Sunday, January 23, 2011

Azusa Tea Club's first MeetUp (1/22/2011) - A Taste of Taiwan Oolongs

Josephine and Karen, my team players are really helpful for the first MeetUp of Azusa Tea Club!
Dianna Harbin, our fellow tea enthusiast who leads me into this new wonderland, has come all the way from Santa Barbara to give her support...(*Thank you so much, Dianna.) I hope soon we can also extend our helping hands to other friends who will start their new tea MeetUp groups.)

Our topic for this one: A Taste of Taiwan Oolongs
We have 11 friends joined us for this topic. The six teas we prepared for the cupping are:
Wenshan Pouchong 60436, Spring 2010
Alishan Oolong 74438A, Autumn 2010
Oriental Beauty 20439, Summer 2010
Classic Tung Ting 80451, Autumn 2010
Baked Pouchong 70439, Baked in Winter 2009
Roasted Oolong 70438A, Roasted in Summer 2008

All participants got to work on the professional cupping session, step by step...with the Cupping Log I had prepared. (*We might be so used to this practice...but it is fun for tea lovers to learn and work through the whole process... ) After cupping, we had Josephine to demo how she will serve Oriental Beauty with her Traveling tea set... We moved from the cupping counter to another table for the Tasting session. With no timer, no scale...simply based on her own experience and with the hints she got from her earlier cupping on that particular tea ... We are not surprise what our friends comment about the difference... Cupping is the science, for us to find out all the characters in tea's quality. To make a good cup of tea to treat ourselves or to serve our family or is an art. Based on the information we got from the Cupping, we then can try to harmonize the right amount of leaf, with the right temperature of heated water plus the time for leaf to be infused on the tea ware you selected to prepare... maybe served with snacks or foods which are pairing well with that particular tea.

This is a great group we have for our Azusa Tea Club. We enjoyed a wonderful Saturday afternoon together. Hoping more tea topics with more tea lovers can meet up soon. At this moment, we have scheduled our next MeetUp on the topic of "USDA Certified Organic Teas Around the World !" on 2/12/2011. We have invited our good friend Devan Shah to co-host with Josephine for this one. It will be a great chance for everyone to find yourself some nice Organic teas.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Taiwan, the Paradise of Camellia sinensis !

(Tea bushes grow happily and vigorously in n Meishan, Jiayi)

(Jin Shuan, Gin Suan)

(Si-Ji-Chun, Evergreen, Four Season Spring)

(Ruby 18)

(Chin Sin Oolong)

(Chin Sin Dah Pan)

(Tsui Yu)

Opening Ceremony of 2010 TOST at TTMA office back on 10/17/2010, there were 6 plants set on display to greet our tea professionals from Northern America. These are the major Cultivars that flourish happily in tea gardens around the country. What many may not realize is that these cultivars work with Terroir to provide the unique aroma, fragrance, flavor as the backbone of each fine Taiwan Oolong.
A few members asked me whether there is any easy way to tell the difference among these bushes. I just smiled...and replied, " their friends, and you will get to know them well, and very soon you will be able to identify each of these cultivars..."
Guess what? Our members did spend a good whole week to hands on study Taiwan teas on the tea fields, at the tea plants, in the tea shops,...they have heard so much about these cultivars in different occasions along the trip, and they learned about why farmers prefer to select one over another for particular reason; or tea masters insist to use the leaf plucked from one specific cultivar to make a specialty tea... Oh yes, cultivars play such an important role in Taiwan tea's quality. And the air, the water, the soils,...the unique environment in Taiwan's mountains and hills that offer our tea bushes to posses the unsurpassed "terroir".
We should also not forget our Senbai (TeaCha, teachers) in Taiwan tea industry,... their experience, knowledge, craftsmanship and wisdom passed on generation to generation.
Over the Christmas and New Year breaks, I thought of having all these key ingredients that make Taiwan tea so marvelous, to be included in my new Hakka lyrics for this tea song to praise for the nature's best plants that grow in Taiwan --
Taiwan, the Paradise of Camellia sinensis !

台灣--茶樹介天堂 (用 鄧雨賢「望春風」曲)

台灣實在好地方 茶樹介天堂
好山好水好氣候 好茶滿山頭
紅茶綠茶烏龍茶 各有老茶客
代代茶人恁打拼 台茶基礎正

青心烏龍好種草 茶甘香氣高
金萱翠玉四季春 滿奈多人種
紅玉十八新品種 滋味當出眾
青心大冇若著涎 膨風茶盡展

台灣實在好地方 茶樹介天堂
好山好水好氣候 好茶出風頭
包種半球老凍頂 東方美人夯
代代茶人愛煞猛 保住好名聲
(*You will have to wait for the video of actual singing...
coming soon in World Tea Expo 2011 at Las Vegas!)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Help customers find the right teas to buy

On 10/20/2010, TOST group stopped by a tea shop (Lin J. Tea Garden) located in Lugu, Nantou to experience a different way of tea retailing. The owner has 10 different teas set in array for us to cup. 1 - 10, each tea had gone through different baking process with various temperature and length of time. This way, they can introduce customers the teas that meet with the right taste profile. (*I was told that Mr. Lin got this idea from the system of Steak House...rare, medium, well...customer' s choice...) Looks like it works very well for his tea business. Then later in Ocha Matsuri 2010, I found one tea booth got the similar idea to present 4 Senchas with different roasting process...customers can taste four samples and decide which one appeals the most...then the right tea will be presented for formal cupping....

In a highly competitive Oolong tea market like Lugu in Taiwan and Green tea market as Shizuoka in Japan, tea farmers or tea vendors must find his/her unique way to stay in business. What should we do in Northern America?

(At the 2010 Ocha Matsuri, in one Japanes Green Tea Company's booth, attendants use a tray with four teas, just to test your taste profile first...and then they will bring the right tea for your formal infusion. This is a smart filtering process in tea retailing service. Make it simple and find the right product for your customer. So Des Ne....)

Pomelo Tea

These are the Pomelo Tea baking at low temperature around 75F for 3 months... slowly to change the chemistry of tea leaves inside the Pomelo shell...Hakka has this tradition to make this type of fruit tea used for soothing the throat while ease coughing... Some will use Suan Gan (local Hakka call it, Tiger Head Orange) to process their fruit tea. We found actually it is one of the best ingredients to use in a Tisane blend or create flavored teas...the Citrus aroma and flavor will stay in the tea for long long time...


How about a new slogan: Tea Now !

Over the years, I have had the "Tea-One Tasting Class" -

with the mission: Take one step ahead to the Basics.

2011 New Year Resolution: "Tea Now Tasting Class" -

have tea in our current lifestyle...

A new avenue was launched just a day before New Year's Eve, Josephine and I have organized AZUSA Tea Club. This will be a scheduled Meet Up with tea enthusiasts with Topics.

We are trying to have professional cupping session at the first half; and then do a demonstration of creative Tea Tasting Ceremony with one of the teas we've cupped...and invite our attendees to have a forum of sharing the ideas of how to prepare your own tea. Hoping that we can have Tea in our current lifestyle.... No need to be limited in very Asian: Zen or Kung-Fu...Nor to be too English: Victorian or Afternoon Tea...We will find out many new ways to make teas that can fit in our daily lifestyle, so...friends...TEA NOW !

Monday, January 3, 2011

The 12 Big Turns in Shan-Lin-Si

Mr. 石宇玄, a local farmer from Lugu, sharing the slogan about the famous 12 Turns on the route of Shan-Lin-Si named by the 12 Zodiac Signs, in Holo Taiwanese. I recorded this one on the way from Bagua Tea Garden to Alishan on 10/21/2010 with our TOST 2010 group.