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 :)