A Qing Dynasty Cup

•April 18, 2009 • 1 Comment

…acquired from Chaikhana Tea Culture

Through the years, this thick cup has smoothed and now accentuates the mellow and deep notes of tea. Such a quality naturally lends it to aged oolong – a category of tea where sweet and mellow flavors are desired. In its ~200yr lifespan, the cup has suffered some chips, but these have been thorougly stained by an ancient chinese person’s tea, and only add to the beauty of the cup. Like some of the best tea, this cup is finiky. With inadequate preheating, the thick ceramic will leach heat from the tea and trap flavors and aroma that are only coaxed out at high heat. However, with proper preheating, the cup will send waves of heat through the tea and release the high heat fragrance and taste.

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Another Epiphany…

•April 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

…this time regarding young sheng.

I previously thought that I couldn’t enjoy young sheng. I was able to brew it in such a way that minimized astringency, bitterness, harshness etc… but it just wasn’t as satisfying as say a yancha or aged pu erh. However, this all changed today.

What happened? I decided to brew the tea using very little leaves, long infusions, and thin cups. This method minimized the “heavy notes” and accentuated the “light notes”. The tea transformed from a jarring brew, to a lightweight let complex infusion.

A minor epiphany…

•March 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Like many other tea connoisseurs, Dan Cong is one tea I have struggled to brew. I never quite seem to get it right. First, my problem was one of extremes. The tea would¬† either come out too light, or unbearably bitter. Later, I eliminated the bitter problem, yet acquired another. Often, my tea would acquire a “food” quality… as if I was cooking the leaves like one would cook a vegetable. This problem seemed to stem from inadequate preheating – pouring water in a circle around the opening, swiftly in the opening, and over the lid solved the problem. Yet, I was still not satisfied. It felt as if I was pushing the tea to be something it couldn’t… turning something delicate into a robust chou zhou style infusion. Even more pressing, the aftertaste was much too shortlived. Today, I solved this problem.

How? It had nothing to do with the amount of leaf, infusion time, water temperature, etc… it was the fluidity of my pouring. By pouring too low, I was eliminating a crucial element – air. By pouring from high to low (still in the same circular pattern), I added bubbles to the tea and replaced the lost variable. No, this was not a hard and agitating blow, but rather a light and subtle introduction of oxygen. A simple change in technique transformed the liquor from a faux fruity reduction sauce, to distilled air in a cup. This introduction of air profoundly affected the nature of the tea. Now, dan cong reminds me of the scent of meadows, mountains, or orchards…. encapsulated.

A little experimentation can make a world of difference.

2005 black tea made w/ puerh leaves

•February 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So… I don’t normally prefer black tea, but this one is different from anyother black I’ve tried.

  1. it’s aged
  2. it’s made from pu erh leaves

How did the taste and smell differ from other black teas? I would describe it as similar to dian hong, but more vegetal and malty. Vegetal not in the gyokuro sense, but in the sense of a green young sheng or darjeeling. Also, it has notes of incense that you might find in a aged pu erh, but not in your typical black tea. Regardless of how long I infuse it for, it will not turn bitter.  The most interesting feature is the aroma left behind in the (still slightly wet) cup Рsweet tobacco w/ a hint of vanilla. The aftertaste and aroma left behind reflect young pu erh moreso than black tea.

The lasting huigan, gradually intensifying patience, and complex boquet seem to indicate that the tea is of a high quality (at least to my untrained palate).

cha hai… an electronic incarnation

•December 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment