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.

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

Jingmai Sun-Dried “Three Aroma” Bai Mu Dan White Tea

Jingmai Sun-Dried “Three Aroma” Bai Mu Dan White Tea, Spring 2018 via @yunnan_sourcing.

Another White tea which mixes leaf and buds. One that even more than yesterday’s illustrates the fragile nature of white tea. And why, when you see it in the bulk bin at rainbow grocery, it’s just a pile of broken leaves.

According to the Yunnan Sourcing site, this is called “Three Aroma” because the smell of the dry leaves, the wet leaves, and the tea in the cup are very distinct and different. The smell of the leaves is tobacco/dried fruit. The wet leaves are grassy/vegetal. And the tea itself a bit minty/floral.

It’s funny, because just yesterday I was thinking how white tea was so very much about aroma, and what you got in the cup was indicated by the smell of the leaves. Live and learn.

This is a more assertive tea than the bud-only white teas, with a pleasant and lightening buzz. Subtle sweetness and good length of flavor. The dried fruit flavors show again in the after taste. Really haunting, finding myself thinking about it long after I finished the last of the tea.

Though, I think I steeped it a bit too hot.

Fine, another tea accessory you need is an accurate thermometer, so you don’t overcook your white and green teas. Or get one of them fancy water boilers that allow you to pick the temperature your water is heated to.

#YunnanSourcing #YunnanTea #WhiteTea #tasseography #Tea #Cha

Jing Gu Yang Ta Yunnan Bai Mu Dan White Tea

Jing Gu Yang Ta Yunnan Bai Mu Dan White Tea, Spring 2018 via Yunnan Sourcing.
Instead of the more common Camellia sinensis, this tea is made from a wild species of Camellia, Camellia taliensis.

After the last several bud only white teas, you can see this one is the ‘one bud, one leaf’ style of tea.

This is a subtle, sweet and grassy tea with an herbal/mint after taste and a zippy caffeine content.

The notes on the Yunnan Sourcing website suggest floral/fruity notes may be expressed in later steeps. Not sure if I get those, but will continue to steep.

#Cha #Tea #CamelliaTaliensis #YunnanTea #JingguYangTa #YunnanSourcing #WhiteTea #tasseography

White Tea (Reprise)

After challenging myself to tasting through several days of white teas from the Yunnan Sourcing Spring 2018 First Flush sampler, I have some observations.

First, temperature is super important with white teas. They really need to be brewed around 180F or you risk overexpressing cooked, vegetal flavors in the teas. The bud only teas are a little more forgiving, but the bud-leaf teas should be handled carefully. I am going back through a second time, paying more attention, and will update my notes on the blog.

The other thing that is hard to judge at first is amount. Since loose leaf white tea isn’t usually rolled or formed, by volume, you need to use more than compressed teas. Takes a bit to get the hang of how much to use, unless you are using a scale.

White teas are pretty subtle. This was my first time drinking fresh brewed white teas. Given the simplicity of the processing, I was very curious about this expression of tea flavors.

They probably will never be my favorite teas, but, brewed carefully, they are quite interesting and complex, while being understated and elegant at the same time. The opposite end of the spectrum from ripe Pu-Erh.

For the record, my favorites (in no particular order) were the Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needle, Silver Needles of Feng Qing, and Jingmai Three Aroma Bai Mu Dan.

Now I just have a bunch more white tea to drink. Anyone? Bueller? I hear it’s a nice day for a… white tea party. Come on!

#WhiteTea #YunnanSourcing #Cha #Tea #tasseography #StartAgain

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

Lazy Tea for One

I drink tea every morning.

And, by morning, I mean pretty early, before sunrise, early.

Obviously, I am not going to be performing “gong fu” tea ceremonies at zero dark thirty, as the military folks say.

Over the years I have experimented with various brewing vessels and strainers, almost all of which have left me disappointed for one reason or another.

The one that I have recently settled on as the least sucky way to make a large single cup of tea comes from a company called “For Life”. They call it their, “FORLIFE Tea for One with Infuser 14 ounces”. (Well, technically, this is the mug from the “FORLIFE Curve Tall Tea Mug with Infuser and Lid 15 ounces”. I broke the original mug and this one fits.)

For Life Kettle
For Life Kettle

It’s a 3 part kettle/mug combo…

Pot and Cup.
Pot and Cup.

…with a fitted stainless steel strainer.

For Life Strainer.
For Life Strainer.

Obviously, I’ve been using this for a while. (Mrs Flannestad gives me a hard time about not putting the teapot and strainer into the dish washer, too. But it goes against my philosophy.)

Anyway, measure your tea into the top, pour in water, steep for a couple minutes, pour out tea into a cup that has been pre-heated as part of the brewing process.

Genius!

If you have appropriately flavorful tea, you can even re-steep. Not quite gong fu, but almost.

When you’re done, pull the basket out and tap the exhausted and mostly dry tea into the compost.

Easy-peasy.

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