Monday, October 27, 2008

Trouble in the Henhouse (Bai Ji Guan) 2008

This tea has now been sitting on my shelf for 48 hours and it is time to give it a try. I have purchased Bai Ji Guan from three different sources and am hoping to do a comparison between all three. This one if from Tea Dragon, the other two are from Aaron and from Seven Cups.

Dry Leaf Appearance Lighter than most of the wuyi teas that I have tasted, the fragrance faintly sweet and a slight bit floral
Wet Leaf Appearance Nice golden toasted edges, beautiful full leaves, medium size in nature with good veining showing in the leaves. Warm summer rain almost mossy fragrance.

Leaf Weight and Vessels 3 grams and brewed in a 125ml porcelain gaiwan

Brewing Parameters Water was brought to a boil, two nice long deep breaths and water poured over upturned lid, not directly on leaves, fast rinse, 15s 15s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 1min, 2min.

Aroma Warm honey, slightly nutty like toasted almonds, with a bit of a woodsy foundation. I find that there is a commonality of base fragrances in all of the wuyi teas, ever so slight was this foundation fragrance there.

Liquor Light faded lemon, clear

Progressions As each steeping took place I was surprised how similar and consistent they remained. The last infusion left for 2 minutes, and allowed to get cold, was very consistent with all of the previous infusions. Not fulfilling enough to become an iced tea, but very drinkable cold

Taste The taste through each of the infusions was soft a bit sweet and very well rounded. I kept thinking that there should be more of a complex taste or a greater progression of flavors, neither of these things happened. Kind of like eating ice cream in the rain, It was good, but there seemed to be something missing or I was not able to get the full effect. There seemed to be a wavering of fruit flavors in the background, but I was not sure I was tasting this or was just hopeful, Whatever it was it was very fleeting.
Huigan radiates a soft sweetness that remains for some time
Yunxiang a bit of the woodsy underlying wuyi taste
qi not very evident for me
Conclusions I am glad that I purchased this white cockscomb , and look forward to comparing the other two. I think that maybe left to age a bit, it could become more fulfilling, and complex, I would like to try some aged, and at least some different years. I have read so much about this tea, and found it enjoyable but simple. Possibly my expectations were a little ambitious for this tea.


What, more restrictions in our municipality !

Saturday, October 25, 2008

That First Cup of Tea

Not to long ago I met my lawyer on the street, He has taken classes from me in the past and I have know him for a couple of decades. After speaking with him for a several minutes on several subjects I broached the question to him, Pardon me but I am lost to who you are should I know you? Yes was his emphatic reply we have been friends for years and I'm your lawyer!

I do not remember faces, and continue to have to apologize for this but a taste I will never forget. In this blog I hope to record systematically the teas I have encountered. To record where I have purchased them, the parameters that I used to brew them , and the results that I obtained. I believe this will help me sort out how to come to better replicate these experiences or in some cases how to avoid certain pitfalls.

Walking home from school one fall day at the age of 4 I was chased by a dog, Fearing for my life I ran into the first household that I could get to. A middle aged First Nations lady answered the door and listening to my story had an immediate recommendation for me. I was to come in have a cookie, she would make me a cup of tea and then she would walk me home. Tea was not an experience I had yet. Watching her put in some snooze like substance in a brown unwashed pot and pour hot water into it was a very foreign encounter. Soon she poured this cup of tea into a fancy teacup for me, and added a couple lumps of sugar, I remember stirring them up with some of this substance now in the bottom of my cup. I had never had anything like this before. The feeling it left me .....from warming me up from the centre of my body and finding its way to my extremities was like being plugged into high voltage.

I remember her reading my fortunate from the tea leaves left in the pot and her walking me home, meeting my mother, and them becoming life long friends. Although I do not remember what my fortune was I remember this tea, I think of the many afternoons spent there having cup after cup of this nectar, as I went through grade school.

She has passed away some years ago, but it was with delight I met here daughter on my travels. In asking how it was that her mom made such a good cup of tea, her reply was simple, "she put a lot of love into it" that and the fact that "she had her tea mailed to her from all over the world and she blended it herself to her taste" The attention to detail. May I be so lucky that
someone will remember me for a good spot of tea.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Empty Teabox

Over the past few weeks I have read many a tea blog. Excitedly I have ordered tea, upgraded my tea-ware and planned to better record my experiences with tea. I hurried to drive the 70 miles to town today when the post called to let me know that a package had arrived from China!

Waiting now for several weeks from Yunnan Sourcing LLC (A tea merchant on E-Bay) for a shipment of tea I ran through my mind the exciting adventures that awaited me from inside this box.

Tonight I would brew a pot and sit back to enjoy and then post this experience on my blog spot.
But the tea gods had other plans. The picture below tells the story. an empty ripped open box that had nothing in it, that had been carefully repacked into a new box by Canada post, with there formal notice of "Well we got the box to you" Sorry about the stuff that might have been inside.

No I shan't cry over spilt milk, but lost tea...........

Monday, October 20, 2008

Empty Tea Pots and the Financial Meltdown

Over the past 10 days the buzz has been the American Financial Meltdown of the Markets. Every time I go online my homepage fills with more and more news about the New York Stock exchange, about bad mortgages , about the market up 900 points the market down 700 points. As I go to my favorite tea blog sites and read, I am greeted with a feeling of uncertainty and fear, a general consensus of don't buy any more tea pots and gaiwans, SAVE YOUR MONEY for more tea. Well having escaped from taking companies public and having retreated to the woods; I am somewhat of a contrarion . Great market strategies have been to "buy when there is blood in the street" , so off to E-bay street I go. There are hundreds of Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, tea sets, tea pots, gaiwans, and celadron vessels. Lots of material starting at .99 cents , many being over 150 years old. Over 7000 different pieces within this category alone this week. It is plain to see not much is being bid upon, in fact very little at all. I start to enter an array of bids on items for the lofty sum of .99 cents, determined that i will bid no higher and that the shipping costs will be no great than 10.00 Ah yes some ancient ginger jars starting at the same price, great to store some of that loose aged pu-erh, Oh and a few of those beautiful hanging scrolls starting at 4.99, yes that would be cool, maybe even design a small tea room in the corner of the cabin . Lofty thoughts. Taking a different path makes one question his sanity. A budget of 200.00 , Hmm one good tea pot can easily run more than this. Will I win any of these auctions. It will be interesting to see how this week plays out, with all my bidding ending before the eve of this coming Sunday. Yes I strongly feel that this might be the time to acquire and not to sell. Having little to no tea ware, my hopes are to be able to reach a higher appreciation of the art of tea, and perhaps some of these potential purchases will help me gain a higher appreciate for this art.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Empty Teapot

Wow , so much to be said , so much to be learned, so much to be experienced. This blog will be a diary of my experiences that may help me discover some greater truths to tea. Are those expensive aged pu-erhs really worth it, how about all those oolongs, should I consider putting some away , do they really taste better with age. All those tea pots, those ancient pottery, do these really make the tea more patient, will I experience a previous unnoticed taste or reflection with that silver kettle. I have loved tea for more than 20 years, through trials, good times ,deaths, the constant has always been a cup of tea. Yet....a feeling that I am missing something, that there is more to be experienced. That for the many cups of tea that I consume I must focus at least for a few moments on this integral part of my life .

With much respect I enter this pathway , in hopes to finding many answers to the way of tea. To what equation do I give the intent, the equipment, and the resource. I know already that so much is to be learned thru these experience that will follow, and that much can be gained from the experiences of those who have already gone this path.
May the wisdom of the ancients be with me as I begin this journey into tea.