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What Tea Are You Drinking Today? (Part 3)


Richard Kilgore
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We are back from Shanghai and are please with the many new teas we tried as well as some of our favorites (we got a gift of Shi Fung Longjin from the deputy mayor of HangZhuo which others have said is of extremely rare quality).

One of our favorite tea shops was in a new tea market, Laoximen Tea City, 1121 Fuxing Lu, a multifloor building with ~100 tea vendors, and dealt mostly Wuyi oolong. 2011 wuyi will not be out until later in the year and we tasted many 2010 and older aged teas. By far, our favorites were varieties of Da Hong Pao and Rou Gui. One Da Hong Pao was described as being from first generation clones of the original Da Hong Pao 4 tea trees while more affordable versions were from thrid or fourth generation clones.

The shop has a Taobao site which is in chinese and not particularly user friendly but I have included the link (http://shop63022586.taobao.com/)

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Yesterday was a nice variety tea day--started with Tai Ping Hou Kui from Jing Tea Shop, light and sweet for a change from sencha; then shared some Dragon Well with colleagues, including a new hire who says she drinks green tea at home ("this boxed stuff that my husband buys"); enjoyed a thermos full of Da Hong Pao (no idea what generation from the original trees, but quite a nice version from Norbu) during a long but surprisingly efficient meeting; moved on to some Wuliang Shan loose sheng mao cha; and ended the day with a bit of Ya Bao wild tea buds and camellia flowers.

Today, so far, some Yin Zhen silver needles from Jing Tea Shop; and another wonderful batch of the Dong Xing deep roast oolong from Taiwan via Norbu. A nice tea for a stressful day at work.

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One tea I brought back frokm Shanghai that I am not fully sure what variety it is since it was obtained when my Chinese speaking wife was not present. This particular tea dealer we had gotten to know quite well said it was a tea a friend of his grows and is not often available. It is from Huang Shan and related to Mao Feng. What is amazing is that the leaves align pefectly vertically in the bottom of the glass and play the fishtank diver game going up and down ever so slightly for over 4 hours while drinking. The tea is amazing in both sweetness and coolness at the same time.

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That looks beautiful.

When you're trying to achieve that effect--watching the leaves 'dance' in the cup like that--how do you set up? I presume you start out with adding leaves to water in the cup at first, but how do you handle the very slow-to-wet pileup of fuzzy floaty silverneedle leaves? Drink around them for the first few infusions, until they start to drop to the bottom of their own accord? Pour water gently over them for the next infusion?

Yesterday, I started with a lovely bulk brewing of Ti Guan Yin from Jing Tea Shop, and then had a fabulous long session with Ya Shi dan cong from Tea Habitat. Two different sides of oolong tea, both so marvelous and distinct.

Today, opened a fresh pouch of Den's Shin-ryoku sencha, and it's very nice to come back to it and find it still as delicious as I remembered. Mmmm.

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Have had a couple of very nice tea days this weekend.

Today, started with more sencha, then on to a very good session with a sometimes problematic tea, Silver Dragon, a white tea from Wing Hop Fung, but brewing it very cool really cut down on the sometimes bitter taste that can be offputting. Brewed at 150, it was surprisingly Dragon Well like. It also seems more green than white tea.

Now working with a little Menghai tuo "2005 Early spring' that I got from Yunnan Sourcing. It is still a bit aggressive in the early infusions--not really smoky, but with a strong inclination to a bitterness and astringency that is not as easy to overcome as that in the very young loose shengs I've been drinking lately. It's now very mellow at the end of the infusions--still gets a little more flavor than simple sweet water, but not much more.

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Yesterday was a white, green, and greenish oolong day. All my brewing was in a 120 ml gaiwan with about 80 ml water. I started with Tea Source's Downy White tea (3.0 g at 160°F for 30 s, 30 s, 30 s); it was very pale yellow with a nice grassy taste and a hint toasty. Then I had some Xue Dian Mei Lan green tea from Norbu (5.0 g at 175°F 15 s, 10 s and 160°F 13 s, 15 s); it also had a fresh grassy taste with a pale yellow-green color; the first three steeps were quite nice but the fourth was too bitter for me. Finally, I enjoyed an extended session with Floating Leaves' Baozhong Farmer's Choice (Winter 2010) oolong; it had the light grassy taste of spring in the early infusions and a little more vegetal taste and increasing astringency in the later infusions (3.0 g at boil 15 s, 200°F 10 s, 10 s, 13 s, 190°F 13 s, 15 s, 15 s, 20 s, 20 s, 25 s, 25 s, 30 s, 30 s).

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White tea, green tea, and white puerh today: some of Dens Shin-ryoku sencha to start, then on to a thermos of 2007 white bud sheng puerh from Norbu, followed by some Tai Ping Hou Kui from Wing Hop Fung, and then the unique Forbidden Fruit Orchards white tea. Very nice, but tomorrow I may rebound with nothing but oolong!

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Bi Luo Chun. Bought from an owner of a small tea farm on an island in Taihu Lake that has eight families who live on the island and no cars.

Perfect little thread like leaves/shoots coated with a powder sugar like dusting when dried. When wetted, perfect little shoot tips. I have included his card is anyone happens to be in China next March when he harvests.

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A tea-poor weekend, with a non-tea-drinking houseguest, but getting back on track today with a long session of Spring Alishan oolong from Norbu for the afternoon clinic; then Bi Luo green tea from Wing Hop Fung for an interlude; and now Ya shi dan cong oolong from Tea Habitat for the end of the day. The Ya Shi is performing especially nicely in this miniscule yixing pot, infusion after infusion with finally diminished flavor after more than a dozen infusions, but even the 'sweet water' finish is neatly fruity. Good stuff.

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This weekend I've been 'breaking in' the mini yixing pot I wrote about in the teaware topic with a very fine aged puerh, 60s Guang Yun Gong from Essence of Tea. Although the little pot only holds about one ounce, really less since it's so stuffed with tea that the leaf takes up a significant portion of the tea, and some water is getting poured over the pot at times, the need to refill the kettle tells me that I've cycled at least a liter of water through this stuff, and it's still tasty. Wow. There's a particularly nice silky mouthfeel coming out in these later infusions.

Also have been enjoying Den's Shin-ryoku sencha, and between this and another packet of some of Norbu's Zairai sencha, I have some time to contemplate where to place my next sencha order. I really enjoyed my Yuuki-cha teas last year, but I'm quite tempted to explore a little further with other suppliers along with restocking that brilliant Sayamakaori. Another minor sencha breakthrough was realizing recently that I can often get another nice infusion out of my morning sencha by filling the kyusu with cold water and refrigerating it to drink later. I suspect I'll be trying a lot more cool-brewed teas when the hot weather comes to stay.

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hello tea people.

i find myself suddenly interested in tea.

so i marched myself to McNulty's on Christopher Street here in NYC and said, please educate me.

i emerged with a half-dozen bags. so far my favorite was something called Ceylon Silvertips, which was my tea this afternoon.

now, as i do every night, i am drinking a very pedestrian but much-loved pot of Sleepytime. i have tried to upgrade my chamomile/peppermint nightly experience, but so far i always come back to this old standby.

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Shopped at the local Middle Eastern market on Thursday and picked up this 1-pound box of Ahmad Jasmine (Black) tea. Very inexpensive.

Large broken leaves, open nicely while steeping.

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Many jasmine teas are green teas and I am not a huge fan of green teas. I like the black (or red) teas and this one is very much to my taste.

The jasmine flavor is not overwhelming (one of my main complaints with other jasmine teas) and is very pleasant either plain or with a bit of sugar - it has some natural sweetness so does not need much. And it also is good with just a touch of milk.

It is labeled in Arabic, French, English and ???. The box does not state the source of the black tea but from the flavor, I think it may be a blend that is mostly Ceylon.

I also bought a box of the Ahmad Cardamom loose tea but as I am familiar with this one, I haven't opened it.

I checked on Ahmad's web site but only saw the Jasmine Green Tea listed.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Fresh green tea leaves from the Sangay plantations on the floodplains of Volcan Sangay here in Ecaudor have been my drink of choice ever since I found them at the farmer's market. It's truly amazing with a little bit of Seville orange squozen in just before drinking.

I'm also drinking an excellent 42-herb and flower Horchata from ILE of Loja (where the drink originates.)

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

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Today, not a lot of tea. Drank some cold-brewed sencha (an inexpensive sencha I tossed in cold water, purchased from my chinatown tea shop), and then some Yin Zhen Silver Needle from jingteashop. Reminds me of how much I like silver needle. So enjoying the plain teas that I have very little interest in flavored teas--gave away an overly strong milk oolong recently, because there are so many unflavored fantastic oolongs out there.

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I'm drinking some green tea that my mom gave me the other day. It was good but not the best. I am actually craving for Alamid coffee. It's been a while since I last got one. :( I'd probably get one in 2 weeks but I can't wait. I'll just go with my green tea for the mean time.

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During the past few weeks that my laptop has been away for rehab, I have continued to drink my usual eclectic selection of teas: black/reds, Oolongs, greens (Chinese and Japanese), and whites.

This morning I started with a sample of Puttabong Estate 1st Flush SFTGFOP1 from Tea Source. This is the flavor profile that must have lead to the designation "Champagne of Teas". Yesterday I started a session of an Anxi Bu Xian Oolong from Jingteashop.com; plenty left in the leaves so I'll continue that next.

So, what teas are you all drinking in your part of the world?

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I've been drinking the usual nearly random selections of green teas, oolongs, puerhs, but no black teas recently. Yesterday I had the pleasure of introducing puerh to a tea-drinker who mostly drank green tea from tea bags. I'd stopped by her desk at the office with the occasional oolong, first some light greens, then some deeper traditional roast TGY and Da Hong Pao, but yesterday I prepared some Menghai Silver Dayi sheng puerh (from Norbu) and she made a point of telling me later how much she had enjoyed it, before I had a chance to ask her about it. Heh.

Had some wood-roasted Shui Xian from HouDe last night, and this morning enjoying some Den's Shin-ryoku sencha to start the day properly, with jam and toast.

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WC - I had a very nice Shui Xian from HouDe a few years ago, but I don't think that one was wood-fired.

Yesterday finished with many infusions of a Shu Puerh from YunnanSourcing.com - a 2008 Menghai "Hong Yun" (Red Rhyme) 100g cake. Brewed in a Yixing made for me from very good old clay (70s). This shu has improved over the past couple of years I have had it.

Started out this morning with a sample of Namring Upper Estate 1st Flush FTGFOP1 Darjeeling from Tea Source. Since then it's been a sample of a Japanese green tea that I got in a tea trade, says Mellow Monk Top Leaf on the package, it's okay for two or three infusions, but I may not have found its brewing sweet spot. An Oolong next but haven't decided which one.

TEA ALERT: The next offering of free teas for another Tea Tasting & Discussion is coming soon. If you subscribe to this eGullet Coffee and Tea Forum, you'll be among the first to know!

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at Harney and Sons this weekend i asked for a tea well-suited for iced tea. (optimistically, thinking of summer.)

they sold me a tropical green tea that smelled strongly of pineapple - big citrus nose. i was dubious when i tried it hot, but properly brewed and chilled, it is extremely refreshing.

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This past weekend I did a 4 1/2 hour tasting with Greg Glancy at Norbu Tea to begin considering which of his new 2011 teas to feature in a Tea Tasting & Discussion in a couple of months. Some really interesting teas, for example a Phoenix Mountain processed as a black tea! But with a serious tea buzz, sleep evaded me until 3 am.

Yesterday morning I drank a favorite - Wiu Niu Zao Chinese green tea from jingteashop.com, followed by a 12 year old shu from YunnanSourcing.com. Today started out with a Grand Keemun from TeaSource.com, a good (but not great) Keemun and an excellent inexpensive entry into the world of Chinese Keemun red (black) teas. A suitable, one-note, everyday Keemun that lacks the singing voice of a very high quality Keemun.

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Today I've only had two teas, a start of Tai Ping Hou Kui from Jingteashop, and the rest of the day working on a series of infusions from some of the 2007 Menghai Golden Needles White Lotus Shu puerh from Yunnan Sourcing. The leaves just keep giving and giving, so I haven't had a chance/need to start a third tea.

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After discovering some "forgotten" boxes while cleaning out my tea cabinet, I brought some "display" teas to the fore and today have prepared one called: "Red Bloom" by Adagio - a black tea with a red flower tied into the bundle of leaves.

This is one tea that improves with prolonged steeping. The directions say steep for 5 minutes but I have found that twice that long is better and it is still good with even longer steeping, no bitterness at all.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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