Saturday, May 24, 2008

Just so you know...

So I took a hiatus after all. There is just too much else going on right now. I'm taking a small vacation at the end of the month to go return home for a bit. Posts should resume June 1, when I get it back.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tea Mind

Tea Mind, a new blog from Chamekke .

Chamekke has been on Tea Chat for a while, and in a word, she's brilliant. Her knowledge of Japanese tea and culture leaves me in awe and not a little envy. I haven't been this excited about a new blog since Matt introduced us to the over-looked (at least by me) world of Korean tea.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Okayti Darjeeling Autumn Flush Oolong

To be honest when I think of Mighty Leaf, I don't think of quality; its more like...fu-fu tea in pretty teabags. But perhaps I haven't been drinking the right tea from them, because this stuff is good.

My experience with Darjeeling teas have been almost exclusively from Makaibari, with only a few, unknown exceptions.

Darjeeling leaves always make me think of fall, and these are particularly nice, larger, bits of green and silver tips. The dry leaves have a clean, fruit/grain aroma that makes me think of raisin bran.

The tea has a sharp, crisp, clean feel. As it cools the sharpness becomes more of a pronounced astringent finish. Fruity, not quite raisin, not quite grape; I imagine this is the 'muscatel' so often used to describe Darjeeling. I liked it. It was hardy, easy to brew, and delivered I nice solid flavor.

The wet leaves look like a pile of autumn leaves after a rain.

Friday, May 2, 2008

70's Vietnamese Liao Fu San Cha

This tea was with my samples in an unmarked baggie. Wasn't sure what it was, but figured I'd find out later and tossed it in the pot.

Well. Damn.

Had I known at the time that this was a Vietnamese puerh from the 70's, I would have paid a little more attention to it, perhaps a bit more caution in brewing it. As it were my tastings notes went about like this.

First Infusion: Whoa, that tastes like dirt.

Second Infusion: Still tastes like dirt.

Third Infusion: Yep, dirt. Fuck this tea.

Don't I feel silly.

Perhaps I was too hasty in judging this tea and missed hidden subtleties and nuances it had to offer. Perhaps if I had more experience with puerh, I would have appreciated this one more. Or perhaps by not knowing much at all, I was able to give a more direct, unbiased opinion.


For a second opinion: Houd De.

2007 Da Ye Wuyi

This is a lightly roasted yancha from TeaCuppa.

They describe it as an affordable, daily oolong made from leaves that are not qualified for higher grade teas such as da hong pao.

I stuffed my tiny pot with leaves.

All the flavor is up front, light and floral, with bits of honey. This is a time to use bull shit adjectives like unpretentious in order to convey this tea's positive, unassuming simplicity. Not very nuanced, but pleasant; a beer with the guys kind of tea.

For me the leaves pay out after about four infusions.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bai Ji Guan

I've just learned all sorts of things today.

Bai Ji Guan is a Wuyi yancha, one of the Si Da Ming Cong, or four great tea bushes (Da Hong Pao, Shui Jin Gui, Tie Luo Han, and Bai Ji Guan).

The tea is named for a rooster that sacrificed its life to protect a child from an eagle. The legend is that after a monk witnessed the courage of the rooster, he buried it, and from that spot the Bai Ji Guan bush grew.

This is something I do enjoy about Chinese tea, the bits of mythology, legend, and religion that go hand in hand with the tea, Da Hong Pao, Tai Guan Yin. It is something you don't find, or I haven't found, in Japanese tea.

The tea in the package smells like an empty cigarette pack. I mean that in the best way possible; it brings back fond memories of childhood. I would always smell my dad's empty cigarette packs. I love the smell. Paper and a rich, sweet sort of earthiness.

The tea has a playful, astringent bite on the tip of the tongue, followed by the ubiquitous, cacao Wuyi-ness. It is rather dry with a thin mouth feel and an easy finish.

For those of you like me who are interested in learning more about the countries, cultures and people that produce our tea, you may want to check out this month's issue of National Geographic, a special issue dedicated solely to China. The pictures alone are well worth it.

And you get a free map!

"I'm a Chinese, but I feel it difficult to see my country clearly," wrote one student in Fuling. With pictures of conspicuous consumer socialites on one page, 'poor' Yunnan farmers the next, it is not hard to imagine.