Friday, July 18, 2008

tao of tea

just got back from a trip to the northwest. made another stop at floating leaves tea house in seattle and picked up some excellent baozhong wuyi oolong and some great ali shan oolong. their taiwanese oolongs are superb.

dropped into the tao of tea in portland twice for some good tea (and good food). second time i had "Golden Lily" which is a Jin Xuan native varietal of Central Taiwan. it was okay, kind of a basic oolong without much upper spectrum. good though.

on the first visit, i had one of their Old Growth Teas from 2005. i had the Nannuo Shan Mao Cha from Nannuo Mountain, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China. this was a really wonderful green type of puer which i had gongfu style. it had a complex green puer flavor that revealed lots of subtleties through each steeping. i really liked this tea and it made me feel great! my wife mandy had a really nice spiced tulsi tea blend called 'shanti'.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

2007 Winter Awarded Song Po Oolong

San Francisco CA, Jan. 13 2007
Tea: 2007 Winter Awarded Song Po Oolong
Cultivar: Chin shin (green-centered) oolong
Location: Ming Jian, Nan Tou, Taiwan
Purchased: Hou De Asain Art website

Jams: Yoshi Wadalament for the rise and fall of the elephantine crocodile” compact disc.

Let me first thank Alex Cobb for pointing me towards this tasty Oolong. The guy never stears me wrong. So, living in San Francisco, I generally don’t have to buy tea online, but when I do, Hou De, mentioned here in pervious posts, is a fine place to get stuff. Apparently an award winning Oolong (From The Hou De Site: We are very glad to introduce the awarded Song Po oolong from 2007 Winter Tea Competition in Ming Jian, Nan Tou.) that is remarkably reasonably priced. $11.50 for a 2oz bag! Which means It makes for a great everyday Oolong that I can have at work, where more often than not I’m drinking at a more hurried pace then I would while at home.

The first & second infusions of this tea are very buttery and round, with a subtle honey quality, and nice floral overtones in the fragrance. Very pleasant to drink. The third infusion brought out a trace of astringency on the front & sides of the palate that I really enjoy. I have yet to push this one past three infusions, so no idea how it would hold up. You try it out and let me know. Big beautiful leaves opened up by the end. Overall a very worthwhile and inexpensive Oolong that’s easy on the pocketbook and tasty as hell.

Friday, January 4, 2008

2001 Chung-Hwa Yi Wu Raw Puerh

Cincinnati, OH
January 4, 2007
Tea: 2001 Chung-Hwa Yi Wu raw puerh
Manufacturer: Meng La Man-Lo Factory
Infusion parameters: 10g used in 150cc purple clay Yixing pot; 20s rinse, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 120s in 195-200°F water.
On the hi-fi: Nijiumu: "Live;" Vikki Jackman: "Of Beauty Reminiscing"

I acquired this tea at the beginning of 2006, and after drinking it once decided to shelve it for a while due to an astringency that seemed to me to be on its way out. I decided to revisit these leaves on a frosty January afternoon and was pleasantly surprised by the results of this brief storage period.

Dry leaves: There is a nice range of colors here, from dark browns to almost-yellows. The dry leaves exude tobacco, earth, camphor and almost mushroom-like aromas. There are thick and leathery big leaves, smallish twigs, and dry, wispy leaf tendrils.

1st infusion: With the tea still so tightly compressed, the flavors here were fairly faint. Even still, the tea brewed up to a nice dark-hued orange with exceptional clarity.

2nd infusion: Strong, pungent, dry citrus and wood notes became increasingly pronounced. I recall now that this tea's pungent qualities dominated my session with it the previous year. Nice, supple mouthfeel. Already I'm noticing a lovely complexity and some refreshing menthol notes that I'll wager will come to the fore in infusions 3-6.

3rd infusion (pictured below): An increased maltiness is present now, and the floral qualities magnified. This is a bold and supple tea which really fills the mouth with a vibrant palette of flavors. There is a nice, cooling aftertaste despite the slightly drying astringency that seems to linger the longest.

4th infusion: The camphor and musk qualities diminished in favor of a nice caramel sweetness. The drying astringency continued to hang around, but wasn't severe enough to be objectionable.

5th infusion: The flavors were much more subtle now, though the tea continued to brew up to a nice dark-brown. Cool menthol notes, caramel and earth dominated.

6-8 infusions. Dry fruit notes abounded, but really in aroma alone. The taste mellowed into a silky, earth sweetness not unlike an exceptional shou puerh.

All in all this is a tea that I'm quite glad to have purchased at a great price (I grabbed a few of these beengs before the price surge in the puerh market last year). Clearly, the maocha used here is top notch; I was very impressed with the quality of the leaves. It definitely still has a lot of room to mature though before it becomes a really exceptional sheng, and although the astringency is something which proves now to be a bit of a detractor, it is a characteristic that, along with the strong, vibrant complexity of this tea, will likely ensure that given proper conditions it will age into something truly special.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

jin xuan oolong

hi tea friends,
i think ill start by introducing myself since i dont really know any of you (well ive met jefre once and emailed with him). my name is greg and i live in burlington, vermont. i make music for a living. i fell in love with tea about 5 years ago. i enjoy all types of tea, but i find that my favorites are usually chinese and japanese green teas. recently ive been exploring some oolong teas which im really enjoying. i also like puerh and white tea on occasion. my late night drink is often an herbal infusion of some sort. (my wife is an amateur community herbalist). ive been really enjoying tulsi (holy basil) tea alot lately. now on to the tea...

i was on tour in october along the west coast with akron/family and megafaun. we made a stop in seattle and i was with my good buddy zach and one of his friends recommended going to floating leaves tea house. zach and i stopped in but didnt have time to sit down and talk and sample tea, so i returned there a few days later with phil from megafaun. one of the owners, shiuwen, sat us down to sample several taiwanese oolong teas which was her specialty. she was very knowledgeable and had all sorts of stories to tell us and opinions about various teas as well. after the sampling, i bought some of the tea that i liked the most. a baozhong (farmer's choice) which is gone now but i remember being a less floral and less high note type of oolong, more down to earth. a very lovely tea. i also got some jin xuan that was lightly roasted in house at floating leaves. i just finished my last cups of this tea today. its a buttery, creamy type of oolong that reveals some other subtle flavors after the first infusion.

-my chawan and gaiwan-

-jin xuan closeup after first infusion-

after the first infusion, the buttery flavor subsides a bit and reveals some floral and grassy overtones. and into the third and fourth infusions, i was getting hints of cinnamon even. all around a nice tea and im sad to see it gone, but i just made an order with red blossom tea so stay tuned....

-jin xuan closeup after 4th or 5th infusion-

-music on the turntable-

-vermont snow vibes-