It's Tie Guan Yin / Ti Kuan Yin / 铁观音 / 鐵觀音 / etc.
As for Monkey Picked, that part is just nonsense.

Hui Mengchen Zhi was written on dozens of teapots a day since the Qing dynasty. No help in guessing age, sorry.


(4 replies, posted in Sencha / 煎茶)

Was just reading this and remembered the thread here.

My understanding, from some folks who have been at it longer than me, is that it is not based on the rolling, but the overall size of the leaf - smaller is better. Indicates earliest possible harvest and most selective plucking. A powerful visual description is "like sawdust." Now, I also think Chinese qualitative judgements of green tea might be somewhat opposed to American value judgements. The most valued green teas tend to have very subtle characteristics and very high prices.

I have a new batch of Bi Luo Chun just arrived from a mutual acquaintance, I will make sure you get some.


(4 replies, posted in Sencha / 煎茶)

No, not everyone is using Yabukita clones. There are some regional preferences for varietal, like Sae Midori in the south (Kagoshima) moreso than Yabukita in Uji or a mix of varietals in Shizuoka - a lot of blending happening. Uji labeled tea has to be over 50% Uji, but they also produce a lot of blended teas in the old Kyoto shops.

My picks:
Kagoshima, full body, brothy but tropical fruits. Warmer growing area makes an earlier harvest season.
Uji, traditional methods, nice long leaves, perfect balance of umami, astringency, bitter, hint of sweet.
Shizuoka,  medium body, sweeter.

These can certainly vary. Most of the fun is in drinking yourself, so, drink up.

My take...
sencha karigane: a blend of predominately sencha with 20-30% stem added.
kukicha: just stem.

http://sommelier-the-japonais.blogspot. … i-cha.html … g-pao.html

The comment by T.alain seems to further the opinion of a blended strain somewhat.
There is not much to go on there, but I think it gave me a better idea of how to interpret Will's info above - the genetic code of "Da Hong Pao" being some combination of the 6 trees, not an asexual reproduction of any single mingcong.

"Xiao Hong pao should be the best name for these teas,Da hong pao is for the original trees.These 6 trees do not contain the same genetic material and are a little bit different each others.Specialists think they are from seeds and not from cutting plants.It seem that original DHP is a blend tea...of 6 trees."

Left: "low" oxidization Dan Cong
Right: "high" oxidation Dan Cong

I believe these teas have a relatively similar level of roast, and the appearance of the dry leaves would not be easy to tell apart, if you didn't know what you were looking for. The wet leaves, but most of all the color of the brew and the taste, tell the real tale.

Edit: fixing photo url.

This is my favorite type of clay...

Good stuff from the Language Log - thanks Dr. Mair.

[mod edit - replaced url trimmer link with actual link]


(26 replies, posted in Green Tea / 绿茶)

tea seed oil used in firing of zhejiang tea.


(1 replies, posted in Matcha / 抹茶)

Well, I have had both Seiun and Wakamatsu no Mukashi, but not side to side. I would totally buy that they were the same, and the product description reads that way for me now.
A few things... Ippodo is one of a handful of very old tea blenders, blending tea is their business. The different schools of Chanoyu are one, but not the only, group of folks interested in these products.

I am pretty sure that 40g can used to also be labeled Wakamatsu no Mukashi, and that the description text referred to it something prepared for thin tea that could stand up to casual use as koicha. Since then I learned that "no Mukashi" means something akin to "for old style" - eg, for koicha and related ceremonies. So it seems Ippodo may just not be the best at writing these things, or translating. So I do not know when this tea was given the name Seiun by the Urasenke, but it could have been recently given the name change on the site and that my local Chanoyu instructors served it to me a few months ago stating it was new (to them I presumed, but perhaps newly named? - I will check into this).

Bottom line - "no mukashi" is (suitable) for thick tea, no matter what the English description on Ippodo says.

Edit: seems like 'Seiun' has been there for at least a few years.
Interesting tidbit from Joel on the TC thread - "According to their literature, their 20g Matcha are used by the Omotosenke school, and the 40g containers are used by the Urasenke school."
For most functions, the local Urasenke buys much larger containers from Matcha and More, as 40g would not go very far in classes. But I will check into this detail as well.
Mike (tingjunkie) prepares Winter '10 Da Yu Ling.
2006 Rou Gui...

And, uh, some other stuff along the way.

Other hits include Liu Bao, 70s Liu An, 99 7542, 'single bush' Shui Xian, Cheung Hing master roast Shui Xian, Kagoshima sencha, 90's Rou Gui, Li Shan.

A lot of un-oolongs, but what can I do?

The build up is not good or bad for a stone kettle. It is *bad* for using the kettle with green tea, where water that hard is pretty gross.
If it is so hard that you are developing this much trouble, this could be the source of your Wuyi sadness as well. I use filtered water (150tds) and Poland Spring (< 40 TDS) and have never seen a spec of calcium deposits in my Lin's kettle.

Safest descaling - mild citric acid? And try softer water.

Clay looks like Zi Ni or Pin Zi Ni - I estimate it at medium-low porosity, definitely makes an appreciable reduction in aroma.
So Taiwan oolong would not be my first guess. I like to pair this kind of clay with aged puerh or high fire wuyi/tgy.

BTW, I buy the claim of 'new pot old clay' and it looks very nice. Good buy.

A few updates on this:

First, a big thanks to LaoChaGui for the descriptors for different firings.

Next, way back when this thread got started, Will suggested two things I think we can now revise.

Almost all of the 'fully fired' teas I describe are verifiably made (or at least commissioned) for Hong Kong shops.
Will and I have tasted a few more examples of this, including Cheung Hing listed above.

Will supposed at the time that the base teas are more oxidized than the average 'balanced' Yancha. Since then, we tested both re-fired Shui Xian from Cheung Hing along side the original tea ordered from Fujian. The original tea, to me, was not significantly different than most Shui Xian. I still have one serving left for further study. I am going to go out on a limb and guess the 'input' tea is not much different from your every day Yancha.

Now, to muddy the waters a bit....

Will has heard rumors of blends/recipes used by the shops before the re-firing to achieve a certain taste or consistency in their product from year to year. "Hong Kong" Tie Guan Yin has a lot in common with the fully fired rock tea that launched this topic, and Tim (of Mandarin fame) described to me that the maker of his TGY uses a blend of spring and autumn leaves. 60/40 mix, but I do not remember what direction.

Mr. Lin is quite famous of late and has some of the same quirks of other tea masters. He is interviewed at the end of The Meaning of Tea film, where he suggests that he has not yet passed on any detail of his roasting process to his own son - or anybody else. He also sells only tiny quantities of his best teas. So, while I don't have much more than a guess what his methods are, his tea is fairly high fired and meant for very long term aging. Less high fired than HK Shui Xian. I tried a much more recent tea (08 or 09) from him which was meant for drinking now. It was a typical Taiwan light roast. A bit woody, just plays up the high mountain tea.

Yeah *most* of tea gallery's teas are in the first group - the "High Fire" Shui Xian I am not sure is even offered yet from 2009.
Now, as far as resting goes, Michael's 2004 was one of the first teas in the 2nd group I loved. I tried to get more a few months ago and he was sold out. He offered me 2009, saying "I doubt you will be able to tell the difference." I put a lot of stock into the idea that some of these properties were due to aging, but as it turns out, the 2009 is almost as smooth as the one it is replacing. This is one thing that got me thinking about this.

It has occurred to me that "2009" might just be the year the tea was sold to Michael and a lot more happened behind the scenes than we know.

I believe you about higher oxidation though, its just tough to tell. Tim did tell me that the HK roaster does indeed use a recipe for blending his TGY prior to roasting - blend of spring and fall harvest leaves.

Of course every tea master has his own methods, but I am trying to put my finger on two different styles of Yancha roasting. Can anyone explain the difference in technique? The term "high fire" gets thrown around quite a bit and seems to be fairly meaningless. I am looking for a better way to describe them, but here is a start. Sorry if this doesn't make much sense yet - I am sure we can nail it down.

"Wuyi High Fire"
- Hou De Zhen Yan collection
- Jing Tea Shop, pretty much everything
- Red Blossom
- Pretty Much Everybody..

- Characteristics: fruitier, more floral, more astringent, harsh on throat when young.
- Long (early) brews are undrinkable
   Lighter orange liquor. Mouthfeel less thick than "HK".
- More Charcoal taste, more charcoal in mouthfeel in early infusions

"Hong Kong High Fire"
- Tea Gallery 1980s/1990s Tie Luo Han
- Tea Gallery 2004/2009 High Fire Shui Xian
- The Mandarins Tea Room 2008 Shui Xian
- TeaCuppa El Cheapo Shui Xian (yeah, this isn't only in a 'premium' product!)

I've even tasted this same kind of Shui Xian at a Chinese restaurant out of a big stainless pot. (not saying it was killer, just in the same vein)

Thick, syrupy, cocoa, smooth! Dark brownish-red liquor. Long brews do not become bitter.
Seems to be associated with Hong Kong roasters. No apparent charcoal taste as in "high" or even "mid" fire teas from the mainland.

I prefer a thin gaiwan like yourself. 90ml gives room for the larger leaves.
Have you tried the aroma from the gaiwan lid immediately after pouring and again after the lid cools and the oils dry up?
Or bottom of cup aroma shortly after drinking it all up.

I am sure I am remembering correctly that Imen does not prescribe any kind of "dribble" for the initial infusions, but rather a strong stream from high up, giving us the idea of "forcing out" more tea goodness.

About the site, no one really gave up and moved on in my estimation, most of us have known each other and tea for a long time now and without fresh ideas or questions we've run out of things to ruminate on amongst ourselves :) Glad to have you.

If you really want to see it, leave a cup of sencha around for a few hours. It will turn from yellow or green to brown.


(13 replies, posted in Green Tea / 绿茶)

TeaSpring sells both of the teas you mentioned, and I am pleased with the quality of their Chinese greens. I buy in the spring, but it manages to stay fairly appealing throughout the year with the air squeezed out.

Lu shan Yun wu is out of stock. On the authenticity of West Lake area Long Jing, I gather there is a broad area of tea production with certain regions designated as "protected." I could swear I have seen a government seal affixed, but I dont see it on TeaSpring's packaging. Being China, the sticker isn't a rock solid guarantee of anything - but it tastes pretty good to me.

Been getting a few things on auction, and been pretty lazy about posting them. Here is an old cup that might interest you folks.
Small gaiwan lid included for comparison.


(8 replies, posted in Chinese Teaware / 中国茶器)

Gaiwan - The Tea Gallery, Red Blossom Tea

My own tea tray is from Red Blossom, they also have two pitchers.
I much prefer the Tea Gallery gaiwans, having owned a few examples of both.

Haha, I am pretty careful although I have chipped a few things.
A lot of hand painted works are either very cartoonish or very feminine.
Even a lot of classic white and blue stuff doesn't seem nearly as well executed as your mountain scene.
A rare treasure I think.