I'm a little late to the party, I know (a lot late, actually), but I think that it's important to remember that tea is just another food product.

When you buy some chicken at the store, it will often have cooking instructions on it. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that that's the only, or even the best way to cook it. Those instructions are meant for people that don't know much about cooking (brewing tea, in this case), and so they are basic, easy, and meant to produce palatable results for the average layman.

Gongfu cha is about developing skill; you're not going to find instructions for it printed on commercial packages.

Interesting, thanks. What about the line with "2001" in the second to last picture?

A member of TeaChat picked up a pack of tea (DHP?) for me on a trip to Malaysia. The stuff is really good, but the package is entirely in Chinese (I'm assuming it's Chinese, anyway). So I was wondering if anyone could translate what's on the package for me?

I try not to do this too much - I'm sure everyone has better things to do than to translate stuff like this - but I would really appreciate it. I'm wondering if the "2001" on the bottom is the production year, especially, but of course I'd like to know more about the rest of what it says anyway.

(Just for the record, I didn't take these pictures; herb_master did.)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3009/3115248105_f627618f00.jpg

I know this one says Da Hong Pao, but what about the red seal/logo?:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3121/3116075012_a67285620f.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3185/3115248745_8187f62bda.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3129/3115249025_ce69066bc2.jpg

Thanks in advance :)

Yixing is a whole subject of study in itself, as those of you that are into it aptly show us :) There are a lot of things to consider, especially in the clay, that seem a bit esoteric to the beginner. I know there are a lot of poor pots out there with awful clay that could probably ruin a tea. Since many of us in the states don't have the ability to go to different stores and talk to someone knowledgeable, we have to buy most of our pots online. I am personally lucky enough to have a local vendor that I trust who is pretty knowledgeable and sells pots with good value, but many people here are not.

So I think that it would be really valuable if some of the more knowledgeable members here could give some basic tips on things to look for when choosing a pot - especially (but not exclusively) online. Note that I'm talking about pragmatic qualities, and not qualities that would only affect collector's value. Obviously there's only so much you can find out online, so buying online will always be a gamble to some extent, but what can a beginner look for to raise the chances of getting a good pot?

One thing I would also like to see, and I think it would be appropriate here but may warrant its own thread, is an abbreviated list of clay types and their properties. For example: "Duanni: white clay [other visible properties]. Highly porous, tends to absorb more than others like x, y, z. Often better for non-fragrant teas or teas with deeper bass notes like a, b, c."

I know that many of these things are covered in some depth in other threads here and on TeaChat, but I think that the key there is that it's in depth (even if it's not terribly deep). What I would really like to see is something akin to a reference sheet that a beginner could keep in mind when looking for a pot. I think that a good list of things to avoid would also be quite valuable here.

Some things that I have picked up myself over the last couple years:
- Find a trustworthy vendor
- Look for tight clay, which should have a sort of satin finish (not waxy)
- Stay away from anything that looks like it has tea stains, especially when they're cheap, unless you can really trust the vendor. You're not going to get an antique for a low price and there are many out there rubbed with shoe polish. (Since some seem to actually not mind this, I think it's worth keeping in mind that shoe polish contains added oils meant to nourish leather that surely get absorbed by the teapot and probably won't come out except in your tea.)

I could probably come up with more, but it's late and I'll leave it to the experts. I could be wrong in my few tips, too, but it should at least give you an idea of what I'm thinking.

Thanks!

I'm obviously not the expert you're looking for, but I would think that it would have a lot to do with how strong the smell is. Maybe put an open box of baking soda in the closet as well?

One thing that I would very much like to learn is the ability to distinguish cultivars/varietals by looking at the leaf. Of course I can just pay attention to the shape of the leaf of the teas that I drink, but if it's as common as they say for producers to use things like Siji in place of Jin Xuan orr others in place of TGY, then I could very well end up teaching myself the entirely wrong thing. Now I understand that TGY has a little notch on one side at the base of the leaf, but that's about all I know. Does anyone know of any good resources for learning this?

I have recently gotten some aged Taiwanese wulong from Shanxia, and am getting some gaoshan wulong from Hei-Huan Shan (also in Taiwan), and was wondering if anyone has any knowledge/experience of/with these areas and their teas?

The aged Shanxia is interesting; it's very loosely rolled like an 80's TGY, but "aged Shanxia wulong" is literally all the information I have on this tea. I don't know the age, and have never encountered another tea from this area.

The vendor gave me the following information about Hei-Huan Shan:

"I only got few packs. This place is famous in Taiwan, every winter Taiwanese like go there expecting to see snow falling down.(it's hardly for Taiwanese to see snow view).  Supposedly only few tea farmers at that area, for us seldom people know there is tea from Hei Huan shan. Hei (together) Huan (happy)."

I wouldn't even know how to translate the mountain name into a proper name, but at least that much of the mystery is resolved :)

Ah, that makes sense. I had forgotten about Se Zhong -- just remembering that does lend some perspective.

I too figured that the tea simply labeled "oolong" is probably a mix. I guess what threw me off was the usage in the context of that article. I guess it would make sense for them to say "their well known tea and other general stuff."

Ah, Jason covered my thoughts - they've confirmed the presence of some types of microorganisms, but not that the microorganisms actually do anything. After all, every surface in our houses (and surely our food) are covered with all sorts of microorganisms, but that doesn't mean that they do anything to them.

I wonder if perhaps it's really enzymes, rather than microorganisms. Enzymes are proteins and such produced by organisms. So it very well could be that microorganisms start out in the raw maocha, do their thing leaving enzymes behind, and the steaming and cooking kills off the organisms but not the enzymes. Personally I tend to think that oxidation plays the greatest roll (perhaps oxidation would be responsible for the breakdown of cell walls) -- until you actually get enough moisture to get actual liquid, I wouldn't think that ambient humidity would have nearly the effect that we see with puerh as it ages, where it could very well facilitate oxidation as it does with things like metal. Obviously it's a little different with shu, but sheng... then again there are cakes like Yan Ching Hao that don't heat up the cakes as much (more "traditional") in an effort to preserve the enzymes/microorganisms in the leaf and those do seem to age a bit faster; but then does that really negate oxidation?

Just food for thought, I guess. You really would think that there would be more science on the subject. I'm sure that the first person to crack the mystery could make a killing selling "rapid-dry-stored" puerh.

Perhaps this is a conversation for another thread, though.

I think it would actually make sense to consider puerh to be a separate thing, but couldn't it be both? IIRC, the name comes from the area that it's from, so in a way it would be like calling yancha a wulong.

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(6 replies, posted in Cha Dao / 茶道)

I should have waited until I was more awake before posting :) In the video he poured water into the empty teapot, then poured the water from the teapot into the faircup, then on down the line, and again with at least 2 or 3 rinses. So they basically go through the motions of brewing and serving about 5 or 6 times before ever drinking the tea. That is opposed to just pouring water from the kettle into each and/or soaking them in boiling water in a tea boat or something.

I guess I could see re-pre-heating cups mid-session if people have slowed down and let the cups cool or, as you say, if they need to clean them for others to use. I wonder if the average Chinese person is willing to continually drink tea as we do -- I know that my friends aren't often willing to sit down with a tray and keep it going.

These traditions have obvious roots in simple hygiene.

I think that's what I like about gongfu cha versus the ceremonies; even though it can seem elaborate to Westerners that don't know what's going on, it's really all just practical.

11

(6 replies, posted in Cha Dao / 茶道)

Thanks, Will. I too was thinking that the Chaozhou style gongfu cha was the original, inferring from one of the articles I read here, but I wasn't sure.

My original thought was that with regional tea preferences, it would make sense that each area might have a particular way of brewing. Taking your mention of crushing up some of the older style TGY and crushing the leaf as an example. I would also imagine that once you're used to brewing this way, you're likely to use the same method when you come across another tea.

I guess I'm mainly looking for different things to try in brewing. As you mention, I think that I take away a lot from different things I've learned and incorporate them into my own style. Thanks to Imen, and the discussions you and I have had about Imen's brewing, I'm more likely to pour water in slow, high, and on the edge of a gaiwan for something that needs less heat, for example. Imen's tips have also opened me up to trying small amounts of leaf when I come across a tricky tea as well - I've found some aged wulong that seems to come out best when you brew it similar to Dancong.

The other example I mentioned came from a video on youtube where the person goes through a long process of pouring water in an empty pot, then to the faircup, then to each cup, and then washing each cup in the hot water in another cup, then doing a couple rounds of rinsing of the tea and finally using aroma cups. I gave a link on TeaChat once and someone mentioned that this type of long drawn out brewing is particular to one region. So with Chaozhou and this other (which I can't remember the name), I'm thinking that there must be others as well.

I have been dealing with a vendor in Taiwan who has some products separated as oolong and Jin Xuan, but always just took "oolong" to be a more generic name that could be anything. However, I ran into a Taiwanese news site with some articles that separate the two, such as this one that states: "...which is one of the tea production areas in Alishan(阿里山) mainly provides two kinds of tea: Oolong(烏龍) and Jin Xuan(金萱)."

So does anyone know why they would say oolong and Jin Xuan separately?

13

(6 replies, posted in Cha Dao / 茶道)

I've been wondering about the different types of gongfu cha. I didn't really know that there were different types until I had heard about Chaozhou gongfu cha, where they crush up a good amount and then fill the vessel to about 75%(?) with whole leaf. I also believe that I heard a name put to the style where they carefully wash/preheat the pots, cups, faircup, etc., by basically going through all the steps of brewing without tea, though I don't recall the name.

So are there many other types, and what are they? Are they used, or were they developed, primarily for certain types of tea?

This was partially inspired by the thread on ceremonial styles, but I didn't want to post in that thread because I am wondering more about practical/everyday styles of the different regions.

I got a jar of aged Dong Ding a couple of months ago. It's a bronze prize competition winner, and so it comes in it's own special jar. That jar, however, comes with a big cork (approx 4" in diameter) to seal the jar. I'm just wondering if I should trust the cork, or put it in a better container? I Googled a bit on corks, and I'm finding conflicting information; some says that cork seals airtight, and others say that it lets "just enough" air through to allow wine (for example) to breathe and age a bit.

15

(26 replies, posted in Green Tea / 绿茶)

Sounds like a lot of fun :) Is this a dedicated trip you're taking, or something local to you that you're just able to do on your free time?

Here's the Long Jing Huang Pao - it's actually supposed to be a black tea rather than a red. To me it tastes like it's about half way in between a red and a black tea. When brewed right it has a nice floral aroma that you don't find in either :) I'm kind of surprised that they haven't heard of it, I think that it's made by the Xi Hu folks. It's too bad you're in China, otherwise I would send you some. You could always get some from TeaSpring, though, if you're interested.

16

(26 replies, posted in Green Tea / 绿茶)

brandon wrote:

I have heard that the nutty flavor in long jing, which is more present in cheaper teas, is a result of tea oil used when wok firing the tea. Myth?

FWIW, I once tried a quick heat up/refresh of some stale Lu An Gua Pian using Imen's method of using a folded piece of paper over a stove burner. I over-did it a bit and it tasted almost entirely nutty (though fresh!) where it didn't before.

Well I have a couple of yancha pots, though they're not all that well seasoned quite yet. They don't seem to adsorb a whole lot. The problem with them is that they don't pour all that quickly, so I can usually only get away with filling them about 50%-70%. Granted some teas work better than others in these pots. I think I'll probably use my 80ml pot, which has done a wonderful job with a lot of yancha and has about an 8 second pour. The other is about 100-110ml and about a 15 second pour :P

houya wrote:

and about Wuyi Star, those who understand Chinese please go through their website and product page carefully...all is not what it seems to be...
:rolleyes:

Since I don't read (or speak) Chinese, could you please elaborate?

LaoChaGui wrote:

The writing on the front is just the name of the company. It says
China 'Wishing on a Star" Tea LLC
Wuyi city, Fujian province Tea Leaf Research Centre

I couldn't find the exact same product on the company website. Hopefully that means it was really good and sold out.

This looks like it...
http://www.wuyistar-tea.com/en/productShow.asp?id=75


I am curious, though; when the people in Wuyishan brew, and fill the pot/gaiwan 100% with dry leaf, is that in a yixing pot or a gaiwan? If it's in a gaiwan, is it an eggshell gaiwan, or something else?

There's an article here about Chaozhou gongfu tea (where they crush up a significant amount to dust and then stuffing the rest of the pot) causing cancer from continually burning the throat and continually causing ulcers, both of which never get to heal - the latter being more to the point because you don't necessarily need to brew young sheng to the same degree of stuff.

Like I say, I'll probably just get several different types of water and try them all out. With Will's experience, however, I will definitely be checking out Volvic, and with all of the reports from numerous other sources I will also definitely be checking out Fiji.

Thank you very much :D That was a lot of work! I will try to get to it in the next couple days, but I wanted to say thanks before then :)

Hehe, I kinda started to wonder if that was the case earlier today. I'll definitely check it out, thanks

Last thing to get is a Kamjove kettle, rather than making it with my Zoji. I really like the $37 one from Bird Pick, but I'll have to wait til they get it back in stock :P (unless I decide to go for the $30 one, or find something equally inexpensive that I like just as much)

So one of these days I'll have a very nice gongfu session.. hopefully with good company :)

LaoChaGui wrote:

I haven't seen this article. It looks really good. I will translate this and also the one about throat ulcers, hopefully this week. Sorry I haven't been doing much translating, but I have not been feeling up to much recently.

If anyone else wants to translate it before I do, please go ahead, I won't feel offended.

Any chance you might be able to translate? :) I feel bad for asking, because I don't want to take your translations for granted and I know these things take time (I would put off re-typing it even if it was in English) but I'm also curious to see what it really says. I used Google translate and got most of it, though, so no biggie for me, but if you do have the time it would be great :) (BTW, I'm always willing to help clean up the grammar if anyone ever wants it. I know that just about any English speaker can do it, but I'm willing to put my own time in and I've done so for work projects in the past :) )

Well I decided to grab a couple packets of the Tribute DHP from TeaCuppa as well. I figure it will be fun to brew them side-by-side to compare. I've already got some of the Imperial DHP from Jing, though I doubt it really compares.

I guess what I will have to do is get a few types of water and try them with some less expensive DHP - maybe even some Wuyi-Star (I'm thinking the white pack, since it's a little picky).

I would almost think that a water with high mineral content would be best, since that's likely what the plants grew up with (taking the rocks in the soil into account). Or maybe some softer water with meifan stones?

william wrote:

A lot of folks seem to like Volvic if they're going for expensive spring water; I've had good experiences with it.

So does anyone know of any brands of volvic water?

Thank you very much! I think you did a fine job - it's perfectly understandable to me. :) It's good to know what these things say, because it's always embarrassing to get asked what these things say when you have no clue.

It's always kinda funny to see these things when you think of the western equivalents. When we try to make that kind of stuff, it just seems to come out trashy.