Level One Oolong

Level One Oolong, Tie Guanyin.

Level One Oolong, Dark Roast, from Yin xiang hua xia tea. Origin: Anxi; Season: Autumn; Harvest elevation: 1200-1500m.

Working my way through green teas, it seems I cannot resist the siren call of Oolong!

There are different types of Oolong, but the most well known is called Tie Guanyin, also sometimes called Iron Goddess of Mercy. According to one of the legends of this type of tea’s origins, a humble tea farmer in Anxi County, Fujian, China, noticed a local temple had fallen into disrepair. He took it upon himself to clean it up, sweep it out, and then offer some incense to the goddess of Mercy, Guanyin. Shortly thereafter, the Goddess appeared to him in a dream. She told him that in the cave behind her temple a treasure awaited that he needed to share with others. When he investigated, he found the shoot of a tea tree. He planted the shoot in his field and nurtured it, the tea it produced was amazing! He gave cuttings of the tree to his neighbors far and wide. When all the tea trees came to fruition, they began selling it under the name “Tie Guanyin” to honor the goddess.

Whenever I’ve seen “Iron Goddess of Mercy” tea on a restaurant menu, I order it, I mean, who could resist such a name?

So I’ve sampled a few over the years.

But, I can’t say I’ve ever had any that even comes close to this one from
Yin xiang hua xia tea.

This is a darkly roasted Tie Guanyin. The base of the flavors and smells are similar to dark roasted grain, a bit like a dark beer or Japanese roasted barley tea. On top of that are layers of sweetness and orchid fragrance which perfume the tea pot and cup. The fragrance/taste of the tea is long lasting and haunting, but the perfume is not overpowering. Super elegant and incredibly well balanced.

Easily among the best Oolongs I have had so far.

#Tea #DrinkTea #Cha #Oolong #Fujian #Fuding #TieGuanyin #IronGoddessOfMercy #GongFuCha #YinXiangHuaXiaTea

Sun Dried Buds

Yunnan Sourcing Early Spring 2018 “Sun Dried Buds” Wild Pu-Erh Tea Varietal.

Seriously, how can you NOT want to brew a tea from these fuzzy little buds?

Heh, I don’t think I’ve drunk a tea before which made the physical connection between the tea tree leaves/buds and the beverage so apparent.

The FlavorScent is described on the Yunnan Sourcing web site as evocative of Pine forest, but it reminds me more of scents I associate with spicy green chile. Good body, a slight sweet taste, and some floral/perfume notes that linger on the palate after you are done sipping. Tea liquid is nearly perfectly clear.

Overall, a very subtle tea drinking experience.

#Tea #Cha #WhiteTea #YunnanSourcing #tasseography #Gaiwan #gongfucha #gongfu

Paraphernalia for Gong Fu Brewing

Tea Paraphernalia

If you want to brew tea in “gong fu” style, you really only need a few things.

First you need something to boil water. I tried using the water from our office hot water dispenser, but it’s just not consistently hot enough for black tea.

Then you need something to keep your heated water hot over the course of your sessions. A thermos that holds 3 or 4 cups will do.

Then, of course, a gaiwan. These can be gotten online or at specialty tea stores. The people at Yunnan Sourcing are super nice and have a good selection. (They also have a second location based in the US, Bend, OR, to be exact: YunnanSourcing.us with faster turnaround and cheaper shipping.) I’d suggest a glazed porcelain or glass gaiwan, medium-sized sized (around 150ml). Don’t spend too much to get started. Save your money for tea. 😃

Finally, you need a teacup or mug. Not all coffee mugs present tea in a flattering way. Experiment with what you have at home.

Bonus materials:

If you want to share tea with others, a small pitcher to pour your brewed tea out of is nice. I use an old bodum tea pot.

If you’re picky about pieces of tea leaf in your tea, a tea strainer or small fine sieve.

A small electronic scale that will measure grams can come in handy to get the hang of dosage amounts for various teas.

If you want to get into brick teas like Pu-Erh, you’ll need something to break them up, a tea pick or tea knife is traditional. Sort of a cross between an ice pick and an oyster knife. (The pointy blade of a scissors works OK, just be careful not to stab yourself.)

It doesn’t hurt to have a watch with a second hand to time your steeps, but you can always use your smart phone.

Finally, if you don’t have one of them fancy water boilers that allows you to set a temperature, you should think about a getting an instant read thermometer so you don’t overcook your more delicate teas (especially, white and green).

#tea #cha #gongfucha

Gaiwan

I keep mentioning a “gaiwan” so I figure I should show you what one is and go over the basics of “gong fu” style tea brewing.

A “gaiwan” is a set of three dishes.

…a saucer…

Saucer

…a cup….

…and lid that is used to brew whole leaf tea.

You add tea leaves to the cup, cover leaves with heated water, steep briefly, starting with about 10 seconds per steep…

…and strain using the lid.

Repeat, gradually extending the length of time in the steep, until your tea is no longer flavorful.

Exhausted Leaves

It’s very simple.

But, as with many simple things, it takes a little practice.

Some differences from English-style tea brewing.

First, you need to use whole leaf tea. The size of the whole leaves enables you to hold them in the cup and strain without a filter. Broken leaf tea will make a big mess and also doesn’t really work for multiple steepings.

Second, you use a larger amount of tea. Sort of. You fill the gaiwan to about a third with tea, which is a tablespoon, give or take. With English style tea, you use a teaspoon per cup. However, with the multiple steeps, the overall amount of tea liquid you make ends up similar or greater with gong fu brewing. I usually start by heating 3 cups of water for a single batch. That’s about the same ratio of tea to water as a teaspoon per cup. So, actually, the overall amount of tea for the volume of water ends up pretty similar. It’s just the process that’s different.

Be careful that you hold the gaiwan with the very edges of the cup lip and the tip of the lid knob. Do not grab the sides or you will burn your fingers or drop it and make a mess. It takes a little practice, maybe try it a few times with cold or warm water.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the benefits to brewing tea Gong Fu style.

#Cha #Tea #Gaiwan #GongFu #GongFuCha