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!