First of all, thank you so much for visiting my blog. This blog is specially made for tea culture lovers out there. There will be information and discussions about tea and tea pots... So do drop by often to have a nice and relaxing discussion about tea... I believe we can make great friends through tea and sharings... If you have any suggestions, comments or questions, do post it here and I will try my best to get back to you... Thank you and have a nice day...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Basic Materials

Teapots made form purple clay "紫沙" has always been a favourite of mine... Purple clay teapot is mainly manufactured in Yi Xing, China.

Purple clay is the basic material used to make these marvelous teapots. Purple clay can be produced by mixing a few types of clay together. The colour of the purple clay teapot will depend on the types of clay used, the porportion and the temperature used when making the teapot.

What is so special about these purple clay teapot?
1) Enhances the aroma and taste of tea
Due to porous nature of the clay and the teapot produced, it is very suitable to be used for brewing compressed tea (Pu-er). Due to its porous nature of the clay and the teapot produced, it can absorb the unpleasant taste and smell of the tea (Pu-er) when brewed. Furthermore, the characteristic of these kind of pot is that it able to distribute heat evenly and it is good in retaining heat... Not only that, when you use them to brew tea, its porous nature will enable it to absorb some taste and smell so that subsequent brews will taste better and better. All these are important for brewing a good pot of compressed tea (Pu-er).

2) Durable
Purple clay teapot is durable as it will not crack with changes in temperature when you add hot water into it. It will not crack easily.

3) Collectable
The looks of purple clay teapot will improve with age and use. The more and longer you use it to brew tea, the more smooth and shiny the teapot will be.

These teapots come in different shapes and colours, more on these will be coming soon...

The method used to take care and enhance the look of these teapots will be discussed further in future postings...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

How to brew green tea

How to brew a good pot of green tea?

Utensil picking:
Green tea such as "Long Jing" "龍井" has a very special kind of taste and smell which is very mild and soft. In order to preserve the taste and smell of such tea, we would normally use pots made of ceramic, porcelain or glass. Purple clay pots are not that suitable.

Normally 3g of tea leaves are used to brew 200ml of tea.

Green tea are normally made and kept in a very fresh form to preserve the vitamins, antioxidants and taste. So when brewing such tea, it is very important that we do not use boiling hot water. Water with the temperature of around 80C is best.

First, choose your selection of tea pot and pitcher. It is very important to use a pitcher or another tea pot because you should never soak the tea leaves in the water for too long..

After getting ready the utensils, put your tea leaves into the tea pot. Pour the heated water into the tea pot and after a few seconds, quickly pour the tea into a pitcher or another tea pot. Try not to soak or use water that is too hot when brewing the tea because you will loose the nutrients and spoil the taste.. If you soak for too long or use water that is too hot, the tea will taste bitter. When brewing green tea, especially the very fresh ones, the first brew can be consumed. The process of washing the leaves can be omitted. Once you pour the tea into the pitcher, it is ready to be consumed.

You can make the second brew by adding water to the tea and pouring it into the pitcher. You can enjoy three up to the maximum of four brews. Do not make more than four brews.

Points to remember when brewing green tea:
1) Do not use boiling hot water.
2) Do not soak the leaves.
3) It is not necessary to wash the leaves.
4) Do not make more than 4 brews.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Long Jing (How to choose?)

There are several types of green tea in the market... But our posting today will be about "Long Jing" “龍井“ , one of the special type of green tea...

"Xi Hu" "西湖" in China is famous for two things, their spring water and Long Jing... And the Long Jing from Xi Hu is the considered to be the best of all Long Jings... On top of that, Long Jing harvested before "Qing Ming" "清明" is considered the best of the whole year... Because it is harvested before Qing Ming, it is called "Ming Qian Cha" "明前茶" or tea before Qing Ming...

How do we choose high quality Long Jing?
1) Area and season:
Long Jing from Xi Hu and just before Qing Ming is the best.

2) Tea Leaves
High quality Long Jing can be selected by looking at the tea leaves.... What do we look for? Well, one of them is colour. A good quality and fresh Long Jing should look green with a yellowish tinge... Long Jing before Qing Ming has a very special yellow tinge because top quality Long Jing it is harvested from the first bud of spring... So it has less chlorophyll but more carotene.. Which gives it the yellowish tinge... The leaves should be flat, smooth and look like the swallow's tongue. One very important feature of the top quality is that it should consists of branches of 3 leaves...

When you smell the leaves and the tea, it should have the smell of fresh beans... Something like sun flower seeds...

3) Tea
When savouring the tea, you can also tell the quality of the tea from certain aspects... But in order to get the best out of the tea, proper utensils and techniques of brewing and storing the tea should be practised... This will be discussed in more detail in future postings...

When savouring the tea, first try to enjoy the smell of the tea... It should have a nice bean smell. Then, look at the colour of the tea, it should have a mild light green colour... The tea should be clean and clear.. It should never be murky.... Next comes the taste... Good quality Long Jing has a very nice bean or sun flower seed taste and a very mild bitter taste, but normally at the second to third brew...

Take note: this is just a very basic method used... The techniques of choosing will be improved with experience...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Savouring tea

When you savour a pot or a cup of tea, what do you look for? I personally have looks into a few specific areas:
1) Fragrance
2) Colour of the tea
3) Taste

But for savouring compressed tea and pu-er I like to add in
4) Texture (Smoothness)
5) Aftertaste

Actually, pu-er is a very special and different type of tea that I will discuss seperately because not only the two extra areas when savouring, the fragrance, colour and taste that we look for is also very different from other types of tea.

So, what do we actually look for when savouring tea? My habit of savouring tea is:
I will first appreciate the fragrance of the tea...

Different types of tea have a very different and distinctive smell. For example, green tea generally smell like fresh plants. However, different type of green tea some characteristic differences. For example, Long Jing will have a very mild bean smell while Bi Luo Chun smells like fresh cut grass.

Oolong tea generally we can say they have the smell of flowers or fruits. Oolongs like Jasmine has the smell of jasmine flower, Tie Guan Yin has a very special flower smell. Some teochew tea has a very mild lychee fruit smell.. However, when savouring the smell of oolong tea, a utensil called "wen siang pei" can be used so that we can appreciate the smell better. And the smell will be the strongest in the first brew...

Next, i will look at the colour of the tea. There are a few information that you can get by looking at the colour of the tea itself. One simple one would be wether you have brewed your tea properly as in the time and ammount of tea leaves used. You can also assess the quality of the tea leaves, a good quality tea leave should be able to give a clear tea... If the brewed tea looks turbid, there may be some problem with the tea... Green tea should give a very light green with slight yellow colour... Oolong however, gives a more brown reddish colour.

Then comes the interesting part... The taste... The taste of each and every kind of tea is very distinctive and special... To me, there is no good or bad taste... There is only like or dislike... So the taste is actually very subjective... So I will just give a few basic taste that the tea should have.. Green tea like Long Jing have a very special bean taste... Something like sunflower seed. Bi Luo Chun have the taste of very fresh and mild fresh cut grass...

Oolong however, also depends on which type. Jasmine will have a mild jasmine taste, Tie Guan Yin will depend on the grade.. But generally they have a very special flower taste. Most teochew tea have a characteristic mild lychee taste...

However, one important point to take note.... The taste will change with subsequent brews... How the taste change will be discussed in more detail in future posts... So in the time being, enjoy your favourite cup of tea.... Yam sheng!!! hehe.....

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Introduction: Types of tea

Basically, tea can be divided into a few types. There are many different schools of thoughts when it comes to typing of chinese tea... Some will use the colour of the tea, some use the level of fermentation while some may use the preparation methods... However, I like to classify them as green tea such as Long Jing, Oolong tea such as Jasmine, Puer, which is further divided into green and fully fermented types and also flower tea such as rose tea.

Which classification do you use?

We will discuss further on these tea in coming postings...