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.