Friday, January 25, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tea portraits 1/7

I love the details that the artist (Mr Gao Xian Zhi, a rock singer and painter by profession) has included in his work. The tea master, her bamboo tea mat, tea boat, plain white cups, tea jar, pot, the kettle boiling in a secluded  corner to her left..., every piece coming together to form a harmonious cha xi that seems to be confirmed by the smile of her bespectacled companion.

Enjoy the rest of his works that I will post on my blog this week.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Life is fair (sometimes)

..and thankfully in the little things that matter. Before I started my journey of brewing 'gong fu cha' I often relied on tools like the tea scoop, the fair cup, wooden tweezers to handle hot tea cups, etc. This reliance on modern day 'innovations' led to a rather cluttered working area and I found it a challenge to give undivided attention to the single goal of brewing the tastiest tea possible.

In an effort to renew my tea experience, I did away with the scoop while handling teas such as tightly rolled oolong, use my fair cup in its new role as a gravy pot and consciously give enough focus to every tea session to ensure that no cups are overflowing at the brim that they become too hot to pick up.

Now you might wonder why I'm saying all these and how they contribute to improving the taste of tea and the overall experience. Take the fair cup for instance where you empty tea from the teapot into and then pour tea into individual tea cups. This additional step would have already decreased the temperature of the infusion, resulting in the best case, a lukewarm drink when tea touches the lips.

One could argue that the fair cup is an added dimension of convenience but something has to give, which is in this case, the diminished flavours of tea owing to temperature loss.

In this photo, you see that tea concentration is unevenly distributed from the top to the bottom of the pot. The idea is to partially fill your tea cups from left to right and then from right to left, hence filling your tea cups to about 70 - 80% full for ease of holding the cup. The result should be an equal distribution of tea for all your guests so that no one is left behind with a watery infusion or an undrinkable cup of tea.

As simple as it may sound, it isn't quite the case. Don't despair because with practice comes results.  I enjoy doing this more so because putting one's heart and soul into preparing the best possible hot cup of tea is what separates the rookies from budding tea masters.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Taiwanese teas and their geographical locations

This overview gives me a rough idea of where my favourite teas come from. Of course, it isn't meant to be an exhaustive list and the commercialised tone of this map is obvious. Nevertheless, this makes for a useful visual reference.

Note the mis-transliteration of  'Shan Lin Xi' into 'Sunlinksee'.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Midnight supper menu

Stroopwaffles and a roasted Muzha Tie Guan Yin tonight. If you have that craving for high roasted half oxidised tea but don't want to brew this on an empty stomach, try these snack pairings with salted rice crackers, walnut pastries, tiramisu, waffles, dried longans and deep fried broad beans..