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Richard Kilgore

Your New Tea Discoveries for 2009?

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We have been exploring many teas from all parts of the world this year in the eG Forums. What new teas have you discovered and what are your favorites?

For me the biggest surprise has been the Japanese leaf green teas as well as powdered matcha. Although I have been drinking sencha for a few years, I had planned to start exploring Japanese teas more seriously in 2010. But the Tea Tastings & Discussions featuring Japanese teas from The Cultured Cup spurred me to jump in sooner. The gyokuros and matcha have been a revelation.

There is more, since I have been exploring far and wide, but I'll hold some for a later post.

So what were your best tea discoveries in 2009?

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Thanks to you, Richard, and Greg at Norbu tea, the Dian Hong Yunnan black tea is a regular part of my life.

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I'd say that my best tea discovery for 2009 was the realization that I can make my own blends! :laugh: It's not that it never occurred to me before, it's just that one tends to focus on the purity of single varietals without giving much thought to mixing them up to suit one's own tastes. Kind of like my 20-year history with Scotch: drill down in the single malts, and eventually come around full circle to what a nice blend can offer.

At the moment, my favorite personal blend is 1 part Twinings Lady Grey and 3 parts darjeeling, which is then added to 3 parts assam. So, my usual dose is 1 teaspoon (2 grams) of the Lady Grey and darjeeling mix, and 3 teaspoons (6 grams) of assam. This is my go-to/everyday/no-brainer tea -- perfect when you want a nice cup without too much contemplation. The Lady Grey adds a nice citrus background and, of course, the darjeeling smooths out the assam.

Which leads me to my second "discovery" of 2009 -- tea thermoses (like this or this). I picked up my first thermos in Shanghai in 2004 after noticing, oh, just about everybody walking around with one. It is similar to the the first model I linked above, complete with BPA goodness! (Thanks to the wife, I now use the Nissan stainless steel thermos.)

I used the first one for a while, but never really fell in love with it. But, in 2009, I discovered that tea thermoses make outstanding personal tea pots! I put 8 grams of the aforementioned blend in the thermos and give it a quick rinse with hot water from the Zojirushi. Then, my first cup is brewed for 30 seconds, the second cup for a minute, third cup for 2 minutes, and the final cup is brewed for 5 or 6 minutes. Pour each brew through your favorite sieve into your favorite cup. Done.

Usually, I can string out an 8 gram dose of tea for a few hours. My own little 12oz. gongfu thermos! :cool:

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To figure out what my new tea discoveries were for 2009, I read back through my posts in another forum, and realized that some stuff I'd thought was 2009 discovered was actually discovered in 2007 and 2008.

The few things that were truly new for 2009 are

the new style oolongs, rich and floral, that have captured my taste buds entirely (without supplanting the old style versions), which was facilitated by an egullet tasting (although in truth I'd been drinking some of this lighter style oolong since 2007, I hadn't connected it with the green looking oolong teas in the jars at Wing Hop Fung until the tasting;

finally understanding how multiple infusions gongfu style can reveal the layers of flavor in a fine tea;

and discovering that I can, after all, sometimes brew a very pleasant cup of green tea--even japanese teas, working using the jasmine safety net.

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I agree with the discovery of new-style Oolongs - I now have that as my regular-morning-tea-take-to-my-first-class-cup in a (BPA-free) Lock-n'-lock tea thermos. (Also purchased in Shanghai)

I'm also enjoying tea in gaiwan for the first time, and enjoying exploring the rich selection of tea houses available to me in Suzhou. I hope to drink my way through some menus over the coming year.

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Please do tell us more about the Suzhou teahouses and the teas you explore over the next year, Erin.

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Thanks to you, Richard, and Greg at Norbu tea, the Dian Hong Yunnan black tea is a regular part of my life.

You're welcome, Chris. I have been drinking this Dian Hong for about three years and it's my favorite Yunnan red/black tea so far.

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Please do tell us more about the Suzhou teahouses and the teas you explore over the next year, Erin.

And I will! The next time I go one, I'll bring a camera to record the menu options, which are pretty extensive. The atmosphere is great, too, as the older shops aren't heated. I think this heightens my enjoyment of the tea.

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I don't think I can narrow it down to a single tea or even a few. Since 2009 is the year I started drinking tea it has all been a discovery.

My tea teasting in the past month has been very unorganized and haphazard and I have not made tasting notes. I regret that. I really need to maintain tasting notes to help myself learn and to remember what my favorites and not so favorites are.

A few highlights were: the first Alishan I had and realizing that tea could be steeped many, many times (I think I steeped that tea something like 10 times) and experiencing a tea where the flavor bloomed in my mouth after swallowing the sip.

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My tea teasting in the past month has been very unorganized and haphazard and I have not made tasting notes. I regret that. I really need to maintain tasting notes to help myself learn and to remember what my favorites and not so favorites are.

Even without detailed tasting notes, the picture will get clearer over time. But I do find discussing my tastings here in appropriate topics gives me a way to go back and review without requiring quite as much discipline as a tasting diary. Just going back to review some posts here (and elsewhere) for this topic, I was happily surprised to discover that I had mentioned *where* I got a particular tea that I'd liked and wanted to get more of, and it was not what I'd expected.

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Looks like everyone had a stimulating year of tea!

2009 was a very, very good tea year for me. In addition to exploring more Japanese green teas, especially the gyokuros and matcha, I tried a number of excellent Indian Darjeelings and Assams, Chinese Keemuns and pu-erhs (both sheng and shu), as well as the Taiwan Oolongs. Aged Oolongs, too. All of these categories I had sampled before 2009, but I was able to brew a more diverse group within each category.

The Tea Tasting & Discussions have been interesting and fun and have been a significant part of my own tea education and exploration. It's fascinating to see what others find in a tea, too. I always learn something new from those who participate.

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I tried white tea for the first time in 2009 - here's a picture of a cup I had in a local teahouse. Regrettably, I didn't record the name of the tea, other than to note it was a white tea. When work becomes less desperate, I hope to go back to this particular place for more discoveries, as they have an extensive tea menu - about three page's worth, IIRC.

2009 12 31 039.JPG

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Looks like a silver needle--very fine narrow young leaves. Beautiful gaiwan for a beautiful tea. Was it as lovely as it looked?

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Yes, and it was drunk in a beautifully restored heritage building overlooking one of Souzhou's many canals in the historic district. High points on the atmosphere scale as well. We had a tall thermos of hot water at our table for further infusions at our convenience, and this tea was mild and smooth - not a hint of astringency. A person could get used to drinking tea like this every day!

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DSC09643.JPGHi Nakji,

Judging from the Picture of your tea, I believe it is the green tea with white tea's name. It is Anji Baicha(white tea) green tea. But in Chinese, we call it Anji white tea becaue its buds are almost greenish white color due to the tea bush variety reason; but it belongs to the green tea category because of its making processing, which is different to silver needle or white peony.

Anji county, which located in Zhejiang province, is very near to Suzhou, about 1.5 hours by cars. There are also the canals in Anji and Zhejiang province as well.Here is the Anji fresh leaves. P1060516 (ÖÐ).JPG

In 2009, I discover several new teas.

1. Purple bud Pu Er tea. DSC09625.JPG

It is a kind of rare tea only growing in Jinggu county, Yunnan province. Its natural growing with a limited yield. We need to climb the mountain road for about 3 hours before reaching the village and collecting the Maoch from each villagers there. Each dont have too much, only 1kg, or 0.5 kg in their home. It is not a easy-to-get tea.

why we call it purple bud Pu Er tea, because it is three colors tea. fresh leaves on the trees, purple color; its Maocha or finished products are dark color; after brewing, its tea leaves is green color(for the new tea, if store for about 3 years, its infused leaves also turn into dark purple with good aged aroma).

This tea, though it is all bud, its infusability is strong, at least 15 times. Light floral, pleasing aroma, unique fragrance I dont know how to describe. good and sutble sweetness and aftertaste.

Later, I will introduce my other new teas to your guys.

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