A Tea Addict's Journal

Entries from February 2013

Dumping bad samples

February 27, 2013 · 17 Comments

Despite the title of this blog, I actually only drink one tea a day, unless I happen to be visiting a tea store. Generally, when I’m by myself, I brew up one and only one tea, and will drink it until I feel there’s not much left, or when I get bored of it. For years I documented this meticulously on a daily basis, although starting a few years ago, I felt that it was oftentimes more obligatory than anything, without anything to add – nobody really wants to read about my daily tea drinking habits, after all. So, I stopped, and this blog became more about tea drinking culture and my thoughts on tea. The one-tea-a-day habit, however, remains.

Recently though, I have started dumping teas. I have lots of samples – either through purchase or through gifts from others. Samples of tea, as I’m sure most of you know, can be great, ok, or bad. Unless it’s really obvious, like some David Lee Hoffman huangpian that someone sent me, usually you can’t quite tell if something is going to be bad or even horrible. You can only really tell once you brew it – at which point, going by my old rule, it would be too late. I used to endure such teas, and write the day off as just a bad tea day. Now though, I decided I’m not going to waste my caffeine quota drinking stuff like this, and so instead, I dump them.

Today was one such day. It started out with me trying, finally, Hster’s oddly named Economic Corridors cake. I don’t like it. It has that weird taste that suggests to me it’s got something funny going on, although I can’t quite pinpoint what’s wrong with it. What I do know is I’ve tasted this before, and it’s not a sign of a tea that will age well. It has some attractive qualities, but underlying is a bitterness and staleness that turns me off. Looking at the leaves though, you can’t really tell

Nor does the brewed tea in the first infusion tell you something is definitely off

So, instead of waiting around, after a few infusions I just decided to move on – I don’t want this to be my last tea of today.

The wise thing would actually to jump into something I know that will deliver, but instead, I took another gamble and tried another sample that was sent to me, this time from a new outfit called Origin Tea. The tea is supposedly Yibang from a Taiwanese shop called Guangyang Hao. They have a nonexistent web presence, so I really have no idea who they are (sorry, no pictures, as it was getting dark)

The tea is better – not the greatest, but certainly better, and more puerh like than the Economic Corridors cake. It’s gotten past that initial hump, and tastes full enough and rich enough so that I think it will at least not deteriorate, which should at least be the minimum standard.

Then I’m reminded of why I usually only drink one tea a day – I think the two teas was a little too much for me, for one person to consume comfortably. There just isn’t a good balance between drinking decent teas and trying new things. Smaller pots, as some might suggest, is not really an option either – I dislike using smaller pots. So perhaps, next time I should just be more decisive and throw out bad tea after two or three infusions, instead of five or six. After all, there’s always, always, more tea to drink.

Categories: Teas


February 15, 2013 · 1 Comment

First of all, I wish you all a happy lunar new year, and that the year of the snake may be a fruitful one.

Continuing the theme from the last post, I thought it is also worth mentioning that storage climates are not just dependent on big things – local climate of the city where you’re at, or even the area you live in, but also heavily dependent on how your room, your closet, or even that cardboard box on the ground where you put your tea – how those things may affect your storage conditions.

One of the things that I see people asking sometimes on tea forums and the like is whether or not it is safe to drink from leaves that were left around overnight. Usually, the answer offered by myself or others is “it’s probably ok”. In my personal experience, that has most certainly been the case.

There are, however, differences that may even affect that answer, and consequently, probably affects how one stores teas as well. For example, in my old office I normally drank tea grandpa style, and I would usually leave the spent leaves until the next day to clean up in the morning when I get there again. No problems there. At my current office I do the same thing, except now, at my new office, after a weekend the tea leaves would get moldy, quite seriously so in fact. It does make me wonder how safe it is to drink leaves that have been sitting here for a whole day.

More importantly, I’d imagine something like this is indicative of significant differences in how tea stored in these different environments will behave, especially if stored over long periods of time. Right now, I have one small cake I am storing here for immediate consumption. That won’t show much change, I think, at least not before I finish it. However, if I say store some teas here long term, I’d imagine this is a much more humid environment, and the tea will probably age a bit faster – but at the risk of getting moldy more easily. Maybe I ought to try it out and see what happens.

Categories: Teas
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