woensdag 25 juli 2012

Henhuanshan winter 2011

Today I'm leaving to Hungary for 9 days so I wanted to pamper myself a little bit by brewing a Henhuanshan oolong tea from last winter. It's a sample I bought from Mei Lan (Tea arts Antwerp) and I was very excited to try it! The tea is grown at an altitude of
2200m and is from the Chingxin cultivar.
The tea is just slightly oxidized and saw a little roasting just to preserve its freshness. The dry smell is sweet but with some greenish accents. Once I put it in my preheated gaiwan the sweet aromas come out and indulge my nose. I have a weakness for sweets so I was pretty sure I would love this tea already.
Describing this tea is kind of difficult for me because of my lacks of experience with such high quality teas. It is so complex yet so stable and pure. This tea doesn't have one particular flavour but it's a complex mixture of everything. It's like when you're standing near the coast you can smell the ocean, in south Taiwan you can smell the heat from the ground, in the forest you are able to smell the trees and plants... but this tea is like standing on the top of a mountain and you are able to smell a little bit of ocean, a little bit of forest, smell the soil. When tasting this tea it was like a perfume sprayed on my tongue with hints of pinetree, subtile hints of vanilla, flowers and later some slight peaches. It barely has any astringency at all even how long I steep and it keeps going forever. If I could describe this tea in 1 word it would be: gentle.

The leafs of this tea were dark green and just had a slight oxidation
They were strong and thick but still preserved their youth and
freshness. They slowly release their aromas every steep and you
can easily brew 5-6 short steep while the later ones take slightly
longer but have more sweetness in them. A fabulous tea and
a good way to start my 'tealess' journey to Hungary!                                                                       

zondag 22 juli 2012

Red Da Yeh

Today's tea is from the East part of Taiwan, harvest the 26th of June by hand. It's a sample from Teamasters and I know in a previous blog I mixed it up with an OB sample. So this review is the Red Da Yeh for sure and it's quite different from the OB. While the OB is full bodied and sweet this tea has some more woody in it. The initial dry smell is quite sweet and reminds me of dried peaches. The soup has a remarkable sweet sence of ripe, red fruits. The taste is quite different than the smell which makes it very interesting, they kind of balance eachother. The smell might be overwhelming sweet/fruity and take away any complexity  but because of the more woody taste it gets very balanced still complex. The initial taste on the tong is woody and slightly bitter (mainly because I tend to brew reds a bit stronger than oolong because I think it gives a more deeper taste, otherwise they lack body) while the taste in the back of the throat are more the remenesces of the ripe, dark fruits who cut through again.
 Because of the excellent weather (after weeks and weeks of rain) I'm enjoying this cup of tea outside. What's more relaxing than sitting in the couch, brewing some beautiful sweet red tea while enjoying the music of the birds and watching the trees move because of a slight,refreshing breeze. These are the moments in life where you feel so at ease, so close with yourself and nature that it's impossible to not have a smile of satisfaction. The leafs of this tea are almost totally black with here and there some brown tips. Once brewed the leafs turn into a beautifull copper, orangy colour, almost like the colour of the brew it gives. Right now I'm doing a final steep to extract last bits of flavour out of this tea. For me this tea really resemblances the summer. It contains the sweet fruits of Taiwan but also the earthy, woody character of it's earth where these plants are grown.  The colour of this tea can atleast be called intense. It was like pouring maple syrup into my cups, luckily it didn't taste like maple syrup. Again, I'm greatly satisfied with this tea. Now I'll stop writing and enjoy another cup of tea =)

donderdag 12 juli 2012

Two days of learning and fun

In this blog I'm going to write about 2 amazing experiences this week. The first one was having tea together with Nicolas in Brussels, the second experience was in Antwerps together with Mei Lan.

Tuesday afternoon I went to Brussels, after getting a bit of lost I finaly found Nicolas home. He gave me a warm welcome and we went to sit around the biggest and most beautiful teaboat I've seen so far in very comfortable couches. Because my French isn't too great and he sometimes had problems understanding some English words (though his English is a lot better than mine French...) we had his laptop next to us so we could use google translate.  I don't know where to start writing. We had such a great talks, lots of laughter and fun. We've tried 5 different kinds of tea including baozhong, wuyi rock oolong, Taiwanese high mountain oolong, 2 outstanding puerh's. The tea that intrigued me the most were his puerh cakes. It's the first time that I was able to compare different ages of puerh and also to smell them and notice how storage influences their smell and taste. Also I experienced some great cha qi, my body and mind were relaxed and at the same time so attentfull. We talked about tea for many many hours and I was sad to leave though at the same time happy because I was able to learn so much about teapots, puerh tea and many others. Thank you again Nicolas for being a great host and teacher!
And because pictures say more than a thousand words...

Old puerh, lovely colours

We ended up with a total of 4 pots and 1 gaiwan

One of his beautiful teapots.
 The next day I was going to Antwers to meet Mei Lan. We met eachother at Teaworld where I was struck by her enthousiasm about tea. She is such a little lady but so full of energy and passionate about the things she does. In the morning when I woke up the sun was shining so I put on my fivefinger shoes and some short pants but when I arrived in Antwerp the weather has turned into a Belgian mousson rain with ice balls. When I arrived at Mei Lan's place my feet were soaked. Luckily I took an umbrella with me. We had a lovely afternoon together. She served me some great teas and some snacks. She told me many stories about Chinese history and I tried to listen as concentrated as possible so I would remember it all. China has such a rich culture and so many wisdoms. It amazes me how a single person can have so much knowledge! When talking to her I realised that there is still a long way ahead of me to become a good teamaster. I told her I wanted to pracitse Chinese (and in the past I did study it for a while) and she helped me with the tones and explained me how a Chinese dictionary works. I was invited for dinner where we had some lovely french fries (Chinese tea and Belgian fries, could it get any better?). After that she had a little surprise for me. She opened a big box of samples and I had the honour to try a tea with her for the very first time. It was one of the best teas I've encountered till this date, it was a Taiwanese red tea.  I bought a few different kinds of tea and I also received a sample of mulberry tea which we also tried together. After the tea was finished I had to go because it already was 10pm and I had to get my last train! Luckily I was born with long legs so I arrived right on time.

Taiwan flashback

Mei Lan preparing tea

Morning Dew white tea from Taiwan

In these 2 days I've learned so many things I still don't know where to put them in my head, I'm still decoding all the information I've received. They are 2 completely different people and they have different views on tea but in the end what connects us is our love and passion for this way of life. There is no good or no wrong way as long as we enjoy drinking tea and being together as friends. What can a person still need more in life?

vrijdag 6 juli 2012


Patiently I wait
till 2 circles are fulfilled
merely seconds and I hold you against my lips
to unfold your beauty
 life thee shall give and I give life to thee.
in this moment, it's just we

dinsdag 3 juli 2012

2011 Spring Jinxuan from Alishan

Yesterday the last person of the Erasmus project left. Everybody went back to there home countries so there is no reason for me anymore to stay in the city where I study. Irune (Spanish student) stayed with me for the last 3 days. I introduced her to good quality tea and she seemed to like it. Yesterday Anen (also Spanish student) came over to have BBQ together and watch the finals. I knew that he was seriously interested into martial arts so I did a gong fu teaceremony for them with a roasted Alishan. I hope I was able to introduce them a little bit in the wonderful world of teas and that next time they go buy tea they might buy some more quality leafs. So today I'm home alone so I wanted to enjoy the quietness. Because it was so hot I went to sit on our terras under the roof. While making the tea I did some meditation excercises. A great way to start the day! The tea I'm drinkin today is a jinxuan from Alishan grown at 1400m from teamasters. It was harvested 8 April Spring 2011.

I was quite anxious trying this jinxuan variety because I know when I brew them slightly too long lots of them get this bitter/soupy flavour I detest. The first brew I was very carefuly and I made it very short but when I sipped it I knew that I was worrying for nothing. This tea is so smooth and has such a great body! The next brews were a lot longer than the first one. I was so amased by this tea. The first 3 steeps were very fruity, never experienced such a fruity jinxuan/Alishan, later on the taste got more delicate and flowery. This tea has such delicate flavors but still it is very strong and clear. I think this tea has one of the best bodies/mouthfeel I've experienced so far. It felt like a waterfall going through my mouth and throat cleansin everything on its way. The qi it gave me helped me with meditating. I was so relaxed still more attentful for details. I could feel the wind moving every hair of my arms, my muscles relaxing, the cooling effect of the wind on my face.
The Cha Xi I made for this tea suited it perfectly. The delicate piece of Japanese cotton I placed it on, the simple but strong plants that resembles its body. The whole set up is simpel (not a very complex tea) but strong and direct. The leafs of this tea also resemble this, it were one of the biggest (and round) leafs I witnessed so far. Also they were rug and strong.

 The branches are quite long. This means the plants suddenly had lots of sun and the buds started to grow very quickly. Plants who grow in relative high day temperatures and cold night temperatures tend to be more longer and contain smaller (but more) leafs.
Know that I have relative big hands