Monday, April 30, 2012

2005 Pin Xi Wang Fu Raw Tuo

This is one of the hardest tuo I have ever opened so far. I broke one of my pu erh pick while trying to break up this tuo into smaller pieces for storage and brewing of this tea in a teapot.  I was thinking whether there was a proper technique in breaking up a tightly compressed tuo.  I had even considered steaming this tuo......really.....I remembered reading something to this extent, in the information sheet of pu erh cakes, to steam the cake so as to break up the cake easily.  There seem to be some logic in this; I may end up with less tea dust and more whole leaves.  I shall let my readers know when I find out more about breaking up a tuo.  

This tuo is produced by Pin Xi Wang Fu Tea Co.  This 125g tuo, as seen from this above pix, has a nice moulded design; reminds me of a melon.  The compression of the tea leaves is very tight and you must exercise great care in prying open this tuo.  Don't hurt yourself and try not to generate too much tea dust while you work on this tuo.  

There is a camphor, smokey, mint like scent when I brewed this tea.  Its very nice with a fresh slightly complex floral bouquet aroma.  Mildly bitter with a hint of chinese medicinal notes but ends a subtle sweet finish.  This tea does not have that pronounced aged tea characteristics  like the older Qiu Xiang cakes (see previous blogs) but this tuo has all the subtleties  I like in a raw tea.  This tuo is nice when drank hot and a brew can easily make 10 delicious cups. Quite addictive.

The taste and aroma of this tuo is exceptional for its price and age.  Going for less than 100RM for a bag of 5 tuos in  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I am extremely pleased with my purchase and would probably make a repeat buy in my next tea trip.  

But I digress - a tea blogger had commented or suggested that for a serious pu erh tea drinker, that he/she should try to have access or sample older teas (10, 20 or even 30 year old teas) so that this drinker or collector can have a better perspective of old puerh.  The writer suggested that a trip to tea drinking Asia like Hong Kong may help the drinker be more informed of the many varieties, especially aged pu erh.  I believe that a visit to Hong Kong for example, is a great suggestion (do try Guangzhou as well since you are in Hong Kong).  However, the chances of you being served a sample of aged tea is unlikely, unless you are with a regular customer or you are going to spend lots of moolah at that shop.  There is also a high possibility that the aged tea you are sampling or buying is "Hong Kong" stored tea - that the tea had undergone storage in a ultra high humidity storage facility at some time, which results in "traditional stored" flavor.  It is an acquired taste and may not be replicated in your own tea storage area.  I had sampled many older pu erh, and I did not like a few of them (I simply did not enjoy, or do not know how to appreciate them.  Some gave me an uncomfortable buzz as well).  There were also very impressive teas I had drank as well, but its prices were just as impressive that a cake could pay for my return air fare. I would also like to highlight that storing new pu erh teas (me included) may not result in a great aged pu erh tea .....Just my 2 cents worth.   

Saturday, April 21, 2012

2007 Dayi 7452 Ripe Pu erh Cake

This is a 2007 Dayi 7452 ripe cake.  Officially known as Taetea nowadays, this cake is a second production (2007) of this recipe - as seen on the reverse of the wrapper 7452 -702.  Dayi had produced this 7452 cake over many years and the recent 2011 production had a thick red string in the cake (yes its a marketing gimmick as the string does not affect the tea in any way).  This ripe pu erh recipe 7452 as well as Dayi 7572 are very popular among ripe pu erh tea drinkers and its common to see Dayi producing several batches of these tea within a production year.

I had purchased this cake when I had visited KL, Malaysia during the last Easter weekend.  I was not very particular over buying a 1st production of the year (in this case a 701) but I settled for a 702 instead.  Its cheaper (10-15%), and I am not buying this tea for resale.  I personally believe there is no significant difference in quality except in its pricing. 

The compression is quite tight but I could break up this tea cake into 8 pieces by hand before storing the tea in a tea caddy.  I use about 8g of this tea for a 190-200ml teapot.

I noticed that, while breaking up the cake, I could detect a sweet scent - a candy-like smell - very pleasant.  I enjoyed drinking this fragrant tea while savoring the nice mellow woody undertones, ending with a sweetish finish.  

I had on 24 July, 2011 blogged on a 2007 Dayi 7572-702, which I had bought in KL Malaysia, as well.  Both these cakes have their own distinct taste.  Personally, I prefer the 7572 for its 'chinese herb' taste.   I would however urged all readers to have a go at a Dayi 7452 cake and experience the pleasing sweet aroma of this pu erh tea.   

Friday, April 13, 2012

Qiu Xiang Tea - A Revisit

I spent my Easter weekend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  As usual, I stayed in Chinatown, reasons being; night market is there, lots of good food especially the street side food in the evenings, central location to shopping and yes, tea shops as well.

Qiu Xiang Tea has a branch in Chinatown.  I like the ambience and the friendliness of the sales staff since my last visit (see 8 July 2011 blog).  This tea shop opens at 10am every morning and I was their 1st customer on Friday morning.  As you can see from the pix, this shop is well stocked.  I like the tea set in the 3rd pix, where the tabletop 'tea table' is made of a gorgeous dark green stone.  The color of the stone looked like old jade.  I am tempted to buy this tea table.......perhaps in June this year when I return for the KL tea expo (commencing 16 Jun for a week at Tropicana Mall).  

I went to Qiu Xiang with another purpose this time.  My Malaysian tea friends had asked me to try the Qiu Xiang house brand of pu erh cakes.  They seemed to have a good opinion of these cakes.  Qiu Xiang produce a good number of house brand cakes, cooked and raw pu, over the years.  

One of these cakes is the 2003 raw cake (see last pix).  Known as the 'big Q' among my friends for its massive 500g size.  This cake looked really big as the compression of the tea leaves was not very high. This tea is nice - whole leaves, a pronounced mellow medicinal taste, herb and camphor aroma with a nice delicious subtle minty finish.  The price of this cake was 250RM (it was 200 last year).   

I bought a few of these house brand cakes before I left the shop with a considerably lighter wallet.  I took the KTM Komuter train to Kepong to visit more teashops that afternoon and a tea-jamming session with my Malaysian tea friends.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lichee Black Tea

This is the Golden Sail brand of Lichee Tea.  This is a very inexpensive tea and is easily available in teashops and many Chinese department stores.  Do not look down at this tea........heard this tea was served to VIPs who visit our country.  

You will realize an anomaly when you purchased a tin of this lichee black tea.  The English text on the tin labelled Lichee Black Tea contrasted significantly to the Chinese label - Lichee Red Tea.  So what is in this tea, black or red tea?  Its very simple really.  The Chinese tea industry labels this tea as red tea (hongcha) due the color of the brewed tea.....which is reddish.  I believe that the 'black tea' label are used by the Chinese for certain post-fermented tea which when brewed, is very dark and blackish in color.  Tea classification outside China, especially in Europe, label teas by their color of the tea leaves, hence, black tea in this instance (see pix 3).  You and I, can conclude, that the labeling on this tin of tea is commercially correct, as this tea is mainly sold outside China.  

Lichee or Lychee (thats what we call it here in this part of the world) is a juicy fruit.  Slightly bigger than the American quarter coin, you remove the skin and eat the fleshy interior.  You can sample these fruits fresh when they are in season in China and South East Asia.  These fruits are also available in tins and are sold in grocery shops in your neighborhood Chinatown.  A sweet and delicious fruit.  

This tea is flavored and scented with lichee.  Its interesting that, when I visit a supermarket and drop by the tea section, its common to see many boxes of tea being sold now with flavors like strawberry, mint, lemon and other fruits.  Trust me, soon there will be a 'supper tea', since there are now breakfast tea. Chinese breakfast tea anyone?

After brewing this lichee black tea a few times, I like to brew this tea weak...........and sweetened.  Yes, all serious Chinese tea can throw rocks at me.  I know tea should be truly appreciated without any additional milk or sweeteners, but this tea tasted much better sweet. (even chilled).  I suppose with this blog post, my ascension to the peak of tea appreciation is now in serious doubt.  Its ok .... time to reheat up my cup of pu erh in the microwave.