Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tibetan Tea

We bought this tea in a Brother Friendship store in Ya'an, Sichuan. It looked interesting and, of course, we had often heard of Tibetan tea and butter tea. Thought this might be the tea they added butter to.

From their website at

Old Horse Road Of Tea

  Old Horse road of Tea is another new tourism site in the world. It is the road which is on the highest height, the most dangerous and the most magic. It is named for the exchanging marketing between Tibet and Han. The road starts separately from Sichuan and Yunnan, crosses mountains, Jinsha river, Lanchang river, Nu river and Yalong river, and go on to the west and meet at Changdu. It is a main way of cultural and economic exchanges between Tibet, Han and other nationalities. It is also the guide of the Yuman-Tibet road and Sichuan-Tibet road.

  Old Horse Road of Tea are two roads in fact, Sichuan-Tibet horse road and Yunnan-Tibet Horse Road. The Sichuan-Tibet Horse Road is more famous. Our company is located at the first stop of this old road. The road is famous for large quantity of tea transportation and dangerous ways, which Yunnan-Tibet Horse Road is far less. This can be proved by the TV play See of national TV.
Frontier tea is hardly pressed, which is a drinking necessity of Tibet people. Frontier tea produced by Ya'an has a very long history. Long time ago, Frontier tea from Ya'an is sold to Tibetan in Tibet, Ganzi and Qinghai. Ya'an also becomes the exchanging marketing between Tibet and Han. Jinjian tea and Kong brick tea is the most preferred by Tibetan. "Tibetan would rather eat no food in 3 days than drink no tea in one day." Then you can see how importan tea is in the life of Tibetan.

Poem, book and picture can mold a person's temperament, piano, chess and tea can cultivate the heart and nature culture.
Let's love tea, teste tea, chat tea and make tea.

The website is in both Chinese and English and has a bunch of pictures of the Old Horse Tea Road. It does not have a lot about the actual tea we bought but lists all the health benefits of this tea and others.

This is the can of Tibetan Tea from our Ya'an trip before the school started. I put off tasting it simply because it was in the can. Thought maybe we would be taking it back to Thailand with us and did not want to break the seal.

It seems now that we will not have enough room in our luggage for it so figured it was time for a taste test. Always love to give a new tea a taste.

When I opened the can, I found the tea was loose inside without an inner package. There was also a name card stuck in among the leaves which gave the name of the company Brother Friendship and the address in Yaan to include the website above. Not sure if this tea would have lasted long in Thailand without a sealed bag inside the can. The leaves are really dark, almost a solid black and look to be of different sizes. The smell was fresh and strong and a bit earthy. Kinda reminded me of a puerh smell.

Up close one can see the texture and the different sizes among the leaves. Pretty black looking tea, huh?

I put about a table spoon or so of the tea in my little pot and let it steep for about a minute. The liquid was dark and orange and looked a lot like puerh. The aroma was stong and earthy with hints of floral. I thought it would smell like tobacco because that is exactly what the leaves reminded me of, good strong tobacco for a pipe.

I liked this tea because it was full-bodied and strong. I can imagine that this is the tea the Tibetans put their butter in to drink. It is as strong a tea as I have tasted yet not as shallow as most of the tea bag teas I used to drink before we discovered what tea was all about.

The tea was fairly relaxing but nothing like the puerhs that I have tasted. There was no numbness in my cheeks that had come with the puerhs. I simply felt relaxed and alert at a casual rate.

If one likes black teas, I would think that this would be a solid tea to be drinking in the morning to wake up with. It is robust and firm with a smoothness that seems to be with all the other black teas I have tasted. No initial bite and no serious lingering aftertaste. Just a sold tea with an earthy and no nonsense floral taste, smooth from front to back. It is not a tea bag taste but one that has real substance and "meaning."

I can see why the blacks are us Westerners favorite tea. They do not play games with the taste buds and are not delicate and whiney (how about that for a tea tasting word!). This black tea is very pleasant and I definitely will be drinking some more of it later on. Glad we bought it and welcome to the family, Mr. Tibetan Tea.

This is the expended leaves after eight infusions. It was still going strong but I needed to drink some Yunnan black tea to get ready for bed. Seems I have fallen in love with the Yunnan Golden Needle tea.

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