Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gongfu tea - an old man's trademark?

Drinking tea in Asia is often synonymous with an old man's drink, giving the overall impression that the tea drinking community is a greying one. This argument is rather heavy as tea just isn't only beverage that can be appreciated by the elderly alone. 

Before I became deeply acquainted with tea, I was slightly wary of this stigma when holding onto my hot mug of tea as I entered a meeting room each time. Times have changed and my wish is for tea to finally shed its dust-covered image for the better.

9 of 10 people I come across often cast this look of doubt as if mulling over the issue of age when introduced to what I do as a pasttime. Gradually, I have learnt to shrug off mixed reactions and recognise the immense joy that one can derive from tea pursuits.  

So if you must associate tea drinking with age, be sure to grow not just older but wiser with every sip ;).  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Raw Bulang tea from April 2011

I roughly described this tea in an earlier entry but did not yet review the quality of the brew based on tastes and flavours yet. In the first infusion, great scents and colours despite a very weak smell of the leaves in their dried form. First sip of this tea felt really bitter followed by an overall astringency that could be felt in the mouth cavity and throat for at least half a minute. What is consoling to this overall bitter encounter was a rather prominent taste of the longan fruit, a very sweet fruit with strong woody notes.

The brewed leaves revealed very green young buds. A sight that I cannot reconcile with the harsh bitterness experienced. You can read the rest of this Bulang tea's review here from a fellow tea drinker who has been most dilligently documenting his experiences from the 2nd brew onwards.

If you have similar Bulang teas from the same year, please feel free to leave your blog review links on my page in the spirit of making objective comparisons and cross-referencing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


With a poor sleep rhythm and finding myself awake at 8 on a gloomy day, I made a hot drink of Dong ding oolong. The last thing I remembered while sipping were the scents of seaweed and sugarcane that greeted my nose. After two infusions, the tea's sugary goodness coated my whole mouth as I drifted back to sleep.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Love at first sight and sniff?

At least half a year ago I received some tea samples from Yunnan, China. So far, I have tested two of the teas from the parcel and was disappointed. As it also takes a while before I can shake off all those nasty notes and aftertaste from my memory, this probably explains why I did not find any inclination to try out more teas from the box until I am once again in a risk-taking mood.

This is one of the better packaged teas that arrived. A full 350 g scrumptious-looking raw pu'er cake.  The dried leaves peeled off rather easily as the cake was not too compact. From the unusually weak dry scents, it was difficult to predict what the tea would taste like.

To compensate for the initially weak scents, I took a slightly larger chunk off the cake and brewed it in a competition mug for about 5 minutes. The standard in the tea industry is to brew 3 grams of tea for 6 minutes. As this was the only tea I was tasting, it hardly matters in my opinion as long as we brew the tea beyond its usual steeping duration. The purpose of a longer infusion time ensures the full release of everything good and bad from the tea. In a way, previous subtleties in flavours and tastes are magnified.

I took in the scents of this tea from the curved back of a porcelain spoon. There was a hint of red roses mixed with fallen leaves. A very promising bouquet indeed! Additionally, the brew was a bright amber colour with a high degree of transparency. After witnessing these hopeful first signs, my expectations went up accordingly.

The fun part about tea tasting is this sort of dramatic build up until the first sip of tea that could either affirm or debunk all earlier sentiments of pessimism or optimism. (To be continued)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Notes on Wuyi tea - Smelling

Earlier, we discussed some of the qualities to look for in genuine Wuyi tea. Moving on, it's time to put our nose to the test and let it lead the way.

First infusion: Smell this tea at the surface, then progress upwards to pick up any unwanted notes along the flow of steam rising from your cup.

Second infusion: Characterise the fragrances of your tea. In the case of a Wuyi Shuixian, you will notice a unique orchid scent.

Third infusion and after: Conventional wisdom has it that the fragrances and flavours of good Wuyi teas can last for seven to nine infusions.

Besides taking in fragrances through our nose, another technique taught to me by Teaparker is to inhale through the mouth and exhale through the nose a few times. This can help us appreciate and recognise the nuances of real Wuyi tea much more.