A Tea Addict's Journal

Entries from January 2011

A tea meeting in New England?

January 30, 2011 · 9 Comments

I know there are plenty of tea drinkers in New England, more specifically in the greater Boston/Massachusetts region.  Is there any interest, anywhere, for a meeting of some sort?  I have been thinking that perhaps that would be a useful and interesting thing to do, if we can find the time and, more importantly, space for such a meeting.  Is there any interest?

Categories: Misc

Aged matcha

January 28, 2011 · 9 Comments

One of the great advantages of drinking matcha, as opposed to leaf tea of all sorts, is that it is faster, much faster.  From start to finish, you’re done in at most half an hour, and quicker if you want to.  I knew today was going to be a busy day of meetings and what not, and that I won’t get a chance to drink a real cup of tea until maybe 8 or even 9 pm, so I pre-caffeinated myself with some matcha.  It also served as an opportunity to use my rarely used chawans, which, in today’s case, is an akaraku I bought maybe a year or so ago.

It is always an experience opening the tomobako (wooden box), with the brocade that comes with a piece and in this case, the artist’s signature as well as the name of the bowl, which is called “Tokiwa” or eternity.  But, before I can get to the bowl, the Safety & Security brigade have to examine the box first



Now that we know it’s safe, I can take it out for pictures.




I love raku ware. They have a soft, supple tactile feel and a lightness to them that are the direct opposite of what you’d expect when you just look at them — big, sturdy looking things that are often quite heavy-set. They sound like wood, rather than ceramic, when you tap on them, and I can’t quite find the same feeling with any other kind of ceramics, Hagi included. Kuroraku bowls are serious, whereas akaraku, at least in my own untrained opinion, seems more cheerful.

So it is really rather sad that I don’t have good matcha to go with it today. The only thing I have at the moment is more than a year old, which, as you can imagine, is not an optimal age for matcha. The tea, while it still retained much of the flavour, lost the high, fragrant notes and the sweetness that makes matcha so good. It also gained a bit of an unpleasant side-taste to it that I don’t particularly enjoy. This is a problem with me and all types of green tea — I can never, ever drink them fast enough so that they don’t go bad. I drink green tea so sparingly that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to finish anything in a season. While a can of matcha only costs maybe $20 or $30, a bag of top notch longjing will set me back $100 or more, easily, for a 3oz bag. That’s mostly why I have stopped buying green tea entirely — it’s simply not worth that much to me, especially since half of it inevitably goes wasted.

It’s always fun to play with matcha ware though. I should really do this more often.

Categories: Objects · Teas
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Learning old lessons

January 27, 2011 · 4 Comments

This is, according to my new blog dashboard, the 1000th post on this blog.  I’m slowly going through the process of re-titling all my posts and retagging everything, because when I exported all the information from Xanga, those two things were lost in the process.  Xanga’s tagging system was particularly idiotic, so it is a nice change to have a much more sophisticated way of dealing with old posts.  I’m only back to early 2008, when I was living in the metropolis of Gambier, Ohio, and in the process of reading through old posts, I am relearning old lessons.  For example, I actually did a video on how to wrap a puerh cake, which some of you may find useful.  There were old experiments I ran with different kinds of water, which echoes a recent post on the relatively new blog Listening to Leaves.  I am also reminded of how my young puerh pot used to look like, and old lessons playing with toys that I don’t own.  Most importantly, memories of meetings I’ve had with friends, and teas on important occasions.

I am hoping that I’ll get this whole re-tagging business done before long, so it’ll be easier to refer to older things, which are probably not too useful for anyone else, but reading them again reminds me of things I learned over time.  Keeping a blog has helped me with organizing my own thoughts about tea, and of course, preserving a record of it.  Some people (Hobbes, for example) keep a physical record of it too.  Either way, I think it is probably the best tea-related decision I’ve ever taken.  If you don’t keep a record of your tea drinking, you should.  It will make you a better tea drinker.

Categories: Misc
Tagged: ,

Traditional, not wet

January 25, 2011 · 29 Comments

In the puerh storage world there has been a fierce debate in the past decade or so between those who believe in “dry storage” and those who don’t.  Until the appearance of “dry stored” puerh, there has only been one way to handle this tea.  The vendor (and it’s always the vendor — individual consumers didn’t buy raw puerh cakes, period) would take in his big order (we’re talking hundreds of cakes or more).  Having evaluated the tea, which usually comes through a middleman who handles the actual transaction, he would decide what to do with it and how to handle it.  Then, the tea goes into the “ground storage” 地倉unit, which is usually some basement in a building on a hill or something similar, so that it’s quite damp and dark.  Usually, the storage unit already has lots of tea in there, aging, and the vendor would make room for the tea.

Now, this environment is usually high humidity and high heat — it gets hot in there for natural reasons (Hong Kong can get to 30C+ in the summer).  Now, the tea isn’t just stored in there forever, and isn’t just going to stay in there for the duration of its life until it’s sold.  The teas were put on little wooden platforms so they don’t touch the ground, and likewise they do not hug the walls — all to avoid excessive moisture accumulating.  Also, the teas would get “rotated” every few months, which is actually a fairly big operation.  What it does is to even out the aging process.  So, a jian of tea that was sitting in the darkest, wettest corner of the storage unit won’t stay there forever, but instead moved out to the front where it’s drier and airier.  The stuff that has been in the open before now gets the dark corner, etc.  The same is true for how high the tea is placed (stuff on top gets moved down, vice versa). It is, I think, important to emphasize that they want to avoid excessive moisture.

This storage process differs by the tea and the vendor, but generally speaking, from the different vendors I’ve talked to, a tea normally would not stay in a ground storage facility for more than two years.  Then the tea gets moved to a regular, dry storage facility, where the “removing the storage” 退倉 process begins.  This would take much longer — six, eight, ten years, or whatever the vendor deems sufficient.  It is only then when the tea is ready.

When I first started talking about wet storage on rec.food.drink.tea, I remember there were people who were quite skeptical of what good could possibly come of wet stored teas.  In their experience, wet stored stuff was bad — unmitigated disaster, basically.  Moldy, smelly, ruined, and dangerous — it was something to be avoided at all costs.  For those who’ve never seen this stuff before, it can indeed look pretty frightening, especially the stuff that has a lot of white frost on them, like this:



It’s not that obvious here, but you can see white here and there on the leaves.  If you don’t know what you’re looking at, you can easily take this to be bad, spoiled tea, only fit for the garbage.  It looks bad, and it even looks bad when it’s in a cup — dark, almost pitch black sometimes, and generally looking somewhat murky, with that musty smell.  If the “removing the storage” part hasn’t really been completed, or done poorly, it can still smell strongly of the ground storage unit, which can sometimes be a bit offensive to the untrained palette.

However, I am pretty sure this stuff is safe.  After all, millions of people in Hong Kong drink this sort of thing every single day in restaurants everywhere.  If it’s dangerous, its dangers are not apparent.  Also, this method of storage means that each teahouse has its own flavour — after a while, if you keep going back to the same stores for different kinds of puerh, you’ll start to notice that each have their distinct “house” flavours, no doubt related to how they store and handle their teas.  In this way, buying a puerh is as much buying a product of the original producer, as you are buying a “finished” (as opposed to raw) product from the tea vendor.

Now, dry storage — this is a term that really started showing up in, I believe, the 90s, and took on a whole new life after 2000.  It is often attributed first to Vesper Chan of Best Tea House, although that distinction is questionable, but he’s probably the guy who’s the earliest and biggest beneficiary of this.  What dry storage proponents believe is that traditionally stored puerh has a crucial flaw — that the process of putting the tea in ground storage fundamentally alters the way the tea tastes and smells, and some would also claim that it weakens the tea’s qi, and all the other stuff.  On the other hand, something stored purely in a dry environment, meaning without ever going into that ground storage unit, would not have this problem.  It retains the strength and the aroma of the original tea better.  The downside is that it takes a lot longer to age.  The tea also keeps its astringency a lot longer, as well as the bitterness.

It is also important to keep in mind here that dry storage doesn’t mean bone dry, “store it in a desert” storage.  It means keeping it in an environment where there’s still a healthy amount of moisture (it’s Hong Kong, after all) and let it age naturally.  Also, dry storage proponents, the ones who practice it on a large scale anyway, don’t generally store their teas in open air places — they are still storage units that are mostly closed off, shut off from sunlight, and stored carefully.  Leaving it in a really airy corridor in the middle of an open air terrace in Arizona is not their idea of dry.

I think when it comes down to it, whether you like dry or traditional is really a matter of personal preference — there’s no easy answer to this.  Those who use the “health” argument against traditionally stored teas are, I think, wrong, and increasingly, my friends in Northern China who used to hate that stuff are coming around to it.  Dry stored teas have their place as well, I think, as it is really the theory that underpins home stored tea — before this, as I mentioned, nobody bought raw cakes.  When YP, a really knowledgeable tea friend in Hong Kong, went with her friends in search of green, raw cakes in the 90s, the vendors basically stared at them like they’re from Mars, asking “you want WHAT? Why would you ever want that stuff?”  It just wasn’t done until pretty recently.  The fact that we all have tongs of teas in our own houses now is because we think we can do it ourselves.

One problem with traditionally stored tea is that it is often confused by consumers with fake tea — those teas that have been sprayed with water and (as one report had it a few years ago) literally left in the pig sty to age, or stuff made with discarded tea leaves not fit for human consumption, but made to look old.  Traditionally stored puerh is most definitely not fake.  It may not be your cup of tea, but it is very, very real, and it has been around longer than dry stored teas.

With that in mind, I would like to propose a shift in nomenclature — the use of the term “traditional storage” to substitute for the term “wet storage”.  We can relegate “wet storage” back to where it used to be — where the fake teas belong.  Traditional storage, on the other hand, is a venerable method of preparing tea for consumption in a very specific and technically skilled method.  I think it deserves its place in the sun.

Categories: Information
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Zhaozhuang Hao 2008 Manzhuan Walong

January 22, 2011 · 6 Comments

While I was in Hong Kong this Christmas I went to Shenzhen for a day trip, and while there, I visited, for the very first time, a tea market there.  I haven’t been to Shenzhen for probably fifteen years, and it has been a big change since I was there last.  When I last went I remember it was crappy, dirty, and ugly.  Now it’s still rather dirty, but not so crappy and ugly anymore, and it definitely does not feel like a giant construction zone, which it used to.

The tea market I visited is called Sandao (three island) tea market, which is about ten minutes walking from the Lo Hu train station right after you pass the immigration.  For those of you who visit Hong Kong but want some younger (5 years old or less) it might be worth a visit, although like all Chinese tea markets, it’s very much buyer beware and watch out for scams.  There are other tea markets in the city, but I didn’t have time to go to the other ones, which are further away from the train station.

I always do a walkaround of a tea mall before stopping at any stores — it gives you a good idea of what you’re up against, and in this case, since time was rather precious, I didn’t want to waste my time at a store that didn’t have much that I liked.  It’s always enticing to just walk in and sit down and start drinking, but that often ends poorly.  A lot of the stores at Sandao sell more or less the same kinds of stuff — no name CNNP cakes of various vintages, older pu that has been variously stored, and some younger, small label stuff.  I eventually settled in a shop that sold some young, small label stuff to take a closer look.  On the shelves were this


Which, for those who have followed this blog for years, will remember as being the same maker of the “Yiwu girl” cakes from 06.   Those were some nice looking, decent tasting things, and are currently sitting in Hong Kong, hopefully getting better with time.  I have found a few cakes of this maker on Taobao since then, but they have been largely elusive.  I did not expect to find it in Shenzhen, of all places.

This maker is really located in Manzhuan, not Yiwu.  The story I got from the Yiwu girl, way back when, was that this was her maternal uncle’s workshop that pressed the cakes — they lived in Gaoshan village, which is on the Yiwu side, while her uncle lived on the Manzhuan side of things.  How true it is, I don’t know, and don’t really care much, as long as the tea is good, which I most definitely thought was the case back in 06.  I sat there and tasted a few of this shop’s offering (the vendor also pressed his own under another brand, this Zhaozhuang stuff was someone else’s goods) and decided that, heck, I’ll buy a cake and take home and try it more carefully.



You can see some evidence of aging here — the cakes were taken out of a bamboo tong, and there are light stains from the tea’s oil seeping into the paper.  I find that you almost never see this sort of thing with cakes stored in places like Kunming or Beijing, no doubt a result of humidity and temperature.



The cake, I thought, looks decided more pedestrian than the ones I bought in 06.  The leaves are darker, and they also brew darker


Granted, these are two years old, whereas when I got the Yiwu cakes, they were fresh off the press.  Manzhuan teas also tend to be a bit darker in colour as well as taste, so it may also account for some of it as well.

This is where memory starts to fade — how did that cake taste?  How does this one taste in comparison?  Looking over old notes, I have very little sense of how it actually went down.  I remember, vaguely, that it had a deep “throatiness” and solid huigan.  That’s all though — nothing else.  Not that it really matters, but if I were to compare, I think that’s important.  This tea in question here, on the other hand, is decent — good huigan, still slightly bitter, but nothing that lingers (which is very important) and good body.  I find it to be slightly hollow in terms of aromas, but that’s fairly dependent on drinking and brewing conditions, and I may need to try it again to tell.  Would I buy it?  I honestly don’t know.


It’s funny how brands, even small, no name workshops like this one, have an effect on our purchasing behaviour.  The problem with small producers, especially ones like this where you’re very unlikely to run into them in different places, is that you really have no idea how they will fare from one production to another.  One year it can be great, next year it can be terrible.  They also tend to be single estate, single source teas, so some will contend that they sacrifice complexity in the process.  On the other hand, if they’re good, the tea’s quality can sometimes be very high, without the very high prices that are often attached to such teas.  So, it’s all a rather large gamble, basically, and one in which the only tools you have to combat the randomness is your own sense of taste.

Seeing this cake sure brings back memories though.  I guess that’s worth something.

Categories: Teas
Tagged: ,


January 20, 2011 · 26 Comments

Welcome, all, to my blog’s new home.  Please say hi, and I hope you find this a more pleasant experience to deal with than the old site.  I think everything transferred here without too much of a hitch.  Some things, such as titles for posts, will need to be fixed, and so will categories/tags as well as other sundry minor issues that shouldn’t interfere with your reading experience in any significant way.

There has been one change though — my feed will no longer give you the full post, but only a snippet.  This is mostly to deter feed thieves who, in the past, have stolen my posts wholesale and published them elsewhere.

If you have any suggestions for how the site looks (or, for that matter, any problems with it, technical or otherwise), do let me know.

Categories: Misc

Absolute and relative quality

January 17, 2011 · 11 Comments

A question that I have discussed on a few separate occassions with friends over the last month or so has been the question of how to determine quality in a given agricultural product — in this case, tea, but more generally the usual suspects, such as wine, whisky, etc, came up as well over the course of discussion.

The problem is: how do we determine whether tea A is better than tea B?  What are the standards, and who determines these standards?  Is there such thing as a tea A that is unequivocally better than tea B?

Let’s start with the basic question.  How do we determine what’s better and what’s worse?  There are obviously different ways of approaching the question.  The “scientific” one is one that bases itself on various metrics that are somehow measurable and readily testable.  For example, something about dissolved materials in the water, amounts of various kinds of chemicals (name your favourite antioxidants, for example) and also the absence of unpleasant things.  It’s a very scientific way of measuring tea, and coupled with more physical traits, such as the size of the leaves, the amount of variation in such traits, etc, you can arrive at a way to grade certain kinds of teas in a rough “best to worse” sort of way.  Any buyer of Longjing would’ve encountered such a grading system — they are meticulously graded from high to low, with corresponding prices.  The highest grade is the best, the lowest grade the worst.  Simple, right?

Well, maybe, maybe not.  I have met many people over the years who do not like the highest grade of Longjing — mingqian longjing can often be too soft and light, and for many, it is on the wrong side of being bland.  For them, it is much better to drink something slightly lower grade — a yuqian, for example, or some other teji type Longjing.  They find the flavour more robust, and the tea more interesting.  The same can be said for people who prefer second flush Darjeelings over the first, etc.

That leads me to the question at hand — is that “objective” quality scale really a measure of quality, and is it absolute?  In other words, can you really just say that a mingqian Longjing is better than 4th grade Longjing, period, no qualifications?  Or can we only say that “for me, this mingqian Longjing is better than the 4th grade one”?  Is there such thing as an absolute measure of quality?

When talking this over with a wine sommelier over the Christmas break, her argument is strongly in favour of the existence of some sort of absolute quality.  One can indeed say that this Grand Cru Burgundy is better than that Beaujoulais, period (I know, not a fair fight, but I’m trying to make a point).  Likewise, applying the same logic, one could say that this dahongpao is indeed better than that Taiwanese jinxuan oolong.  The key to this measure, especially when one compares things that are not directly related to one another (as opposed to our Longjing example earlier where everything is supposed to be the same type) is the tongue of the expert, or perhaps a group of experts, who have tried a multitude of things and are very knowledgeable in their field of expertise.  They can use their knowledge to evaluate the goods in question, and then arrive at some sort of measure of quality that puts different wines or teas or whatever into a ranking of one over another.  In other words, there is such thing as absolute quality.  I had a similar conversation with a friend’s friend, who, among other things, sells whisky.  The logic was similar – the expert knows best, basically.

I must say I am not entirely convinced.  What, exactly, does it mean when we say something is “better”?  That it is of a higher quality, that it is more worthy of our money, or that it should be more pleasurable to partake in?  Or, perhaps, none of the above, or some combination of all of the above?

That’s where I really have a problem with the idea that there is some absolute scale of quality.  I know, from my own vantage point, that I have a personal scale of things that I think are higher quality than others.  I know which teas I deem to be great, which ones good, which ones bad.  I also know, however, that my ideas change, that what I think half a year ago as great may, upon further inspection, feel less great.  There is, of course, also the question of interference — I am predisposed to think that a certain tea is better if I were told that it was some ultra rare tea that came from Zhou Yu, than some no-name stuff that one picked up from the Kunming tea market, and this is before I even take a sip of anything.  In this case, one can make the case that the expert and his blind tasting, a la Robert Parker, is really the best way to judge a tea, but then, there is also the argument against blind tasting.  The problem here really is a relativistic one — just because some expert out there, who presumably knows far more about tea/wine/whatever than the average joe, thinks A is better than B, does that make it really better?  Does that actually MEAN anything?

I spent the past weekend with a tea friend who knows far more about black tea than I do.  He drinks all manner of them, and also a number of darker oolongs and some puerh, mostly of the cooked variety.  I’ve been trying to find this friend some quality raw puerh that he might like, but generally, I fail, because of a problem that never goes away — apparently, he is very sensitive to bitterness.  I knew this all along, but it has been confirmed again, probably definitively, this time around.  Because of this sensitivity, young, raw puerh in general tastes far too bitter for him to enjoy, and unless it is old or well stored in a traditional storage, the bitterness overpowers everything else a tea has to offer and is therefore unenjoyable.  It doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks of these great young puerhs — even if it’s top flight, super high end stuff, he probably will still feel it’s too bitter and impossible to drink in an enjoyable way.  Each of us, I think, have similar preferences and therefore will have our own personal scale.  What, then, does it really mean when someone else who “knows” rates one over the other?  So what?

We see this phenomenon with puerh all the time.  Some critic out there, presumably someone who sits on a large stash of tea A, for example, goes on some magazine or internet forum and says that said tea A is excellent.  Meanwhile, he is slowly feeding the tea to the market through various channels.  Before you know it, the tea makes it big, gets famous, prices shoot up, all the while the tea itself is really…. not that great.  But surely, these critics must know what they’re talking about, because they are, well, knowledgeable, right?  They have twenty years of drinking experience, no?  If you drink, say, tea A, and think it’s just ok, it must be because you don’t know how to appreciate it yet (and sometimes some of these critics will actually come and tell you that, in no uncertain terms — this happens more on Chinese forums than anywhere else) and that you just, well, need another ten years under your belt to really appreciate it.

Now, someone like Robert Parker doesn’t do that, I know, but even then, these wine critics do have their skin in the game, sort of.  Even if a critic has no agenda, he or she is still biased by his or her own tongue in ways that we cannot know.  Wine drinkers lament the direction in which the market is headed, just like how tea drinkers in Hong Kong lament the demise of traditionally processed tieguanyin, but nonetheless, the market moves that way, often guided by a number of influential individuals who prefer their drinks a certain way.  In
the case of tea, the process is infinitely more complicated because the drinker is also, indirectly, the maker — you brew your own tea.  The critic/expert is not there to make it for you, so although the expert, in his expertly way, might make the tea a certain way and come to a certain conclusion, for the drinker reading said criticisms, that might not be relevant at all.  If the drinker is, say, an expert in making tea grandpa style, but the critic is drinking his with 10g of tea in an 80ml zhuni pot…. do the critic’s comments still apply?  Really?

This is partly why I basically no longer post tea reviews of any sort, save for ones I find particularly interesting or when I really feel like having something to say.  With tea I just find that the room for variation is very large — it basically all depends on how you make the tea, and to a very large extent, the water you use.  What I find to be excellent is not always going to go down well with other people, and while I am convinced that I have some basis in what I say, it does not mean that what I say applies to anyone else, really.  One person’s “butchering” of a tea in terms of brewing methods can be another one’s “perfect”.  What’s more important than figuring out the supposed absolute quality of a tea is to figure out how to get the most out of the tea.  That, I think, is the key to tea drinking.

Categories: Information · Old Xanga posts

Anatomy of a strange tea

January 15, 2011 · 5 Comments

I run into a lot of strange teas. I’m pretty happy trying out new things, things that I have never encountered before or tasted before. Since sampling is not always a possibility, sometimes I buy a whole cake just to try it out, especially if the price is not too high. Sometimes it ends in a jackpot where the tea is great and I can buy more, other times (and this definitely happens more often) it ends up being a rather unhappy event with a really bad tea.

Once in a while, I get weird stuff that I can’t quite figure out. The tea I drank today is one such thing.



Ignore where the tea is from and the label – they don’t really matter. As you can see, I’ve already chewed through almost 1/3 of the cake, and I still haven’t quite figured this tea out. The leaves look decent enough, and it’s one reason why I bought it from Taobao in the first place — it looked ok and wasn’t too expensive, so I figured I can give it a spin. The tea, however, was a bit of a surprise when I first brewed it, and has kept on doing it since then.


This is the first infusion – and this is where the trouble lies. The tea smells, not of a normal puerh, or a Yiwu (which this purportedly is) or any other recognizable mountain. It has a strange, slightly acidic smell that’s rather sharp and somewhat unpleasant. I dumped the first infusion today after taking a sip. The liquor, as you can see, is quite dark, and so are the leaves. In fact, some of the leaves are very dark – a dark green, mind you, not dark brown a la storage.

The tea, however, improves, much like how a badly stored puerh can get better after the first few infusions wash away the storage taste. After the first two or three infusions, the strange smell dies down, although never quite going away. The tea is somewhat bitter – the bitterness is always present, although it smoothes over into sweetness when you swallow. You can tell there are good puerh leaves in here, because the telltale flavours and body are there. At the same time, it is slightly unsettling – I even feel slightly weird after drinking it.

The tea lasts forever though.  I went through two and half kettles of water before it started giving up on me. It has infinite rebrewability, so much so that I just had my last cup.


The tea is brighter and softer now, the odd smell almost gone, but not quite. Because of the tenacity of the smell, I don’t think it’s a storage problem. If it were, I should be able to smell the odd smell even when the leaves are dry, but I cannot. It really only becomes apparent when hot water hits the leaves. This makes me think that something is inherent in the leaves to make this happen. Is it mixed in with some non-tea leaves? Does it explain the bitterness as well? Is it an accident? Deliberate (to pad costs, presumably)? More importantly, will this age well? The leaves are flexible, so at the very least, it is not terrible tea. But that offputting flavour….

I know I’ve said on multiple occasions that flavours don’t really matter if you’re evaluating a tea for aging, that they change (often drastically so) and body and feel are much more important when tasting a tea. Yet, some things, like this odd smell, are hard to ignore, and probably unwise to ignore as well. I am guessing that there’s some non-tea leaves mixed in here, creating the strange smell and slightly unconventional taste. Is this bad for me? I have no idea. It may very well be perfectly fine, and will age into a great cake, but it could also just have this fundamental flaw that is hard to get rid of.

Traditional storage would solve a lot of these problems, I think. Sometimes a traditionally stored tea that has lingering bitterness – I wonder if those cakes tasted like this one when they were younger too. Either way, it is what it is, and another session later, I’m still no closer to answering my own questions about this cake.

Categories: Old Xanga posts · Teas

An upgrade in taste

January 8, 2011 · 4 Comments

As I returned to the US and brewed up my first pot of tea here… I find myself deeply dissatisfied with what I’m drinking.  When I left, I would be quite happy drinking this.  No more.  Now this tea, some aged, broken cake, seems thin and weak.  It’s got decent flavours, but the body is not there, nor does it have the depth that I need.  The $100 cake I bought a few days ago that is traditionally stored since 2001 seems leaps and bounds better.

Uh oh, I think my tongue just got upgraded.

Categories: Information · Old Xanga posts
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How much tea do you really need?

January 7, 2011 · 3 Comments

Once in a while, I get into a discussion with tea friends about how much tea you really need.  Assuming I drink 10g a day, every day, for 50 years (let’s say I get to live 50 years from now).  That’s about 182,500g of tea, or in puerh terms, about 73 tongs of tea.  That is if I don’t drink anything else — no oolongs, no greens, blacks, whatever.  That’s also assuming I don’t drink with friends, drink more than 10g a day, or give tea away.  So let’s say those two things balance out (oolongs/greens/blacks vs gifting) which means that I need a total of about 6 jian of tea, if we go by 12 tong jians.

6 jians is not a lot.  In fact, I know a lot of people who own more than that right now.  That leaves a question — what can they do about all that tea?  I don’t see an outlet for such things, other than the tea market — and the production volume of puerh in the past 10 years far exceeded anything we’ve seen in the 80s and 90s, which means that in years to come, there’s going to be a steady stream of aged puerh, of varying quality (storage and otherwise) that will show up.  If I have reconfirmed anything this trip to HK, it is that storage is of utmost importance, and that not every place is going to be good for storing tea — dry places like Kunming just aren’t going to cut it.  I had a number of “pure dry storage” teas recently, and most are, unfortunately, insipid and uninteresting.  The best teas I’ve had are the slightly traditionally stored ones.  You just need that moisture, and if your storage doesn’t have it, fix the problem now before it gets serious.

Or, you can just buy from the secondary market five years from now.  I can’t see a puerh shortage coming any time soon, as long as you’re not in the market for pre-1995 teas.

Categories: Information · Old Xanga posts
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