Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gong Mi Lan - Tribute Honey Orchid 2011

A hot day today in South Cal, although I shouldn't complain compared to the inland with a 20 degrees cooler temperature and sea breeze. Hot tea as usual, if you call me crazy.

With the new 2011 Dan Cong tea arrival, tasting each tea with various methods and multiple times is a huge task. After all drinking more than half a dozen a day is excessive to my taste buds. The first round of cupping was done in gaiwan for 5 minutes, the basic tasting notes were based on that.
Today's method is gaiwan gongfu style with Bai Ye Gong Mi Lan - White leaf tribute honey orchid. Honey orchid is the most reliable tea out of all, it's straight forward, present, good flavor, easy to brew, no down time waiting period, no disappointment each and every time year after year. Out of almost 20 new teas arrived, this is one of the most ready to drink teas.

Upon opening the bag of Gong Mi Lan, a strong passion fruit, lichi, ripe peach aroma you can't unnoticed. It's much stronger than others without anything added.
A sweeter lichi and peach aroma can be smelled as soon as the water is add, flavor is just as it smelled, after taste has a little like mango. Each infusion is slightly different varying from fruit to fruit in mixed combination. Complex, soft, interesting and pleasing. The signature honey sweetness and fullness last many infusions. A tea does not require a lot of attention to enjoy the wholeness within.
Wet leaves are still semi rolled up and thin at the end of the session, signs of high altitude from old trees due to slow growth rate of aged trees in cooler climate covered with clouds. Meaty leaf is not a good sign, either located at low altitude hot temperature environment and or fed with fertilizer.

Aroma: 5
Flavor: 5
Texture: 4.5
After Taste: 4.5
Over All: 4.75

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Honey Preserved Dan Cong Oolong Tea

Home remedy is widely used and relied on by many villagers of the remote mountain, even today's modern medicine is readily available. Phoenix mountain residents keep aged teas for minor colds, coughs, fevers, stomachaches of the like. Aside of the dried method of aging tea, honey preserved tea is also a popular regional treasure. Honey from local hives and Dan Cong tea combined together is not only a tasty drink, but also medicinal.

High grade raw honey, glass jar preferred, and good Dan Cong teas, simple as fill the jar with dry tea leaves, then add honey to top, seal and let it sit for a week before consuming. However the longer it is put away, the better the medicinal effect it has, years, 10, 20, 30 years. One word of advise, if you plan on keeping it for a long period, good tea and good honey is a must. After all, the time you invest in is more worthy of the ingredients. I don't think you want to wait 10 years for something mediocre.

Raw honey is relative hard to find in the states because FDA require honey sold in the states must contain less than a certain percentage of moisture. Hence, most available commercial honey are heat treated to reduce moisture, therefore losing many nutritious contents such as enzymes and vitamins. Also runny but not watery honey is necessary, crystallized honey contains impurity as well which is less desirable. Spring honey and Winter honey also have different benefits. Drink Spring honey in Spring, Winter honey in Winter to counter seasonal sickness is suggested by Chinese medicine. For example, Spring honey has detoxing benefit due to bacteria/virus spread in Spring, Winter honey has lung nourishing benefit due to dryness in Winter .

Tea selection needless to say the better the tea, the better the result. Good tea does not necessary have to be tasty tea. Good tea is naturally rich with substance which can be visible and detected in texture. A rich tea is round, thick, creamy, smooth or buttery, while all these are present does not necessary make this tea tasty automatically, but in most case it is. Tasty or not in flavor is also subjective by each drinker.

My first choice of tea to be preserved is Hong Yin, since I will invest a LONG period of time, I choose 1978 Wild Hong Yin. In 20 years I'll have a jar of 53 years old honey tea. :D Hong Yin is also very rich in texture compared to other Dan Congs, there isn't much aroma, hence would not be overwhelmed by the floral aroma of raw honey. The other choice was a tea from a 220 years old Dan Cong tree. It also has a rich texture that is savory in taste, but aroma is less appeal than other floral Dan Cong teas. Will try the second one in a week, then a few months, a year and so on to see the difference in evolution.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lotus of Gu Yi Yuan

Gu Yi Yuan being one of the landmarks of Shang Hai attracting millions visitors from around the world, hosts many special seasonal events each year. Summer is the season for lotus, this year is particularly spectacular. A national lotus show is going on now in the garden compound, showing off more than 1000 varietals. My girlfriend whose husband manage the garden has done an excellent job. Knowing lotus is one of my favorite plant, here are some of the hundreds pictures she shared with me. I shall attend in person one year to flow through the green waves of lotus leaves, inhale that fresh lotus fragrance through my pores.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

6th Stop - Shang Hai

Shang Hai was a brief stop in the previous trip. The local hostess is a girl friend of mine. If you like Xiao Long Bao - Shang Hai steam dumpling, the best is in a garden restaurant in Gu Yi Yuan - one of the four famous Jian Nan Garden compounds in Shang Hai.

It's my great honor to be invited for tea after a delicious lunch at a private section of the garden behind these walls. This group of structure used to be the sleeping quarter of the owner whom was a salt merchant in Qing Dynasty. Salt trading was and still is government controlled business as well as one of the most profitable.

Other parts of the garden

Friday, July 15, 2011


Lao Xian Yong-Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong Tea, a moment I shall remember....

With this year's good harvest, it's to be celebrated with a few private selections of my own. Have I had a tea only to bloom after it disappeared in form of liquid? It's a new life experience with tea for me. Not a sign of impression in searching for that typical aroma, flavor when I drank it. A tea without a head turn so I mentally noted it at first. As the cup was released from my fingers, carelessly put down on the kitchen counter, heading to flip the next page of Li Qing Zhao - one and only famous female poet of the Song Dynasty. The most delicate aroma began to open up in my mouth, the flowers in her poem came to alive as it appeared. The fragrance occupied all my senses through my nose drifted well beyond one's mind. Let it be, let it be! Let it permeate~ Let it linger~

Li Qing Zhao is famous for her love poems. She had a loving marriage but short lived. Living apart with her husband and soon passed away, her sorrows were painted on her words with Spring blooms and withering willows.

A poem can strike a soul, a tea can nourish one, I am in the mood for love-a song compliments the two.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Huntington Library - Summer Lotus

It's been a couple of years since I last set foot in the Huntington Library located in the city of San Marino, which is LA in a grand scale. We are fortunate to have many gardens in the surrounding areas both in LA and OC counties. Huntington Library is one of the must visit spot in LA.

Orchids are my obsession as some of you may know. Lotus is my love since early age before I know anything about orchids. As a young child, my school friend and I went to a garden park named East Lake during lunch hour to watch lotus and catch butterflies in summer time. A large pond filled with pink blooming lotus, of course the flowers were smart enough to locate themselves no where near shore. After a couple of visits, we finally got to steal a lotus flower which was an instant envy of the class without the teacher's knowing. It wasn't an easy task to pick a flower 2 yards away from shore in filthy mud, but I should be happy that we didn't fall in the pond.

Growing Lotus is a challenge so I have not made an attempt. One day I shall try in a large container.