Monday, April 30, 2012

Food and tea pairing - A win-win? (Part 1 of 2)

Undeniably food and tea pairing is a very broad topic. I have always wanted to draw more conclusions than my limited experience would allow for. Consequently, I normally enjoy a cup of tea on its own. However,  there are some combinations that I have a soft spot for.

Here is one of few occasions I have some success in pairing food with tea. What I find complementary is to munch on some Arab or Iranian dates alongside a cup of strong red tea. The sweetness in the dates becomes more balanced and one can smell more of the natural aromas released from these dates when consumed with red teas or similar.

An obvious yet crucial point is to create a win-win situation when playing the matchmaking game between food and tea. Most foods come with additives like MSG, yeast extract, etc. In his book on Chinese teas, Teaparker advises his readers to be more selective in their food choices for the purpose of pairing with teas.

Blogeintrag auf Deutsch: Kombinieren von Speisen und Tee – Win-win?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ein seltener Tee - Wu Yi Shui Xian

Selbstverständlich ist es nicht meine Absicht, hier ausführlich gefälschten Tee zu erörtern. Allerdings möchte ich den Leser darauf aufmerksam machen, daß die große Nachfrage und das geringe Angebot dazu geführt haben, daß unglaublich viel Wu Yi Tee zweifelhafter Qualität und Herkunft im Umlauf ist.

Bei einem authentischen Wu Yi Tee spürt man ein sehr ausgeprägtes Aroma, einen felsigen Geschmack und Düfte fleischiger Früchte. Er erzeugt einen durchdringenden, warmen Umlauf, den Sie vor allem in den Handflächen, den Fingern und dem Magen spüren. Des weiteren hat er einen faszinierenden und lang anhaltenden Nachgeschmack, der sich Schicht für Schicht entfaltet, wie eine rote Rose, die einen in die Welt der Liebe zum Tee sowie in das rote Felsgestein des Wu Yi Gebirge befördert.

Da dies ein eher seltener und teurer Tee ist, habe ich nur eine kleine Menge verwendet, zumal man nie weiß, ob und wann es Nachschub gibt. Neben diesem Cha Xi, habe ich heute meine antiken Tassen benutzt, die so groß sind wie eine Walnuß. Die geringen Abmessungen dieser Tassen belegen wohl auch, daß der Tee so kostbar ist, daß er nur in kleinen Mengen getrunken wird. Guter Tee soll gustiert werden!

Angeblicher Wu Yi Tee überschwemmt die Märkte. Es gibt viele Marken und Formen, von Teebeuteln bis hin zu losen Teeblättern. Meine Erfahrung mit diesem Tee ist beschränkt, da ich mich oft nicht traue, einen zweifelhaften Tee zu kaufen. Es gibt halt mehr Fälschungen als man hinnehmen kann. Mit ein wenig Glück bekommt einen halbwegs trinkbaren Tee. Andernfalls landet der teure, angebrannte Tee im Mülleimer. 

Article in English: A hard to come by tea - Wu Yi Shui Xian

Friday, April 27, 2012

What tea is not..

German humour: Beer shaped this beautiful body.

Next week I will be visiting TeaWorld rendezvous in Brussels, capital of beer paradise Belgium.

Watch this space for event updates.  

Something besides high mountain oolong

Tea packages in Asia do not come very well labeled. Yes, it can say Dongding tea on the front but level of roasting and the extent of fermentation remain as elements of surprise. I had asked for a highly roasted Dongding tea, which is how this type of tea was originally made, but ended up with the lightly roasted version. In its own unique way, this tea has won me over.

The dried leaves come in tightly rolled balls and carry a light but distinctive fragrance. The brew bears a transparent light green hue and the first infusion smells are likened to a mix between Gyokuro tea and high mountain oolong. This being a rather green and light Oolong tea surprised me by its smooth, mildly sweet and refreshing taste. There is not a hint of discomfort caused by astringent elements and this makes the tea an easy drinking one.

Looking more closely at the open leaves, there is a close resemblance to the colours of shaded Gyokuro leaves which could possibly explain their similarities in taste and the distinct seaweed flavour. The leaves are like those of a Taiwanese Oolong tea, two leaves and one bud. They are big as you can see yet very soft as they break off easily from the stems. This phenomenon I believe is a sign of quality leaves that contributes to the tea's overall performance in terms of levels of clarity, astringency, sweetness, fragrance and aftertaste.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Built to last

I couldn't resist helping myself to another pot of Wu Yi Shui Xian yesterday. This time, I doubled the amount and crushed the tea leaves slightly to intensify the aromas and flavours released from this tea. This little trick I picked up by watching one of my seniors gently squeezing the leaves in her palm during tea class. The brew was definitely much stronger and absolutely flavoursome with a dark caramelised appearance. Smelling good!

I would usually dedicate at least 2 hours sipping this tea but had to cut short the session and resumed today. I left the tea leaves to soak overnight, something one could attempt with high quality leaves. To warm the tea a bit, I diluted the overnight contents with half portion hot water. This explains the lighter colour you see in the picture that follows. Not very conventional techniques described here, but certainly worth trying.

The open leaves very much look like baozhong tea leaves except with a higher level of oxidation. One can feel the rough surfaces of the soaked leaves which surprisingly tear very smoothly. Tough on the outside, delicate on the inside.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A hard to come by tea - Wu Yi Shui Xian

Of course my intention is not to discuss fake teas at length, but to warn readers beforehand that this indeed is a situation of high demand and low supplies that has resulted in an unbelievable array of dubious Wu Yi tea offerings out in the market.

With a genuine Wu Yi tea, you will notice a very distinct aroma in the dried leaves that smells rocky and carries with it scents of fleshy fruits, a highly penetrating warm circulation that you can experience most obviously in your palms, fingers and stomach and a mesmerising and enduring aftertaste that unfolds layer after layer like a red rose that transports one to the world of tea love and beautiful red rocks of the Wu Yi mountains.

This being a rather rare and pricey tea, I had to cut back on how much I use especially when there is no knowing if the next batch of tea becomes available. To complement this cha xi, I used my walnut-sized antique cups for today's brewing session. The small dimensions of these cups could also hint at tea being such a highly priced commodity that it is only consumed in small volumes. Good teas must be cherished!

Supposed Wu Yi teas flood the markets and often come in different brands and forms, from tea bags to loose tea leaves. My experience with this tea has been limited because of my hesitation in buying. In practice, you will come across more imitations than you would have hoped for. If you are lucky, you can get away with a halfway drinkable tea. Otherwise, you end up binning burnt teas that carry a high price tag.

Blogeintrag auf Deutsch: Ein seltener Tee - Wu Yi Shui Xian

Sunday, April 15, 2012

With elegant curves

Often, we find nature inspired designs in many of the day to day items we use. Tea cups are no exception as they are shaped like beautiful flowers used to complement our tea setting.

This pair of green and white flower-shaped tea cups aptly shows the idea of conceptualising product designs from nature's blueprint.

Weighing in at merely 20 g with a filling capacity of 22 ml, the rim is shaped for a comfortable grip, the cup feels very light on our lips and adds a soft touch to any tea drinking experience.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sea green porcelain tea plate

This refine piece of  sea green porcelain tea plate adorned with soft and curvy lines on its exterior, lets your guests appreciate the form and beauty of any tea leaves. A nice gesture that will be appreciated when bringing them into the world of teas.

The curved in rim design keeps out external odours when handling the tea. Guiding leaves into the teapot is also made easier with the tapered end feature that minimises damage to the tea pot.

An elegant piece to add to your collection.

Weight: 80 g

See related items at  茶 Teaware selection

Monday, April 9, 2012

Teelaxieren – Teebehälter aus der Lin-Töpferei

Wollen Sie gelegentlich auch teelaxieren? Tee für unterwegs. 

Im Vordergrund: Purion is ein erstaunlicher Ton, der aus einer Mischung von vulkanischem Gestein und mehreren Tonsorten hergestellt wird. Es eignet sich bestens für die Aufbewahrung von Tee. Dies ergibt einen tieferen und komplexeren Geschmack. Zum Aufbewahren kleinerer Mengen von gerösteten Tees oder Pu'er.

Im Hintergrund: das Angebot an glasierter Keramik vereint außerordentliche Handwerkstechnik und traditionelle Stücke mit einfachen Formen und beruhigenden Farben aus der Natur. Zum Aufbewahren grüner und leicht gerösteter Tees. 

Der Deckel hat einen festen Sitz, so daß sich diese Stücke sehr reisetauglich sind.

Abmessungen: 6.6 cm x 7 cm, Purion 128 g.

Beide Behälter sind mit einem Stempel versehen und haben eine Seriennummer. Leicht, kompakt und einfach mitzunehmen

Abmessungen: 6.6 cm x 7 cm, glasierte Keramik 95 g.

Siehe relartierte Artikel auf: 茶 Teaware selection

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What's for Easter?

On this religious and colourful holiday, I prepared a festive cha xi to pair with some good quality cooked ham and free-range eggs. (I did not forget wine, but that is another story.)

Earlier on, I spoke about tea cultivars from various tea regions in this article. The tea I drank today is labelled Taiwan No. 18 and comes from Yu Chi village in Nantou. Its leaves are very dark, almost black I would say. They smell good, a combination of honey flowery scents. A rather promising start.

This being a red tea, I used my zhuni pot to help the tea perform better and achieve a tastier result. The brew was a rich golden hue and smells a bit like concorde grapes and similar to gummy sweets. Interestingly, I picture dark purple orchids which come to mind because of its natural and rather floral scent as well.

In between brews, I dug into some savoury light bites that include hard boiled eggs and cooked ham. This red tea complements the richness of the meat very well, reminding me of the influence that tea can have in every facet of our lifestyle. The possibilities are infinite in the world of food and tea. 

In itself, the tea is rather smooth on the tongue and palate with an aftertaste that weakens significantly between brews. However, it is still possible to prepare this tea to a  maximum of 8 times in this case where the powerful overtones of floral and honeyed notes continue to be released during each infusion.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tee mit Freundinnen

Letztes Wochenende habe ich mich mit Freundinnen aus meiner Schulzeit getroffen. Wir haben 2011 Si Ji Chun Oolong und einen gekochten Pu'er-Kuchen aus “Qìng fēng xiáng” aus dem Jahre 2007 probiert.

 Wir haben unterschiedliche Tassen verwendet und in Erfahrung gebracht, wie die Glasur die Farbe, den Geruch und den Geschmack des Tees beeinflußt.

Der Tee hatte in einigen Tassen ein süßeres Aroma, während er in manchen Tassen weniger Geschmack hatte.

Es ist gut, die Zeit mit Tee zu verbringen, und noch besser, den Tee mit Freunden zu genießen.

Article in English: Tea with friends

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Alishan high mountain oolong

Feeling in a somewhat down-to-earth mood, I used dark and plain colours as well as metallic textures to construct my cha xi today. Cha xi is a term used to describe a tea setting where one can feel most at ease when preparing and enjoying his or her tea. Add to this, a nice touch of keizerskroon tulips from the market to mark the season of spring.

I brewed a high mountain lightly oxidised oolong from Alishan. Brew was light green and clear. The scent under my gaiwan lid is light, fruity and comforting. Another cool term came out of today's tea brewing session - green salad with a creamy dressing. Fresh, tastes of fleshy fruits and at the same time buttery. This is why I keep coming back to high mountain oolong tasting reviews in my blog. The characteristic notes of this tea stay the same yet can present themselves in differing intensities. At times more buttery, at others fruitier.

As this is a rather fresh oolong, I decided to help make the brew sweeter by using my Japanese kyusu to filter the water before boiling. Sweet combination and definitely makes everything feel more like spring.