Friday, January 9, 2009

Puerh Menghai Lang He Chi Tse Beeng Tea 9599

We visited the new Focus Market in downtown Emei City yesterday to buy a few chocolates for Thailand. In addition, Sunee bought her sister a cute little teapot, a little bigger than the one I got. Many things were on sale for the upcoming Chinese New Year. One of the items on sale that caught my attention was a Puerh Cake I had seen each time we had visited the market. It was on sale for less than half price so we bought it to try. As one of the tea bloggers (can't remember who) stated - buy puerh that you like. Here is my take on this puerh.

This is the cake we bought. This particular cake cost 56 Yuan or 58 Yuan depending on where you buy it in the local department stores. We bought this cake for 28 Yuan which is about half the normal price. We thought we would give it a try.

I am totally clueless about Puerh Tea. I do not understand what I am reading when I do research on the internet. I have only bought a few interesting cakes and I do like them very much. I will only buy puerh that I like per the blogger expert's advice.

What are we looking for in a good puerh? I don't have a clue. The cake we bought last time in Chengdu had a bunch of silver leaves. In fact, it was almost entirely light colored leaves throughout. Believe that is what is known as "tippy." It means the tea leaves are new and young. As you can see from the this picture and the following one, this cake has almost no "tippy" to it. They are all dark.

I understand that the leaves are oxidized then steamed and then pressed together to make the cakes. The process differs depending on what the final outcome of the tea is meant to be. What is the final outcome of this tea? Clueless!

The only thing that counts is the end product or the tea that one plans on drinking. The end product in this case made us go back and get three more of these cakes while they were still on sale and before we go to Thailand. Had some more of this puerh when we got back from buying the three cakes. It is good and that, so all the puerh people will tell you, is all that matters.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Keemun Black Tea

I bought this tea as one of the "famous" teas I wanted to try on our last trip to the Chengdu Tea Culture Street. I bought it along with a Dian Cong to give them both a try. We bought 500 grams of this Qimen tea and 250 grams of the Dian Cong since I already had the Yunnan Golden Tips, I figured they would be about the same.

I retrieved the following information from the internet:

The Processing of Black Tea

The processing of black tea requires a full oxidation of the leaves. After the leaves are plucked, they are laid out to wither for about 8 to 24 hours. This lets most of the water evaporate.

Then the leaves are rolled in order to crack up the surface so that oxygen will react with the enzymes and begin the oxidation process. The leaves are left to completely oxidize, thus turning the leaves to a deep black color. After that, a final drying takes place. From there, it goes off to be sorted, graded, and packaged.

 Keemun black tea (Qi Men Black tea), is 0ne of the most famous black tea in the world, also called Qi Men Gong Fu or Qi Men Oolong. Be assessed as the chempion of rea tea in the world match of tea in Panama in 1915.

Keemun blacktea has been praised as 'one of the best three high aroma teas in the world and the 'the queen of fragrance'. This one is the special grade of super high quality. The rich brown liquor with a slightly scented flavour and the bright amber infusion has an appetizing honeyed sweet aroma while the taste is wonderfully smooth and with a light hint of floral aftertaste win its distinctive name 'Keemun Flavor'. Also, because of its subtle and complex nature, it is considered as the'burgundy of teas'.

This particular tea is supposed to be the "mother" or "father" of most of the tea sold throughout the world.

Black Keemun tea has its place amongst the ten best known Chinese teas despite its relatively short history. It has been produced in the district of Qimen in the prefectship of Huangshan Shi in the An Hui province since 1875, where formerly only green tea was produced. “Keemun” is an English transcription of the Chinese “Qimen” from the colonial era, and it is rightly considered the “champagne amongst black teas”. Its taste is distinctly suggestive, fruity with a hint of grape, with a woody base, generally unrivalled and may be very subjective. Its aroma is sometimes compared to the scent of orchids or roses, it is floral to fruity with a flavour of coniferous wood plants (similar to Lapsang Souchong). Black (or more accurately red) Keemun tea, as one of a range of Chinese teas, won an award at the international Panama-pacific exhibition in 1915. The production procedures for this tea are fully in accordance with the strict norms of USDA/NOP-Final Rule for the production of organic foodstuffs.

The Qimen tea leaves are black and very similar to the Yunnan Golden Tips. The Dian Cong (Dian actually means Yunnan) I bought was almost exactly the same as the Yunnan Gold Tips I have already been drinking. The main difference was the amount of golden leaves in the mixture. The Yunnan Golden Tips tea had almost 100% golden leaves while the Dian Cong tea was about 40% to 50% golden leaves. These Qimen leaves are almost all black with an occasion goldish leaf.

Here you can see the Qimen tea leaves that I used to get six solid infusions from. I probably could have gotten a couple more, but I was in a hurry to get this on this blog.

The first infusion was lighter than the second and it contained all the flavors mentioned above in the internet write-up. It had hints of the American Lipton tea but a level one hundred times better. It was strong and flavorful without being astringent but I never did get any hints of what I would call floral. This is nothing like Puerh floral and, IMHO, does not match the Yunnan Golden Tips in flavor or in the subtle nuances of the great teas I have been drinking. I think this tea would handle any amount of milk or sugar one wanted to throw at it. It is solid and strong with a mild front taste and a lingering but not overpoweringly strong aftertaste. I can see why people add stuff like flowers and things to it. The flavor is not overly abundant but honest and smooth all the way through from teeth to throat. Solid seems to be the term that keeps coming to my mind.

I let the second infusion go for about three minutes and it came out darker and even more subtle with its flavors. This is a great tea if one likes the taste of "Western-style" tea. It tastes exactly like a more expensive and more powerful tea from a Lipton tea bag. Same flavor but more pronounced and much more genuine. Maybe I have drunk too many cups of Chinese tea, because this is not my favorite. I understand its strengths and why it is the "mother of all Western teas," but still I prefer the Yunnan Golden Tip black tea. To me the Golden Tip tea is almost chocolaty in its flavor whereas this is just tea flavored. It was, however, well worth the trip to Chengdu and I think Sunee will put some honey in it to get the black tea benefits. An experience well worth repeating now again.

Tibet Sweet Tea

I received some Tibet Sweet Tea from my Tibetan student, Ms. Trysa. She is one of the few Tibetan students we have here at Southwest Jiaotong University-Emei Branch and I was very excited to have her in my Freshmen Writing Class. She is absolutely a beautiful woman, I was surprised by her gift. Although I have been drinking this tea for breakfast off and on since Christmas, I thought now would be a good time to introduce it to you.

During the Welcome Freshmen night, Trysa performed a traditional Tibetan dance in Tibetan costume. She was wonderful!

This is the "chop" on the top of the box of instant Tibetan Sweet Tea.

No need for me to copy this off the box to let you know what is inside.

The box contained ten packages of instant Tibetan Sweet Tea. I think I have around five left.

The bags are typical instant tea bags and are easily opened and very convenient to use.

The sweet tea is great for breakfast and especially if one likes coffee with cream and sugar. The tea is almost the flavor of chocolate and certainly has the color to match the flavor. Overall, this is a really interesting tea and probably gives one a "taste" of the Tibetan sweeten tea. I bet it is close to the famous "Yak Butter Tea" I have heard so much about. Any one ever try the "yak butter" tea?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Punishing the Tea Traitors

The peaks of Emei do not call to me
Neither can I look upon their beauty
Nor do I walk in the forests in awe
For today like yesterday is cold and raw

The teas on her slopes drink in her mist
Oh, yes her green teas are hard to resist
Two weeks on and the mists remain
For humans it is nothing but a pain

Crying out for the mountain to cease
The mist and rain and give us peace
She laughs at us and continues the pace
Of mist filled air and water in the face

Her beautiful temples do not beckon me
Stay away from rocks for they’re slippery
The cold is real and cuts to the bone
Hey, I know this because I’m not alone

She’s scolding us daily this great mountain Emei
Making us pay for not drinking her tea each day
It’s three weeks since we’ve seen the sun
Living in her shadow is not much fun

Kindly stop this cold mist from coming down
Making us miserable here on the ground
We promise to drink only your wonderful tea
Please stop the cold mist and give us some liberty