Saturday, November 24, 2012

Upgrading my tea experience

I prepared proportional amounts of Da Yu Lin tea in a gaiwan and a mixed clay teapot today. The gaiwan with a lower capacity has less oolong tea apportioned into it to level the playing field. Took a few small sips from each cup and made comparisons. With the lighter coloured infusion on the left, I could pick up fruity yet faint floral notes. The brew consequently was lighter on the palates and the tea coasted my tongue very loosely like margarine. In the second cup of tea, the basic notes found in the first cup were magnified many times and coated my tongue very densely like butter. I could pick up the changes in fragrances and track them more accurately in my memory. The differences are in some ways similar to eating instant chicken soup mix compared to slow-cooked chicken soup.

To try and achieve a sort of 'slow-cooked chicken soup' experience in the gaiwan, I dropped a few extra balls of oolong into it and proceeded with the second brewing session. This time the colour of the infusion from the gaiwan drew closer to that from the teapot but the brew felt colder due to superior heat retention properties of clay as opposed to porcelain.

The convenience of exchanging many different teas using a porcelain gaiwan has made it very popular with testing teas and narrowing down one's selection. With a clay teapot, we can test it out with a narrower selection of teas but must finally use only one kind of tea for brewing. In other words, the gaiwan and clay teapot complement each other in scoping for the best teas and eventually brewing these teas in dedicated teaware.

Editorial note: I left the teas to steep in the gaiwan and teapot overnight and found a more balanced brew from the pot with its freshness retained. Infusion from the gaiwan became more concentrated but had a rather prominent astringent note that lasted for about 20 seconds.  The freshness of this medium-grade Da Yu Lin tea was not there anymore in the gaiwan despite the more intense flavours and this led me to conclude that teapots in general have a more air-tight construction than gaiwans and their clays are more flattering on the performance of teas, i.e. teas taste rounder, more balanced and can even develop a longer aftertaste as a result of its interaction with the clay's porous quality.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Our trusted senses

Recall that moment when you seemed to have had a piping hot cup of tea but the warm fuzzy sensation quickly fades into an unexplained chill in your system? Why do regular tea drinkers exchange their gaiwans for yixing teapots during colder months of the year to make this transition from light green teas to roasted and highly oxidised teas? Is it really a case of equating the likes of roasted oolongs and red (black) teas to teas that heat us up most efficiently and assigning a cooling effect to the greener and lighter teas in the spectrum?

As part of surveying the tea market, I once brought an Oriental Beauty sample to tea class with the impression that this highly oxidised summer oolong will certainly heat us up nicely when Taipei turns cold and rainy. Quite the contrary. Instead of the expected cha qi that greatly improves one's blood circulation, one of the immediate effects after drinking this tea was a developing frostiness felt most prominently at the fingertips. The tea I brought was a case of poor quality tea leaves that were later processed into an oriental beauty. Needless to say, we certainly did not move on to the 2nd infusion despite the rather pleasant perfumish aftertaste. This tea was also sold as a rather high grade tea with a subtantial price tag to match. An insightful lesson learnt and chances are, there is still a fair share of such teas on the market.

With a good hearty brew of delicious red tea, I can feel the cha qi in my fingertips that turn slightly pink and the tension in my neck muscles ebbing away.  What are your experiences like and which teas do you rate most favourably in your book?   

Friday, November 16, 2012

End of Year Deals

A store-wide 10% discount  is available from now until 31 December 2012.

You will find the complete list of teaware items in my shop where a select range of teapots, teacups, lidded tea bowls also known as gaiwan, saucers, tea display plates, pewter storage jars and cha xi accessories awaits you.

>>Go to year-end deals

For pricing information and orders, please write to me at

Happy browsing!

Monday, November 12, 2012


Being a tea blogger from Singapore, sharing information about tea culture, relevant history and modern day interpretations of tea appreciation on the Internet gives me an important understanding of emerging tea communities at the same time. Of course, I take into account that my blog is in English and has its limits in reaching out to as many people as I would have hoped for.

Changi coastal walk
So where is my audience predominantly based? The US comes in first, followed by Czech Republic and in third position we have Germany. How did my fellow Singaporeans place? At a respectable fourth and rather encouraging to note because Singaporeans are a very hectic bunch with little time left for slow food and tea.  Finding time to reference online tea blogs and exploring means to design your own cha xi with delicious teas to match in an outdoor setting can feel as luxurious as, if not more so than, a weekend spa treatment.

Places with a great view of nature and tranquility are far and few between on this island that is constantly subjected to changing landscapes. Now, I will enjoy this little piece of paradise while it lasts.