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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Missing Tea

Rock and Karatsu Lately I have been missing tea, I still drink it but no where as much as usual.  It is almost as though tea has been set aside for the weekends.  My schedule this semester is really bringing me down especially now that daylight savings has gone into effect.

While I would not say I am caffeine sensitive, it does interrupt my sleep if I consume it to late in the day, and as a rule of thumb I go by if the sun is up then I can have tea.  This is trouble some as now the sun sets before I even have my last class of the day 4 days of the week. So Mondays through Thursdays, are almost always days without tea, unless I decide to have a little bit of sencha or something lighter and start it as soon as I get home.

Thankfully we are getting close to winter break, which will lead to many days off which I can enjoy tea.  I almost wish I had some sort of Holiday tea tradition, but really just enjoying lots of good tea is a good enough tradition for me.

Do any of you have any holiday tea traditions?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thank goodness for my... corkscrew?

Of all the tools I ever thought I would use in making tea, one I never thought I would use, or be so eager to use given the situation as a corkscrew.  A little bit of background, I have already talked about this tea, but it was frustrating to get at it at that time, and when I picked it up again, it frustrated me even further.  The Tea I am referring to is none other than a Balhyocha Uricha.

As pictured this tea comes with a bunch of tiny twisted leaves grouped together into a ball.  Its the shape that makes this interesting, as I do not have a tuo pick (which may be ideal). and only a letter opener that I use as my Puerh knife as the only "picking tool" for undoing compressed tea.  This ball has no edges like Tuo chas which you can use to dig the knife into to remove the proper amount.  If I were to use my puerh knife for this, I would basically be splitting the ball in two, leading me to completely break the tea into pieces.

Bring in the cork screw, when frustrated with this tea, I was looking at items I had on hand, and I realized the leaves are not that tightly compressed but still enough to not be able to wiggle them loose, and the small point on the cork screw combined with the lever like aspect of twisting the cork screw works wonderfully for digging into the Uricha in small clusters, without mangling the leaves, and without completely dismantling the ball of Uricha.

I wish I had a tuo cha to test this on too.  Although I am slightly worried that the extra tight compression of a tuo cha, with the leaves not as thin and wiry might cause the leaves to break apart so much more than what happens with the Uricha.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Brewing a Bike is just like Riding a Tea...

I mean brewing a tea is just like riding a bike.  A long standing and overly used phrase in the United states for a skill that you do not easily forget is said to be just like riding a bike.  So while I still brew regularly lately as the weather has started to greatly cool off recently its definitely time for gyokuro.   But it has been roughly 8 months since I last brewed gyokuro. 

Choun Yame

When I first started brewing it again this fall, I was a little shaky, and while my first session was not stellar, (sorry Seth), it was far from bad.  But after brewing it two more times I can now brew it confidently once more, and really make some great tasting tea.  

I have found that with any tea I have gained some sort of proficiency in brewing, I can put it down for an extended length of time, then with minimal effort regain that proficiency.  Of course there may be a few botched brews, but that is to be expected.  Heck, even when I brew a tea quite often, I still mess up the occasional infusion, especially when I am not completely focused on the tea at hand.

Yame Gyo white out three

So now that I can wake up and start to find thick layers of frost coating everything out side, and the sun starts to call it quits before I even get to leave campus, it is definitely time to bring out our favorite cool weather teas again.  For me that mostly means Gyokuro and a plethora of Roasted oolongs.

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