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Archive for the ‘tea facts’ Category

As you know, I was on the prowl for Yixing Teaware, that fortunately ended in a purchase of multiple teapots. This all began from my quest to understand different brewing techniques. Over and over again, my search directed me to Gongfu or Kungfu cha brewing. Thus my search for Yixing Teaware. Backed by a successful purchase – guided by Jo of YaYa House of Excellent Teas and Jason, author of Bearsblog – I am now on the hunt for a recommended Gongfu or Kungfu cha Brewing Technique.

First, I believe a little history is important. There should always be purpose and understanding behind our actions.

According to Wikipedia, Gongfu or Kungfu cha is a tradition of the Minnan and Chaozhou or Chaoshan people. Kungfu cha teapot brewing, also know as Kungfu cha ceremony uses small Yixing Teapots of about 4 or 5 fluid ounces to enhance the aesthetics, and more importantly “round out” the taste of the tea being brewed. Yixing teapot brewing leans towards the formal, but is used for private enjoyment of the tea as well as for welcoming guests.

Now on to the actual brewing technique. The following steps are one popular way to brew tea in a form considered to be a kind of art.

Brewing Technique #1

  1. Boil water.
  2. Rinse the teapot with hot water.
  3. Fill the teapot with tea leaves up to one third of the height of the pot.
  4. Rinse the tea leaves by filling the pot with hot water up to half full and draining the water immediately leaving only tea leaves behind. (This step, and all subsequent steps involving pouring water, should be performed in a large bowl to catch any overflow.)
  5. Pour more hot water into the teapot and pour water over the teapot in the large bowl. Bubbles should not be permitted to be formed in the teapot. The infusion should not be steeped for too long: 30 seconds is an appropriate maximum.
  6. Pour the first infusion into small serving cups within a minute by continuously moving the teapot around over the cups. Each cup of tea is expected to have the same flavour, aroma and colour. The nature of this procedure almost mandates the use of some form of drip tray to catch further spillage.
  7. Pour excess tea from the first infusion, and all tea from further infusions, into a second teapot after steeping. It is possible to draw five or six good infusions from a single pot of tea, but subsequent infusions must be extended somewhat in duration to extract maximum flavour: the second infusion extended by approximately ten seconds to 40 seconds, the third extended to 45, etc.

Later today, I will publish the second technique found during my reaserch. My purpose… to find the best Gongfu or Kungfu cha Brewing Technique.

This is a call to experienced Gongfu or Kungfu cha Brewers. After reading this and subsequent posted techniques, which do you prefer. If neither, please submit your preferred Gongfu or Kungfu cha Brewing Technique either as a comment to this post or via email: teaescapade@yahoo.com.

Until Then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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One of my recent posts “Yixing Teaware – How Do I Decide?” spawned great conversation between more experienced tea drinkers than myself. Kudos to their knowledge of tea and teaware. Jason Fasi the writer of Bearsblog identified several other key points one purchasing their first Yixing teapot may want to consider.

Jason recommended that purchasers match the teapot to the tea it is intended for. The physical traits of the teapot, including shape, type of clay, thickness of its walls, size of the opening of the lid, and pour time all influence how a tea brewed in the pot will taste. As a Yixing novice, I never considered these things.

The basis of this consideration surrounds the characteristics of the tea being brewed. Jason contends that one should consider what happens to the tea when brewed too hot or too cold, if the tea is finicky about brewing times, etc. This is a lot to take in, especially since I don’t know how each of the pot’s physical traits impact brewing and taste. However, Jason wasn’t done giving sage advice yet.

“Also, you should consider your tea aesthetics when considering how decorative or simple you want the pot. Decoration can make seasoning the exterior of the pot more difficult, insomuch that more texture means more difficulty in achieving an even patina, if that’s any concern. Some people prefer an uneven patina, because the pot looks more used and loved. Lighter-colored clays are also difficult to season evenly.”

Lastly, be sure to know how to tell the difference between real yixing pots, chaozhou clay pots, Taiwanese clay pots, or else that perfect “yixing” may not be what you expected. This may not matter, as long as it brews good tea and seasons well. But, be aware that Taiwanese and Chaozhou clay pots are generally very cheap compared to Yixing.”

WOW! Jason has given me a lot to think about. I have already purchased two Yixing teapots with coordinated cups. Aesthetically, they are beautiful and I cannot wait until their arrival. Yes, I will post about them including pictures. However, until they arrive I will continue my research. The first question, I would like to pose is “How do you tell the difference between real yixing pots, chaozhou clay pots, and Taiwanese clay pots?”

I lool forward to your answers as we all learn together. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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Yes, I am still searching for the perfect Yixing Teapot. However, after my last post, I feel much more equipped to make an informed purchase. This is due the email I received from Jo, the proprietor of YaYa House of Excellent Teas in New Zealand as well as additional research.

Jo shared some advice from her vast wealth of tea knowledge. Many of my concerns about purchasing Yixing teaware were put to rest. First and foremost, I narrowed my concerns down to the following five questions:

1. What is my purpose for purchasing Yixing Teaware? My initial desire to purchase Yixing Teaware was created out of my love for learning – Yixing Teaware comprises traditional teapots and cups made from Yixing clay. Originating in China, Yixing Teaware dates back to the 15th century and is made from clay produced in the region of the town of Yixing, in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu. As a true lover of tea – how could I not be interested in the origins of my habit? Next the opportunity to partake in a traditional tea brewing technique – Gongfu style brewing. And finally, to behold the beauty – Yixing Teaware is made by artists… craftsman with each pot containing unique characteristics of its own.

2. How many people people will join in my tea drinking experience? I tend to drink tea alone therefore, I don’t need a large pot. My first mistake, according to Jo, was in the selection of a pot that was entirely too large for Gongfu style brewing. There are a few variations of the performance of Gongfu style brewing. Here is one known technique:

  • Boil water.
  • Rinse the teapot with hot water.
  • Fill the teapot with tea leaves up to one third of the height of the pot.
  • Rinse the tea leaves by filling the pot with hot water up to half full and draining the water immediately leaving only tea leaves behind. (This step, and all subsequent steps involving pouring water, should be performed in a large bowl to catch any overflow.)
  • Pour more hot water into the teapot and pour water over the teapot in the large bowl. Bubbles should not be permitted to be formed in the teapot. The infusion should not be steeped for too long: 30 seconds is an appropriate maximum.
  • Pour the first infusion into small serving cups within a minute by continuously moving the teapot around over the cups. Each cup of tea is expected to have the same flavour, aroma and colour. The nature of this procedure almost mandates the use of some form of drip tray to catch further spillage.
  • Pour excess tea from the first infusion, and all tea from further infusions, into a second teapot after steeping. It is possible to draw five or six good infusions from a single pot of tea, but subsequent infusions must be extended somewhat in duration to extract maximum flavour: the second infusion extended by approximately ten seconds to 40 seconds, the third extended to 45, etc.
Even if I were brewing for multiple people traditional Yixing Teaware uses small 2 – 4 ounce teacups. With this in mind, Jo recommended a teapot with the capacity to hold no more than 6 to 8 ounces. In addition, when brewing, the tea leaves are poured directly into the pot. It would take a lot of tea leaves to brew a 12, 24, or 32 ounce pot of tea. Not to mention expensive.

3. What types of tea do I brew most often? Yixing teapots are meant for use with black and oolong teas, as well as aged puerh tea. You can also brew green/white tea, but it is important to let the water cool down to around 85 degrees before pouring the water into the pot. Why does the type of tea matter?  Since the clay is porous, it is best to utilize one pot for a particular tea or tea group, depending on your personal preference and intention. The fine texture and porous finish allows each vessel to absorb the essence of the teas brewed within creating a character and uniqueness to each individual pot.

4. Do I plan to be a collector of Yixing Teaware? No, therefore purchasing one of the expensive teapots I found priced up to $1500.00 is unnecessary. Jo informed me that I should expect to purchase a Yixing Teapot with a price range from $20.00 to $50.00 – depending upon the intricacy of the design.

Armed with this knowledge, I am now ready to purchase Yixing Teaware. I give many thanks to the proprietor of YaYa House of Excellent Teas. Additionally, I am grateful for all of the Internet sites available containing the Yixing information for my research. Feel free to opine to this post with information of your own. With better knowledge we are empowered to make better decisions.

Happy Tea Drinking!

References: 

1. Yixing clay teapot. (2008, July 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:33, July 22, 2008, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Yixing_clay_teapot&oldid=226635019

2. Yixing tea pots differ greatly from other brewing vessels. Beth Johnston. In Learn About Tea.Com. Retrieved 04:33, July 22, 2008, from http://www.learn-about-tea.com/yixing.html

3. Chinese tea culture. (2008, July 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:43, July 22, 2008, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Chinese_tea_culture&oldid=226030124

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Intrigued by my recent experience with Darjeeling Goomtee (2nd Flush), I wanted to know a little more. In my abbreviated research I found:  

“Darjeeling Tea” means tea which has been cultivated, grown, produced, manufactured and processed in the 86 Tea Estates also known as tea gardens in Darjeeling, India.  Only teas coming from these estates can be called Darjeeling Tea.

Tea planting in the Indian district of Darjeeling began in 1841 by Dr. Campbell, a civil surgeon of the Indian Medical Service.  Interestingly, Dr. Campbell, who had been transferred to Darjeeling in 1839, used the seeds of tea plants from China. Thus the actual Darjeeling taste originated from the Chinese black tea plant.  The “Darjeeling taste” simply refers to the soil in which the tea is cultivated. Experimental tea plantation by Dr. Campbell and others occurred during the 1840s. During that same period, the government established tea nurseries. Commercial exploitation began during the 1850s.
 
Traditionally, Darjeeling teas are classified as a type of black tea. However, the modern Darjeeling style employs a hard wither (35-40 % remaining leaf weight after withering), which in turn causes an incomplete oxidation for many of the best teas of this designation. Technically this level of oxidation makes them a form of oolong. The experts say that many Darjeeling teas also appear to be a blend of teas oxidized to levels of green, oolong, and black.

There are several varieties or flavors of darjeeling teas. These varieties are described as follows:

  • 1st Flush is harvested in mid-March following spring rains, and has a gentle, very light color, aroma and mild astringency.
  • In Between is harvested between the two “flush” periods.
  • 2nd Flush is harvested in June and produces an amber, full bodied, muscatel-flavored cup.
  • Monsoon or Rains tea is harvested in the monsoon (or rainy season) between 2nd Flush and Autumnal, is less withered, consequently more oxidized, and usually sold at lower prices. It is rarely exported.
  • Autumnal Flush is harvested in the autumn after the rainy season, and has somewhat less delicate flavour and less spicy tones.

The Darjeeling Goomtee (2nd Flush) tea from Tea Logic, I recently tasted and reviewed is characteristic of the above description. I cannot wait to try some of the other Darjeeling varieties. If there a Darjeeling that you recommend feel free to comment.  Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

References: Darjeeling tea. (2008, June 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:54, July 4, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Darjeeling_tea&oldid=221497850

Darjeeling tea history. In Darjeeling News. Net. Retreived July 7, 2008, from http://www.darjeelingnews.net/darjeeling_tea.html

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Yerba Mate

Recently, the hubby and I had dinner with a couple he knows from work. During the course of the evening, to my husband’s chagrin, we managed to have a great discussion about tea. It was then that I learned about Yerba Mate, the drink of Argentina. I never cease to be amazed by the universal nature of tea – regardless of the country, culture, or tea plants native to the country there is always a ceremonial tea drink.

About a week later, Mike brought home from work a huge baggy full of Yerba Mate, a traditional drinking gourd (cuia), and bombilla (a straw with a strainer on the end). Additionally, included in my care package was a postcard published by Chronicle Books summarizing Mate origins, the Mate ceremony and Mate Preparation instructions.  Imagine my excitement. 

Composition: Simply Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) a shrub native to South America.

Dry Visual: Very very green. Yerba Mate reminds me of crushed dried leaves or alternatively dried oregano.

Dry Aroma: Purely vegetal with a slight hint of sweetness.

Flavor:  On its face, everything about Yerba Mate is simplistic – the composition, aroma, visual appearance. Everything that is, but the flavor. Yerba Mate has a surprisingly robust flavor that I am floundering to adequately describe. After preparing the Yerba Mate in the the traditional gourd, I must admit, I found this indigenous South American drink to be very vegetal and quite bitter. After adding a teaspoon of sugar, the Yerba Mate was palatable. During the second infusion, the bitterness began to subside. During the second through eighth infusions, the Yerba Mate was truly delicious only requiring minimal amounts of sugar thereafter. According to the brewing instructions, I could have brewed seven to twelve more times. I only stopped because I felt “tea-logged”.

Liquor: A bright green unlike any other tea I have ever seen.

Brewing Time: I have been unable to find consensus on brewing techniques for Yerba Mate. According to my information there is no specified brewing time as the gourd (filled with Yerba Mate to the half point) is filled with cold water first, sealing in the nutrients and simultaneously causing the Yerba Mate to swell. The mixture is followed by hot not boiling water and drunk until empty. However, after searching several tea websites to purchase more Yerba Mate, I discovered a variety of brewing instructions.
Manufacturer: I found Yerba Mate for sale on the websites of Dragonwater, Teavana, and Stash Tea.
Caffeine: Yes.

Special Note: Mate is the national drink of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil where it is consumed 6 to 1 over coffee.  With 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, numerous antioxidants and naturally occurring caffeine, Yerba Mate is considered natures most balanced stimulant (Jansdotter, 2004).

Yesterday after drinking another seven or eight gourds full of Yerba Mate, I am in need of more. Last night I placed an order for several new teas, including Yerba Mate, from Dragonwater. I cannot wait to compare to the Yerba Mate I have recently been drinking.  Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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I often have told friends and family alike, that if I had my life to live again, I probably would have become a food critic. Certainly not for my love of cooking – but most definitely for my love of eating. I love the many flavors and textures of food. In essence, I believe this is what spawned my love of tea. The opportunity to try something new – to enjoy the flavors, aromas, and textures afforded by the different varieties of tea. This is now, but not always.

For years, out of custom or some would say habit, I drank black tea. Lipton to be precise.  My grandmother made Lipton Tea, my mother made Lipton tea, and as the story goes, I made Lipton tea. On occasion, when enjoying dinner at a local Chinese Restaurant, I would enjoy a tasty cup of green tea. Otherwise, my tea drinking routine was just that… routine. It is amazing what surprises you will find when you do a “simple” thing like stepping outside of your comfort zone.

I had no knowledge of Rooibos until a co-worker purchased and surprised me with a tin of African Autumn. My research led me to understand that Rooibos, Red Tea, Redbush Tea or any of the other names for which it is known is actually derived from the Aspalathus Linearis plant not the tea bush, Camellia Sinensis. For those of you like me who did not know, Aspalathus Linearis is a broom-like member of the legume family of plants.

Based upon my Internet search, Rooibos is grown only in a small area in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape province in south west South Africa. Generally, the leaves are oxidized.  This process produces the distinctive reddish-brown color of rooibos and enhances the flavour. However, unoxidized also known as  “green” rooibos, is produced. The more demanding production process for green rooibos (similar to the method by which green tea is produced) makes it more expensive than traditional rooibos.

As with tea derived from the tea bush, Camellia Sinensis, Rooibos can be blended with other flavors to produce unique tasting teas. Orange, mango, vanilla, cranberry, and almond to name a few. Unlike many other teas, increased brewing time enhances the flavor. I can think of one particular brewing fiasco – my first Pu-erh experience.

According to my research, Rooibos is commonly served with milk and sugar in Africa, but elsewhere it is usually served without. The flavor of rooibos tea is often described as being sweet (without sugar added) and slightly nutty. Ironically, I have struggled with finding just the right words to describe Rooibos in my tea reviews. Sweet was easy, nutty was that missing “something” I struggled to pinpoint. Preparation of rooibos tea is essentially the same as black, white, and green tea. This is really good to know, as I recall once again my Pu-erh brewing fiasco.

If you would like to read more about Rooibos, I recently found a great article that also provides a little Rooibos history as well. Just follow the link to “Rooibos Tea” written by Chris Cason for Tea Muse. Until we meet again… Happy Tea Drinking!

Reference: Rooibos. (2008, May 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:55, May 21, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rooibos&oldid=212352996

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As always, it is important for me to satisfy my thirst for knowledge. This week, I enjoyed a couple of oolong teas – until this point, I never had the opportunity to brew and taste an Oolong. So, as I am sure you tea connoisseurs already know, I set out to discover, What is Oolong?

According to Wikipedia, Oolong is a traditional Chinese tea somewhere between green and black in oxidation. In Chinese tea culture, semi-oxidized oolong teas are collectively grouped as qīngchá (Chinese: 青茶; literally “blue-green tea”). Oolong has a taste more akin to green tea than to black tea: it lacks the rosy, sweet aroma of black tea but it likewise does not have the stridently grassy vegetal notes that typify green tea. It is commonly brewed to be strong, with the bitterness leaving a sweet aftertaste. Several sub-varieties of oolong, including those produced in the Wuyi Mountains of northern Fujian and in the central mountains of Taiwan, are among the most famous Chinese teas.

Oolong tea leaves are processed in two different ways. Some teas are rolled into long curly leaves, while some are pressed into a ball-like form similar to gunpowder tea. The former method of processing is the older of the two.

The Fanciest Formosa Oolong I drank earlier this week contained long curly leaves and did have a lighter taste. However, the Apple Oolong I enjoyed later this week was pressed into ball-like forms similar to gunpowder tea. I have to say that I noticed a distinct difference in the flavor – there was a distinct smokey taste identified in the Apple Oolong. Whether it was the processing method used or the quality of the Oolong, I cannot be sure. As I am new to drinking Oolong, I cannot opine. For those of you with Oolong experience, how can I tell the difference in Oolong quality?

Happy Tea Drinking!

Reference: Oolong. (2008, May 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:35, May 19, 2008, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Oolong&oldid=209490367

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 What a joy to wake up in the morning and have a new tea to sample. Especially this morning, as it is one of three days that I go into work late. Without hesitation, I reached for one of my new teas from Hou De Fine Teas.

With optimal time to steep a warm cup of loose tea, I prepared to enjoy a cuppa 2003 Yi-Chan-Hao Yi-Ban Wild-arbor Cake.  Please note, I have garnered a lot of excitement from my tea-loving friends who have been subjected to my incessant discussion about Puerh. It is like a whole new world has opened up to me and I cannot wait to steep, taste, and share. So… on with the review:

 Composition: This young green cake was made of the broad-leaf leaves found on the wild-arbor type tea trees from XiShuangBanna. It is uncooked, which is original form of pu-erh. Simply stated, new uncooked pu-erh teas have little or no fermentation.

Dry Visual: Dark brown leaves with lighter brown/tan leaves interspersed. Mostly whole leaves there are a few crushed leaves intermingled in this loose tea.

Dry Aroma: A solid yet not overwhelming smokiness. 

Flavor: A full bodied tea with a light smoky flavor and sweet undertones. This experience is much different from the Puerh I enjoyed over the weekend. Albeit the brewing errors!  I only tasted one infusion, therefore, I will brew the 2003 Yi-Chan-Hao Yi-Ban Wild-arbor Cake again to provide an updated review on subsequent infusions. As always, my first few tastes were without a sweetener. I must say that I could easily drink this Puehr with or without – although my preference for a sweeter tea leads me to add honey.

Liquor: A beautiful amber hue.

Brewing Time: After the first 30 second wash, I brewed the 2003 Yi-Chan-Hao Yi-Ban Wild-arbor Cake for 1 minute.

Manufacturer: XiShuangBanna Cha-Tai Tea Factory – both the harvest and production years are 2003. Ordered from Hou De Fine Tea.

Caffeine: Yes

Special Note: There are three types of tea trees in Yunnan: Antique Trees, Old Trees, and New Trees. Antique Trees refer to those more than 100 year old arbor tea trees, mostly wild in the fields and mountains. Old Trees refer to those more than 30 year old tea trees. Most of them are semi-wild: they were from wild arbor type tea trees, but were planted in tea farms. Now that the tea farms are gone, the surviving tea trees become semi-wild. New Trees refer to those now planted in the tea farms – typically, they are short bush-type tea trees.

Reference: Hou De Fine Artisan Art website. Retrieved on April 30, 2008 from the Puerh Information Page, http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php?main_page=puerhinfo&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f&zenAdminID=3608e2b6132ad0959adf65d2fe23ae6f

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Puerh Error

After chatting with another tea lover today, I discovered that perhaps I was hasty in my Puerh judgment. To truly decipher the flavor, I should have re-used my original tea leaves and brewed the Puerh again. This second brewing would have unfolded additional flavors potentially hidden by the smokiness tasted in the first cup.  Ironically, I am sure that I read similar techniques on the sites of several Puerh aficionados. Obviously, I was not paying enough attention. Thus began my search to uncover the appropriate brewing technique for Puerh…

Initially, I was unable to find conclusive instructions. Some websites/blogs stated the necessity to wash the Puerh prior to brewing, while others stated that Puerhs should be brewed like any other loose tea.

According to Wikipedia, Pu-erh is expected to be served Gongfu style, generally in Yixing tea-ware or in a type of Chinese teacup called a gaiwan. Optimum temperatures are generally regarded to be around 95 degree Celsius for lower quality pu-erhs and 85-89 degree Celsius for good ripened and aged raw pu-erh. Steeping times last from 12-30 seconds in the first few infusions, up to 2-10 minutes in the last infusions. The prolonged steeping techniques used by some western tea makers can produce dark, bitter, and unpleasant brews. Quality aged pu-erh can yield many more infusions, with different flavour nuances when brewed in the traditional Gong-Fu method.

If I rely solely upon the information found in Wikipedia, it appears that I made three definite errors: 1. water temperature – too hot; 2. steeping time – entirely too long; 3. number of infusions – only one.  Gongfu style? Gaiwan teacups? Is it incorrect to brew and NOT use these techniques?

Still full of questions, I decided to continue my research efforts. The next site I visited was PuerhShop.com. Seeking additional clarification, it was here that I located the following Puerh brewing instructions.

How to prepare Pu-erh Tea?

Step 1: Pry 3-5g tea off the cake/brick/tuo with Pu-erh knife and add tea leaves to a Yixing teapot or Gaiwan.

Step 2: Pour boiling water into the teapot, give the tea leaves a rinse for up to 30 seconds. Then draining the water out, leaving only the soaked tea leaves.

Step 3: Fill the teapot with boiling water again, cover the lid. After steeping 20 seconds – 1 minute (according to your desired strength), the tea can be poured into a tea pitcher to be served.

Step 4: repeat step 3 for 5 or 8 times. Gradually increase steeping time for subsequent brewing.

I was beginning to see some similarities in my research findings. My inqusitive nature required that I seek out one more source. Because my Google search started supplying the same results over and over again, I decided to skip convention and seek out the blog of a well known lover of Puerh. Thus, my final stop was on Ancient Tea Horse Road, a blog dedicated to Puerh. The author of this blog is a die-hard Puerh drinker. Visit and watch a great video demonstrating the proper brewing technique for Puerh. Which I might add shows, the Gongfu technique.

Each of the sources above confirmed in glaring clarity my initial mistakes. While the Gongfu technique is preferred, thankfully it is not required. Currently, I do not own the tea-ware necessary to brew Gongfu style – which is now next on my list of tea accessory purchases. Armed with knowledge, I decided to brew the Puerh again.

I am now drinking my second infusion. With correct brewing, I noticed a significant reduction in the smoky taste. In addition, the floral undertones are definitely present. One caveat – the second cup left my mouth feeling very dry. Knowledge is certainly powerful! Time to finish my tea. Until I post again… Happy Tea Drinking! 

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While sorting through the mail on Friday, I was extremely exited to see a box from Hou De Fine Tea. Finally, my new tea had arrived! The only thing standing between me a highly anticipated cup of tea was preparation time.

When I opened the package, I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only did Hou De Fine Tea send the tea I ordered, they also included an extra sample. The bonus tea sample… 2008 Taiwan Tai-Tung “hao Xian Bi Lu” Green. My excitement could not be contained.

That is until I decided to have a cuppa. Therein lies the conundrum… which of the four teas should I brew today?

My eyes landed upon a tea of much acclaim, yet new to my palate – a Puerh.

 

Composition: This young green cake was made of mao cha (a mostly unoxidized green tea) from Bulang, NanNuo, and Ge-Lan-He area with a portion of 06 big-leaf mao cha from old plantations in NanNuo. 

Dry Visual: Dark green almost brown leaves with lighter green leaves interspersed. Mostly whole leaves there are a few crushed leaves and twigs alike intermingled in this loose tea. (A picture of the wet tea is included below.)

Dry Aroma: A strong smokiness blended with an earthy/woodsy smell. 

Flavor: Upon the first sip I was somewhat surprised by the smokiness of this brew -I have never tasted a smoky tea.  Surprisingly, the 5th International Aged Puerh Appreciation Memorial Dragon cake, was smooth with no hint of bitterness. My first few tastes were without a sweetener, while this tea can be enjoyed without, my preference would be to add a little honey. In my humble opinion, the honey balanced the smokiness giving this Puerh a more rounded flavor.

Liquor: A beautiful amber hue.

Brewing Time: Unable to find a recommended brewing time, I opted for 5 minutes.

Manufacturer: Chang Tai Factory. It was blended by Mr. Huang Chuan-Fan of Jing Mei Tang and processed by Chang Tai. Ordered from Hou De Fine Tea.

Caffeine: Yes

Special Note: The harvest year for 5th International Aged Puerh Appreciation Memorial Dragon cake is 2006/2007. The Production Year = 2007. It is the official Memorial cake for their 5th International Aged Puerh Appreciation party!

What is Puerh?

Puerh is a type of tea made from a “large leaf” variety of the tea plant Camellia sinensis and named after Pu’er County near Simao, Yunnan, China.

Sheng pu-erh can be roughly classified on the tea oxidation scale as a green tea and the shou variant as post-fermented tea. The fact that pu-erh fits in more than one tea type poses some problems for classification. For this reason, the “green tea” aspect of pu-erh is sometimes ignored. Many tea specialist argue that pu-erhs should have their own class.

I really enjoyed the Puerh. I cannot say it is my favorite – I am not sure how I feel about the strength of the smokiness. I will have to drink another cup to settle my feelings. What I would love to know is if the strong smoky flavor is characteristic of all Puerhs. Any insight would be appreciated.

Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

Reference: Pu-erh tea. (2008, April 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:38, April 28, 2008, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pu-erh_tea&oldid=207695304

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