when using a pottery wheel. It seems when pinch work is done the piece is more organic in nature. While the pieces will look similar, when examining them with your hand you get to know and feel the soul of the piece.

Seigan Ao Tebineri Closeup

I like Oni-hagi pieces for reasons that are much harder to explain. Sometimes Oni-hagi clay can cause interesting effects to occur in the glaze. That and the fact that it seems to make the piece more likely to leak/weep, makes the piece feel live.


That being said, what is my favorite piece of Hagi-yaki? From what I said it seems a pinch work Oni-hagi piece would be ideal, but I do not know if I have ever seen one of those, it seems that combination is just not done.

So my favorite piece of teaware is my Noutomi Choun Hohin. Though sadly it is the hardest to actually capture its true essence in a photograph. But it feels absolutely amazing in hand, to match. This piece also looks rather alien in its appearance.

Choun Hohin

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