Sunday, August 31, 2008

Morning Tea

It's amazing what light you can catch in the morning, if you look.

Morning tea
A warm, soothing cup of lao cong shui xian.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

2008 Nok Ya Won Wild Hadong Ddok Cha

Class: Pressed green tea
Origin: Jiri Mountain, South Korea
Year: 2008
Vendor: Unknown. This was a gift from Matt, of MattCha's Blog.

Many thanks are due to Matt, who provided me with a generous helping of this Ddok cha. I don't really know what it is (other than pressed green tea, more info here [Edit: Also here]), but it is fantastic and exactly what I should have expected Matt to give (more on this later).

First, let's talk about the wrapping. Wow. Alright, enough talking. Take a look:

Wrapped cake
Gorgeous! (And I thought the Japanese were the best at wrapping and presenting tea.) The effort it took to wrap and decorate this sample is much appreciated. Also, the sample I received was once much larger, probably about twice as big, but due to foreseen circumstances much has been consumed. :)

Ddok cha dry leaf
Unwrapping the package, one finds something that looks quite a bit like puerh. Again, this used to be more cake-like (though with very loose compression), but not after I had my way with it. The dry leaf aroma is quite faint, completely unlike puerh, and smells like a Korean green tea; creamy, sweet, and grassy.

Ddok cha liquor
It tastes similar to how it smells; light, creamy, only slightly grassy, with an occasional hint of banana. Still, while it is soft and comforting, the flavor is not the highlight of this tea in my opinion. I do not have much skill in feeling cha qi, but this is easily the most pleasant cha qi I have ever experienced. It comes on slowly and has some strength, but it is not at all jarring or obnoxious. I feel incredibly comfortable (yet still alert) when I drink this tea.

Ddok cha leaf
As I mentioned earlier, this is exactly what I should have expected from Matt. This is not an in-your-face, full-flavored tea (like what I typically drink). Its beauty is much less obvious, even "shy", and could easily be missed if one is not attentive. Thank you again, Matt, for this eye-opening tea; it will not soon be forgotten.

Other reviews:
Stéphane (Tea Masters)
Marshaln (A Tea Addict's Journal)
[I'm pretty sure there are more reviews out there somewhere. Let me know if you find any.]

Monday, August 18, 2008

Georgian Old Gentleman

Class: Black
Origin: Nasakirali, Georgia
Year: N/A
Vendor: Nothing But Tea Ltd. (Product page)
Price: £4.65 [$8.67 as I write this post] (100g)

Sorry for the lack of posts lately; I've been working on med school applications and moving into my new place. I have been allotted a small cupboard for my tea stuff, and I have room on my desk for a modest setup.

New tea setup
The first tea I've concentrated on since arriving is this Georgian (the country) black tea, courtesy of Mary R. I am not usually a fan of black teas, but this one was a big surprise. As you can see, I have chosen to use a gaiwan for this session. I filled the vessel about 3/4 - 7/8 full, as the leaf is very loosely packed, and started brewing with a 15 second infusion (which may have been a little short) using boiling water.

Georgian black tea leaf
The dry leaf is long, thin, and twisty. There are some white and golden tips, but for the most part this tea is very dark. The dry leaf aroma is similar to yancha— chocolate and berries— but also smells a bit like Oriental Beauty / bai hao.

Georgian black liquor
The liquor tastes like a more full-bodied bai hao or Darjeeling to me, though with more sweetness and less of the woodsiness than I typically associate with bai hao and Darjeeling. I generally don't like black teas, especially when brewed gong fu style, but this is lovely! I believe Mary and others have commented on how oolong-like this tea performs, and I have to agree. The tea leaves a slight drying sensation on the tongue. Best of all, I do not get the headache that normally comes from Darjeelings!

Mmm, tea. Thank you Mary!