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Everything posted by LuckyGirl

  1. O.K. Richard, you have convinced me to hold off on purchasing a Yixing pot. I will pick up a gaiwan cup, or two, later this week when I hit the Asian import stores for a few staples. This will allow me to look for and handle yixings in person and get more of a feel for them before I buy one. I was so taken with the whole experience using a small yixing pot and having tea gongfu style over the weekend that I really wanted to continue that method but I can do that with the gaiwan cup. In the mean time I will keep using my tetsubin which has served me well thus far. It has a nice big basket that almost touches the bottom of the pot so I am able to make smaller brews than what the pot is designed for. There is of course, a lot of "head room" but I don't think that will effect my brewing in a way that makes a big difference. The basket allows the whole leaves plenty of movement though certainly not as much as floating around freely would. If I were brewing a tea with larger leaves or a tea on stems I suppose I would let it float in the pot without the basket but for now the basket has been fine. Which leads me to a question. One of the teas I had over the weekend was leaves on stems (an alishan oolong). It was one of the most astringent teas I've had thus far. Wouldn't the stems contibute to that tanniness?
  2. Richard, You mentioned in a post on this thread that there are a lot of fake Yixing pots made from clays passed of as Yixing and to buy your Yixing pot from a source you trust. Can you recommend a few sources for Yixing pots? I have already checked out the pots at Tea Source since I was on their site reading about the tea you had today. Are they a reliable source for pots as well as tea? TIA, Diane
  3. LuckyGirl

    Dinner! 2009

    That looks SO good. Care to share the recipe or at least the basic gist of it? In reference to the potato and tomato pie, don't know where the "quote" went, user error I'm sure.
  4. Tell me about the Handmade Nilgiri. I read the description on Tea Source and it sounds lovely. I have put it on my list to try. Would love to hear your tasting impressions.
  5. Yes, what Wholemeal Crank said. It's probably astringency, which is dryness to the front...a little pucker. It should not get bitter unless you over steep it. Dragonwell can be wonderful. You may enjoy brewing this a little stronger...a leaf to water ratio of say 2.0 - 2.5 g (teaspoon) to 6 - 8 ounces of water.
  6. On their website the tea is calles "2009 Spring Tea" on the website it is described as a "special selection of "Green Oolong" that is delivered fresh from this year's spring harvest and has been judged worthy by Ten Ren's tea experts to be this year's Spring Tea 2009" I have two Pouchongs from them that I am eager to try, probably later this week.
  7. I am trying one of my sample packs of Dragonwell from Ten Ren. This one is 2008 First Flush Organic Dragonwell. I am liking it a good bit. It is slightly green and vegetal in an enjoyable way for me. I tried the 2009 Spring, Green Oolong last week and I did not care for it at all. It was very vegetal and green, like artichokes, too much so for me and it was also very thin. This dragonwell though is just slightly green and vegetal up front and it hits me as slightly nutty in the middle and then finishes lightly toasty. I guess I would say that the liquor has medium body. The more I sip it the more I am enjoying the fact that the tea is not as bold in flavors and body as some of the oolongs I had over the weekend and yesterday but it is also not a thin tea. It is sort of elegant. It has the nuttiness I have liked in the dragonwells I have had thus far but it is more subtle. One other thing is that is is slightly tannic on the front but not in an overbearing way. I'm actually enjoying the little bit of tannin. Is what I'm thinking of as tannin what I have read in others' tasting notes as "astringent"? It is a medium straw color in my white cup. I brewed it in my tetsubin pot with a removable filter. I eyeballed the tea and water. I used about half of a .33 ounce sample and about 18-20 oz. of water.
  8. I too am guilty of a few of the already mentioned items. Wastefulness is the thing I would most like to be better about. We belong to a wonderful CSA so I am able to restrain myself at the farmer's market. I buy very little in terms of vegetables from there in the summer months, mostly just meat and fruit. The problem I have is not using enough of my produce from the CSA which means that shamefully, too much goes to waste. I was much better about this last summer but this summer was very busy and I didn't cook as much as I should have or would have liked. I do try to process and freeze as much as I can from our CSA but too much still gets wasted. My husband accuses me of hoarding food since our cupboards and freezers are so full. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a spouse who doesn't understand having 15+ bottles of vinegar, 6 different rices, multiple types of lentils, different quinoas and multiple other grains, beans etc. I do keep everything relatively neat and organized. Pretty much everything that comes into my kitchen gets put in glass jars before going in a cupboard. This helps keep things from getting too cluttered and it helps me to see what I have. The multiple freezers is only because I freeze fruit as it is in season to use in pies over the winter (for ourselves and for sale). I am making myself use what's in the freezer vs. buying for meals lately. My problem is I can't plan meals ahead of time. I so envy folks who can create a meal plan for the week but that is just not how I cook, wish I could. The aprons are hanging on hooks by the pantry and never get used. My self-peeve is not keeping good track of how I make a dish as I go. How many times have I made an amazing dish only to not be able to exactly duplicate it because I make it up as I go?
  9. I had my first experiences with gongfu tea service and a tea house this past weekend. My husband and I were in Washington D.C for a long weekend. He had a work day Friday so I looked for tea houses/shops to check out on my own during the day. I found a few places and settled on Ching Ching Cha based mostly on instinct. I didn't know what to expect since this was my first tea house experience but I couldn't have been more pleased from the moment I walked through the door. The place had a great feel to it and it seemed to offer some sanctuary from the endless rain of the past few days. I chose to have the tea lunch and asked the fellow taking care of me for help in selecting a tea. He suggested that since it was my first visit I choose an oolong tea because of the special tea service they use for oolongs. I opted for their orchid oolong selection. I had no idea how the tea was going to be served but as soon as the fellow brought out the tea service I recognized it (from the reading I have done thus far) and gongfu. So, he explained the process to me and showed me what to do and left me on my own. My first few sips of the tea I was thinking about the characters and qualities of it and was surprised that I didn't get any floral notes, which is what I had expected, when all of the sudden these perfumey, floral notes just bloomed in my mouth. This was a second or two after my first sips, while I had no tea in my mouth. It was a really neat experience, unlike any other I have had in tasting anything else. I could literally feel this flavor blooming in my mouth and it was wild! The first few sips of the tea had been sort of flat but once these floral notes developed in my mouth I enjoyed the tea. I don't recall how many steepings I did, maybe 5 or 6, but what I didn't realize at the time was how much more there probably was to be had from those tea leaves. I enjoyed my experience there so much that I asked my husband to join me for a Saturday lunch at another tea room in the D.C. area. We got to one of the other places on my list and it was nothing like what I was expecting. It wasn't so much of a tea house as a counter service restaurant with various teas and a variety of Asian dishes and soups. It is probably a great place and they had a house full of people who seemed to be enjoying themselves but it was not the experience I was after so my husband returned with me to Ching Ching Cha. We both had the tea lunch and I chose a puerh tea and he choose an Alishan Oolong, Supreme. We figured we would use the occasion of being there with full tea service to try some special teas. The puehr I choose was a ten year and that is all I know about it. I did not see the tea before it was put into the pot (yixing pot, gongfu style)so I do not know if it was from a cake or loose. I think it must have been somewhat compressed though based on how the leaves were so slow to unfurl. It went through several steepings and there were still leaves that were somewhat closed with dry patches in the middle (that I could see after I unrolled them out of curiosity). I had not much idea what to expect from this tea other than the general things I have read about puehrs. It was deep and strong. I can see why it is suggested as a tea to have with rich or fried foods as it could help cut through fat and richness. I guess it was far mustier than I expected as it was so musty I had a hard time tasting much else. I don't know if that is normal for the tea, if I was very sensitive to the mustiness since it was my first experience with it or if this was an exceptionally musty tea. None the less, I drank several steepings of it but I wouldn't say that I particularly enjoyed it. On to my husbands tea which was also served gongfu in a yixing pot, the Alishan Oolong, Supreme. Again, I had no idea what to expect from this tea. I was blown away by how tanniny it was, so much so that it was hard to get past. I didn't get much from this tea in terms of different notes. It seemed to lack any complexity of flavors but at the same time it was very robust in body. I got tannin and maybe tastes of leather with some nuttiness. Those leather and nutty flavors were very deep but I guess I was expecting some other notes. Does any of that make sense? I was thinking that we may have let the first steeping go too long (we were told let it go for a minute) and maybe that was what accounted for the heavy tannins so we made the next steeping much shorter but it was just as tanniny (is that a word?). In fact, it wasn't until the 5th or 6th steeping that it started to loose those harsh tannins. I took the tea leaves with me a steeped them a few more times in our hotel room later that day and also took the leaves with me to dinner that night. After 9 or 10 steepings the tea had lost all of that tannin, the liquor was still pretty much as deep as earlier steepings though it was starting to thin. I can't say I loved this tea but I did enjoy the chance to see how a tea changes going through so many steepings. So, that's what I experiences as a newbie with gongfu. I do greatly enjoy the style of brewing and drinking tea this way. I felt as though I could have sat in that tea house with that pot of tea all afternoon.
  10. LuckyGirl

    New to Tea.

    So, here is a question I have with regards to tasting- In tea tasting does the word "astringent" refer to what I am used to calling "tannins" in wine? Also, I had my first pu ehr tea this past weekend at this teahousein Washington D.C. I understand that pu ehrs are aged, the one I had was listed as a ten year, but are they supposed to be musty tasting?
  11. LuckyGirl

    New to Tea.

    Thanks, Richard. I have been reading through the two pinned topics but I hadn't come accross this thread. I had a few questions to post today but I will wait until I read the thread as perhaps it will answer some of my ?'s.
  12. LuckyGirl

    New to Tea.

    Thanks, Richard. I am having fun trying many new teas. It is a whole new world!
  13. LuckyGirl

    Organic Tea

    Chris, the person I spoke with at Ten Ren told me that unless the tea is certified organic then it is conventionally raised which "often" includes the use of pesticides. He left me with the impression that the use or sprays is common in tea growing. Richard, I look forward to hearing more from you on the subject.
  14. I am wondering about organic vs. non-organic tea. I would imagine that tea leaves absorb/hold pesticides and herbicides much in the same way that thin skinned fruits (like peaches) and berries do. I avoid conventionally grown produce and I am thinking that I would want to avoid non-organic teas too. I was looking for a tea for my daily drinking and ordered a few organic dragonwells to try but I also ordered many non-organic teas to try too. It seems that if I only limit myself to organic teas then I will be severely limiting myself but at the same time I don't know why I wouldn't apply the same criteria that I do for my produce to my tea. Thoughts?
  15. Having recently started drinking tea regularly I was in search of a local tea merchant to work with. I was sorely disappointed by what was available in Cleveland thus turned to the internet. After looking at several sites I came across Ten Ren. I found their site the easiest to use and least confusing because of the way they list their categories then divide and sub-divide them. It just seemed less confusing and easier to use for me than some of the other sites that were mentioned in this post (which is where I started looking for on-line sources). I also liked their site for the broad selection. I guess that was particualary true of their dragonwell (my usual drinker) offerings. Maybe I was missing something but at least two of the other sites I looked at had very few dragonwell teas. Anyway, I have a feeling that as I get more familiar with tea I may not need the detailed break down that Ten-Ren's site uses but for a beginer it has been very helpful.
  16. LuckyGirl

    New to Tea.

    I have just started to really get in to teas and stumbled across the website "Ten Ren". I like their website because of the large variety of teas they offer, the way the teas are catoagorized, divided and sub-divided and most importantly, the despriptions of each tea plus the opportunity to purchase in 3 oz. sample portions. I found the Ten Ren descriptions of each tea far more informative than the other sites I checked out and the way the teas are catagorized and sub-divided makes it much less confusing for me than some sites. Additionally, when I called the HQ in San Fran, the person I spoke with couldn't have been more helpful and unrushed in answering my questions and helping me with selections. All that and I found their prices to be competitive when I compared specific teas with other sites although I would be willing to pay more because I like their site and service so much. I placed my order Thursday afternoon and it was delivered Saturday morning. The 3 oz. samples are all well labeled and nicely packaged as were the other teas I ordered.
  17. LuckyGirl

    New to Tea.

    I never use milk in green tea either but I do like a splash in my oolongs. I drink oolong in place of a "regular" black tea because of the lower caffeine content and gentler flavor but I treat it like a black tea i.e. I use a little honey and milk in it.
  18. I am new to the world of tea. I stopped drinking daily espresso and cappuccinos in early June after a bout of a horrible flu bug. I was seriously sick for 2 weeks and during that time I had no coffee. As I started getting better the third week I realized that I felt much better without the coffee; more alert in the morning and less anxious during the day. I decided not to go back to coffee and delve into the world of teas more than I had in the past. Before I started drinking tea regularly I always found dragonwells to consistently be my favorite green teas. I liked them for their nuttiness and lack of green/vegetal taste. The more I have been trying different teas I still go back to dragonwells as my regular green drinkers. I ordered many different sample teas from Ten Ren last week. Right now I am drinking their super-fine dragonwell. It is a little less robust than what I usually like but that may be beacuase I have sampled several oolongs over the past few days so perhaps that has skewed my perception. The only time I have found dragonwell's to be bitter is when I have either used too hot of water or left them to brew too long.
  19. Thanks to you both. My question is really what effect (if any) would a small amount of oil have on the preserving process. There is an Asian cucumber salad that I make with vinegar, oil, a little sugar and toasted sesame oil. That is what I'm going for with this pickle idea. I just don't know if the oil will negatively effect the preserving process.
  20. I am canning pickles today and would like to do some with asian flavors. I have in mind to add a few drops of sesame oil for flavor to one of my brines. Is this O.K. or will the oil throw off the preserving factor?
  21. LuckyGirl

    Too strong onions

    My mom uses the hot water method for de-heating onions. She puts a medium size sauce pan of water to boil then pours the hot water over the onions in a sieve. I use either the hot water method, cold water soak or vinegar soak depending on what dish the onions are going in to.
  22. Wow, thanks for all the input. It sounds like I need to keep experimenting to find my own preferences for each fruit. I've been happy with the textures of my fillings when I've used both cornstarch and tapioca. I haven't had "gloppy" filling with either. I think, as was mentioned, the trick is in using the right amount. I also like "juicy" pies but only if they are going to be eaten right away and while I like the more natural juices, I don't like loosing out on the crispness of the bottom crust when it come to a "juicy" pie. I am thinking about selling my pies so the issues with "juicy" pies is that they don't keep or transport well and while most folks I know do not want an overly "gloppy" filling neither do they want a runny pie I will give ClearGel a try and will also look for tapioca powder and my Asian grocery store. The tapioca I used was ground but apparently not finely enough. Also, thanks for the heads up on the ratios available in Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Pie and Pastry Bible". I will check it out. That sounds like just what I was hoping to find. I will keep on experimenting. I've been baking several pies a day every chance I get. Making a good pie is so damn satisfying!
  23. I've been diddling around with making pies for the last 6 months. I'm very happy with where I'm at as for as crust making goes. I'm also pretty happy with the fruit fillings I've made thus far this summer. This week I started thinking about the different ways to thicken fruit pies and I would like to know what folks have found works for them, what thickening agent they prefer and why. I have found that for an apple pie I get the best results with flour and then a few pads of butter on top of the apple filling before the top crust goes on. I have found that when I forget the butter, the filling does not thicken quite as much with only the flour. Mostly for fruit fillings I've been using cornstarch and with good results but this week I tried tapioca. While I very much like the texture the tapioca gives I don't like the way some of the bits remain soft little bubbles and don't actually "dissolve". Today I started wondering about arrowroot. How is that for a fruit filling thickener? What are your preferred thickening agents? Do you use a different agent with different fruits? Aslo, is there a "master" pie thread that I might want to consult?
  24. Thanks ladies. I came across nutsonline when I did a google search but since it doesn't seem they carry nuts from all over the world- the walnuts are all American if memory serves. However, since you are both so keen on the place I will try their walnuts and also give them a call to ask about other potential sources. Thanks a bunch.
  25. I am hoping to find an online source for specialty nuts. Specifically I am looking for Greek walnuts and pistachios. I am hoping to find a place that sells a wide variety of nuts from a wide variety of places. Any ideas? TIA
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