Monday, August 20, 2012

Tea-One Horizontal Tasting: Green Tea, Jade Oolong, Amber Oolong and Brandy Oolong

Tea-One Tasting is a very effective format of tea education. I have used this system in many colleges (for the ITASA programs) successfully to have fun of sharing tea knowledge and culture promotion. We have also offered modified versions of Tea-One Tasting Class in trade shows or staff training programs for private business.  But for our Azusa Tea Club, this is the first time we introduce Tea-One Horizontal Tasting.  

On 8/18/2012, we are tasting the following 4 teas: Sanhsia Breeze Green Tea Bi-Lo-Chun., Chilai Chinsin Jade Oolong, TJK Amber Oolong., and Brandy Oolong FB - 27.  

I have 4 volunteers from our meet-up friends: Sean, Maira, Don and Ellen.
They each have one tea and one set of tea apparatus, including Tea-One Brew, Thermo, tea spoon and towel, plus one personal cupping set (one aroma cup and one sipping cup).

The whole process, start from knowing your carefully checking the tea's appearance, the color and the shape/style of tea leaf.  (*we usually suggest our participants to ignore the labels, bring the tea out of the tea caddies...let tea become "the center" of our workshop.  We want to learn about the tea's color to judge the oxidation or baking process...We want to see the tea's shape/style to guess the tea leaf's density and figure out the weight of the tea we are measuring out for the infusion.

After the identification of tea's appearance, we will use the tea spoon to measure the leaf for infusing. But how many tea spoons for each tea to be measured? Or, should be rounded tea spoon, level tea spoon?  A little experiment to have all audience to find out the tea spoon / tea leaf density and the weight actually could be calculated...

Having the heated water stored in Thermo for each volunteer to is handy and also for the safety concern...Make sure the heated water will be poured properly to the inner infuser of Tea-One Brew.  

Suggest volunteers to raise the infuser to be sit on the top of pitcher.  So, everyone gets to see...
The Agony of the Leaf ...

When the tea leaf unfurled and settled... Ask each volunteer to press the button to release the tea
from the leaf...down in the pitcher.  Invite all audience to check the clearness of the tea liquor...
also identify the color of each tea...  Invite the discussion on the tea's quality in regards to its liquor...

Before sipping the tea... always ask the volunteers to focus on the aroma by asking the volunteers smell to the lid of Tea-One Brew... where the steam remained under...  Let each volunteer to have a good memory on the aroma...  Then, switch around the four lids... encourage the volunteers to find the one belongs to his/her tea...  This will encourage our audience to make sure that each tea experience should include enjoy tea's aroma first... while the tea is still too hot to sip...

Then, it is time to taste the tea... them how to properly taste and appreciate the tea... (Always have different suggestions...just for fun...)  and the volunteers can cross serving tea to each other...Always invite the discussion about each tea's taste, finishes... Every one has different taste profile...always fun to listen to different comments during the tasting.

After the tea tasting... will be time for examining the wet leaves... Use the same tea spoon to scoop out the wet leaves on the lids, now serve as coasters...  Guide the volunteers to read the wet leaves and invite the discussion with audience...

There will be question after question during the workshop... those questions raised right at each move by the volunteers...The interaction between the volunteers and audience...will remain in high gear.

Please enjoy the slideshow of these four outstanding volunteers, from left to right: Sean, Maira, Don and Ellen.  Thanks to their excellent performance...and I bet they are the ones who benefit the most from this workshop.  Next time, when we are having Tea-One Tasting Class, always try to be the volunteers. No kidding.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

2012 World Tea Expo - Show is On !

We thank all the attendees who visit Taiwan Tea booth.  We also appreciate the hard efforts from our staff and volunteers.  Thanks to World Tea Media (George, Kim and their team) to produce another great show!

2012 World Tea Expo - Taiwan Tea Districts & New Cultivars

Taiwan Tea Research and Extension Station (TRES) is responsible for research, development, and promotion of Taiwan tea, as well as providing education, training and information to local tea farmers. The station is equipped with excellent research and farming facilities and organizers regular training programs, lectures, workshops, demonstrations, and exhibitions for tea growers. The station also promotes organic farming, soil and water conservation and environmentally sound pest control techniques to protect the environment and assure the safety of local tea products.  

Over the years, Taiwan Tea Manufacturers Association (TTMA) has worked very closely with TRES for Taiwan tea's continuous development.  This year, for 2012 World Tea Expo, we have the great honor to have TRES Director Iou-Zen Chen to help out Taiwan Tea Stage programs.  Director Chen has three sessions: one session to briefly introduce the current major tea districts in Taiwan., and two sessions to share the new tea cultivars developed by TRES.  We are about to bring in the Terroir and Cultivar's special characters found in Taiwan Oolong.


2012 World Tea Expo - Indulge in Excellence

Bill Waddignton is my tea brother, a great friend of TTMA.  Our friendship goes back to early APTI days.  Last year, Bill paired with Steve Huang for a great session: Focused Tasting on Ruby 18.   The audience enjoy their presentation so much.  I remember during our planning for TTMA Stage, Josephine and I have decided to invite Michael Lannier from Tea Source, who is in 2011 TOST, to lead one session of Oriental Beauty.  We must come up another interesting session to offer our tea friends at the WTE... finally... This topic popped up, why not to invite Bill to review the 6 special Oolongs from Taiwan ?  Another great performance, again!

2012 World Tea Expo - Amber Oolong & Aged Oolong

Amber Oolong, the gongfu
Baking Amber Oolong requires a master’s tremendous efforts and numerous practices. This tea can be enjoyed in gongfu style, infusion after infusion. 

We all realize that Mo Sardella has played an important role behinds the impressive Tea Infusions Challenge  in 2012 World Tea Exp.  When TTMA Stage programs were under planning...I thought of MO, who's in our 2011 TOST program, and hoping that he will be available for us to lead one session of cupping.  A phone call to GS Haly office..., as we all know how generous Mr. Spillane is...he endorses the idea almost immediately...So, here we have Mo on the stage to have one of his favoritea - Amber Oolong.  Believe me, from my observation during 2011 TOST, Mo is about ready to bake his own Amber Oolong.  Enjoy the slideshow below to see his enthusiasm!

(*I will like to take this post, again hearty thanks to our friend, Mike Spillane and GS Haly Co., on behalf  of Taiwan tea industry, tea farmers... You can tell how much supports they have given to TTMA.  Not only Mike himself took his precious time to fly over to Taiwan to give seminars and encouragements to our tea farmers and tea merchants., he has generously sent Aaron Vick and Mo Sardella to our Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour Progam to show his valued friendship.  We appreciate it and we will like to share the story with all our tea friends.)

Amber Oolong - could be made to be, take TieGuanYin as an example., also could be value-added with certain crude teas, Pouchong, Jade begin with. Tea Baking is another art and craftsmanship that takes years of practices.  We believe this is going to be a big attraction...not only in tea producing countries.  I am expecting it will soon to have tea baking workshops here in the Northern America... Many of our tea entrepreneurs might be thinking to have their own baking room to create their own house-specialty Amber Oolong.  (*similar to coffee roasters...).
Aged Oolong - This is another territory we are looking at.  It will involve the "Tea Cellar" to store teas with crystal clear documentation. (*Comparing Pu-Erh, we need to come up with an advanced system to convince the tea fans.)  No doubt that it requires further R&D, and for sure, the wine business model will be borrowed.  During the storing period, should the tea to be re-baked? How often? What will be the perfect condition for the tea cellar to be equipped with? ...
Many tea scientists and tea entrepreneurs are working on various projects in Taiwan now...
We are indeed very excited about its happening...

2012 World Tea Expo - Jade Oolong & Classic TungTing

Jade Oolong & Classic TungTing -
I always enjoy the honor of cupping tea with our good friend Aaron Vick.  He has a very sharp and decisive approach.., I wonder whether the Hapkido practice has something to do with it. (?)  In 2011 WTE, Aaron and I did a session of  Taiwan TieGuanYin together.  This time, I thought it will be fun to invite him back again, but to cup different tea, from baked Oolong switch to Jade Oolong...and then touch an interesting topic of "Classic TungTing".  Please enjoy our slideshow of Aaron on the TTMA stage on 6/2/2012.

Jade Oolongthe classic  
This naturally fragrant high mountain tea becomes one’s favorite instantly.  Pleasant aroma, delicate flavor and lingering finish are captured within the semi-balled, tightly rolled leaves after numbers of time in withering, oxidation and rolling repeatedly. 
Jade Oolong is another version of Pouchong simply in different leaf appearance. Domestic tea lovers use to call it "semi-ball Pouchong".  Due to green tea fever and market driven trend, Taiwan's Jade Oolong tends to become greener and greener (lighter in oxidation, Drying without baking...) Farmers and Factories learn fast from their customers' demand.  However, there are many "*old" fans complain on the "green trend"...they miss the TungTing Oolong from the 80s/90s'...a bit higher oxidation plus the additional baking to stablize the tea after the crude tea finished drying. Classic TungTing is slowly back in our market - domestically and internationally.
What is the difference between Jade Oolong and Classic TungTing?  
No need to guess, order some samples and line them up for your own cupping.  Try to follow our tea master, Aaron Vick, to find your own answer.