Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Finding the Harmony Code (9/21/2013)

Azusa Tea Club is getting more fun and having more experiments for our group learning!
We decided to have this topic: Finding the Harmony Code, right after our previous meet-up on 8/10.  Instead of reminding our tea friends to master the key factors in making a good cup of tea, we thought that with actual experiments will help every one to see and to believe.
This time, we picked one tea - Classic Tung Ting (#80453) as sample for our experiments.  With Karen and Josephine in charge of water, preparation of cupping ware, and Jerry helps control the time... we are having the following 3 groups of experiments:

1.) 3g, 6 minutes, for 3 cups with 210, 195, 180F -


2.) 210F, 6 min, for 3 cups with 3g, 4g, 5g -


3.) 210F, 3g, for 3 cups with 4 min, 5 min, 6 min -

After finding the Harmony Code for this tea:  3g, 210, 6 min.

We have Patti to help us to use 3 different teapots: tetsubin, porcelain, glass with 18oz infusion.
And we try to see which teapot has better performance for this tea.

Treat each tea as an individual, one of a kind, and find out its Harmony Code - then make the tea with discipline to have it presented its best for tasting.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Taiwan Tea @ Chicago Global Hakka Conference (8/17/2013)

Josephine and I were invited to Chicago Global Hakka Conference during 8/16-18/2013.  We were honored that our program to be keynote for this conference.  Our audience are mainly from Taiwan's tea producing districts, and they might also worked in tea fields back in their early days... This is indeed a very different challenge for us.   We are so used to share tea and culture with friends that do not have "tea tie" - and that gave Josephine and me a good opportunity to adjust our approach.  So, we decided to bring in our TOST program as part of our presentation.

While the PPS and Projector were still setting, I have invited two of our good friends, Ben Chang from DC., and Grace Kan from Toronto, to have their Hakka 3 Line Poems reciting in front of the audience.  They are simply the best.  This is part of our Taiwan Hakka Enlightenment Movement - we want to encourage our Hakka friends to pick up their pens to start write in our own mother tongue.

(BIG Ben and Grace Kan)

Josephine shares with our friends - What is TOST ? Why are we having this program? How this program conducted?      Her photos presentation are actually very convincing... as we almost can sense the breath of our participants, everyone is very focused on the photos and her stories... Our friends might wonder why those places will be so attractive to our tea friends from the Northern America?  Why tea could be such a powerful bridge to link up people from east and the west?  We just hope our humble message could be delivered:  "Everyone can help promote Taiwan and Taiwan's history and culture."...but must be well prepared to group up the information and share it with special program...  TOST is heading for its 6th Annual Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour - it is indeed helping Taiwan tea industry to have many more "Ambassadors of Taiwan Tea" to be outreaching to many more places in the Northern America... this year we have extended to England and Australia....

Before my Tea-One Tasting Class, Josephine has led a "We Want Tea" chanting with all audience...we sure have fun alright... Many friends there are not used to this type of play... but they got it fast... the
ball room is loud with the chanting:
We want tea, we want tea, we want Taiwan Oolong tea!
Oolong tea, Oolong tea, Taiwan Oolong the best tea!

I  am glad that our audience are so passionate to this Taiwan tea workshop - in a very different way they were expected.  We virtually bring everyone back to the chemistry labs in their high schools...

Mr. Chung (our VIP from Hakka Affairs Council, Taipei, Taiwan)
Reiling Chang (President of The Midwest Hakka Asso. Chicago)
Tiffany Chen (Reporter of Pacific Times, DC)
Davis Chang (CPA and Former President of THAA, SF)

Not only these four volunteers are having their fun in tea making...but all our audience also got to be served with fine Taiwan oolongs, plus they must have refreshed their great memories along our tea workshop.... I  have received many questions and I did have these questions answered in Hakka 3 line Poems... to be seen in the 飲茶 link

We are very grateful to THAA and The Midwest Hakka Association to put up such a wonderful event.  Not only tea, there are several marvelous speakers for various interesting topics, plus two
evenings in a row with top entertaining performances by the local Hakka groups and the Taiwan Hakka Opera (榮興客家大戲).   We have also met so many good friends that we don't use to see...
Great time, great experience!
Maybe next year we will meet each other in Paris, France for our 2014 Global Hakka Conference.

Please also see the report from Pacific Times.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rediscover Taiwan's Indigenous Tea (8/10/2013)

We are getting more fun now in Azusa Tea Club.
More topics are expected, and with Josephine and Jerry can help lead some sessions, and our members now are also willing to the assignments... this will give us more discussions and group learning about tea and tea culture besides cupping.
How long do these wild tea plants have stayed in Taiwan?
When do we start to be aware there are indigenous tea plants in Taiwan?
Where are these indigenous tea forests located?
Why these indigenous tea plants have not been popularly used in Taiwan's tea plantation?
Why all of a sudden, we are interested in learning about these indigenous tea plants?
Josephine has shared those photos taken from our Oct 27, 2009 trip to the Meiyuan Mountain.
Along the slides show, we have discussed how things have changed,  including the recent development of Brandy Oolong, plus the concerns of getting Organic, Ecology and Terroir in the tea industry... Indigenous tea forest in Taiwan will offer much more resource for our further researches. We can expect many more newer and better tea cultivars will be developed and become Taiwan tea's rising stars....besides Ruby 18 and HonYun 21.

It seems that everyone is looking for our September meet-up already...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Taiwan tea workshop for NATMA 2013 Conference (7/26/2013)

NATMA (North American Taiwanese Medical Association) 2013 Conference has a series of Culture Workshops offered to its members who participate this annual conference at the San Gabriel Hilton Hotel.  Josephine and I were invited by Dr. Sze-Ya Yeh, our good friend also the chair for the culture workshops.

We know that our audience are most "professional tea drinkers" and very familiar with Taiwan's oolong tea.  It will be a challenge alright.  I have different approach for having this tea workshop with all these medical doctors though.  Josephine has shared the TOST program with our friends with a group of nice pictures taken from the trips over the past 5 years.  She has done a great job on this presentation, and we just want our fellow Taiwanese American friends know that TOST is the least example, there could be many more we can do to promote Taiwan and earn more friendship for Taiwan with individual efforts.  Professor Jerry Liu is the second presenter to briefly explain what we have in mind to build our educational material for an Ambassador training to take leverage of our Taiwan tea promotion.  I believe our message has reached out to these NATMA friends effectively.
They also help make my tea presentation a lot more easier...

Please enjoy the following slideshow...
As usual, we have invited 4 volunteers be seated in the front...to hands on making four different types of Taiwan Oolong: Wenshan Pouchong, Alishan Jade Oolong, Muja Tie Guanyin and Omei Oriental Beauty.  Yet they are given the tea with out any label on the tea caddy...  How are they going to do?

The fun and laughter are filling up the whole class room.  We have had a wonderful afternoon with Taiwan Oolong!

Vertical Cupping: 3 Pouchongs and 3 Baked Oolongs ( 7/20/2013)

This meet-up is set for a focused cupping, we have to limit number of participants to make sure that each member will have plenty time to work on each tea.
I have selected 3 Wenshan Pouchongs which are with a bigger gap apart from each.  The purpose is not to challenge our friends but to give everyone a fair experiment.  Gradually, we can get some teas that are more close in quality/grading... which will require a lot more details in observation and comparison.   Our friends are actually doing very well on the first half with these 3 Pouchong teas.

The second session, we have arranged 3 Bakded Oolongs for cupping - before and after baking, plus one taken in the middle of turning point during baking process.   Among the three samples, almost everyone did pick it right on the After Baking one.  The before baking one and the sample at 6 hours
did confuse quite a few friends.  The purpose of this cupping is to learn how the tea baking could change tea leaf at different status. Tea Masters did learn from their experiments to know what will be the best baking plan for each tea they will be handling.  Not all tea masters will agree with one another...and that is the beauty of it.  Signature Baked Oolong will be out soon in the Northern American tea market.

Monday, August 5, 2013

2013 World Tea Expo - Show is On!

Show time!
Team Taiwan Tea has prepared for the 2013 World Tea Expo since last year's show ended.  At the review meeting, we come up with a few changes on booth design as well as on the programs we plan to offer.  The "Taiwan Tea Classroom" would be set right in the middle of our booth. The educational programs are listed at our booth and would also be posted on the internet. We provided two educational sessions; World Origin Tasting Tour (Taiwan) on 6/6, and Focused Tasting on "Unknown Teas of Taiwan" on 6/9. 

To make sure that everything will go as planned and be successful, we invited two of our good friends to help out.  Master Steve Huang is so generous to take some time away from his schedule to come support our advanced cupping sessions ( **to make sure that we know what we are doing...haha). Our other friend, Profession Jerry Liu would observe and give us suggestions on what educational material we should put together for our curriculum.

Our on-site tea baking showcased a surprise to many attendees. Our pilot baking unit, Model No. TTI-A1 was the star for our show during the baking demonstration and at the grand cupping on the WTE's Special Events Stage.

This is a great show for us.  Too many people to thank for, especially to our visitors -  you are the reason we are there.  See you all in next show.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

2013 World Tea Expo - World Origin Tasting Tour (Taiwan)

World Origin Tasting Tour always takes place one day before the WTE's show opens to attendees.
This is a great program that is designed for our new friends who just entered the specialty tea industry to get a chance to have a bird's eye view of each major tea origin and to cup their specialty teas.  Unlike the early days, Taiwan does not produce that many tea in volume anymore, yet with fine Oolong, Taiwan still has much to offer to please world tea connoisseurs.  Taiwan tea still remains as an important origin on the World Tea Map.  We have been set to be the last session since WTE has had this program.  There could be many reasons for our placement, but I would like to think positively; perhaps the WTE might be saving the best for the last?! 

This time, we have prepared 4 teas that were listed in the Passport for every participant; Wenshan Pouchong, Alishan Jade Oolong, Lugu Amber Oolong, and Hisnchu Oriental Beauty. The cupping went smoothly as scheduled and I would like to take this time to extend my gratitude to the prep team and the volunteers who helped out for this event.  I am also grateful for our Team Taiwan as they always show their support to help.  During their booth set-up, they all came up to the room to help distribute Taiwan tea maps and leaflets that were provided by TTMA and then rushed back to their booths to resume the set-up job.

Lastly, there is one key person beyond this World Origin Tasting Tour whom I am very grateful for among others. I would like thank my tea-cher, whom I also consider a very good friend, Jane Pettigrew for guiding me to present Taiwan tea and has always encouraged me to share my "Formosa Oolong" song.  Jane has always been a big help to me, including when she filled in for me since I could not make it at the time for the Taiwan tea session at the World Tea East.  Josephine always says, "Thomas actually enjoys the opportunity to sing more than doing the tea presentation." This is indeed true; through the lyrics of the tea song, I have expressed the integrity of each particular tea whether it's Oriental Beauty, Tung Ting Oolong, Tie Guanyin, Wenshan Pouchong, or Brandy Oolong...  (*If you like Taiwan tea songs - click on this link: )

I love tea and I enjoy tea culture !

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

2013 World Tea Expo - Induge in Excellence

"Indulge in Excellence" - This is our way of sincerely greeting tea friends who visit the World Tea Expo and drop by our Taiwan tea booth.

We selected two groups of Specialty Oolongs for cupping on each day.

Day 1 (6/7/2013) - We offered four USDA Certified Organic Oolong from the Tse-Xin Tea Farm; Organic Pouchong, Jade Oolong, Ruby 18 and Gaba Oolong.  This is a very remarkable program this organization has adopted.  The "Pure Spring Tea" project is much bigger than just having an Organic tea garden.

For further reading on Pure-Spring Tea, please click on the following two links:
Visit Tse-Xin Farm
What is Pure Spring Tea  

Day 2 (6/8/2013) - We prepared 5 special teas for our attendees.

1.) 2001 Baked Oolong 
2.) Yilan Charm Milk Oolong
3.) Miaoli Oriental Beauty 
4.) Wenshan Pouchong 
5.) Yuchih  Ruby 18  

Having a bunch of tea enthusiasts to cup on a group of teas together, is always fun and also offers a good learning experience for everyone.  It's also quite interesting to see that each tea can naturally garner its fans without being told by others or what's being trending.  Classic teas are here to stay.  I hope you will find your favorite tea(s) and Indulge in Excellence whether it's by yourself or with your family and friends.

Monday, July 29, 2013

2013 World Tea Expo - Pouchong

Pouchong is not only the first Taiwan Oolong I learned since my childhood, but still is my favorite. I also think Pouchong is easier compared to other teas to purchase and to sell...because we can tell the quality of the tea by simply examining the dry leaf's condition.  For our group study in this Pouchong session, we picked 4 teas, which were: Traditional Pouchong in Chinsing Oolong and TTES 19 (BeeYu); semi-ball type Pouchong in Chinsing Oolong and TTES 20 (Yin Hsiang).

Everyone who attended the session were all handed a cupping log to take notes during the cupping session.  We really enjoyed working with them as they were all very enthusiastic to learn and willing to share their observations during the whole session. 

There are so many organizations, such as STI and World Tea Academy that offers tea workshops and I wish our tea friends should seriously consider to take some of those classes with certification credit.  And on the show floor, there are companies offer many great cupping sessions, join the group cupping.  It is by far the most effective way to learn about tea...

What is next?