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Friday, April 29, 2011

A break in the race and Highfire TGY

Highfired TGY

Life is a race in which sometimes you sprint, other times jog or even walk. Lately for me it has been much more of a sprint, but I will say the thing I love about tea is the fact that it is a wonderful time out from the race so to speak. Granted if I had items A, B, and C to do before I started tea I still have to do them later, but I am refreshed and energized to tackle the net set of items. I have lately taken to having tea while sitting cross legged on a cushion, for as long as I possibly can, something about this is quite nice relaxing, in a way that I almost feel brings me closer to the tea that I am drinking.

Highfire TGY has been consistently in my cups recently, and one of which is pictured above. This is in part due to a purchase of some tea and the inclusion of many samples from another tea lover. The most interesting thing about this is the samples came from places that I really have no way to order from, but give an interesting perspective on some teas that can be found outside the western oriented vendors. Most notable are two picked up in Hong Kong, and it confirmed at least one suspicion I had about teas in Asia. That being while there is for the most part a wider variety of teas available they are in no way shape far superior or inferior to those that can be ordered online. Pricing may be another issue, and due to this I am considering possibly taking my chances with Taobao on a few items sometime in the future.

Spring term is now over, making for a much lighter summer, as I am not teaching and only taking 1 class for half the summer. This is both wonderful and somewhat frightening at the same time, the former a bit more obvious, the later due to the fact that before one can begin working on a Doctoral dissertation in mathematics, they must first pass exams in certain areas of mathematics which test for a "basic" proficiency of the concepts in each of the exams fields. Basic is used in a bit of an awkward fashion, as it tests for understanding of the material in those fields that is needed to give one such a thorough grounding in those areas that they could potentially start to do research in those fields, and could have little problem teaching Undergraduate classes in those area's. So the end of the spring term is somewhat ominous due to the fact that I have my first such exam in less than a month.

This summer should bring much more tea, and more time to go about experimenting on ways I can improve and enjoy my tea even more.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Coffee Shops and Tea

Mid Day Hong Cha

This past week I was getting a cup of coffee with a sandwich at a shop on campus, and while waiting in line I noticed they had quite a bit of tea on hand for sale. I frequent this shop somewhat often, and staring at this tea selection it occurred to me that I have never chose to try tea from this place, even though I consider myself predominantly a tea drinker and only frequent coffee shops when I need a caffeine pick me up in a hurry in a to go container.

The thing that struck me the most about their tea selection, was how I was practically repulsed by it. Perhaps I am slightly turning into a tea snob, but when I read the names of green teas, and black teas, that offer no real clue at what is in side, and many of the names hint at the blend likely containing some fruit, I do not really want to try it. Then I consider the fact that no matter which tea I order basically no care would put into brewing it. No attention paid to water temperature and likely the water would come from the same hot water reservoir that they use for the espresso machines which is potentially slightly altered by its proximity to coffee.

Now I have nothing against tea bags, or the fact that coffee shops want to sell tea, I just find it funny that I rarely see a tea shop that sells coffee, likely because they do not want to compromise their tea with the strong penetrating coffee aroma's, yet coffee shops just about always sell tea but rarely do it justice.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Choosing Teacups

Hakeme Daisen Yunomi with Sencha

It is often said that tea is best presented in a cup with a white Interior. Consider the picture above, in which the Yunomi holds green tea, but the color does not seem to stand out, and almost looks a bit of a repulsive brownish yellow color of stale green tea.

I would like to outline why I both accept and deny the concept that tea should only be presented in a cup with a white interior and talk about when it is okay to ignore that "rule."
The pro's of a White interior:
  1. You have a well defined base color of which you can use to reference the actual color of the tea.
  2. Using that base color you can see the density in the color of the tea, i.e. how the color changes close to the edge where the tea is thinner.
  3. Easy to know if it is clean or dirty.
But white is also boring, so while it should be viewed as a golden standard for a teacup for any sort of tea. Though different colored interiors can do wonders for different types of teas. For example consider how wonderful this tea looks simply because it is held in a cup with a blue interior:
A stuck drip of tea

So while blue interiors do wonders for green teas, making their slightly more natural yellow colors come across as bright vibrant green. It seems darker colored teas look good in a wider variety of cups with interior colors. That is because they tend to be much more opaque and less likely to have the interior color create an off appearance with the color of the tea.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What will this years harvests bring

This post might have fit better for a New years post, but the fact that the Spring Harvests season for many teas is just kicking off, it seems an appropriate time for this post anyway. But each year seems to bring all sorts of new surprises in my tea journey, most of which are quite unexpected. Such as last year I had no idea I would fall in love with Korean teas, and discover a love of Chinese Hong Cha late in the year.

But in terms of completely untouched territory I think I am running out of well known area's, I could take the plunge into Taiwanese Oolongs. But what is more likely, is this year will likely be full of me returning to old favorites, as I largely neglected Yancha last year. Either way I always look forward to trying teas I have yet to try, along with repurchasing old favorites.

A few things I made notes of for this year, is I do not want to get so caught up in the Shincha frenzy, and can honestly see myself getting very little Shincha compared to last year, as I do not want to have stock well into September again. I may or may not try a fresh Chinese Green. But I will definitely try and find a new harvest Korean Green to enjoy.

Doo Mool Korean Green

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