24 November 2008

2003 Menghai Bulang Jing Pin

Some tea has its own story, and few stories are quite interesting. Today I drunk a five years old Jing Pin (Superb Product - 精品) by Menghai Tea Factory. It's a sheng pu-erh made from wild mao cha harvested in Bulang mountain range. The tea was sold by Hou De, and it was sold out very quick, within a day, despite the fact that it was limited to two or three beengs per customer and the price was quite high.

Few days later BearsBearsBears suggested, that the nei-fei on the beeng suggest, that this tea could be fake. Guang from HouDeAsianArt answered, so the beeng is probably authentic. I already ordered one, so I decided to keep my order and not to cancel it. And now I’m drinking the tea.

2003 Menghai Bulang Jing Pin

This tea certainly went through some not very-serious wet storage, probably in the first two years of its existence. That’s good, at least in my opinion, because it added a few years of age to the beeng without damaging it too much. The last three years it stayed in dry environment in Houston and then in Šamorín (yes, with me). The leaves are browner than on dry-stored beengs of same age. The dics is quite compact, I had hard time to loosen enough leaves without damaging them too much – the edges are a bit loose, but the center of the cake is xiaguanish hard.

The dry leaves give out very nice, warm smell of wood and grapes, I like the fragrance a lot. The first infusion is quite bitter, not really enjoyable, but in later infusions the tea quickly turns from bitter to sweet. In the second infusion fruitiness emerges, resembling the red grapes from the smell of the dry beeng, in late infusions the fruitiness is covered by woody notes and the slightly-aged taste, reminding me of the smell of cellars.

The tea is still young, the liquor is just very light orange, so there is enough place to develop more depths and complexity. The stamina of the tea is very good, surviving 10 infusions with ease, so there is a hope of turning it into something even better. Fake or not, I like this one.

21 November 2008

2006 Longyuan Yi Wu Aromatic Pu-Erh

The tea is dead. Not all the tea, but some of my tea already deceased. Last time I drunk some powerless mao cha and I found some similarities with this 2006 Longyuan Yi Wu Aromatic beeng. Now is the time to confirm my findings.

The beeng isn’t single region but is a blend of Yi Wu (third) and Jiang Cheng (two thirds) leaves. But why is it called Yi Wu Aromatic Beeng instead of Jiang Cheng Aromatic Beeng? This is the manifestation of true power of trademarks.

2006 Longyuan Hao Yi Wu

I purchased this beeng alongside some others when I decided to try various loosely compressed beengs, see if they are suitable for long term storage. The beeng itself is beautiful, loosely compressed with small leaves on the surface. But the clothing sometimes hides a hideous body, so it should not distract me.

I don’t enjoy this tea. The liquor is slight orange, but it smells like a chemical substance with smoky undertones. Taste a bit like hay. There is some aftertaste, but the liquor itself lacks the power, the ability to age, the qi.

I’m very upside down with this tea. It’s not nasty, yet it’s not very good or cheap. Two stars out of five, max. Drinkable, but not much more. Maybe some wetter storage may help, but with my wet storage disaster I cannot try it myself.

This tea is available from Yunnan Sourcing.

18 November 2008

2008 Spring Chun Cha

A lot is happening today. Slovakia, the country I’m from will loose its national currency Slovak Crown by January 1st 2009 – we will switch to Euro. And because I work in a company producing and distributing enterprise-wide information systems, we have now a lot of work ahead to help all our clients to convert their systems to euro. That’s why I haven’t had too much time to blog. Yet I still drink a lot of tea and have a lot of samples. My current plan is to post a blog here at least twice a week.

Let’s drink today’s tea. I got this free sample with my last order from Nada.

2008 Spring Chun Cha

What says the note: 2008 spring tea (Chun Cha) from ‘Bang Wai’ the village near Jing Mai Mountain. All the leaves from one tree ‘Gu Shu Cha’ Old Tree Tea.

Jing Mai is located in southern corner of Yunnan near Burma and Vietnam. Bu Land is near Jing Mai, so I expected the mao cha to produce strong and powerful soup. The leaves were whole and large, covered with long silver hair. I decided to stuff my pear-shaped teapot to get a heavier tea than usual.

But I’m quite disappointed. The tea isn’t what it should be. I found the very similar taste in 2006 Long Yuan Yi Wu Aromatic Beeng sold by Yunnan Sourcing – same sweet and empty tea. Overbrewing makes the tea too bitter; the way I prepare tea normal makes it uninteresting and a bit miserable. I will try this tea in next few days again; hopefully I will have more luck finding its heart.

2008 Spring Chun Cha

Coming soon: I purchased several tea-flavored chocolates. Now I will try them and report to you how they taste like. Hope they will not be too nasty. The Gyokuro one looks a bit suspicious.

21 September 2008

2008 Spring Pin-Lin Bao Zhong

As far as I can remember, I never drank Bao Zhong oolong before. But I found a really inviting quote on Another Tea Blog about how Bao zhong tea tastes.

I took a whiff and said, "Fuck me." It smelled good.
That made me curious. So, when I made my last order from Guang, I also order 2oz of his Bao Zhong. Because of the small price difference between the Premium and Grade A batches, I have chosen the better one.

2008 Spring Pin-Lin Bao Zhong

Bao Zhong teas, also misspelled as Pouchong teas on European markets are slightly oxidized high mountain oolongs with leaves in stripe forms. My Bao Zhong was slightly crushed, but fortunately most of the leaves survived the journey.

The leaves are very dark green, really very dark green. When I opened the bag, the smell made me to tell Oooh. It’s quite hard to describe, it is very floral and very alive. Exotic flowers in their top form.

I’m still testing the 80cc teapot – I have to find the correct amount of leaves used in teapot of this size. Today I decided to use 4.5 grams of leaves. I may use less, but I wanted this tea to be powerful today.

Some oolongs smell better than they taste, but again this one is not that case. The smell of liquor is very similar to the smell of leaves, alive, floral, young with touch of exotic flowers. The color of liquor is greenish-yellow, very clean. The body of the tea is floral with a touch of citrus, it’s more complex than an average oolong is.

2008 Spring Pin-Lin Bao Zhong

The tea lasted about ten infusions. It could stay a bit longer, but not much and I do not wanted to spoil today’s wonderful experience with some off-taste late brews. I can still feel the aftertaste – this was my first Bao Zhong experience, but I hope it isn’t the last. I do have some 70’s and 80’s aged Bao Zhong I was keeping for the right moment – I think I will give them a chance.

17 September 2008

2007 Winter Li-Shan "Da Yu Ling" Oolong

I got a sample of this winter oolong from Guang. Although this batch is already sold out, on HouDeAsianArt spring 2007 and spring 2008 batches are still available. On the other hands, the spring batches could brew different tea than the winter batch. And how does the winter batch taste?

2007 Winter Li-Shan 'Da Yu Ling'

I prepared this oolong in my new über-small teapot, so I used only 4 grams of leaves on 80cc teapot. Still I was able to produce about 10 good infusions, starting with 15 sec and continually prolonging the time. The new teapot produces nice tea, yet I still need a lot of time to use it up to it’s full potential.

Back to the tea. Some oolongs smell much better than taste; fortunately, this one belongs to the category “awesome smell, very good taste”. The very light yellow liquor smells like orchids with touch of citrus fruits. Some might find the oolong tea a bit simple, but it provides long lasting pleasure over complexity. The stronger winter leaves lasts for many infusions. I made ten of them and each one was good.

2007 Winter Li-Shan 'Da Yu Ling'

I liked this oolong. It’s expensive, but it’s worth the money for a real connoisseur.

15 September 2008

An experiment went terribly wrong

Today I threw 7 kilo of great pu-erh into trash bin. I inspected it, but there was no way to save the tea. The mould – various moulds, actually, green, white, yellow – covered entire beengs I kept in envelopes. The beengs in tong wrappers were not covered by mould but still they hade it on them, and not only at surface.

So I decided to do the hard but good decision to threw it all out.

Experiment

But not all of it. The 2000 Yi Wu Zheng Shan beengs I got from Scott were not moulded. They were in the same room, next to the beengs that are rotten, and these are nearly intact.

Experiment


Still, now I will bring them down to my basement and I will let it sit there. My fungus paranoia will not allow drinking it right now. Maybe it will "repair" in next years or even decades.

Some good and even some great tea died this summer during my experiment. I learned it in the hard way, yet still I learned something.

1. If you try to age tea, always have control over the process! I let it rest for all itself and this is why it ended so wrong.
2. It may be easier and cheaper to buy aged tea, even if it si so scarce today.
3. If you experiment with tea, be prepared for bad ending.

Bad news....

By the beginning of May I decided to relocate some of my pu-erh to more humid more natural location.

Yesterday I got it back home.

And I saw… mould.

I will write more later, including photos. Now I feel only sorrow.

12 September 2008

Matryoshka

Two days ago I got this large box.



Finally, I was waiting three weeks! What’s inside the box?



There is some 8 oz of tea. And also there’s a smaller white box. What is hidden in it?



A tiny brown box. Wow, it’s like a Russian toy, matryoshka! I had one matryoshka when I was young, too. Not too much fun, but you know, russian toys.

What is in the tiny box?



My newest teapot! Well, it was a well packed parcel, but I’m only happy, because the pot survived.

09 September 2008

Yummy pear

This is my 60’s Zhu Ni Ming Zhi Zhai Pear-shaped Xia Pin (Small) Yixing Teapot. It’s a really long name for such a short pot.

60's Zhu Ni Pear-shaped Teapot

60's Zhu Ni Pear-shaped TeapotI got it a year or so ago from Guang. When I opened the parcel, the pot was cleaned with no tea stains. Now I use this yixing quite often with big leaf raw pu-erh, so today the pot is seasoned quite well. On these pictures I want to demonstrate, how it changed over the time and why I like it so much.

But first, the teapot facts
Clay: sanded zhu ni
Spout: single holed
Bottom seal: Ming Zhi Zhai. "Zhai" means a scholar's study room. "Ming Zhi" means "to reveal, to make clear my aspiration/ambition/will", so together it could mean "I Find My Ambition In The Study Room"
Year of making: 60's
Size: 130cc
Tea: young sheng
Use: quite often, at least once a week

It’s a lovely pear-shaped teapot, with few limitations. Because of single hole spout I use it with young raw pu-erh with bigger whole leaves, because the teapot do not have strainer and I do not use a separate strainer. Too broken pu-erh, like the samples leave too much mess in my teacup. So this teapot is dedicated to better quality pu-erh only!

60's Zhu Ni Pear-shaped Teapot

In these pictures you can see how the teapot changed over the last year. The hole in bottom part of teapot show the original clay – since I use a tea tray the teapot does not stand in tea, so the bottom remains always dry. I do not want to season my pots in artificial ways, so there will be probably always be visible the original clay.

Please click the picture with bottom seal; you will see the big difference in look of seasoned clay and the look of unseasoned one. The pictures were not altered or color enhanced in any way, they were taken under natural sunlight.

60's Zhu Ni Pear-shaped Teapot

The oils in tea gave my teapot a very shiny look; they enhance the original color of teapot making it bright orange. Also, the sanded zhu ni clay shows a very interesting texture. And the pot is shiny! Just look at this picture.

Even if it does not look like original zhu ni clay because of sand, it still possesses it’s qualities but the durability is greatly increased. I had once a true zhu ni teapot but it cracked when I was careless for a moment and I poured too hot water into it. That moment I felt like my heart cracked a bit too.

60's Zhu Ni Pear-shaped Teapot

I believe that most important qualities of teapot are:


  • clay quality
  • usability
  • esthetic value

The clay of this teapot is good, solid with high-pitched knocking sound. The usability is great too – the lid fits tight and well, the pot pours swift with beautiful flow. And the beauty of this simple teapot is hidden in its details – in the lid, the handle, the spout.

60's Zhu Ni Pear-shaped Teapot

07 September 2008

2008 Nannuo Cha Chan Yi Wei

This beeng is not like other regular production. There are two big differences.
1. It’s probably the most fresh pu-erh I ever had. It least I feel it like the most fresh.
2. This tea is hand made by Nada (or at least supervised by Nada) during his trip to Nannuo.

2008 NanNuo Cha Chan Yi Wei

Limited to only 40 beengs, some of these beengs are kept by Nada and some were sold at his online tea shop. They are sold out, but I was lucky enough to acquire one. Made from hand processed mao cha harvested from old-growth tea trees, the beengs are stone pressed to be compact enough yet not too much, so tea can be loosen by bare hands.

I acquired some other tea from Nada, by this was the one that excited me most. So as soon as I had a free time, I decided to try it out.

It’s a beeng that represent nearly an art. Thick, hand made cotton paper without any print, just with a red stamp. The name Cha Chan Yi Wei means Tea Producing Delicate Flavor Tea Zen One Taste, as Nada pointed out. The beeng emits strong vegetal fragrance, even without breaking the wrapper.

The bare cake shows very good craftsmanship, big bold tea leaves with nei fei again on hand made cotton paper with red stamp. The cake feels solid in hand, it’s beauty outshines most of other pu-erh on current market.

2008 NanNuo Cha Chan Yi Wei

As with other good pu-erh, I carefully harvested leaves enough for gong fu session in my 60s zhu ni teapot, mostly reserved for best teas I have. Again, the dry leaves hit me with their fragrance, strong and incisive – it’s very floral, very green and very young, yet without any harshness.

The liquor is light yellow, thick without any smokiness in the taste. The aroma is veggie, slightly acidic, with a touch of leather and tobacco. It reminded me of 2006 Xi Zhi Hao Nan Nuo a bit. And the infusions just continued on and on, without any sign of weakening. After the tenth infusions I gave up, not the leaves. I should use a smaller teapot with this kind of tea.

Spent leaves, as seen on the picture, are big, strong and green without any sign of fermentation.


2008 NanNuo Cha Chan Yi Wei

Nada, you did a great job making this pu-erh!

04 September 2008

GABA

GABA. I like how it sounds. GABA. It could be an alien race from Star Wars. Or a 50’s Japanese monster, younger brother to Godzilla. But no, this GABA is drinkable and sold by Hou De. It’s a Taiwanese chin-shin cultivar oolong, one of the cheaper ones.

2008 GABA oolong

According to Guang, the history of GABA oolongs is quite special. In 80’s Japanese scientist discovered, that GABA oolongs can help alleviate hypertension by relaxing blood pressure. While in early 90’s the oolong wasn’t very tasty, in later years the producing skills improved a lot and now the GABA oolongs have very special taste and feel. Please, read more at Guang's page.

Also, this one wasn’t too expensive, so I purchased 100 grams. I switched to high mountain oolongs at my work, so getting good and inexpensive tea is crucial for me. And this one was a great choice!

This double-fermented oolong has unique aroma. It’s excessively sweet, with a touch of ripe fruits but without any flowery smell or taste. The liquor is clear, creamy and buttery with a touch of caramel. Certainly this isn’t a good choice for those who like strong tea. Yesterday I forgot about my third infusion and it steeped for 15, maybe 20 minutes. The tea was still drinkable and I was able to squeeze other 4 good infusions from those leaves. I should note there, that I prepared it in yixing teapot with leaves anough to fully fill the teapot.

2008 GABA oolong

This is my favorite amongst 2008 oolongs I drunk yet, I can only reccomend it.

By the way, GABA means Gamma-aminobutyric acid, it's the "healthy element" of this tea and you can read more about it in Wikipedia.

02 September 2008

Blink Bonnie Green

This is another tea sample I got from Salsero. Originally sold by Tea Source this green tea is quite expensive being more than $15 for 2 Oz. Most interesting about this tea (maybe except its name) are the tea leaves, each one rolled in spiral form. The Tea Source claims this tea was made in Ceylon. Actually Ceylon is former name of that island, but since 1972 it's known as Sri Lanka.

Blink Bonnie Green

The tea leaves are interesting, but the tea is not. I believe it's just old and go stale. It smells funny and the taste is flat and uninteresting. The vegetal taste of green teas is long gone from this one. I do not find this tea appealing and personally do not suggest buying it.

30 August 2008

2006 Xi Zhi Hao Nan Nuo

I’m quite a big fan of Xi Zhi Hao pu-erh. But even my infatuate eyes cannot ignore the fact that the production of San Ho Tang changes over the time. I believe, the change has two reasons.

First is the increase of mao cha and pu-erh prices in late 2006 and early 2007. The increasing demand for good pu-erh leads to over harvesting of tea trees, faking and making good mao cha scare. So if a tea producer wanted to continue in making premium teas, he has to pay premium prices. The price of average and bad beengs may decrease, but I’m afraid, that we will pay for good pu-erh more and more each year.

2006 Xi Zhi Hao Nan Nuo leaves

The second motive of change could be the expanded Xi Zhi Hao offering. Lets have a look:

2005 – three different teas were produced (Lao Ban Zhan, You Le Remote Mountain, Nan Nuo Purple Tips)

2006 – thirteen different teas were produced (Nan Nuo “Ban Po Lao Zhai”, 6-Famous-Mountain Blend, Lao Ban Zhan “Yin” and “Yan”, BuLang “Guang Bieh Shin Zhai”, Ban Zhan Natural Habitat, Yi Wu Cha Hwang, You Le Remote Mountain, 3-year Anniversary Cake (Lao Ban Zhan, Autumn), Classic Yi Wu (Autumn), 5 Most Famous Remote Mountain Set (Autumn), "Meng Hai Nu Er Zhuan")

2007 – at least eighteen different teas (Huang Shan Lin “Hwang Hwa (Illusion)”, very limited, Huang Shan Lin, Yi Wu Cha Hwang, Yuan Shi Lin, Shan-Pin Ancient Tree, Ji-Pin Ancient Trees, Dragon and Phoenix, 7542, 8582, Autumn “Da Xue Shan”, Autumn “Pu Zheng Yuan Cha”, "Xi Shang Mei Shao", "Yi Wu Cha Hwang", Jing Gu "Nu Er Cha", "Din Jin Nu Er", "Ku Zhu Shan Ji Pin Gu Shu", "Xue Shan Chuen Lu", "Yi Wu Cha Hwang minibeeng")

Source : HouDe

2006 Xi Zhi Hao Nan Nuo leaves

Increased production can lead to lower quality and as such it can destroy the reputation of company. Maybe focusing in fewer brands can help? I'm not sure.

But my today's tea is from the early 2006 when the Xi Zhi Hao was name still highly priced among pu-erh connoisseurs. The beeng is stone molded, airy and not too tight, that good for aging and for loosening the leaves, too. Leaves are still quite green, being dry stored with me for a year or so. They emit rich woody and flowery aroma.

The liquor is light amber, sweet with no sign of smokiness. The tea is thirst-quenching, powerful and complex, yet delicate enough. The aftertaste is slightly acidic, nearly a fruity and lasts very long, I can still feel the tea at my tongue, even after an hour or so.

Maybe Xi Zhi Hao could produce tea like this one. Well, we will see the 2008 crop.

28 August 2008

2006 Lao Ban Zhang Mao Cha

Few weeks ago I received a pack of mao cha samples from Jacqueline. Thanks again! She obtained them on last Tea Expo held in May or so – the sample pack contains five different mao cha samples from different mountains.

2006 Lao Ban Zhang Mao Cha

To prepare myself for tasting them I drunk today two years old mao cha from higher regions of Bulang mountain range, from remote tea plantations in Lao Ban Zhang. This mao cha was acquired by Guang as a special order from San Ho Tang tea factory.

This tea is supposed to come from hundreds years old tea trees and the leaves look so. They are long and whole, many of them in two leafs one bud system. Unfortunately, many of the tea leaves broke while they got to me, because of their delicate shape, but there are still plenty of them too long to fit even into my tallest teapot.

2006 Lao Ban Zhang Mao Cha

I had to soften the tea leaves with hot water, just like the spaghetti, before I was able to put the lid on the pot.

The mao cha brew strong and thick soup – in second and third infusion I encountered an expressive smoky aroma, yet the rest of the infusions were very satisfactory. The tea reminded me the 2008 Pu Zhen Yuan Cha, with its strong character, nearly creamy aftertaste and bold spirit.

2006 Lao Ban Zhang Mao Cha

Spent leaves are characterized by strong and high veins suggesting the wild ancestry of mao cha. If the 2006 Xi Zhi Hao Lao Ban Zhang (Yin and Yan) beengs are made of same material, their price of $145 could be acceptable.

27 August 2008

Flowery Darjeeling Risheehat

I got a sample of this fine tea from Salsero (thank you again!) today, so when I get to office and sat down I decided not to drink oolong today, but darjeeling tea instead.

This Indian tea from Darjeeling province is, according to information provided by Salsero, sold by Tea Emporium as Flowery 2nd Flush SFTGFOP Darjeeling tea from Risheehat tea estate.Darjeeling Risheehat

Second flush (second harvest, mostly in June) of darjeeling teas is quite different from first flush. While the nature of first flush teas is much more green and fruity, the second flush teas I encountered before were closer to black teas. Judging from the color of leaves the fermentation in this darjeeling gone quite far. On the other hand, the “flowery” attribute turned on my imagination.

The tea makes dark orange color brew with distinctive fresh smell. While I found 2nd flush darjeelings quite heavy for my taste, this one is much lighter, though I will call it “fruity” instead of “flowery”. I can smell apricot and passionfruit in the brew. The taste sticks on tongue and leaves a light aftertaste behind.

It’s lovely and enjoyable tea, a welcome change in my everyday tea-life.

As always with the darjeeling teas, I prepared it in cast iron tetsubin using small amount of leaves with longer infusion time.

26 August 2008

2008 HouDe Dong Ding

HouDeDongDingI got this oolong from Hou De few weeks ago. I drunk Dong Ding oolong from Hou De last year and I liked it really much. It was very pleasant, very sweet, nearly candy like tea.

The Dong Ding (literally Frozen Summit - 冻顶 or 凍頂, source: Tea Babelcarp) is a traditional medium roasted Taiwan oolong. As the site claims, the Nantou style Dong Ding oolong was produced in January 2008 in Taiwan.

The character of this vintage is quite different from the one I bought last year. The tea produces dark yellow, nearly amber liquor. The taste is sweet, slightly caramel with fruity undertones. The aftertaste is strong and leaves an acidic citrus feeling in the mouth. I feel this tea is pushed from the “caramel” to “fruity” side, like the roasting was lighter this year. Altogether I like the change, especially the aftertaste.

I like this tea – the price is nice, so it’s affordable as an everyday beverage, yet the quality of the leaves and the taste is still good to very good. I prepare this tea using 4-6 grams of dry leaves in 120cc yixing, mostly making 8-9 infusions.

25 August 2008

Office Gong Fu

Tea at my officeI drink tea daily, different kinds at different places. If circumstances prevent me from drinking good tea I drink not-so-good teas, but at most cases I’m trying to drink the best tea possible prepared in the way it should be prepared.

I especially like the tea prepared in gong fu style – it calms me down and tunes me in to enjoy the tea. Since at office I have neither the required staidness nor the tea equipment I need, I developed my “gong fu light” tea ceremony.

All I need is a thermos, a yixing teapot and a teacup large enough to hold the whole capacity of yixing. The preparation is easy:


  • Fill the thermos with boiling water. It actually cools down a bit, so the water temperature should be 85-95 Celsius.
  • Pour the water on the tea leaves, wait 10 seconds and spill the tea into the teacup.
  • Repeat step two.


That way I can enjoy some rather good oolongs in my office without troubling myself too much.

24 August 2008

1997 Xi Zhi Hao Yi Wu Wild Big Tree

Today I felt autumn coming. It's raining all day long, the sun sets before 8 pm and the temperature decreased by 10 degrees. I decided to drink from my more than 10 years old Yi Wu beeng, I feel it is in harmony with the current weather.

1997 Xi Zhi Hao Yi Wu tea leaves

I purchased this beeng from HouDe two years ago. I believed that this beeng is quite expensive at $157 – and now I see how good that bargain was. Also, the pictures of one of my two beengs appeared in Art Of Tea Magazine issue 2 pages 31-32.

This tea is calming. It smells and tastes partially aged, I feel a dry cellar in liquor. This tea was probably kept all of its lifetime in dry controlled climate – it feels lively and energetic. The Yi Wu taste is clearly present, plumy and fruity, sweet with long lasting aftertaste. The color of the liquor turned orange.

1997 Xi Zhi Hao Yi Wu tea leaves

I’m able to squeeze more than 12 infusions from this lovely tea. While I stop and 8th-10th infusion on most of pu-erh because of the radical unpleasant change in taste, this one goes further with honor.

Leaves are bold and big. The beeng is stone molded, so it’s easy to loosen it without damaging the leaves. These beengs were made by now legendary tea factory San Ho Tang as “study” and they showed the way for equally good 2005 and maybe 2006 vintages. Top choice beeng, I wish I have more of them.

18 August 2008

1998 Menghai 8582

Summer is coming to its end and autumn knocks on our doors. Last Saturday I was on a concert of Jaromir Nohavica – while the concert on castle Červený Kameň was hilarious the stormy night proved really cold.

Castle
Actually, the castle on this photo is Smolenice, about 20 kilometres north of Červený Kameň.

As the summer ends I’m more and more time at home and so I drink more and more tea. Fortunately, I got some parcels with really good teas, so I’m able to try and learn more and more teas.

Today’s tea is from Guang, ten years old classical 8582 recipe by Menghai Tea Factory. The price of these beengs was quite adequate, so they sold out fast, in day or so. The leaves I used today were broken from my two beengs during they journey to Slovakia, so they are quite broken down. The color of the leaves is dark and there are lots of stems.

1998 Menghai 8582

The beeng was originally dry stored, yet I decided to wash it twice – mostly to wash out the smallest leaves and the tea dust. This tea definitely isn’t young, yet it still cannot be considered fully aged. The liquor is dark orange with spicy smell, the taste is semi aged, and round and smooth with similar spiciness I found in 2003 Henry Company 7542 beeng.

It’s an OK tea, yet I will let it rest for another 5 or more years – it could improve with age.

21 July 2008

2004 Yan Ching Hao Yi Wu Cha Wang

It’s a late summer night. Monday, day after the weekend. I should go to sleep, but I cannot. So I’m just sitting, drinking tea and listening to Bonobo. The windows are wide open, the chill of night slowly drives the fiery sun out of the room.

2004 Yan Ching Hao Yi Wu Special Reserve Cha Wang

On table steam arose from the cup of tea. It’s my favorite – four years old Yi Wu pu-erh, one that just left the ferocity of youth, one that started to ascend the devious road to maturity. Born from mountains of Yi Wu under skilled hands of tea crafters.

I know that this tea is hand made – just today I found a long black hair in it. I quickly disposed it, before my girlfriend starts to ask hard-to-answer questions.

This is one of the first beengs I bought from Guang long, long ago in January of 2007. That is past long gone, the ancient time before the pu-erh bubble exploded. And this is the first whole beeng I drunk and shared, except of last small chunk.

The seventh infusion does not loose it’s strength nor taste. The rafined sweetness of Yi Wu shows promises of what it would become if I hadn’t drunk it. If I could just wait another fifteen years. But it’s hard to resist.

2004 Yan Ching Hao Yi Wu Special Reserve Cha Wang

Last chips of formerly half kilogram beeng are observing me from wrapper. It’s a farewell to a good friend, farewell that leaves memories of beautiful times.

19 July 2008

2007 Xi Zhi Hao Pu Zheng Yuan Cha

This is second of the two limited production autumnal pu-erhs of Xi Zhi Hao tea factory, sold by Hou De. I liked the first one, the Da Xue Shan, although the character of that tea was very unusual. Very green and floral with sweet flowery taste.

2007 Autumn Xi Zhi Hao Pu Zheng Yuan Cha

The Pu Zheng beeng is similar to Da Xue Shan – beautiful, compact but not over molded, nice piece of craftsmanship. The leaves are easy to loose; I used ones from the jar filled a week ago. The leaves are big, bold and whole.

The tea brews yellow, thick and fragrant liquor. First few cups taste a bit smoky, but the smokiness disappears in later infusions. The tea is strong but not untamed, the crystal clear liquor calmed my head and slowed the time running by. An enjoyable pu-erh, though a bit pricey.

2007 Autumn Xi Zhi Hao Pu Zheng Yuan Cha

The leaves are huge – I found lots of them long nearly 10 centimeters. I took the picture with biggest Slovak coin (slightly more than 2 cm in diameter).

This tea was also drunk by Hobbes.

13 July 2008

2002 CNNP Special Order 8582

It’s quite rare to see more than two or three years old beengs on sale. And if there are some at least partially aged beengs, they are either quite expensive or faked or both. One of the sources selling excellent pu-erh for, unfortunately, excellent prices is Hou De Asian Art. This is where I got this beeng, too.

2002 CNNP Special Order 8582

Marketed by CNNP - China National Native Produce – this classical recipe 8582 beeng is special order using semi-wild arbor trees. Semi-wild means, that the tea trees were originally cultivated, but then they were abandoned and only the nature took care of them. Also, the beeng is made before 2003 - that means, that the trees were probably neither overharvested nor overfertilized.

You can see how beautiful the beeng is. Compact but not too much, unlike the hydraulic pressed 8582 beengs like 2007 Xi Zhi Hao 8582, this one is airy and the beeng can be easily broken.

I was finally able to start the Lightbox to work, so please feel free to click the pictures.

2002 CNNP Special Order 8582

The liquor is clear, slowly turning into orange. What I like the most of this beeng is the smell in the aroma cup. Exotic wood, spices, touch of pine needles. The aroma lasts long, I can still feel it even after an hour. It’s complex yet easy to savour. The woody character quickly turn into more floral. Unfortunately, the tea can easily become sour when prepared without enough care.

11 July 2008

Filling the jar

Two days ago I bought in Prague two tea jars. Sometimes, when I decide to drink some tea I do not have patience to break the beeng into separate leaves, so it will be nice have some favorite tea already broken.


I decided to work on some lightly pressed beeng. My choise is 2007 Xi Zhi Hao Pu Zheng Yuan Cha sold by Hou De.

The beeng is slightly more compact than the Da Xue Shan of the same producer was. The signs of stone molding are yet clearly visible and maybe except the center where the knot was the whole beeng could be flaken without damaging the leaves too much.

Just with my pu-erh knife and lot of patience I start to work. Carefully prying the beeng, leaf after leaf, just like when I collect tea enough for gong fu cha, except that this time I’m trying to dismantle a whole beeng.

One hour later the jar is full and still more than half of the beeng remains. But I do not want to break the precious leaves in the jar, so I have to stop.

06 July 2008

80's Jing-Ding Zhu Ni Shui Pin

I got this teapot about a year ago from Guang. A sad story, this is a replacement for pure zhu ni teapot that cracked – maybe I poured too hot water into it in cold room, maybe the teapot was cracked before, I don’t know. But this new one serves mi fine for more than a year now.



This teapot is quite unique amongst my teapots. It’s rather old, being at least twenty years old. Also, the knocking sound of this teapot is highest from all of my yixing proving the high quality of clay. The dark orange color, wrinkle lines and oily surface points out, that this clay is zhu ni, or it’s at least very similar to zhu ni.

The filter. I never saw a teapot with filter like this – a circle with small square connected with four diagonal dashes. The bottom seal is very artistic, too.




Certainly, this teapot has some flaws. The lid does not fit perfectly and when I fill the pot with too much water it leaks. Also, maybe because of the unique filter it pours rather slow. And the size is maybe too big for just me.

Yet, I still use it for young sheng pu-erh. I like the clay; I like the tea this pot makes. I feel somehow connected with it, just like with my other teapots I use. I like it because it’s nearly as old as I am. Well, ok, I’m older than this pot, but not too much. So when evening comes and I know, that I will drink more tea than one session of gong fu from smaller teapot can provide, I choose this one.

Teapot facts
Clay: zhu ni
Spout: quite unique multiple holed
Seals: quite unique artistic one, on bottom only
Year of making: 80's
Size: 225cc
Tea: young sheng
Use: seldom

02 July 2008

Ice Tea

Sometimes one have to take a route different from the usual to find something one and exciting. To see something overlooked and experience something new. Few days ago when I went to work I decided to turn left few block earlier and I noticed a building with most interesting reliefs. Reminding me of Sumerian reliefs they are nice and well hid examples of culture called Socialistic realism that survived last twenty years nearly intact.



Usually I buy more tea than I’m able to drink. When I see something new, tasty and exciting I cannot resist and I purchase an ounce or two to drink it. With pu-erh there aren’t problems, pu-erh can survive quite long time and even improve. Bud especially green tea and anxi oolongs go stale really quick and drinking them next year after a purchase isn’t a welcome experience.

Since summer is here and temperatures close to those ones on the surface of the Sun, I decided to prepare some stale oolong and green teas as Ice tea.

You need:


  • plastic bottle
  • some ‘aged’ tea
  • water
  • refrigerator

Preparation (easy and simple)
Fill the plastic bottle with water and pour some tea into it. Place the water with tea into refrigerator and leave it for 6-18 hours. The refrigerator protects the tea leaves from yeasting.

The water turns yellow or green, depenging on tea used and the beverage is ready to enjoy. On these pictures I used Fo Shou (Buddha's hand) oolong tea.



You can freely experiment with different amounts of tea, infusion times and different tea types. The resulting liquor is mostly a very pleasing and thirst slaking experience.