Friday, June 22, 2007

Leaves of the 50's red lable

My baby nephew and niece under the cherry tree

Since the opening of the tea lounge, time is a scarcity (not that it was ever not), visiting my family has not been on the schedule for weeks. I miss my niece and nephew tremendously. My mom is bit edgy when I don't show my face once in a while. The only time I get to see them is on days they come to visit. My niece is happy to have her tea party and snackies on the platform. How cute they are under my cherry tree. I wish I could spend more time with them especially when they are little. Missing their days of growing up is a heavy price to pay. I made a request to have my sis-in-law to taking them and my mom to visit this Sunday. Lovely!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pictures of the Pu-erh event

Pictures of pu-erhs we tasted yesterday.

Will, Louise and guest.

Sean, Nick, Mindy and Mr. Liang in pink.

Jonathan, Danica and Guang. $5 if you could guess whose choppers are in the back! :P

90's green big tree, 2nd infusion I think.

90's green big tree leaf.

I'll post more details when I have more time.

Hand held yixing roaster

I picked up this little gadget a couple of weeks ago. Some time ago, I tried re-roasting old leaves on the stove with pleasant result. When I saw this little Yixing clay roaster, my curiosity got the best of me.

After weeks of hectic schedule of the opening and other business matters, I finally remember my new toy. The description says roasting fermented or semi-fermented tea before brewing can enhance the aroma and intensity of the flavor. 4 teas were roasted this afternoon. I am tea drunk now. I must had 12 different kinds tea today. The first one I roasted was a 9 yrs old loose imperial cooked pu by menghai. The result was very dramatic in flavor and aroma, especially the smoothness. The second one I tried was a 2006 lao banzhang. This is the one that got many of us high at our LA tea tasting. The reason I wanted to roast this cake is to soften the edgy rawness and hopefully the "drunken effect". The flavor turned out smoother and sweeter, less fragrant, but the "drunken effect" was very much present like the previous tastings. I then ventured to black tea, Jiu Qu Hong Mei. I like this black tea as is to begin with. It's the chosen one for the reason that it is my favorite black tea among my current stocks. Smooth mouth feel with lotsa plum like sweetness. I thought roasting it might enhance the ripen plum aroma. Turned out, it did not make much difference. The 4th was a 2000 yiwu zheng shan green cake. This cake was over dehydrated in my previous tastings. Dry fall leave like smell with the look to go with it. It was not my favorite, in fact disappointing when I tried it the first time. After roasting the imperial loose pu with good result, I thought this might be the right choice to test with. Wow, I was right about that. The taste improved 3 folds. The aroma, the smoothness and sweetness all came out much nicer than before. The dryness is still there tho. I think I'll unwrap the extra tissues, let it expose to the marine layers for another month, then try again. It might do wonders next time.

Over all, I am very happy with this new gadget!

Roasting tea before brewing was a common practice back in the Tang's dynasty. Tea were compressed in bricks at the time. It's a skill to roast the tea then grind into powder before brewing, tea powder was boiled/cooked over open fire at that time. Some minority tribes in Yunnan also roast tea before brewing, each has their own ways of roasting and utensils.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The gang's in da house

Behind the bar are (left to right) Louise, Will, Phyll, me and Nick.

I am extremely thankful to the LA Tea Affair gang whom volunteered their knowledge of tea at my opening tea party. It was such a fun event that some of the customers came back today telling me how much they learned from these guys the day before. A 12 years old little girl came again today and talked the tea lingo she learned from yesterday, sounded like a little tea connoisseur. It's absolutely amazing and funny. It's how I envision LA tea affair will become with a bigger crowd! It'd be great to have more open tea-bar events in the future. A couple (both are teachers) suggested a tea function at the South Coast Botanical Garden or the local library. That sounds like a beautiful idea that I should explore the possibility.

I have to thank CM (front left, next to the orchid)! He's the one took me to the desserts cafe in SD which lead to my own tea lounge. We met in Singapore 2.5 years ago, on a tour bus to the botanical garden which is famous for its 1000+ species of orchids. Yes, I am a tea addict and obsessing over orchids at the same time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Story of the name

In case any of my dear readers wonder about the name of my tea lounge Tea Habitat. The process of picking out a name was not immediate. It took about 6 months of writing down every name came to mind on a spread sheet, checking back every week or so to see which one I still like and which ones were taken. Tea Habitat is my final choice and I like it more each time it comes to mind. Human are habitual beings, whether it's good or bad. A habitat is a natural environment to develop a habit or habits, in this case where tea can nourish our body and mind. Supposedly a good habit and possibly an addictive habit. :P

Chinese name on the other hand has a long story. I'll have to explain that later when I am not as tired. Sorry folks, will continue tomorrow. I'll get off work at 5pm. It's a short day! Some how I find that funny.

柒月茶軒 - Seven (fraud prove form) moon tea pavilion, word for word translation. July tea pavilion is a more literate translation. 柒 is the same as 七 . The 3 drops of water on the upper left and wood at the bottom signify livelihood, wood (plants) grow on water, water nourishes plants, tea plants in my case. This is the year of 2007 and I was born in July, tea is one of the 7 essentials of Chinese every day life, "seven things upon door opening, fire wood, rice, oil, salt, soysauce, vinegar, tea". Meaning 7 must haves as soon as the day begins. Tea is the number 7th item. 月 Moon is the first time measuring "unit" known to man. It's closely related to females from the beginning of human history. A monthly event every women must endure which synchronizes with the moon cycles, an inspiration for males to tell time relating to the moon. I think it's quite sacred in terms of human revolution. Other than the planet moon, as a female, I feel like honoring and celebrating the inspiration from women's hardship to the significance of our everyday life, although often neglected, or even unknown to many. 茶 tea, well, it's tea and a must have. :P 軒 pavilion, it happens to be one of the 3 characters in my brother's name. For his name, it means confident and noble. The most common endings of a tea shop are house, chamber, pavilion. All of those hidden meanings combined into 4 little characters. Chinese literature never cease to amaze me, especially my knowledge of Chinese is considered inadequate.

aaaaah, pictures

Timing is everything! I came home around 12:45 last night and found a little package at my door. It's my nikon camera! After more than a month at the nikon repair shop, it made its way back to my hands. :) Here are a few shots of my new tea shop, Tea Habitat. :)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Marine layer and pu-erh

Spring in So-cal is quite humid. Marine layer hovers the beach communities in the morning, which is giving my pu-erh a good dose of replenishment. I can smell the sweet aroma of my pu every time I walk by. Palos Verdes is particularly misty/foggy every morning and evening. You can see rolling clouds on the hill top. As I will transport my stock to that location, they should age really well. One of the cakes was over dehydrated at arrival, I am hoping the moisture will reverse the effect some what.