Wednesday, November 30, 2016

When is the best time to start drinking a tea

Here are a few questions from a dear customer recently, I thought I had written related topic since it is some of the more frequently asked questions, but I couldn't find it in my blog,  it must be in the emails.  I should have this written down for good. Here we go.

***How do single tree dancongs like your private stash develop with time? 
More specifically, is it preferable to let them rest for some time after the harvest and processing to harmonize and develop? If so, how long after the harvest are they usually at the peak, and when do they start to fade and lose aromas you want to keep?
There are several elements determines the taste of tea in time: tea substance, fire, storage. What this means is when is the best time to start drinking a tea, any tea that is.  Most of us like to buy fresh teas in general, what's left over the year is considered expired psychologically,  even though aged tea drinkers would consider buy a selected few type such as puerh and a few aged oolongs.  While taste is a personal preference, I am here to talk about my own preference of when is my preferred time to drink a tea. 

1, Substance of tea is the fundamental, fiber and chemical substance ratio determines how long it will take a tea to break down, more fiber the longer it will take, more matured old leaves the longer it will take. 
2, In general, all teas are processed through fire more or less.  Green tea, white tea, yellow teas endure less firing process than oolong, lower temperature and lesser time on fire.  Higher temperature fire takes longer to subside.  
3,Storage condition of tea is crucial at the final step, aside of sealed, keep away from light, odor and moisture, storing temperature should be considered in storing the type of tea.    

Nothing is absolute especially in tea, all parameters are forever changing along time, a combination of situation presents here:

Green tea, despite the common belief it should be drunk within 3 month from harvest, unless you are a young man with stomach of steel, go ahead.  The freshness also contains fresh fire, the fresh polyphenols can be harsh on the stomach, it is much better to drink it 9 months to a year later stored in freezer or refrigerated, minimum 6 months in the fridge.   This also applies to green oolongs, particularly Tie Guan Yin and Taiwan high mountain teas.  Freezing is necessary for teas with high moisture contents.  

For medium and up roasted oolong teas, white tea, black teas, also takes 9 months to a year for the fire to subside, especially the high fired teas such as dark roasted dan cong and wuyi rock teas, some heavy fired teas takes up to 2 years for the fire taste to subside.  While the fire disapates, the substance of the tea goes through a break down, enzymatic oxidation, blending with each other process, polyphenols turn in to Cha Huang Su theaflavin which benefit our health in many ways.  Due to the long time and or high fire process of these teas, moisture content is less in general, hence cool dark seal is all it takes to preserve them, even for a long period of time.  How long can this be kept depends on the aroma, if you prefer fragrance aroma, the preservation under the best condition should withhold 3 years, at most 5.  5 years late, the aroma will subside as the substance changes into Cha He Su- theabrownine.  
Dan cong tea, old tree teas in specific, due to the rich amount of substance, after a year of post development, the taste and texture is much fuller, dan cong teas are known for the floral fruity aroma, recommended to finish drinking within 3 years, however if sealed, it can be put away then forgotten 20, 30 or more years, it will become another amazing tea.  

To sum it all, all teas come from a plant, they all share similar properties,  fire does the exact same thing to teas, the result differentiates by the content of the tea, which in turn determines how long it takes to oxidize and break down.  Depending on the fermentation, lighter greener teas needs refrigeration, high moisture contents requires freezing.  
Puerh tea is a different animal, but similar, we will skip it this time.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Exploring tea horizontally or and vertically

Tea horizon is broad, visible, reachable.  Vertical tea is how deep one can reach.
My perception of exploring tea horizontally can be number of types, regions, varietals, processing, basically as many different teas as one can.  Vertically can be substance within the leaves which is the essential to the quality, grades, climate influence, age, cultivation practise influence, one way to explore vertical depth is try everything in a region or even one tea of many versions.

Most of us explore horizontally at the beginning, which can be a lengthy process, some may never get to the vertical stage.  In the vertical stage, one can learn the criteria of tea in depth, armed with this understanding,  exploring tea horizontally in depth become clear and easy.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Describing tea!

How to describe a tea has been a difficult troublesome subject for me!

Tasting note is supposed to be factual within reason, but for the most part, it is personal and objective.

China has slowing established a set of tasting notes as a standard for tea grading since the 50's, matured by the 70's, refined in the 80's.  This standard is still in use in academic research institutions and large factories.  Since privatization of state own tea factories across the country in late 90's, the practise of this grading standard is no longer practiced strictly.

When describing tea using this set of vocabularies, quality is measured by a scaled variation 1-10, it's mechanical and boring.  My brain is trained to measure tea in this set boring way, hence my tea review notes are unattractive, colorless.

I love to read wine or whiskey reviews because I love the life and movement the writers put into them, it's the experience that captivate the buyer, some times it's factual, some times not, but no matter what, the writings promoted the product, attracted buyers, like it or not, that's another story.

I wish I could combine both the Chinese rating elements and the fantasy selling scheme to promote my teas, they deserve the recognition, and the readers deserve the opportunity to get to know them.  Live is too precious, behold the luxury of out standing teas, it's important to have best friends and great lover, so is having great teas!   Trying out many teas is like dating many people when you are young, do you wish to keep dating for the rest of your life?  At one point, you might want to stick with the good one right?  Looks like the topic got side tracked, time to close it off.

Have a good night all! 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Up coming events in November 2016

10 Precious greens teas from China, hand selected micro batches (less than 5 lbs each) made by hands of the most discriminating tea makers.  Teas of this quality are rarely seen in the market.  We are fortunate to obtain small quantities for a taste!  We go beyond the miles to find the creme de la creme teas, good is just not good enough in our dictionary of tea!

11/19/16 Saturday afternoon Santa Monica Library Tea Talk - Free

We are honored to be invited by Ashley K, manager of Santa Monica Public Library Ocean Park branch to talk about tea on Saturday 11/19/16 afternoon.  We will post the agenda of the talk soon.  We like to introduce tea in general to the audience, the romance and philosophy of tea drinking.  The event is free the the public, come join us!

2016 Single Old Tree Phoenix Dan Cong oolong sample kits

Single Tree Dan Cong Sampler (6) - 2016 All 

Single Tree Dan Cong Sampler (5) - 2015 All 1501

 Free teas and free shipping with purchase of $100 or more

2015 was a great year for Phoenix oolong, the best year since 2010 (the frosty year that wiped out almost the entire crop on the higher elevation).  The last best harvest year was 2009!  That's also the year we had MANY trees in varieties, some are still very memorable by myself and many of our patrons.  Even today they still bring names of the tea only offered in that year!  I remember a lady cried in tears drinking the Li Jai Ping.

2016 we have some great selections in offer, quality vise some are better than 2015 and a couple may take some time to refine itself, time is the magic cure even for some phoenix dan cong oolongs.

Some of the notable ones are Song Zhong(sold out the first batch), Yin Hua, Gui Hua, Dao Hua, Tong Tian, Xiong Di, imo better than previous years.

I personally love Dao Hua, both 15 and 16 crops, the 16 is more fresh floral, the 15 is more chicken stock.  Xiong Di is masculine!  I love the sandalwood undertone flavor, it's so rich and lingering!   Gui Hua is complex and multi faceted, a new characteristic can surface in each steeping, quite fascinating with rich ripen fruit honey jam.  Yin Hua is a new tree we have this year, fresh floral in a rainy spring day, just lovely!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tea and beyond

Tea and beyond, in specific tea drinking and beyond

Getting to know tea and tea drinking is a journey of spiritual endeavor for many although not all of us.  If just to drink a cup of tea and finding good tea a train stop for the time being, it is a good beginning, if you are willing, the track will take you much further. 

We often wonder what can tea do for us, physically and mentally.  We all started with drinking tea that makes us feel good, comforting, energizing, uplifting etc.  The tradition of afternoon tea, the practise of gong fu tea are some of the social interaction mechanism that brings people together for spiritual replenishment.  I would consider this to be physically conscious with subconscious mind while anticipating tea drinking. 

Learning about tea can be a large subject, the basics are types of teas, varietals of teas, location, climate, elevation, growing practise, seasons, age, process, storage, brewing methods.   Next stage is body sensation of tea, taste, smell, effect of tea.  Then the next set of questions is why teas have different effects to human body, what's in tea that have such effects, what's in the soil, the region of the soil that induce such effects, what are the regional characteristics shared by the soil, the food, the people, the everyday ware, art and such, then what does the history of this region tell you about the previous question.  As you can see, a cup of tea is extended to human physics, agriculture, physics, chemistry, history, geography, philosophy, and eventually law of nature.  Law of nature is the ultimate way of life and bigger then life, it is the planet earth, it is the whole universal law.  Once one understands nature, tea becomes easy and it becomes part of you as you are part of the nature.  When you try to study a subject as an external mater, it is foreign to you mind, when it became part of you, it helps you expand your mind to other territories.  It is a relationship between a tree branch and a tree root, if you only stand on a branch, you can see only the view from that branch, when you can root yourself, you can see every view of every branch. 

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Cha Qi

Ha, I realize I have not written about this subject before, it is like air just there and essential to tea as air to life, quietly and permanently.  Thanks for bringing up the subject Truth and Go!

Qi is not a self standing object only appears in tea.  We should take a look at nature/universe before getting back to tea and qi in tea.

Before anything else, qi in a broad concept is energy, written in Chinese character as air, not oxygen.  Qi is an imperceptible mater by human eyes, it is a force, an energy that keeps perceptible matters circulating.  For example, keeps our heart beats going, keeps our blood circulating, keeps our intestines moving, wind sweeping, water floating from underground, tides going up and down, earth spinning.  All happenings in the universe requires qi to make it happen, all forces is energy and transfer of energy from one form to another.  In the case of tea, the sun, soil and water energy being processed and transformed into a tea plant,  that energy is being transferred into human body, effecting our physical health and mental health.

Energy exist in every form, not only in food, energy drinks or excise.  It existed in the big bang, it exists in air, plant, rocks, minerals, water, wind, words, conversation, music, friendship, love relationship and everything you name it.  There are positive energies, there are negative energies.

Human body is affected by external energy while maintaining internal energy.  We produce energy and consume energy.   Food, beverage are consumable energies, words of kindness, loving gestures are out put energies can be either internal or external.

Cha Qi appears in different strength and effects different parts of a human body according to the type, region, quality and age of tea.  The universe has everything plan out already, in a simple matrix view, tea color of light to dark coordinating with seasons from Spring to winter, from dawn to dark nights, from young to matured human age, from head to toe human body, all mapped out.   Other factors of cha qi influence are sex related, mainly due to the difference of our own body composition, particularly our sensitivity which greatly effected by genetic, daily activities, food intakes, and stress level. Clean and sensitive bodies respond to cha qi or any form of energy more effectively, in comparison to bodies are constantly under stress by work, relationships and bad diet.  Our body is constantly in work of detoxing and replenishing, certain tea has more detox effects, and certain teas has more nourishing effects. Our body needs both, and it is smart enough to crave the type of tea that is more needed by our body.  A stock broker would want a more detoxing tea, while a musician may want a more nurturing tea, a college student may want a more alerting mind focusing tea. 

How is cha qi different by region, type and age?  Regional soil is the basic composition of substance in a plant eventually presents in the tea leaves we consume.  Each location has its own energy, some harsh, some delicate, some refine, some coarse, the climate of the location dictates the energy of anything grown at that location, food, plant, to human characteristics both physical and spiritual.  I declare this does not involve any location/racial discrimination!  It is what it is. 
An old Chinese saying: a land of water and soil raise men of that land.  The western old saying: we are what we eat.  Both world agrees upon the same principle, and that principle is nothing but law of nature.  With this in mind, one can identify the type of tea with associated energy by learning history  and geography of the world.  Ah, that sounds like a lot of studies to do right?  Yes, it is.  Pieces of puzzles can be linking together once you understand the law of nature.  It's vague and it is vast and it here as long as the universe has been existed.  The energy of cha qi differs by type, how?  The process of tea based on fermentation and roasting lines them up on a scale from light to dark, such oxidation and roasting produces the kind of chemical substance that effect the human body medicinally.  The flow of cha qi is also dictated by this process, light effects upper part of body, medium processed effects the center part of body, and dark carries a down ward traveling energy.  Age of a tree matter in strength of energy, more powerful than younger ones, simply because it absorbs and accumulates more nutrients through the roots.  We also take a lot about high elevation produces good tea, but how so?   Cloud layers provides moisture while blocking direct sunlight is an ideal environment for tea growth, sunlight is the main element in how a tea leaf balances the substances inside, more sunlight produces more polyphenol, less direct sunlight produces more amino acid.  The proportion of polyphenol and amino acid dictates the taste of tea, and the energy.  Again, our body needs to detox and replenish, body cells are made up of amino acid.  A clean body respond to a tea with more amino acid more, while a stressed body full of free radical responds to a tea with more polyphenol.  Male and female choice of tea can be reflected base on this energy type.   Sensitive heart warming teas such as oolong is preferred by female and sensitive males, by this I mean it in a positive constructive way!  Buddha is a combination of male and female in wisdom, both male and female are never strictly one sex by nature, we posses energy of both more or less.  The perfect balance should be equally present.   A woman can be both feminine while strong, a man can be macho while sensitive, there shouldn't be any conflict within the same body.

To put it in a Daoism term, energy is the black and white fishes in the Ba Gua diagram, it's forever changing around the other force or demand, strengthen or weaken accordingly.  Tea and human body evolves based on the need of the body, change of environment effecting both tea and human.  We shall observe without a set rules. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ask me a tea question

I have not written any thing tea related for years for various reasons.

1, My learning of tea had reached a bottle neck.  There isn't an end to learn about tea, but at one point or many points in our lives, one needs to take a break or slow down before going forward again.

2, There is a saying one can only succeed with passion in what he/she does, in my case, selling tea.  But running a business is a whole different dimension in knowledge, skill, time management, and organization, when one man wears multiple hats in an operation, the passion has to take a set back in order to make room for other departments of the business.

3, Tea is a vehicle, it has always been in the history, it is not the final destination, and it shouldn't be.  Tea has taken me far and beyond in understanding nature, being with nature, and reflect within through nature.  Nature is the way of Dao!  It's how things should unfold or has always been on the universal track.  With this understanding, one can accept matters and happenings with ease, also able to prevent the bad, stay on track, avoid harms way to achieve great results as we hope.  I realize that traveling beyond the tea path ultimately takes me back to where tea is and see it with greater understanding.  It is no longer picking out the tasting notes, what parameters to brew a cup of tea, etc.  Even the names or region of a tea is no longer important, when you treat it as a plant, all characteristics of any plant on earth carries similar fundamental nature and energy, also changes according to seasons and environment changes. 

4, My father's passing has created a tremendous emotional blockage psychologically, there will be years or never before I can recover, but I am trying, the act of trying perhaps is my cure along time.  

After a long multiple years of break, I feel obligated to write again, it's my way to journal my own psychological progress.  But I do not know where to begin, what topic to write about.  Ask me something, I'll select a topic from the questions to blog about.