Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ageing gracefully - 2012 Oriental Beauty

2012 Oriental Beauty
Many consider stashing aside pu'er teas because of their high investment potential. Of course with time, storing tea under proper conditions can also transform what used to be pure and fresh tea into something that isn't just very pure in taste, but has mellowed while its flavours have become richer. And I am not discussing pu'er teas alone. Well-made teas such as red or roasted teas can mature equally well over time and are easy to store as long as humidity levels are low and conditions are dark and cool.

For reasons above, I have placed my bet on this two-year old OB which has been deep  roasted. Its dry scents and fragrances after infusing are not as heavy or full-blown when compared to standard Oriental Beauties. Rather, they have more complexity with an overall pleasant bouquet and a depth to match.

To see if this tea is well-made, the brew should display a high level of transparency regardless of its colour.  Porcelain teaware is my favourite material of choice thanks to its non-porous nature that hardly influences the taste and flavour of tea.

It may come as a surprise to some as to why a light-tasting tea like this could evolve well with the passage of time. I will have another go at clarifying this part better. When tasting this tea, the notes felt very light yet pronounced, but not bland. In combination with the complexity and depth of this tea, the elements for a successful recipe of a tea that can age well all seem to be present. Undeniably, intuition also has a role to play in this case, and my goal as a tea drinker is to sharpen my instincts through learning and experience.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

When it gets cold and wet outside..

turning to red, roasted or raw pu'er teas feels almost intuitive. If time allows, I would slowly bring water to a boil in my tetsubin and brew red tea in a zhu ni pot to enhance the lively, fruity notes, or turn to a zi sha (purple clay) teapot to help smoothen the sharp edge in young roasted teas that I cannot wait to try! As for raw pu'ers, a thermos on the go seems the quickest way of getting the most out of this relatively expensive tea type. Occasionally, a zhuan tai teapot comes into play. The use of various clays with different intentions in mind is what is most perplexing, and I dare say fun. Also, by comparing teas brewed in a thermos as opposed to the traditional gong fu style, one grows to appreciate the harmonious, enhancing effects of clay. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Resolutions on the tea side of things

Shan Lin Xi red water oolong
Conventional wisdom has it that what you spent time doing on New Year's Eve is pretty much what you will be doing for a good part of the coming year. I was of course brewing teas that I enjoy and mentally listing some areas where I could have done better when it comes to appreciating teas.

1. Reading - Over the last three years, my pile of tea readings went from zero to roughly 10 books, none of which I have completed. This year, it is about time to take them on!

2. Tea stash - Good teas are your best teachers. Looking back on 2013, I probably only brewed tea once every day. In 2014, I will endeavour to increase this frequency to a modest three times daily and consequently more blog entries of course.

3. Theory and practise - Combining the two requires feeding one's circle of learning with reading, tasting, experimenting and a stronger presence of mind.