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Friday, July 30, 2010

Two 2010 Long Jing teas

Sometimes I feel certain things are contagious, as Brandon over at Wrong fu Cha introduced this double brew method for Long Jing. And having learned a lot from Brandon over the years even meeting him in person once, this sounded so interesting I thought I should give it a try.

These two 2010 Long Jings are both Pre-ming and were provided as samples from Chinese Cha dao on ebay.

Special Grade:
The leaves of the special grade are a bit larger and as such they emphasize the somewhat irregular shapes I heard were common this year due to abnormal weather conditions.

I must say this is quite unique, I have never had a Chinese green that was that smooth, yet so full of flavor. Perhaps its just the condition of my palate right now, but it was loaded with melon flavors, such as honey due, and cantaloupe. Coming from a pale green brew that looks more like I collected the due off of blades of grass.

What is rather interesting is in the third infusion it developed a bit of a sour taste, like that often found in a cherry.

1st grade:
The first grade tea when prepared this way, has a much stronger apple, and malt taste. In fact it reminds me quite a bit of some Belgian style beers I have had. Most noticably in how sweet this tea comes across.

From Chinese Tea

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gamnong Matcha

Gamnong Matcha 2

It looks like matcha, smells like matcha, but is from Korea? Again I do not know nearly enough about korean tea to explain just about anything about this tea. Though I think we can be assured that this is a remenant in a foreign country back to the powdered tea days of China. In fact one thing I've learned from The Way of Tea and many other tea writings, is that at one point in time basically all the tea consumed was powdered, after being pressed into cakes somewhat like puerh.

Gamnong Matcha 1

But that being said I am sure this is a Korean "matcha" after tasting it, After having one Korean tea two days in a row trying to refine my brewing, I am starting to think Koreans have a different taste than both the Japanese and Chinese. Whereas it is easy to get certain flavor profiles from just about every single Japanese tea, and they cross bounderies between types of Japanese tea, Korean teas seem to have a unique flavor profile which words escape me. I want to say biting, but that is not quite right.

Gamnong Matcha

It is almost as if with the tea leaf they can easily bring out certain characteristics of toasted grains. But one thing is for sure, I would be scared to attempt to produce Koicha from this matcha, as it is almost too intense made at regular strength.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hankook Organic Doo Mool Green tea

So I decided to make the leap into Korean tea's in part to go along with a Korean Tea book club sponsored by Mattcha that will be hosted on his blog. I figured I would be reading these books on Korean tea, I might as well try some of the tea that comes from the same country.

Doo Mool Korean Green 1

I have only had this tea from Hankook so far, and I did cave and order a korean tea set, while I a thrilled with everything I've gotten from them so far, I only wish they could post much better pictures of their products, as I was hesitant to order just about anything from them, though I know of know better place to get Korean tea.

Doo Mool Korean Green

The dry leaves have an almost nutty aroma, and look like a green twisted oolong, definitely processed in a completely different way than is normal for Chinese or Japanese teas.

The infusion is a beautiful color, and smells borderline grassy, nutty and grain like. It is odd how much this smells and tastes like a genmaicha, but it is also so incredibly creamy when brewing the initial infusions with lower temperature water.

This tea rather intrigues me but still completely baffles me. From the categories I know of Chinese and Japanese tea's, this tea seems to really fit into none of them especially neither called green. It seems to be a hybrid of Japanese and Chinese greens and Chinese Green oolongs.

A new Nation
provides a different taste
letting history unravel itself
in a cup of tea
just sip and listen,
admiring its beauty.
--Adam yusko

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Essence of Tea 2010 Mansai

EoT Mansai 2010

For those of you that happened to catch an earlier post on an Essence of Tea cake, I apologize. I always consider myself a supporter of Tea vendors, especially smaller tea vendors that really take the time to talk to their clientele. And the truth is I happened to get that cake because I asked specifically for it, but the owner David (Nada), is still not entirely sure if he is even going to be selling them due to their current condition. So him and I talked and I agreed I would pull the post currently, it was not a bad review, but it did little to inspire confidence as it was one of the first 2010 Essence of tea Reviews I've seen out on blogs.

But the current stance on that cake is that it is sick from processing, and we are eagerly waiting for it to recover.

Now onto the Mansai, it is from a region debated as to whether it belongs to China or Myanmar, and the leaves actually take quite a trek, which amounts in more broken leaves than you typically see from these types of cakes. But the compression was good, not to loose, but loose enough that you can work pieces free gently with your hands.

EoT Mansai Cake 2010

The first infusion shows what I thought I saw in the cake, either the long trip back to the village, or processing resulted int his tea being slightly more oxidized, the leaves still look fresh and green when brewed with just the slightest touches of reddish brown around some tips.

EoT Mansai 2010 Color

So while the brew is a touch more golden than the very picturesque yellow, the aroma sure is amazing, camphore and tobacco smoke, with a nice layer of fresh fruit behind that, but it is one of those aroma's that gives hope to the fact that this tea may just be very powerful.

It really does not disappoint if you are looking for power, I actually am using less leaves than I typically do and it is just as strong if not possibly stronger. The flavor is slightly spicy, and smoky, but it is a taste that I just want more and more and more. The finish is incredibly long, with a lasting bite, but everything in my mouth is feeling rather sweet just after drinking that first cup.

I was just checking his site, and he did post this cake for sale today, and I will stick to my usual way of trying this cake a few more times, but I might just order another to hold onto for a bit.

I will admit I have never tried a tobacco item in my life, but having had several cakes that people say has a strong influence of tobacco, I am thinking this cake might just have the strongest tobacco flavor I have ever encountered. And I haven't even sipped from the third infusion yet, and I am feeling a very strong effect from this tea. Wow!

Granted my teadrunken-ness might just be enhanced by my brand new Michael Coffee Cup complete with display stand, that I feel is the perfect size for puerh. I love new teaware!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What is Teadrunk?

I am not sure I have used the term teadrunk on my blog much, and I have no clue who actually coined the term, and I feel it means different things to different people. But I feel the term teadrunk is amazingly appropriate for several reasons I will list.

One it is an altered state of mind, which can be taken several different ways. When in a peaceful or familiar setting, being teadrunk will raise your awareness while calming you at the same time. Its really a great feeling and time seems to slow down. I also feel emotions get enhanced, so if you are happy you will be happier than you really have any reason to be (besides of course, the obvious fact that you just drank good tea).

Though the enhanced emotions can have a down side, as I tend to be a little anxious in public when I am alone or not with people I know, and should I venture out somewhere after having a lot of good tea, it can be a mess, in the sense that I know what I need to get done, and I want to get it done quickly. But when nervous and anxious it can lead to me almost being counter productive.

Two, it happens through drinking, and as the name implies drinking tea, so literally you are drunk on tea.

Three, tea can have different strengths, the term used to describe a teas strength at getting yourself teadrunk is in my mind the equivalent to often used, though hard to understand term Cha qi, or rather the life energy of the tea.

Four, Somedays it can take very little to put you over the edge, while other days it can take quite a bit.

So how does one get teadrunk? To everyone that brews western style, I am not sure it will be possible for you to experience, at least not without drinking 6 or 8 cups of very good tea. But the sure fire way is to brew good quality tea, and brew it strong. I sometimes note that a single session of Koicha can be enough to put me over the edge, and it often is. A general rule of thumb is aged teas tend to put forth more qi, than new teas, and High mountain or Old tree more than standard plantation, but really you drink enough of any tea and in my mind you should be able to get to some level of teadrunken-ness .

So I'll leave you with these parting words.

If you must get drunk, get teadrunk.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Yuuki-Cha Sayamakaori Shincha

I am sorry for the delay in tea reviews, I have been trying to finish up shincha I've had open for far to long due to vacation and the cold I came down with in June. So now that those are running dangerously low, I can start to open up shincha that has been stockpiled, and I literally mean stockpiled, as I have never had so much of a supply in one type of tea before.


The tea is a nice bright yellowish green with a very powerful aroma of fresh cut grass and steamed vegetables. Perhaps most surprising is the hints of cabbage coming through in the aroma.

I do not know if it is my fondness for Hagi yaki that makes this appealing to me, but I find it rather comforting and rustic, that when brewing Asamushi Sencha in Hagi yaki I usually get tiny little particles of leaf in the bottom of the cup. I know that bothers some people, but I absolutely love the simplicity of it, almost as if to show yes this brewed with real leaves!

This tea presents itself in a very nice manner, straight forward, clean and not trying to hide its identity. While there is no taste which jumps out at you, nor is it exceptionally broth like, but it asserts itself with a salad like flavor, that is cool and refreshing.

Sayamakaori Color

Temperatures drift even higher
letting old friends go unsteeped,
so I turn now to greener leaves.

--Adam Yusko

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2005 Changtai Yiwu Zheng Pin

2005 Changtai Yiwu Zhengpin wrapper
This cake is borderline mythical to me in several ways, and I have not even had it yet. Though I can not find the review Hobbes over at the half dipper reviewed a similar cake quite some time ago, and recently he has reviewed quite a bit of Changtai productions. But this is also mythical as it is also labeled "Yiwu!" Whether it is actually from Yiwu or not I have no guess but it is such a well known Puerh region that many fanatics go wild over.

2005 Chantai Yiwu Zhengpin

So Sad to say that only upon close inspection of the wrapper can you notice that despite the overall appearance of this wrapper being hand stamped it is in fact printed by a printer (a rather crude resolution one at that). But opening up the cake and it reveals a cake that is so loosely compressed its a miracle it hasn't completely fallen apart. I easily scraped off 5 grams just by rubbing my thumb up against the edge like I was trying to turn a page. The dry leaves smell a bit dull but amazingly sweet. While I have little experience with Puerh this age, somehow I feel this will yield a rather interesting broth.

The soup is a bit darker than I thought a 5 year old tea would produce as an amber orange. It actually smells a bit like oranges, but mostly Camphor, and bananas.

This is rather interesting, I have never had a tea that tasted such a perfect balance between young and aged. Its earthy, but sweet, and while it lets your mouth no it is there, there is no biting bitterness.

The soup in later infusions becomes incredibly syrupy, and almost like syrup as it just tastes sweeter and sweeter.


This tea was provided by China Cha Dao (formally Chinese Kung Fu Tea Art store), as payment for me writing some product descriptions for his site.

A thick cooling soup
The heat vanishes inside
A hot tea brings chills
--Adam Yusko

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Price of Tea

Is it worth it?

I have been toying with the idea of writing this post for quite some time, which I have been thinking about more and more lately. But tea is a commodity, and I may not have done spectacular in my basic economics class, but I learned that if there is a large enough group of people buying and selling in a market, the prices tend to stabilize to certain value, a perceived worth. Its in my opinion that in most realms of Tea and Teaware those values are pretty accurate when judging the piece of teaware or the tea.

This brings us to the fun part for us avid enthusiasts. We try and find those amazing deals, perhaps they may only be amazing for us, but we search for a tea that we absolutely love, for a price that seems like a bargain. Though that could be very challenging depending on tastes.

I've been drinking and ordering tea long enough that I know the oolongs I like tend to be on the expensive side, which is bad for my wallet, but I also know that without Chinese language skills it is a lot harder to find deals on Oolong tea's especially since they are a rather "in" type of tea right now.

But on the reverse side of the coin, I seem to have a different opinion of what I want to see in Sencha than the people determining quality. As at a larger traditional Japanese tea store, I can get a tea from them that I absolutely enjoy for 11 cents per gram. Which is doubly amazing as Sencha as a much smaller leaf to water ratio then I prefer with Oolongs.

What originally got me thinking of the whole price vs quality debate was actually teaware. I was always buying teaware within a certain price range, and it was only after I stepped outside that price range as a special rare treat to myself, did I realize that yes a cup that is double the price, can in fact be "nearly" twice as impressive when holding it in your hand. I say nearly because it is all in the eye of the beholder, that and I assume there has to be a bit of a diminishing return. For example, awhile ago Magokorodo had two Chawan that were sold for over three thousand dollars each. Granted while the Chawan looked amazing in pictures, and the pieces are often so much more impressive in person, I have a hard time believing that there is that much of a benefit either aesthetically, utility, or in tactility that would warrant such a high price tag.

I purposely ignored Puerh, so far, because my view of cooked puerh is you are paying for composted tea leaves. In terms of raw puerh, the aged stuff is really hard to classify as deal or not until you've had that particular cake or set of cakes, as storage can cause huge differences even in tea from the same batch. But Young Raw puerh if you love it possibly offers one of the best deals, sometimes even dipping to less than 10 cents per gram. Though you can also get into very high end Boutique cakes, I am drawing a blank but I think there is a Thousand year tree, that even though it is only a few years old is already demanding an incredibly hefty price tag.

So as I like to get a little bit of reader participation, where do you find your values with tea, or do you insist that there are no longer any real values in tea?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Yuuki-cha Honyama Shincha

Yuuki-cha has recieved a lot of bad press on Teachat lately, and I honestly hope the situation can be resolved as Yuuki-cha seems to offer a great deal of very appealing Japanese tea and teaware.

Honyama Leaves

I really must say the dry leaves both look and smell great. As this was only a sample of their tea that I got, I'm brewing it in my Hohin to cause the sample to last a bit longer.

The color is an amazingly clear yellowish green, with an amazingly fresh clean semi sweet aroma. For an organic tea, this is quite nice, mellow but complex, and presents itself quite well.

If you love teas that are a bit more subdued and not in your face, this tea is great. It also seems to have a very wide range of brewing parameters which still produce a very good brew.

Honyama infusion

It lasts as many infusions as you can expect to get out of a Sencha / Shincha, and while its never really in your face in longer infusions it does develop a bit more of a presence on your palate.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Not for the Feint of Heart

So going a bit over the top, and wanting to understand Matcha a little bit better, I decided to brew up three that are available to me in a side by side by side. One is a DoMatcha, Two are from Ippodo, Tancho-no-Mukashi, and Wakamatsu-no-Mukashi.

Three Matcha Powders

The Domatcha in the Jason Fasi chawan, has a really classic matcha aroma, of bitter chocolate and slightly chalky. But the taste leaves room to be desired, I'd almost call it sour.

The Tancho-no-Mukashi in the Ikkyuo Hagi chawan has what I'd almost say is a peanut butter and chocolate aroma, and goes down thick with a very grassy and chalky taste.

Wakamatsu-no-Mukashi in the beige hagi chawan honestly has no problem being the star of the show. Though I like the power in the Tancho, the Wakamatsu is just so pleasant the entire way through, its almost like drinking bliss, especially when made in Koicha fashion.

Three Matcha

Thursday, July 1, 2010

2009 Nannou Old Plantation Revisit

So I am really confused in terms of Puerh, I do not drink it as often as I feel I should (common with most teas), but at the same time puerh even though much more expensive now than I hear it was many years ago still offers some of the best deals on a gram per gram basis (at least for young sheng puerh).

White Flower on Corfu

But what really inspired this post is I hope The Essence of Tea (formally Nadacha) will soon be posting their 2010 cakes, which I personally can not really wait to try some. As his cakes are coming out soon, it also means that it has been roughly a year since I last reviewed this.

So Lets head to that post for the new comments.

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