NTS Session 1

NTS Session 1 by Autechre; Label Link: NTS Sessions 1-4.

Number 8 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.

Number 8 takes a bit of explaining, and will take all of this week’s commutes (and most of next week’s) to listen to.

Earlier this year the band Autechre had a residency of sorts on the online “radio” platform, “NTS.Live“. They performed 4 sessions live in the studio.

This album is the result, and clocks in at around 8 hours of pure, unadulterated, Autechre fun.

Autechre, if you are not familiar, are a fairly experimental electronic music duo, who, perhaps, are most often excoritated as being music which could be generated by algorithms or the easy listening soundtrack of a race of androids.

I think that is a bit harsh.

Their music is primarily percussive. And they do tend to use synths, rather than samples. Still, it is easy to hear the master’s voice in the mix.

Even being about only half way through the first recording of the NTS Sessions, there is enough light hearted squelchy fun, that I am looking forward to a couple week’s of suspension rattling ambient electronic danse muzak.

The first track, in particular, is an enjoyable side trip down a parti-colored mutant version of Mancini’s Baby Elephant Walk.


#Autechre #NTSSessions #WireMagazineBestOf2018 #WireMagazine

Yunnan Green Spring Snail Bi Luo Chun, Spring 2018

Yunnan Green Spring Snail Bi Luo Chun.

Yunnan Green Spring Snail Bi Luo Chun, Spring 2018, from Yunnan Sourcing’s “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

There are a group of teas, or type of teas, which are classically called, “China’s 10 Famous Teas” (or sometimes 8 famous teas).

This classification goes back to before the communist revolution, at least late 1800s or early 1900s, maybe earlier.

The list slightly varies a bit from source to source, but it is usually about half green tea.

At the time, among those green teas, Lake Tai/Dongting Green Snail Spring from Suzhou, Jiangsu, was often considered the best of the best.

Suzhou is in the Central Eastern province, Jiangsu, near Shanghai.

This isn’t Lake Tai/Dongting Green Snail.

It is from Yunnan, which is a province in Southern China, bordering Myanmar, Laos, and Vientam.

The tea grown in the Jiangsu area tend to be on small leafed bushes. The tea grown in Yunnan area tend to be on big leafed, well, actual trees. Distinct varieties of tea are grown in each area, due to the differences in climate.

I haven’t had actual Bi Luo Chun from Jiangsu, so I can’t tell you how much this one resembles the other, but given the differences in regions, I don’t actually expect that this Yunnan Green Snail Bi Luo Chun tastes much like the real thing, from Jiangsu.

However, another distinguishing factor in “Green Snail” tea is how it is formed. As I mentioned, after the “Kill Green” step, green tea is usually formed into shapes which allow it to be stored without damaging the leaves.

In the case of “Green Snail” the tea is formed into a sort of double coil. First the leaf is rolled vertically, then it is rolled horizontally. The shape is said to resemble a snail which has been cooked and pulled out of its shell. Well, which you can see from the picture, it does. Yum.

While this tea may not be real “Bi Luo Chun” from Jiangsu, it is a very solid green tea.

I find with these assortments from Yunnan Sourcing, there is usually a couple exceptional teas, one unusual tea, and one that is just a solid, well priced example of the classification. A daily drinker, if you will.

This tea seems to be the daily drinker in this bunch. It is a super solid example of Yunnan green tea. Good clean flavor, forgiving of careless brewing, stands up to multiple brews, but doesn’t require it. I took it to my Mom’s house over the holiday and drank it every day.

#YunnanSourcing #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea #GreenTea


Sujud by Senyawa. Bandcamp Link: Sujud

Number 7 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.

Senyawa are an Indonesian duo.

I would classify what they do as a sort of ritualistic performance art.

The vocalist has a very low voice and groans more than sings. They accompany themselves on handmade electrified and acoustic instruments and percussion. Most recently they have discovered a small handbag of digital EFX boxes.

Due to the external similarity of their music to a couple Western genres, mostly drone metal and maybe prog, they have been adopted a bit by fans of those musics, and the associated publications and scenes.

Well, to be honest, if you heard a Senyawa song between a SUNNO))) song and a magma song, it wouldn’t sound terribly out of place.

I like them a lot and have been kicking myself that I missed their performance at the lab, here in San Francisco, last year.

Regrets, I’ve got a few…

Don’t make the same mistake I did! If you get a chance, go see them!

#Senyawa #Sujud #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50 #WireMagazine

Cui Ming Premium

Cui Ming Premium.

Cui Ming Premium Yunnan Green Tea * Spring 2018 from the Yunnan sourcing Yunnan “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

This is an unusual green tea.

First it’s a bit odd that it isn’t formed. Second, it is ridiculously light, almost a White Tea, or the ghost of a green tea.

Oh, but we haven’t talked about that yet.

White tea production is the simplest, the tea is picked, withered slightly, and dried. That’s pretty much it.

Green tea is slightly more complicated.

First, in general, white tea contains a slightly larger leaf to bud ratio than most White teas.

Second, after withering, the green tea undergoes something which is usually called “Kill Green”.

“Kill Green” refers to quickly heating the tea to stop the enzymatic action from changing the green color. Usually this is done, at a more rustic level, in something that looks a bit like a large wok, or at a more industrial level, in something that looks like a cross between a clothes dryer and a cement mixer. Alternatively, sometimes the tea is steamed, though this is more common in Japan.

After the “Kill Green” step, green tea is usually, (and I say usually, because obviously this tea has not,) formed into a some sort of shape that will prevent it from breaking in transport. A spear shape, or a roll, or a pearl shape, etc. There are different styles in different regions.

The tea is then dried at a low temperature.

This tea looks basically like White Peony (Bai Mudan) which has undergone a kill green step.

According to the Yunnan Sourcing this tea is grown from a specific varietal and picked very early in the spring.

It is super light in flavor, in almost every way the complete opposite of the robust late harvest Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai I drank yesterday. There is an earthy vegetal nutty character and a lingering sweetness. A bit of astringency in the middle steeps reminds you it is green tea, and not a white tea. But it has quite a nice, and subtle aftertaste.

#YunnanSourcing #GreenTea #CuiMingPremium #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea

Let Night Come On Bells End The Day

Let Night Come On Bells End The Day by Sarah Davachi. Bandcamp Link: Let Night Come On Bells End The Day

Number 6 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.

Another release that surprised me.

I was expecting this to be some sort of folk album, for really no reason at all.

However, it is more lo-fi drone, keyboards and the occasional guitar. No vocals.

Once I got over my initial surprise, I found myself enjoying it.

If it reminds me of anything, it is probably a bit like a less quirky version of the German group Cluster or some of Brian Eno’s semi-ambient instrumental pieces circa “Before and After Science”.

Static grooves and drones which fade in and out, under and over, one another.

Definitely late night music.

#SarahDavachi #LetNightComeOnBellsEndTheDay #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai Yunnan Green tea

Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai

Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai Yunnan Green tea * Spring 2018 from the
Yunnan Sourcing “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

I’m starting a new project in the new year. After spending the last few months drinking White Tea, I’m going to immerse myself in Green Tea for the next bit of time.

I started by ordering a Green Tea sampler from Yunnan Sourcing which includes Five 50g portions of various teas from Yunnan.

If you aren’t familiar with metric portioning, ordering teas in metric amounts can be a bit daunting, (but, frankly, ounces are way worse).

To make things easier, think about it like this. A typical teaspoon of tea is about 2g, which is a single British/American portion of single steep, broken tea.

But, you say, “Erik, you just ordered 250g of green tea, that’s 125 servings of tea. How on earth are you going to drink that?”

Well, let’s just say, I use more than 2g of tea per serving.

A typical amount used for a single serving of multi-steeped, whole leaf, Chinese tea is more like 5g (or 7g, if you’re really working it), which is really just 50 servings. A month and a half, if you only drink one batch of tea a day.

Anyway, this is a very nice tea, though not a green tea for wall flowers.

It has a nice early vegetal aroma, chewy but not overwhelming bitterness, and a very long lasting sweet aftertaste. Appetite building! A bit like a slightly less assertive Raw (Sheng) Pu-Erh. Oh, and a pretty zippy caffeine content! Scott from Yunnan Sourcing says it is a good morning tea, and I agree.



Veteran by JPEGMAFIA. Bandcamp Link: Veteran

Number 5 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.

There were many American rap releases in 2018. There are a few elsewhere on this list.

Yet, the British underground music magazine chose to rank JPEGMAFIA’s Veteran highest.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t particularly listen to a lot of music in the popular vein, so I’m probably as outside on this as the high falutin’ critics of the wire magazine.

So, what, for wire magazine, about Veteran makes it the most interesting Rap release of 2018?

On this release, JPEGMAFIA follows his muse, wherever his instinct takes him, his poetry, and samples, move through allusions to a wide spectrum of modern media culture, weaving together a picture of modern life in America. On the other hand, the music is about as close as you can get to abstract electronic music and still make something that sounds like a rap album.

Still, this is a rap album, and all the bragging, swearing, n-word this, b-word that, f-word this, bang-that, does put this middle aged white man off to a certain extent. Which, I guess, is the intention. This ain’t easy listening.

#thewiremagazine #JPEGMAFIA #veteran #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Aged Fuding Shou Mei White Tea Dragon Ball

When posting the previous Yunnan White Teas, online tea acquaintances @unytea.store suggested that I would be remiss to skip trying some White Tea from Fuding, Fujian, the home of white tea.
Fortunately, @yunnan_sourcing sells a few types of Fujianese white tea.
This is a fun “Aged Fuding Shou Mei White Tea Dragon Ball”. Dragon Balls are 7g single serving compressed tea balls.
In this particular case, these are handmade by the Yunnan Sourcing’s proprietor’s In-Laws. He even saves a portion of the money he makes on them and gives it to his in-laws every year in their Red Envelopes! Nice!
Anyway, Shou Mei White tea contains more leaf than the pure bud white teas, and this particular white tea is aged for several years before being formed into Dragon Balls.
Aged white tea is prized for it’s mellow, sweet character and easiness on the stomach. This tea is particularly sweetly floral and reminds me a bit of the of the honeyed flavor of chamomile tea. That is, until the buzz kicks in.
I also got a pair of slightly nicer tea cups, of a more traditional size and shape. You should stop by my desk around 10am, and I’ll share.
#Fuding #WhiteTea #Dragonball #YunnanSourcing #tasseography #Cha #Tea #TeaFriends

Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needle (Slight Return)

Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needle (Slight Return)

Sometimes I look at other #teafriends’ gaiwan photos and think, “Erik, you’re underdosing.” Then I up the leaves a bit, and whoops, buzzing away.

This is a return to the @yunnan_sourcing Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needle. I’ve finally got the water temp where it should be for this fairly delicate tea, and am finding it pleasantly complex. If you like Chinese green teas, this is a good gateway White Tea. Less subtle than most white teas, but more delicate than some greens. Incredible length of flavor and a surprising capacity for multiple steeps.

#cha #tea #whitetea #jadeneedle #YunnanSourcing #YunnanTea #tasseography

Water Thermometer

Tea Thermometer

Fine, I needed a more reliable culinary thermometer, anyway. Just in time for Thanksgiving. Better tasting green and white teas are just a bonus.

“But, Erik, I can’t afford an expensive digital thermometer to prevent me from giving my family salmonella poisoning on Thanksgiving and improve my tea game. Can you give me some other hints, at least about tea?” First, don’t pre-stuff your turkey, the interior cavity doesn’t get hot enough to kill bacteria. (Actually, my best advice is to not stuff the turkey at all, but to cook the stuffing separately.) Second, OK, at about 50 feet above sea level, in a 71 degree office, it took 5 minutes and 30 seconds for the 3 1/2 cups of water in my boiler to drop from rolling boil to 185F, an appropriate temperature for white or green tea. Also, at sea level, 195 is the water temperature which is considered a “simmer”. That is, steaming with few small bubbles. So, if you can judge a simmer, a little bit lower than that is the water temp you want for green/white tea. Your mileage may vary.

#Cha #Tea #tasseography