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Gregory Glancy

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  1. The mineraly component of the Da Hong Pao is pretty subtle to my taste, so I didn't think it was too much at all. Frankly, I had never thought of some of the flavors of a tea like Da Hong Pao as "mineraly" at all until I read some of the posts on the oolong topic. I just accepted it and considered it an unnamed (or perhaps un-reflected-upon by me) part of the Wu Yi Yan Cha flavor profile, so after thinking about the "rock/mineral taste" I wasn't surprised to see some harmony emerge with an assertively irony dish like blood sausage. I really didn't focus on how the subtle sweet/fruity aspects of Yan Cha really set the morcilla off in my post, but, to make a comparison to the wine world, I imagine this tea paired up with it just like a red wine with some fruit and mineral components would have. I should say that I really like uber-assertive & bold flavors, though (which is why I cook & eat like a Szechuan/Korean grandmother with an iron stomach most of the time), so this pairing might not be suitable to everyone's tastes.
  2. I had a really cool tea/food pairing occur spontaneously last night. I was drinking a very nice Da Hong Pao sample I was sent a while back while making stock and doing some general kitchen work, and I ended up cooking up a link of Morcilla de Cebolla (Spanish blood sausage with onions) that I found at Central Market as a treat. Morcilla is one of my favorite occasional indulgences when I can find it, but I never tried to pair a tea with it because I just assumed its assertive, super irony & mineraly flavors would overpower any tea. Well, long story short, I took a bite and then sort of absent-mindedly took a sip of the Da Hong Pao and was very pleased with the results. Something about the mineraly flavor of the morcilla went perfectly (to my taste buds at least) with the earthy/mineraly/woodsy/fruity flavors of the tea. In the oolong topic, people have been discussing a hard to describe mineraly "rock" taste in the Wuyi oolongs, and this pairing really highlighted this aspect of the flavor profile that my palate tended to accept and overlook as just a part of the flavor of the individual tea cultivars. This was totally unexpected, but it looks like I'm going to be pairing Wu Yi teas with more irony dishes containing game or offal or whatever else that has a mineral component in the taste from now on. I love happy accidents like this.
  3. Try these: 1. Da Hong Pao: dà hóng pào 2. Rou Gui: ròu guì 3. Tie Luo Han: tiě luó hàn 4. Shui Jin Gui: shuǐ jīn guī 5. Bai Ji Guan: bái jī guān 6. Xiao Hong Pao: xiǎo hóng pào Exploring tea shops is one of the most fun things I can think of doing...ask around and see where the nearest tea market is. You'll do much better there in terms of price and quality than in a shop that sells pre-packaged goods. Have fun!!! I'm having a serious urge to get on a plane right now... Greg
  4. Richard, I must have pressed post just a few seconds before you! Ha!
  5. Nakji- Physically, most of the fully roasted teas will look darkish in color and sometimes have a toasted aroma depending on how recently they were roasted. A lot of the more roasted teas in China will be stored for a few months to "let out some of the fire" from the roasting, so the aroma of the teas in the shops isn't usually as strong as a newly roasted Houji Cha in Japan. Looks can be deceiving though, so my best advice would be to find a tea market and ask for a Wu Yi Oolong. Da Hong Pao, Rou Gui, Tie Luo Han, Shui Jin Gui, and a few other tea cultivars from Wu Yi are all traditionally done in a roasted style, although they are starting to trend towards lighter roasting. When you are asking for these teas (or a roasted Tie Guan Yin), ask for a traditional style, not a light roast and be sure to taste them in the shop. If they won't let you taste, just leave the shop and find another one. Any dedicated tea shop worth anything should let you try their tea. I highly recommend Rou Gui and Shui Jin Gui, but the only problem with Wu Yi oolongs is that they can be very expensive for the real deal. There is Da Hong Pao grown outside of the Wu Yi national scenic area (sometimes called Xiao Hong Pao or Little Red Robe) that can be excellent tasting and quite affordable. I'd start there and work your way up to the other cultivars. My two cents. I wish I was there too! Greg
  6. Richard, you are correct, some restaurants will just give you a glass with a few tea leaves in it and just pour hot water in there from the ubiquitous vacuum flasks, and some restaurants will have tea in a big stainless kettle to pour in your teacup. No real rhyme or reason apart from the mom & pop style places tend (in my experience) to opt for the hot water in the vacuum flask poured over a few tea leaves in my experience, and the fancier places with a more complete/full service kitchen will have pots of tea to serve from. The better food always comes from the mom & pop places though... It's almost always green tea when done grandpa style, and not with a high leaf to water ratio at all. My experience is that there is never enough tea in the glass to give the possibility of bitterness. In these cases, I get the impression that it's more about showing that the water has been boiled and is safe to drink than about the tea itself. I noticed in Tibetan areas that jasmine scented tea seemed to always be available and was usually served in a glass grandpa style, and that tended to be a bit on the strong and funky side for me. It is possible that the jasmine was just an alternative for outsiders who don't tend to really like butter tea all that much. As to how many times people will top off their water flask to keep reusing the same tea leaves, I can't be sure. I'm sure it varies from person to person. Most tea drinking habits in China are simply based on what people can afford, and I think probably 95% of people try stretch their tea as far as they can even in times of plenty. Waste not, want not is how my Grandpa used to put it, but he didn't drink tea "grandpa style" for some reason.
  7. Well, I think I should clarify about Gong Fu Cha. High quality tea for making Gong Fu Cha is a luxury that most people can't afford, so it mostly has been reserved for more elite people and connoisseurs. That's changing a bit now with the emergence of a middle class in mainland China, but most people just throw some green tea leaves in a flask or bottle and drink on that all day. In a restaurant setting or when taking some tea with you, that's when "grandpa style" just makes more practical sense. I tend to use the term Western style when talking about brewing tea like my grandmother used to. I think the term strikes a chord with people, and gives a sense of comfort and familiarity. Gong Fu seems very foreign and uncomfortable to most people until they have an experience that makes them understand the reason it is done that way...I know I was very intimidated at first too until I had an "Ah Ha" moment with Gong Fu Cha. Richard brings up an interesting point about India though. When did tea consumption take hold all over the Indian Subcontinent? Before or after the British arrived? I know some of the ethnic groups in Assam and places with similar climates and the ethnic Tibetan populations in the Himalayan border regions were definitely drinking tea in one form or another before the British arrived in India, but how much of the Subcontinent actually drank tea before then? Was it Camellia Sinensis, or was it another type of plant? I know Soma was a very important ritual plant that was used in Vedic times and was lost...is it possible that the earlier forms of tea in India also could have fallen out of use once the British arrived? Anyone have personal experience or know of a good reliable source of information on this? I don't trust the Wikipedia article I just read one bit...
  8. I've contacted my friends in Anxi to get an answer about the local demand/supply of traditionally roasted TGY. Will report back when I hear from them. I think Richard is correct, these two styles need to be viewed as separate but related products and enjoyed for what they are on their own terms. I also agree that aged Tie Guan Yin can be amazing, but I think Richard and I will agree from personal experience that they can be a little finicky.
  9. Tie Guan Yin is the varietal or cultivar of tea plant. It's a Camellia Sinensis varietal native to Anxi county. As far as I know, the western botanical names aren't commonly known or used for Chinese/Taiwanese tea cultivars. Acording to the research that I have been able to find, Western tea literature describes only two types of tea plant: Camellia Sinensis Sinensis, the varietal that the British only successfully got to grow well in Darjeeling, and Camellia Sinensis Assamica, the varietal that the British "found" in Assam and commercially cultivated all over the subcontinent. CS Assamica is basically Yunnan varietal tea, which is why a lot of Assam teas taste like Dian Hong. What I am saying in a round about way is that I haven't been able to find any studies or botanical classifications of the different tea cultivars like Tie Guan Yin in any language but Chinese. Suffice it to say that Tie Guan Yin is a unique tea varietal, and any processed tea made from it could be called Tie Guan Yin. The new style or green Tie Guan Yin you are referring to is definitely an oolong tea. You could pick two leaves from the same plant and make green tea out of one and oolong tea out of another, but that simply wouldn't happen these days because the different varietals have been found over time to be better suited to different styles. Again, kind of like apples, some are better for baking than for eating out of hand, and some Camellia plants are better suited for green tea than they are for oolong or whatever. The main difference between oolong tea and green tea is in the processing. Green teas are picked, withered, pan fired or steamed to keep them from oxidizing, then dried. Oolongs are picked, withered, bruised to allow for oxidation, pan fired or heat treated to stop the oxidation, shaped, and dried. I have much better processing descriptions already written here if you want more detail: About Tea Page There are still some traditional fully roasted Tie Guan Yin teas made, but they aren't as popular as the green ones. Because of this popularity, the producers in Anxi can get a little higher price for their products if they are the new style, so a lot of them are producing the green style teas mostly these days. I personally love both the roasted style and the newer green style, but I am worried that the older generation will not teach the younger generation how to roast Anxi oolongs traditionally. This is really an art that is best learned by apprenticeship, so I hope some younger people will stay in that business. Fortunately, a lot of the tea masters in Taiwan are fanatical about traditional roasting, so the art should survive there even if the people in Anxi let it slip away.
  10. To respond to this question about Baozhong (I prefer to spell it Baozhong instead of Pouchong because Pinyin transliteration is what I am used to) vs. Oolong, very simply stated, Baozhong is generally considered to be a type of very lightly oxidized Oolong. You noticed some flavor similarities between that and the High Mountain Oolong from Alishan. The main reason for this similarity is that they both are very lightly oxidized and they both came from Taiwan...just from different parts of the island. Time for a tea geography lesson. If you look at the map below, Baozhong primarily comes from the Wenshan area in the North of Taiwan, while the Ali Shan oolong you tried in the discussion came from Ali Shan further south-central on the island. In fact, if you look at the map for "Chiai" and go a bit east on the map, that's exactly where the tea from the discussion came from. (In the interest of full disclosure, I got this map off of a tea blog several years ago. I do not have any recollection of which one it was...sorry) OK, now look at this map (I did this one, so I know where it came from). Tea processing came to Taiwan mainly from Fujian province in the mid 1800s. For some reason, people from the Wuyishan area in the far North-West of Fujian tended to settle in northern Taiwan with their Wuyi tea cultivars and processing methods. Naturally, then, the teas from Northern Taiwan physically resemble the long rolled leaves typical of Wuyi oolongs. The same thing happened with Anxi style oolongs. People from the area around Anxi moved right across the strait of Taiwan to central and Southern Taiwan. They were used to their unique tea cultivars and tightly rolled ball-shaped oolongs, so they ended up bringing their tea style with them to that part of Taiwan. Make sense? That explains the shapes, but doesn't explain the other differences. Baozhong is typically very lightly oxidized. 8-10% oxidation level is what I have been told, but these percentages seem pretty arbitrary and unquantifiable to me. Baozhong teas are usually not roasted like green teas, making their flavor profiles vegetal like green teas but with floral undertones found in other forms of oolong from the slight oxidation. There was also a question about the color of the finished teas. Looking at the posted pictures, I am 99% positive your Tie Guan Yin has undergone a roasting process. Traditionally in Fujian, oolong teas from Wuyi and Anxi were almost always roasted at a fairly low temperature to better preserve them for storage and transport. The happy coincidence was that the roasty toasty flavors created during roasting really complement the sweet & fruity flavors that remained in the teas after the roasting process was done. The degree of the roast has a lot to do with the darker color of the finished teas, too. Once more modern food preservation and storage techniques became available, tea processors started offering lesser or non-roasted versions of their oolongs more widely. Roasting no longer has to serve its original primary purpose of preserving the teas. It is now used more by tea masters to control the flavors of the finished tea...enhancing certain aspects and de-emphasizing others. The very strong and aromatic floral notes of freshly oxidized and processed tea leaves dissipate fairly quickly when exposed to air, so the development of air tight packaging along with more efficient forms of transportation is what made this style of tea popular outside of the tea growing regions...these fresher tasting teas can now physically make it halfway across the world and still taste like they are fresh from the mountain. This was a long reply, but I hope I answered at least some of your questions. Greg
  11. These are the cold brewing guidelines from the grower: "There is a new way to brew tea in Taiwan, which is called cold brewing. It is very popular now during the Summer season and hot weather. Some domestic research [in Taiwan] said that this way of making tea can reduce the amount of caffeine that dissolves into the water... The taste is pretty nice also. You still can enjoy the high mountain aroma and sweet taste when you brew tea in this way. This is the way we cold brew tea: take 3 to 5 grams of tea leaf and put into the 600ml bottle of mineral water and put into the refrigerator for at least 2 to 4 hours, or overnight." Hope that helps.
  12. Mike Petro pretty much covered all of this in previous posts, but here is my take on the current situation: Until the "price bubble" broke, many plantation tea growers in Yunnan diverted their usual production to mao cha (the "raw material" tea used to make finished Pu-Erh) simply to take advantage of higher market prices. Most of this crop used to be used to make excellent green and red teas before the price spike, and, much to my delight, Yunnan's tea growers are back to producing excellent green and red teas again now. A large portion of the glut of raw materials came from these "new" sources of mao cha. Pu-Erh tea is really just like any other commodity. None of this is exactly high economic theory. Supply and demand dictate the prices of the raw materials between producer and factory, and the market dictates the prices of finished products on the consumer side. High prices (on the high side for Yunnan teas anyways) will still remain for the more highly sought after source materials from the famous Pu-Erh growing mountain areas simply because there is a limit to the amount of material produced there, although the price for these raw materials has basically fallen over the past couple of years. (mao cha prices in 2009 are higher than they were in 08, but still lower than 2007) To touch on a topic that Mike Petro brought up above, Pu-erh teas are labor intensive to produce, and the production of the loose mao cha is still done on a smallish scale. The best mao cha used in manufacturing Pu-Erh is still largely hand picked & processed in small batches. There is an art to processing the mao cha, and an art to selecting and/or blending it for a good finished product. All of this contributes to the price of the final tea released on the market simply because a lot of highly skilled people are involved in Pu-Erh production, and this doesn't even take into account pressing, packaging, transportation, etc. Another thing to keep in mind about Pu-Erh tea is that a lot of people got into the Pu-Erh tea business back in 2003-06 buying high priced mao cha and starting their own new brands, and a lot of people completely lost their asses. Yes, there is a lot of not super high quality tea out there that nobody can sell at the prices that they paid for the raw materials. I think at this point a lot of people who decided to buy in late are starting to try to sell their tea for as much as they can get to mitigate their losses and move on to their next get-rich-quick scheme. That doesn't mean that all the tea produced in that time period by small factories is all bad though! The important thing is to taste whatever it is you buy before buying it. Most vendors offer sample portions of their Pu-Erh, so buy some samples and see what you think. If you like it, buy a cake or a tong and enjoy it over the months or years to come. If it sucks, don't buy it again and let the rest of us tea drinkers and collectors know!
  13. I have had a starchy jello type thing as a side dish with a Korean meal that was made from acorn starch, so I wouldn't be surprised if someone had used acorns in making noodles. I have had naengmyun that range in color from white to brown to dark black in color, and my lack of Korean vocabulary got in the way of figuring out exactly what all the different ones actually were made of. Maybe I have had acorn naengmyun. I don't know of a commonly available naengmyun brand off the top of my head that uses acorn, but I only buy naengmyun frozen since the dried ones don't ever have the right texture in my experience. The frozen ones are almost always the brown buckwheat variety, by the way. There are generally more varieties of naengmyun dried at the Korean grocery that I go to than frozen. My curiosity has been awakened, so I will check next time I go for sure.
  14. I forgot to add an explanation of the "Bibim" part of the name of the dishes in question! Bibim means "mixed," from the verb Bibeo, "to mix." In my experience, the term Bibim is used in the Korean food setting when the diners mix the Gochu Jang (literally means Pepper Sauce) into the dish themselves. Most of the time Bibim Naengmyun or Guksoo is served with the pepper sauce mixed in with the noodles, but dishes like Bibim Bap (lit: mixed rice) are served with the gochu jang on the side so you can add it to your taste. If you haven't had Dolsot Bibimbap on a cold day, you don't know what you are missing!
  15. Naeng Myun may very well be my favorite Korean dish of all time, so I couldn't resist!!! Naeng Myun is made from buckwheat (usually), kudzu, or other combinations of starchy flours. As I understand it, the starch content in the flour used is what makes the noodles so chewy and elastic. Guksu is usally made from wheat flour, resulting in a texture much more in line with Western style pastas. My Korean friend's mother told me that Naeng Myun come from the Northern portion of Korea originally, but it is now really popular all over N and S Korea. The sauce for Bibim Naengmyun is based on Gochu Jang, Korean fermented red pepper paste. There are some pre-mixed versions of the sauce available at Korean markets, but it is easy to mix up yourself. I usually use a store bought Gochu Jang and just mix in some simple syrup (some people use Sprite or Coca Cola for this!), sesame oil, a little soy sauce, and some garlic (I always use roasted garlic, but some like raw garlic in it). Just add the extra ingredients to taste. It's easy to make, and I try to keep some mixed up Gochujang around all the time. Hope this helps!
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