donderdag 31 mei 2012

Qi Lai Shan spring 2011

I was very eager to try this sample from teamaster. As I mentioned in a previous blog, when I opened the package I was just astonished by its intense and sweet smell. I thoroughly tested this tea over 2 days. The first day I used a competition set and today I used my new gaiwan. Right now I'm in my examinations so I have to study a lot, 'luckily' I can always find some time to make tea! Though this is the main reason why I didn't write much lately.
Ready to start the testing!
 First some information about this tea (from teamasters blog). It's a luanze oolong tea from Central Taiwan grown on altitude around 2200m and harvest by hand on the 6th of May. This was his only 2000m+ oolong from that year because due lots of rainfall lots of the crops were ruined (or atleast of a much less quality) though the farmer of this tea managed to harvest before the rainfall(....and I'm so glad he did!!!!).

The tea was very tight rolled into rather small, dark green balls. In the beginning they had an amazing sweet fragrance, now they got more refined and smelled almost like a light, flowery parfum. I brewed around 3g in a competition set for about 5minutes to get an idea what this tea will give me. I had no idea what to expect because even the fragrance changed so much over the days. When I poured the tea into the big cup I already could smell the intense sweet,flowery aroma that was released into the air. I couldn't wait to drink it! I had a few different cups ready to see how the tea would behave in different cups and which one was suited best to drink this tea. Also I had a sniffcup ready so I would be able to smell the lovely aroma of this tea.
Which colour you prefer?
I poured the tea into 3 different cups and I was surprised by how different the tea looked in every cup. In the left one the colour was less intense, almost white but in the middle cup the tea was so concentrated and the colour was pale orange. In the right cup it almost looks like a green tea. So as you can see: cups do matter a lot!  The taste of the tea was sweet but still in balance and complex. There were some hints of banana but also this more bitter grassy taste I noticed but it was rather pleasant and balanced the tea. The aftertaste was very perfumy and refused to disappear. The leafs themselves smelled like nectarines. I let the tea cool down a little bit and then it became even more sweet and smooth. My saliva glants started to tingle and I could feel the qi going through my fingertips and my back. I thought that this had even some more potential in it so I brewed the remaining leafs again in a gaiwan and this time it felt like I was drinking orange candy. Never did I experience such a citrus, orangy taste in tea before and it left me sitting astonished about how versatile this tea was.


The leafs of this tea were rather small but thick/strong. It contained a few buds here and there. It wasn't too green like some high mountain oolong, you can't see that well on this picture but while brewing this tea you could see the iron coloured edges very well with some insects bites which means it's an organic farmer. Though I have to mention that I found another leaf in my cup which isn't from the teaplant but I guess it accidently was mixed with the tealeafs which is not a problem for me, doesn't change the quality of this beautiful tea at all.


Today I brew this tea again but this time with my new gaiwan that I bought on ebay for around 8 dollars. Ofcourse the quality isn't great but for my first gaiwan I don't need anything more, it's ideal for practising my brewingskills. This time the tea behaved totally different. The first steeps were very dry but had a very sweet aftertaste in the throat and was very full. In contrary to the taste of the soup, the leafs themselves smelled like peaches and oranges. I tried to capture these fruity tastes but it was harder than expected. This tea is so complex that I wasn't able to 'control' it. Sometimes I had these sweet, fruity flavors while another steep it was much more flowery. You will never get tired of this tea. It is very subtile but at the same time it's so extremely complex and fun to brew. And now Stéphane told me that this years harvest of DYL is even better than this tea... I cannot wait to try that one! For now, I do not believe him till I tasted it myself. I can honestly say that this tea is in my top 3.

But now it's time for me again to go study....the art of fertilization is on the menu today. Hope you readers enjoyed this blog. My apologies in advance if there are a lot of grammar/spelling mistakes, kind of rushed this blog. See you next time!

maandag 21 mei 2012

TFT-Da Yu Ling

Today's tea on the menu is the Da Yu Ling from Lishan (Taichung county) from Tea from Taiwan, the sample I tried was from the winter harvest. The last time I tried it, a few months ago, I wasn't much impressed by it. I heard 'legendary" stories about it potency and incredible taste so I had my hopes up high when I tried it first and I got disappointed badly. Now I stored it for a few weeks in a porcelain pot that hopefully will improve its taste and I'm going to test it competition style.


When I opened the storagepot I didn't smell that much, the aroma wasn't very strong. Guess it'll all be in the taste! Quickly I poured hot water on 3g of Da Yu Ling and waited (im)patiently for the tea to release all of it's flavors. After 5 min I poured the tea into 3 different cups, just to test which cup will fit best. The left cup is the one I received from George, the middle is made by a good Czech friend of mine and the right one is from Teaworld. When I was pouring the cups I already could smell this sweet, perfumy aroma difusing into the air...mhmmm, can't wait!!! So I took a sip and... uh? What? Wait? Is this it? I was expecting a flavorbomb EXPLODING  into my mouth but all I got was this sweet, little bit bitter but well balanced taste. This couldn't be it, right? For the price of this tea I expected something more than just a sweet balanced taste.

See the colour difference?


 Because I heard that this Da Yu Ling oolong is extremely potent I made another, shorter brew. This time I was pleasantly surprised. It was sweet, smooth with a little greenish/vegetable taste and it coated my tongue, sometimes it felt like I could actually feel the little parts of sugar in my mouth. That was the moment when it struck me: this is where this winter Da Yu Ling is all about! It's not this explosion of flavours but it's this 'energetic' tea that coats and cleans your mouth, that you can feel through your whole body. A tea that sooths you and makes you feel warm from the inside. From that moment on I enjoyed this tea very much because I felt so calm, relaxed and clear at the same time.

I enjoyed drinking this tea the most from the left cup because the edges are more rounded which suits this particular tea perfectly. Though the thing I like about the middle cup is that it's ideal for observing the movements of the tea(as how it behaves itself interacting with the glaze).

There was this particular song I was hearing inside my head when drinking this tea:


I hope you'll this song and maybe just like me, drink a cup of tea while listening to it =)

The small but thick leafs


zaterdag 19 mei 2012

Cha Xi 'Yi Ting'


Today I tried to make a very personal Cha Xi.
For this particular one I kept it very simple but it has
a lot of personal meaning for me.
There are a lot of hidden symbols and meanings
connected to this tea set-up.
I know that my cha xi is nothing compared to
some other people but I realy enjoyed
doing this.












donderdag 17 mei 2012

Shan Lin Xi (Long Feng Xia)

Today's setup: simple, where the tea stands central
After a few hours of studying Latin family and species names of all sorts of plants, nothing tastes better than a good cup of Camellia sinensis. I think I can state that this is the most favored plant of all us tea drinkers. Today I tried the last bit of my Long Feng Xia sample I got from Tea from Taiwan. The first time I tried it I was much less experienced and I did not know how to brew it properly or which water to use. Ofcourse, I still don't know how to brew tea properly but atleast I don't brew it as bad as I did a few months ago. I noticed that how more I read about the, how more I brew different teas etc... the more I realise how less I know. It's kind of funny this contradiction: the more you learn, the more stupid you feel.

Now I don't know a lot about this tea so I have to trust upon the companies description of heritage. This tea is grown at the Shan Lin Xi district( Jhushan township of Nantou county), more precise at the Long Feng Xia plantation in Long Feng at an altitude of about 1750m. The exact variety of this tea is not mentioned, they say that 3 different kind of varieties ar grown in the Shan Lin Xi area: Jin Shuan,Tsuei Yu and the Wu-long variety.
I'm not experienced enough to distinguish one from another, maybe someone else can clear it up for me?

The dry, rolled teaballs smell very floral and light, just slightly grassy. I put approx. 3g in my competition style cup and let it steep for exactly 5 minutes. After 5 minutes I poured the tea in my cup and smelled it. It was very floral and grassy at the same time, though I could already smell some hints of bittertones. The smell of the leafs was very vegetal and sweet. When I tasted it the tea was much more astringed than I first expected, probably because of the long steeping time. Though it wasn't very disturbing and the tea was very drinkable, just more concentrated and intense than I'm used to. Besides the slightly bitter taste there were lots of floral notes accompagnied by this taste which I would describe as "sunlight soapy". The first time I tasted oolong tea in Taiwan I always complained to my back then current girlfriend  that the tea tasted like I was drinking sunlight soap. But after some time this particular taste started to vanish, just now and then I just receive some hints from it, mainly when teas are steeped slightly longer than usual.
What was very interesting about this tea was the insanely long and perfumish aftertaste that kept lingering around for ever like somebody sprayed perfume into my mouth.


 Eventhough the tea itself wasn't bad, I don't know if I will buy this one again. I enjoy these floral oolongs very much on sunny,warm days but my personal preferance goes to the slightly more oxidized oolongs with a little bit of roasting because of their thicker,sweeter body. This tea would be compareable with lets say a Glenfiddich new oak finish or even a Cragganmore, very tasty whiskies but too light for me. Ofcourse you can't always drink heavy, sweet highland whiskies and aggressive Islays... sometimes you need some happiness in a cup, a little bit of sunshine into your life and that's exactly what this tea provides.

Mhm, tasty!
Even my little mouse was curious about this tea and took a little sniff. Guess what's her name? Her name is "雪" which means snow in Mandarin. I thought that would be suiting  for this white furred mouse.
Because of today's good weather she was allowed to play outside and run in the grass. It's extremely funny to see her 'running' through the grass.

Isn't she adorable?(and fat?)
Today I also opened this sample from Teamaster. I only smelled the dry tea but it was the most intense, sweet,honey-like, creamy smell I ever experienced with tea. Can't wait to try it one of these days, so if you wanna know which tea I'm talking about: keep an eye out on this blog!!!


donderdag 10 mei 2012

Teaworld




It has been a while since I wrote my previous blog but now I finally found some time to write one. I promised you readers that I would write about my ceramic pots for storing my tea and the pots I use but I first wanna write about my experience at Teaworld in Brussels. I don't have any pictures yet because I didn't take any but maybe I'll receive some from people I've met.

Teaworld took place in Brussels (aka the heart of Europe) and it was a gathering of teas around the world. This year was the first year it was organised so it didn't cover lots of ground but it still was an excellent event. I arrived there about 1 hour too early because I only had 1 train to Brussels. While I was waiting Stéphane walked into me, it was a great honour for me meeting him. I always have great respect for people who are passionate about the things they do and he is one of these persons, one of these persons where you know he knows what he is talking about. After waiting (they offered me to wait inside but I prefer the fresh air, I just love the wind).

When I entered I received this little teacup which look pretty nice. There wasn't much to see yet so I strolled around a little bit so I would have an idea of all the different countries represented there. On my stroll I met this Taiwanese woman who married a Belgian guy and they have some kind of little teahouse in Antwerp. She was very energetic and full of passion. She served me some tea and we had a great talk, she said I should come visit her in Antwerp. It's very cool that there is someone nearby who is willing to teach me, it's a great oppertunity to learn! She mainly has these traditional roasted oolongs. I never tried much (heavily) oolongs before but I must say they were delicious and full bodied with these lovely accents of nuts and charcoal. Like in whisky's (Think Islay whisky but even more sprinbanks, these are round,sweet whisky's with this little hint of smokiness) I kind of prefer these above the more light oxidized, flowery teas. Ofcourse, I like all oolongs teas and it depends so much on which mood I find myself in.

Most of the time I spend at Stéphanes place, mainly just watching him making tea and asking him for advice. He is not a man of many words, maybe even a little bit shy but the things he says are wise. The biggest advice he gave me and which I really appreciate is that I should stay away from teapots for now. I feel really happy that he said that because they are just so complex I didn't know what to do with them. At the same time I am a little bit sad because I bought this new teapot (which I bought a little bit too impulsive maybe because of my enthousiasm). He reminded me to stay calm and that I should take it more easy, not run ahead of things which I tend to do a lot. Tea is indeed about looking into yourself, perceiving things you normally don't notice, paying attention and change. Thanks to tea you are able to discover yourself a little bit more.

Later that day I went to listen to Teaparker, he brought this very special cups and a Da Yu Ling from this year at around 2500m of altitude. In the beginning of this presentation he asked us these questions, something about that you feel one with the tea, peaceful inside etc.... I don't exactly remember but I know that I wasn't able to answers those questions yet, maybe I never will so I didn't raise my hand. The people who were allowed to drink the Da Yu Ling from these special cups. Again I think I had to see this as a lesson... a lesson in being patient, to appreciat the small things first. After his lecture I had a little talk with him and also a picture which I'll hopefully receive soon. It was a great experience meeting him, probably one of the wisest men I'll ever meet.

At Stéphane's place I also met this Belgian woman with whom I talked with for 2 days straight. She was extremely friendly and helpful, she showed me many books and I could see how passioante she was. Also I met there this big Pu'er lover from the Netherlands who thaught me a lot aswel. It was an incredible day, I met lots of people and I learned so much!

The next day I participated with these Japanese teaceremony and I had a talk with some of the Japanese people. Especially the old lady was very friendly towards me, maybe because I opened the door for her the other day. At the end of the event they took a picture of me with all of the Japanese, it was very touching.
I also went to some lectures of the Taiwanese woman and Stéphane, both of them very interesting. I could listen to them for hours!

Now I should tell a little bit about some teas I tried. The Taiwanese lady had this excellent traditional roasted oolong (but I forgot which one) which I just loved. It was sweet, full bodied, hints of roasting... just an excellent oolong to drink in Autumn. The other 2 were from Stéphane. The first day he made this tea from an old Pu'er teaplant but the leafs were harvested when they were still small. It was fully oxidized from Mojiang, Yunnan. The first thing I smelled when I received a cup was the sweet, chocolately taste. From the moment I smelled that I knew I was going to buy it...so I did. I'll probably review this tea later on. The other one I found pretty special was the 2012 Spring Top Luanze Oolong from Ali Shan from the 1600m plantation. The taste reminded me of the peel from white grapes, it was very much like drinking wine. Very fruity with this little bitterness which keeps you longing for more and more.

I've got to stop writing now because my housemates are asking me to join for a walk, can't say no to that. Sorry for this long blog without pictures, I'll make it up to you readers next time ;)

EDIT: I finally received the pictures from mr.Ohtani. Thank you very much for sending them!



Me and mr.Ohtani
Here you were able to write a message about the Japanese tea ceremony

Me (looking somewhere else accidently) and all of the Japanese people

Teaparker and me!
Smelling a 2012 Da Yu Ling