Saturday, August 9, 2014

The 'NO label tea' movement - an objective approach to tea tasting

As a tea-practitioner who reads beyond labels, I am initiating the 'NO label tea' movement to promote a relatively more objective and rational approach to tea appreciation and degustation.

To start the ball rolling, simply purchase a 10 g mini sampler pack of my 'NO label tea' at 9 USD each (inclusive of shipping), write to me: about your thoughts and tasting notes of the mystery tea sample mailed to you, and stand a chance to win for yourself any 20 g or 30 g tea packs from my bou-TEA-que selection of your choice!

#nolabeltea #teamovement

 To improve your chances of winning and most importantly to encourage objective tea-tasting methods, ten best entries will be selected :) Can't wait!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Qilaishan Spring 2013 Oolong

Ever-lasting freshness of spring
A spoonful of high-mountain goodness
Cool chaxi hues on a summer day..
1. Colour changes at the rim 2.Water dries up 3. Tea is ready!
The last drop.
Relishing the dewy scents of Mount Qilai..
..followed by a subtle yet complex aftertaste.
Clarity and luminosity - traits of a high quality brew
Fresh, lively and soothing oolong tea notes
A harmonious brew satisfies any thirsty soul
Only the right teas can inspire the right photos - thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Alishan soft-stemmed oolong

Olive green chabu and fresh oolong - what a match!
What this world needs in this day and age is some peace, tranquility and time-out from the press. An olive green keffiyeh seemed like the best choice of chabu for today's chaxi. Green also happens to be my favourite colour since it soothes our tired eyes.

For the purpose of comparing materials, I opted for a porcelain teapot today, something that is more readily available than a Zhuni teapot. 'He' is a big guy (roughly four cups of tea) with enough room for these tightly-rolled oolong balls to unfurl. Gong fu cha brewing is always about extracting the best fragrances, taste and flavours from your teas. For this to happen, tea leaves must always be opened by the strength of our pour and heat from freshly boiled water.

The pre-heating step also gives us a clue if the pot might be too big or too small to fill all three cups. In this case, I would have to adjust my infusion volume to a lesser amount. Doing so helps us to avoid the issue of  '等杯', waiting for cups to empty the teapot.

With three cups of tea nicely filled, one could take time to reflect on his pouring skills (all part and parcel of the Gong fu cha package ;-)) - how much tea dripped and how even is the tea concentration in every cup. Such reflection actually brings the essence of gongfu tea brewing back into focus if you are seeking to improve your techniques.

In my few short years of studying gongfu cha, I have come to realise that attention to detail and a high level of concentration form the core of converting techniques to excellent tea brewing skills!

With a porcelain teapot, tea notes appear to be gently skipping on my tongue with a bright, clean taste. The relatively long aftertaste coats the tongue evenly like rich butter. The scent of green apples fills the breath as I exhale.

The right teas always require the right teaware, and the right teaware doesn't always come with a big price tag to beat.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Open-faced green tea brew

Tasting this year's fresh Biluochun from Lin Hwa Tai tea shop
Fresh, lively and sweet, almost transparent brew
The metallic sheen on my pewter coasters imparts a very cool sensation on today's chaxi
Summer's heat is long gone

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tea in a bamboo sanctuary

Enjoying a roasted tea in summer!
To stave my drowsiness off one hot afternoon, I picked a full-bodied, roasted red water oolong from Dongding last spring. Using a very gentle and slow pour on these leaves, I obtained a rather balanced infusion that remains sweet and robust in my hot-water flask. The depth of its sweetness reminded me of a sweet caramalised layer on a creme brulee. There was also a hint of sugarcane fragrance!

In the company and shade of these young bamboo plants (swaying ever so slightly in the sparse afternoon breeze), I was able to silence my mind and focussed on this tea's roasted fragrance that lingers on quietly, then quickly followed by a very clean aftertaste.

Outdoor temperature was 35 degree Celsius that day but I felt much cooler than that! A peaceful and green sanctuary paired with some great tea. Yum..

To brew this tea at home, you can watch the following video: 2013 Spring Dongding (LG) red water soft-stemmed oolong.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Qi Lai Shan Spring Oolong

High mountain goodness in a pot - note the evenly opened leaves that result in a harmonious brew
High mountain freshness that never seems to fade
Sweet, mineraly and fresh aftertaste
It is hard to express the taste of this tea with words...
....perhaps these batik colours and patterns can convey much much more :) 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ramadan Kareem - in this generous month of Ramadan

Copyright © 2014 Miss Tea Delight 茶悦人生

Wishing all my Muslim friends a blessed month of Ramadan.

The chaxi of earthly hues :)

In this month of generosity and gratitude, let us not forget to also share our special teas with our loved ones and family ;-)

Mixiang red tea with lively honeyed notes!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Inventive ways to combat the summer heat

Copyright © 2014 Miss Tea Delight 茶悦人生
An ice-cold beer sounds like the obvious choice of drink for a warm summer day. Hot tea may sound almost counter-intuitive, but in the Middle East, a cup of black tea is very often the most popular beverage ordered from the menu even during sweltering summer months.

Copyright © 2014 Miss Tea Delight 茶悦人生
While kids prefer to cool themselves in the shallow water pools on the marbled mosque compounds, adults prefer their hot cups of tea in the tree shades, very often with cubes of sugar. In our glasses, not, which is why you spot an unopened sugar jar to the left. According to the locals, hot tea cools them down more effectively than an iced drink. The heat from the tea helps them perspire, detox and feel refreshed for longer periods of time.

Copyright © 2014 Miss Tea Delight 茶悦人生
When in the comforts of my personal tea space, I would go for a high mountain oolong that refreshes my palates and overheated surroundings! A Ming dynasty painting of  wild orchids and bamboos adds to the 'cooling effect' of today's chaxi :-) Decorating one's tea table is a rather personal affair. However, the principles remain pretty much similar - a chaxi that offers a visual representation of what you are about to experience and taste! In our case, an Alishan high mountain green oolong tea..

Soft-stemmed oolong from last spring...mmm.. much of the light green and floral scents can still be experienced in this high mountain tea. A porcelain tea pot, warming the teaware beforehand and a strong pour of boiled water will help bring out the best flavours and taste this promising Alishan 2013 Spring Oolong.

My sensory evalutation comprises of the following: colour of brew, scents, taste. 1) Colour of brew is a of a bright, strong yellow and green hue paired with a high level of transparency.

2) A highly complex floral scent that you cannot get enough of and a hint of green apple as I exhale after a few sips of tea. 3) This tea presents itself with a rather high resolution on the tongue, coating it very evenly. It is fruity and has a sugarcane sweetness with no unpleasant roughness especially towards the back of the mouth cavity.

On this day when the thermometer reads above 30 degree celsius temperatures, this oolong quenches my parched throat very well. The aftertaste is long and comfortable as I type, words can flow thanks to the inspiration I get from my already eighth cup of tea. The mind is cool and the soul comforted ;-)

茶悦人生 Cha2 Yue4 Ren2 Sheng1 - Tea as one of life's (affordable) pleasures!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Saying goodbye - a tang classic

Hongni red clay yixing teapot, 1970s
The teapot that tells a story about departure. To one side, we see engravings of a chinese landscape. It depicts a scene where famous Tang poet bade his friend farewell. The following is the English translation courtesy of Mr. Andrew W.F. Wong:

Wang Changling (698-757): At the Lotus Inn to Bid Adieu to Xin Jian

1 Tonight, into Wu, o’er the River, it rains of sleet so keen;
2 Come dawn alone you’ll depart, by the hills of Chu in between.
3 If my kin and kith in Louyang, should after me they ask, well
4 My heart is ice immaculate, abiding in a vessel pristine.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)     譯者: 黄宏發
11th January 2009 (revised 13.1.09; 14.1.09; 15.1.09; 19.1.09; 18.2.09)
Translated from the original - 王昌齡: 芙蓉樓送辛漸

1 寒雨連江(天)夜入吳
2 平明送客楚山孤
3 洛陽親友如相問
4 一片冰心在玉壺

Tang poem, by Wang Changling

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Teaware giveaways with a Southeast Asian flair

For every 55 USD spending and above on teas or teaware items, I will be giving away selected teaware pieces that define Southeast Asian pottery style.

You would have probably seen some of these pieces in my blog entries & videos from time to time. This blue and white Lingzhi mushroom (another favourite symbol for longevity) bowl  for instance, is a common everyday rice bowl. Just as wine cups are sometimes 'misused' as tea cups, such is the tolerant environment in the Asian context.

For me, I very often use these bowls to brew large quenching bowls of green tea on a hot summer day. Alternatively, it can also serve as a waste water bowl. We sometimes also use this as a soup or dessert bowl! The free-style strokes remain elegantly relaxed without overpowering the rest of the picture.