Those of you who are familiar with oolong teas would know how precious Wuyi oolongs are. There are four famous Wuyi oolong teas: 1) Big Red Robe, 2) Iron Arahant, 3) Golden Water Tortoise and 4) White Cockscomb. I have been great fan of Big Red Robe so far, and always kept a box of it available at my cupboard all the time. Yet unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to try other three oolongs so far. This month Global Tea Hut have sent its subscribers a box of White Cockscomb Oolong Tea alongside with its magazine. So finally I’ve had the pleasure to sip this rare cliff tea from Wuyi.
White Cockscomb (aka Bai Ji Guan) is one of the Wuyi Shan strip style oolong teas. It consists of highly oxidized dark brown/black colored tea leaves. They are not roasted as much as Da Hong Pao. Dry tea leaves are comprised of long and intact leaves which is a good omen of a well produced oolong tea. They smell fruity and citrusy, more like lychee.
I brewed it gongfu style using one of my yixing teapots. Before making my first steep I rinsed tea leaves for a few seconds in order to get them ready for the first infusion. The liquor was dark orange in the first infusion. It’s definitely very complex tea, hard to get all the details. Taste is rounded in the mouth alongside with chocolate-like sweetness. It has a mild finish with sweet aftertaste. In total I’ve made five infusions starting with a minute and adding 15 seconds for each following infusion. If you like you can go for another one or two infusions easily.
Dry Tea Leaves: flat, long mostly light green tea leaves
Liquor: Pale Yellow
Brewing: Gongfu style using a small glass teapot
There are times you take things granted in your life! Things that are part of your daily routine but you’re blind enough to overlook and not cherish them enough! And some day when you do not have it anymore it hits you that something huge is missing in your mind and heart. If you’re lucky enough it’s not that late and you can get back whatever is missing in your life.
Same way there are teas you drink almost every day and they become part of your daily routine; as a result you don’t appreciate them enough. Today I’ll review one of these teas: Dragon Well (aka LongJing). It’s a classic, it might be the most popular green tea in China.
This week’s tea is from Teavivre as well. Last week I reviewed another great green tea, Bi Luo Chun, from Teavivre. It was one of the best teas of this year I’ve tried so far.
Dry tea leaves of this week’s tea smell seaweed and grass with floral notes. They are flat as you expect from any Dragon Well green tea, they are wok-roasted I guess.
I brew it Gongfu style using a glass teapot in order to enjoy the leaves as they reveal themselves. The liquor is pale yellow and crystal clear. The aroma is grassy and floral as well. I went for just a minute for first infusion which produced delicately sweet and light flavor with a hint of grassiness in the background. The mouthfeel is velvety and the aftertaste was sweet yet left a drying sensation. The second infusion took about one and a half minute and it’s stronger than first infusion both flavor and aroma-wise. It’s also produced somewhat bitterness but a welcomed one. In total I’ve made four infusions. In the third infusion, which took about two minutes, flavor started to fade away yet still good. In the fourth infusion tea leaves revealed themselves fully which reminded me it’s time to go no further.
This Dragon Well green tea from Teavivre is one of the best examples of this classic tea I’ve ever tried so far. From now on I’d be more careful not to pass many days without drinking it!
Dry tea leaves: Small, wiry tea buds with white tips
Liquor: Bright green
Brewing: Gongfu style using a small tea pot
Last month I ordered some black and green tea samples from Teavivre. Green teas I ordered have been produced this year so I’ve decided to review two of their green teas. Not that I did not like their black teas, to the contrary they are great. Yet nothing like fresh tea, right? In this post I review one of the famous Chinese green teas which is originally grown in the Dongding Mountain in Jiangsu: Bi Luo Chun (aka Green Snail Spring).
Dry tea leaves are light green with silvery buds. They are curled similar to a snail as its name suggests. You can get lots of floral tones alongside with a hint of grassiness.
I brewed it Gongfu style using a small glass tea pot starting with a little over a minute for the first infusion which resulted with a little bit of bitterness. The liquor is dominated by grassy flavor with floral notes in the background. In order to get rid of bitterness in the first infusion I went exactly for a minute for the second infusion. Tea revealed its full potential at this infusion. There still is some bitterness alongside with its sweetness but not at a level that bothers me. Mostly I get is a very smooth and sweet tea alongside with grassy notes in the background. For the third infusion I increased brewing duration to one and a half minute to keep up with the taste of second infusion. There it’s again! Although grassiness started to fade away at this infusion; it’s now sweeter and smoother. I’ve made five infusions in total though it’s considerably lost its flavor and aroma in the fourth infusion.
In a nutshell it’s a fresh and refreshing tea with fruity, floral and grassy notes. Recommended to anyone who’s looking for some best teas of 2015!
I’ve already reviewed another Puerh Tea by Global Tea Hut which was a Sheng or Green Puerh Tea. As you know there are two types of Puerh Tea: Sheng (Green/Uncooked) and Shou (Black/Cooked). This month I have been sent a small box of Shou Puerh Tea named ‘Old Man Camphor’ from Lincang, Yunnan. It’s a blend of two different teas (grade one and grade three teas) from 2007.
It smells earthy and woody. It’s got a very creamy and somewhat sweet flavor. There’s a little touch of bitterness also which goes quite well with this tea. It’s a powerful and full-bodied tea.
You can learn more about Puerh teas, particularly Shou Puerhs at this month’s magazine by Global Tea Hut. There is an article covering different leaf sizes of Puerh Tea, processing of mao cha (rough tea) and Shou Puerh Tea for those who want a better understanding of this type of tea.
Region : Guizhou, China Price: £5.60 for 50 gr. Leaf Appearance: Small, wiry and mostly dark green tea leaves. Steeping: 3 gr of tea with 200 ml water at 85 Celsius degrees about 3 minutes. Liquor: Between yellow and green.
Last week, thanks to one of my colleagues, I was lucky enough to get hold of a tea bag of Jade Sword Green Tea by Jing Tea. For those who follow me regularly know that I’m not a fan of tea bags. For me it’s euphemism for lowest quality tea. And I only use them when I travel for its convenience. However with the invention of pyramid tea bags, we are shown that some tea bags can actually provide good quality tea too.
This tea bag by Jing Tea is one of these tea bags which include fine loose green tea leaves. Jade Sword, also known as Mao Jian, is a great tea for those who are new to Chinese green tea. It’s got very vegetal flavor and aroma, reminiscent of Japanese green teas. It’s quite sweet with a hint of bitterness in the background and lingering aftertaste was very pleasing. Liquor was between yellow and green with excellent clarity.
Overall it’s a refreshing, very light green tea at a very moderate price compared to other green teas. Perfect for any time of the day.
A wise man once said that you can not make good cup of tea out of inferior tea, yet you can waste superior tea by brewing it wrongly. Here are some tips that can help those who would like to go further than pouring just hot water on their tea. Suggestions here are based on western style brewing.
First of all you gotta get brewing time, amount of tea and water right. Brewing time varies depending on the tea you brew. Yet as a general rule of thumb 3 minute brewing time is quite enough for most teas. Similarly, you’ll do just fine by using 3 gr loose tea for 200-250 ml water. If you want stronger flavor use more tea leaves rather than lengthening steeping time which will make your tea taste bitter.
Secondly you need right temperature for water. This is more complicated than brewing time. Required water temperature changes significantly with type of tea you want to brew. Generally it’s 100 ºC for black teas (some Darjeeling teas might require a little below boiling water), 90 ºC for most oolong teas and 80-85 ºC for most white/green and yellow teas (Japanese green teas might go down to 60 ºC). Problem here is how to measure water temperature. There are several alternatives: First you can get a kettle with a built-in temperature (that might be a tad pricey). Secondly you can buy a hot beverage thermometer which does not cost you more than 10 bucks. Or you can go traditional. How does that work? Bring water first to boiling and then wait for a while for water temperature go down. As you practice more you’ll see you get better. Practice makes perfect!
You need good quality water. First rule here is to avoid tap water and use bottled water as much as possible. You can use distilled water as well.
Not all teas are created equal. As I pointed out earlier you can not brew perfect cup of tea out of run-of-the-mill tea. This means you have to spend on tea more than you usually do but believe me it’s worth it! Tea is one of those little things in life than can keep you going! Well you know what they say ‘if tea can not fix it it’s a serious problem’.
Get a small brewing vessel. You should not use colossal teapots for brewing. Go for smaller teapots, less than 300 ml. If you’d like to go for something advance get a Yixing teapot or gaiwan which will double your joy. Yet any porcelain/glass teapot or mug will do too. One reminder though: One thing tea leaves dislike is to be squeezed into a cramped infusers. Let them float freely and they’ll surprise you!
It’s time to forget about rules! Now you know the basics, it’s time to experiment with brewing practices and strike perfect balance for your tea palate. Nevertheless don’t go overboard!
1)It’s love it or hate it tea. I’ve not seen too many tea drinkers in-between. Either they get strong positive thoughts about Lapsang Souchong or hate it at first sight. I can guarantee you that if you fall on the positive side of this scale, your love will go on for a life.
2)It’s black tea. It’s produced quite similar to any other type of black tea with the exception of its smokiness. So please do not confuse it with any herbal tea. Some even argue that this tea is the origin of black tea.
3)The most distinctive feature of this tea is its smokiness both aroma and flavor-wise. That’s why it’s also known as ‘smoked tea’. It’s dried over pinewood fire which explains smokiness. How much smoky is it? Very very smoky. If you do not like too much smokiness but fancy for a little bit of it; then go for Russian Caravan black tea.
4) It’s originally from Togmu Village in famous Wuyi region of Fujian. For those who are into oolong teas, Wuyi region is known for its high quality oolong teas such as Da Hong Pao. Production of Lapsang Souchong is not limited to China though; it’s produced in Taiwan as well.
5)This tea is invented by accident. According to legend, when an army of warriors passing through a village they interrupted production of green tea which was only type of tea back then. When they left, villagers had not much time to dry teas and get them to market in time. Villagers came up with the idea of speeding up drying process by using pine-wood fire which at the end led to invention of Lapsang Souchong.
6) Contrary to common belief this tea is not popular in China. It’s mostly produced for external demand.