Thursday, March 29, 2012

What is this tea's Harmony Code ? (3/28/2012 Cupping experiments on white teas)

This morning, I invited Jackson to cup White Tea samples with me. We have one YinZhen (silver needle), 4 White Peony, and one ShouMei.
We plan to have two rounds of cupping. Round 1, we will use traditional cupping sets, measure 3 g / 150 ml / 210 and steep for 5 minutes for all 6 teas.

When time is up, we got all teas poured out and have our cupping.
Honestly, only the lower grade ShouMei and White Peony are "drinkable", the rest 4 teas are so astringent, especially YinZhen.

Round 2, we are using glass Harmony Teapots for cupping. This time, we set the water temperature to 175. Still measure 3 g each tea sample, with 250 ml of heated water at 175. We don't set steeping time, instead, we focus on the infusions of each tea with our keen observation...when the leaf in the harmony teapot settled (unfurled and set on the bottom), we then stop the tea for further steeping...

Each tea accomplished the steeping differently... YinZhin almost settled within 1 minute of steeping., higher grades BaiMuDan (White Peony) takes about 4-1/2 till 5 minutes., while the lower grades Peony and ShouMei takes about 5 - 6 minutes to fully settled down. Amazingly, the liquor color of each tea from Round 1 and Round 2, are quite close...yet the taste and the flavor are so much different... These white teas are deliciously sweet...actually. We got better idea for the adjustment on water temperature to be applied...if we are to have round 3.

Harmony Teapot (sku#TE-046) is very useful for the experiments. The pitcher is easy to pour tea for participants to taste tea, and its lid becomes a coaster for holding the drainer with wet leaves for our examining and study.

Have fun with your tea, try to search the Harmony Code of each particular tea. The right amount of tea leaf, the right temperature of heated water, the right steeping time. Harmonize these 3 T, a perfect cup of tea will be right on.

A heartwarming story in Taiwan tea history...

This YouTube film brings me a heartwarming story in our Taiwan tea's history.
Taitung and Hualien two counties, we used to call them "Back of the Mountain in Taiwan". They locate on the other side of Central Mountain Range, facing Pacific Ocean...
In 2009, I had visited there 3 times: one scouting trip, one with 2009 TOST, and another one for the Indigenous tea bush study... Since then, I have thought of helping promote the teas from that district..."HuaTung Encanto" is what I tried to brand the teas from that district. The unique tropical weather and special cultivars planted there, something that Taiwan tea industry has overlooked in the past, will draw new attention with many new ideas and programs, especially when Terroir being valued more and more in tea.
Actually, TRES / Taitung Branch is such a beautiful place with wonderful facilities, and they are about to write new history for Taiwan tea. (Please click to see the link of our 2009 TOST visit.)

Seeing those fallow rolling machines are busy running again after 50+ years, confirmed what I have in mind for the past few years. Mr. Wen's father is from my home town, Kuanshi/Hsinchu. He moved over to Luye/Taitung to expand his family's tea business there when Kuanshi was still the Capital of Taiwan Black Tea. Just like many fellow tea professionals in that era...for securing more resource of crude tea to back up the strong demand...younger members of many tea families were sent over to Hualien or Taitung for having new tea plantations and tea factories to produce more materials to transport back home town for the refinery. Hua-Tung tea has long been treated as a secondary or supplemental tea for blending, and not like other tea districts in Taiwan famed with certain specialty. While Taiwan black tea was not competitive any more, business was gone and worse after Taiwan started importing tea from overseas...
Nowadays, with younger tea entrepreneurs who redefine their business, finding new niche and also with TRES / Taitung Branch's continuous R&D and guiding the farmers and factories making new teas...a new era is coming... I believe HuaTung Encanto (Paoli Oolong, Pomelo Oolong...) will soon be known and pursued by tea connoisseurs from the World.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tea Ritual in your daily life (Azusa Tea Club 3/17/2012)

This is Azusa Tea Club's March/2012 MeetUp. We have 13 RSVP and a wonderful group that enjoy a great afternoon together. As our topic set to have friends to bring in their own tea sets and may the teas they enjoy in daily life. Robert and Karen did show how they prepare Dark Oolong for a bigger gathering...instead of using tea pot, they use a larger pitcher to steep tea. Thuy from Claremont College shares her Classic Tung-Ting in Gongfu style with a travel tea set that use Guy-Wan to infuse...Maira, another college student, belongs to same tea club with Thuy, shows her jar that she use for her Fridge-Brewed iced tea and a ceramic harmony tea mug for her daily hot tea... We got chance to exchange ideas on how to make a good cup of tea from the tea's appearance, the style, shape and color. We also discussed about how the tea to be processed to make it the way it looks... Linh bring a big flan for our desserts. Good to see Margaret, Henry, Alpha, Francis, and Oana, too. This is a good topic, we should do it more often...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Enjoy Fine Oolong while you are traveling... Introducing #TD-112

This Travel Tea Set (sku#TD-112) is indeed very useful... With the modification of Mandarin Guy-Wan (Covered Bowl) to make it an easy-use tea pot, plus the pitcher and 6 cups... You can offer a tea ceremony at any place you travel to. Ivory white porcelain with elegant style, very presentable. Pack it with you on your next travel.

Have one set at ready for your family and friends to join your sipping.

Here are some excellent Taiwan Oolongs that you will please everyone in your tea parties...

Amber Oolong, the gongfu

The craftsmanship of baking Amber Oolong requires great effort and many years of practice. The toasty aroma with a natural sweet lingering finish can be enjoyed after many infusions. This tea is often used in traditional Gongfu tea ceremony.

Brandy Oolong, the darling

Made from Taiwan’s unique cultivar, Brandy Oolong has been skillfully processed with indoor withering, high-oxidation and heavy rolling to bring out the rich notes of each cultivar. Ruby 18, FB 27, FB 74…to name a few which have become the modern classics for tea enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds.

Jade Oolong, the classic

This naturally fragrant high mountain tea instantly captures tea drinkers’ love. After repeated withering, oxidation and wrapped-rolling, the pleasant aroma and delicate yet lasting flavor are sealed in the semi-balled, tightly rolled leaves.

Oriental Beauty, the exquisite

With the special visit by green leaf hoppers in early summer, Oriental Beauty delivers an exceptional fruity and elegant floral aroma with an intense, complex flavor followed by a rich honey and ripe peach aftertaste. This is truly the Champagne of teas, only from Taiwan.

Pouchong, the esteemed

Famous for its exceptional captivating aroma; this tea demands the most superior skills in every step of processing. Pouchong is often used as gifts bestowed to elders and special friends.

Bliss Oolong, the harmony

This tea can be a result of blended with various estates, crops, batches, or types; or of scented or mixed with herbs and tisanes. Its flavor and aroma always brings bliss – a taste of harmony.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A tea song dedicated to the young couple...

"Where does one find good tea?
Unbroken sweat from the pores of their skin;

Gardening, plucking, withering, fluffing, panning,
rolling and baking;
The graceful look, charming aroma, distinguished taste, lingering finish... all shown in their tea."

The following story to share with you...while you enjoy a cup of Taiwan Oolong.
Although it is often said, Good Oolong is to be encountered, not to be made as desired. Yet, we have met one couple in Reili, Alishan... A typical young tea farmer in Taiwan, who seems to have different approach.
With their endless efforts to follow the wisdom and discipline from their father, step by step... from Gardening, Leaf Plucking, Solar and Indoor Withering, Fluffing and Tumbling to manage the oxidation, Panning, Rolling, Baking...They do it all with their hearts and enormous efforts ...Every season, anxiously to present the tea they made with graceful look, charming aroma, distinguished taste and lingering finish for each cup infused.
They have tried to improve their tea garden with modern dripping irrigation system and adding new cultivars; got ISO22000 certified for their tea factory; and attend seminars in TRES to learn new techniques for making new Brandy Oolong and Classic Tung-Ting. They also are generous to open their facility for our TOST members to hands on study. I was speechless while Hung-Cheng calmly told me in our scouting trip back on March 2011, right at his tea garden with heavy spring rain pouring ... "How much rain we will get... is up to mother nature, but the sweat...all depends on how much effort I want to devote..." He did inspire me to write down that "兩人汗水滴落間" in my lyrics.
It is easy to say, yet definitely not easy to accomplish what they have done. I truly respect the young couple and will like to dedicate this song to them, Mr. & Mrs. Wang.

Please enjoy a YouTube film of this song...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Oolalah ! An Afternoon of Oolongs in Hawaii! (3/3/2012)

Josephine and I enjoyed a great weekend in Hawaii, the island paradise, during 2/29-3/4/2012. Not all in vacation, though...We have a lot of fun visited Hawaii Culture Festival in Honolulu Convention Center., and worked with Hawaii Tea Club's meet-up at Pineapple Room in Ala Moana Center...Oolalah! An Afternoon of Oolongs. We are very glad to meet many more tea lovers there...I bet that we will be back soon.