Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tea event at UCLA

I am honored to be invited as a guest speaker to talk about Chinese Tea at UCLA on Wednesday May 27th at 8 pm.

The event is hosted by the NCAM group of UCLA. NCAM is a health awareness group interested in learning and sharing natural living experience.

Location: Covel Commons - Westcoast Room, UCLA
Address: 200 DE NEVE DRIVE, Los Angeles, CA 90095
Building Map
UCLA Campus Map:
Time: 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Tea and health related games and prizes
World of Chinese tea speech
Formal Gong Fu Tea presentation
Tea tasting

World of Chinese tea speech:
History of Tea - discovery and evolution
Types of teas
Process of teas
How to brew different types of teas accordingly
Kung Fu Tea - equipment and method

Any one interested in the subject is welcome to attend the event. Although reservation is not required, but there is limited seating. Please email me in advance if you would like to attend.
tea at teahabitat dot com


Today is sunny and warm, lots horses outting on the street. PV is one of the few spots in LA where nature is well preserved.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Results of first tasting

Past Sunday was perfect for tea tasting, small group and lots tea! We had 11 teas, 9 of 2009, 1 of 2008 and the 70's Liu Bao.

Here are my personal favorites after the first tasting. I may change my mind later with few teas to have at the same time.
You Hua - Pomelo Flower <---- like it alot Lao Cong Zhi Lan - Old bush Cattleya Orchid <--- love it
Lao Cong Dan Cong - Old Bush Dan Cong
(no specific aroma) <----- very good
She Men - She's Entrance
<----- very good (She is the oldest tribe living on the hills of Phoenix Mountain. This tea is one of the very old and original before all the new mutated varietals we know nowadays)
Zu Ye -Bamboo Leaf <---- like it alot
Updates: After drinking this tea for 3 or so times, I can say a couple more things about it than "like it alot". :P

This tea is rather delicate, a classic Dan Cong that's floral of the Zhi Lan Xiang type, clear light yellow liquid is a sweet fragrant nectar, refreshing as a young girl, creamy as an educated young mind. Sweet and delicate!
Looking at this thin pointy shaped leaf, you know why it's named Bamboo Leaf.

Ju Duo Jai - Almond aroma <------- Like it
Ya Shi - Duck Shit (Yup!)
<----- Love it
Gong Xiang - Tribune Aroma
<------Love it
Huo La Cha - Fire Spicy Tea
<------ Like it
Mo Li - Jasmine Aroma
<----- like it alot (Very limited production of this particular aroma of DC on the hills, even smaller than Ginger Flowers. Most of the time, you can only hear of its existence without ever lay eyes on the tea. NOT the same as Jasmine tea!)
The Mo Li-Jasmine DC leaves are particularly beautiful, even size, nicely rolled with a sheen of shine, very tender leaves of even redness-sign of even fermentation. The aroma is beautiful as well. It's a master piece.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tea and Horse

Tea horse trade road is well known to many tea drinkers, especially the Pu-erh tea drinkers. It's known as a trade route for tea and silk carried by horses. Well, it's partially true.

The true meaning is trading horses with tea, rather than silvers or copper coins. Tea was the designated currency when buying horses in the market. The early trade of horses with tea began in Tang Dynasty - 600's AD. At the time, it was not strictly regulated. By early Song Dynasty - 960's AD, horses trade between China and bordering countries/tribes were paid with copper coins which were later made into weapons. This act seriously threaten the security of the southwest and northwest borders, also the integrity of the Chinese currency. The Song central rulers soon banded the trade using coins. Textile, tea and herbal medicine were used for horse trading. New department for Tea Horse trade - Cha Ma Si were established along the borders, controlling trades and taxation of teas. According to document of such department duty, all horse trade among 4 bordering tribes, pay with tea only. 凡市马于四夷,率以茶易之.

Liao, Jin, Yuan Dynasties - 916-1368, Main land China was ruled by outsiders, hence horses were plentiful, therefore tea trades during the time were paid by silver/coins and local products. Beginning of Ming Dynasty - 1370, horse trading with tea was once again enforced by the central government. Such regulated practice continued through mid Qing Dynasty - turn of 1800's.

Busy weekend

The past weekend was a busy one. Aside of running the store, it was mother's day weekend. I was invited to watch a cycling competition on Saturday at the Home Depot Center. Saturday was so nice, inspired by the natural beauty of spring, I took a drive on the PV Drive West which is a nice scenic route along the ocean over looking the cliffs.
Cyclists on the Velodrome track, part of the LAVRA Cup.

Palos Verdes is a secluded part of LA. The peninsula is quite and rural, locals don't like noise and outside traffic. A hide away location close to the great big city LA. The cities on the peninsula do not advertise its beauty to keep tourists away, so it's unknown to the rest of the world. Home values are one of the highest neighborhoods in LA/OC, the cities here collect plenty of taxes from homes, therefore, not much commercial developments on the hill. The locals like it this way as well. There are almost everything you want here, horse trails (part of the trails are on major streets), hiking trails, beaches, cliffs, golf course, peacocks, and of course a great tea shop. :P One day, I'll sneak a few pictures of the local homes. Many of them are hidden from streets. I heard Keanu Reeves has a home here.
On top of the cliff, over looking Pacific Ocean. Homes hang below the edges. PV faces north, west and south from one end to the other.
Left is the ocean, right is the rural hill top, with scattered homes. This is a busy biking trail. It is breath taking riding along this road.
Quiet drive on a sunny day. Some man brought wild peacocks on to the peninsula back in the 70's, they are now residing among heavy bushes and trees in the area, like in this picture. It's a whopping $1000 fine if you kill one, even accidentally.

After living in LA for almost 10 years, I have discovered many quaint neighborhoods, none of which are tourist spots. Small wonders with lovely architectural uniqueness, places where there are not much chain store influences. I am inspired to take pictures of each areas, share it with others. Well, I might get kicked out for revealing the hidden secrets.

My favorite ones so far are: Naple's Island, canals in Venice, Palos Verdes, parts of Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Malibu, San Marino, parts of old Pasadena, Laguna Beach.

Little pinky

Now this is a perfect tea pinky! My 3 months old little niece.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

How to use Chao Zhou Stove Set

Prepare the kettle/pot:
Soak the clay kettle/pot in room temperature water 20 minutes prior to burning for each use, else it can crack easily. I fill the pot with room temperature water to the top each time I finish using it, so that I won't forget and spend 20 minutes to soak the pot the next time. Make sure there's water in the pot when you put it on fire at any time, avoid cold water in an empty hot pot, or hot water in an empty cool pot. Do not refill water while pot is on the fire. The clay is very porous, expansion and contraction due to water temperature change will crack the pot easily. I have done that!

For first time use:

Scrub stove under tap water to get rid of any tape residues before using.

Discard the first pot of boiled water.

To light fire:

Hardwood charcoal is the best choice next to Olive Pit Charcoal, do not use any BBQ briquettes, especially ones smell and smoke a lot. I use Whole Foods Market’s 365 brand hardwood charcoal. For choice of charcoals please check the following website:
Place small pieces of hardwood charcoal on stove stop to burn for a few minutes till they are red on the side, then transfer to clay stove. Add more charcoals if necessary during the session. See picture. Fan from the bottom opening of the clay stove will speed up the fire.

To put out fire:

1. To put out fire completely, cover lid with the knob on, and cover the bottom opening. You may stop the fire at any time this way without waiting for the fire to burn out or put water over it and make a mess.

2. If you want to stop making tea for a little while, but want the fire going for later, cover lid with the knob off, cover the bottom opening but leave a small gap on one side to keep the air flowing inside the stove chamber. This way the charcoal will keep on going at low temperature, when you are ready to boil water again, open up the cover and lid, add new charcoal to catch on fire. You can adjust the bottom cover to control fire temperature as well. Bigger the gap, more oxygen, higher the fire temperature, faster the water will boil.

To boil water:

The lid will make clinging noise once the water is boiling. You can take the kettle off the stove and place it on a trivet (wood is the best choice) or take off the lid. Do not place hot kettle/pot over any water. It will crack the pot also. When boiling water, line the pot handle above one of the 3 elevated landings of the stove, this will prevent the fire from heating the handle, hence prevents your hand getting burnt.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wild Peacock

A boy peacock wandering around the neighborhood. Peacocks are quite aggressive and screams like crying babies in high pitch. While it's cute to have them strolling around your front lawn, it's another thing having to listen to mating calls 3 o'clock in the morning. It's not sexy! Perks usually come with a price.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I want to SCREAM!

Today came with 2 surprises, good and BAD. My mailman dropped off 2 large packages. My heart started to pound at a rapid rate. They must be the Chao Zhou stove sets, arriving early! The joy of relieve invaded my entire brain for a brief seconds. I then noticed one of the box is leaking dust particles. This is not a good sign I said to myself. Trembling hands with razor sharp scissors cut through the outer box, revealing 3 mid size boxes. I pulled each box out with a gentle shake, the sound of broken pieces was not music to my ears! In side of each box, there are 6 small boxes containing the stoves. I knew the casualty must be high this time. After inspecting each and every one, the survival rate is 7 out 20!!!!!!!!! 7 with minor cracks but functional with no major cosmetic flaws. 6 are totaled, unsalvageble! I don't understand!!!!! After explaining many times on how to wrap the items for breakage prevention, some people just don't listen, or do they just forget, or it's a different person who did the packing!!!

I just want to scream..... in silence....