Friday, November 28, 2008
A minute or two later, after realizing such was not the case, I carefully tucked it away into it's box and placed it in the back of my cupboard. It was bound to happen sooner or later; it's just a bummer because it's the first pot I ever brewed pu-erh in.
Operation Teapot Graveyard: Commence.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
My Adagio utiliTEA just arrived today, and has replaced the Sunbeam Hot Shot I used to use for brewing teas. I am not making any solid statements on it yet, but first impressions are very positive. Give me a few days to feel it out and I'll have a full review on it.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Several months back, I had a bad run-in with the Xiaguan '8100' and casually made a promise to myself that I wouldn't try this again until after my daughter had said "I love you Daddy" for the first time, which happened yesterday. Over the past seven months, I'd like to think that the aging process may have smoothed this out a bit, and that perhaps the passing of time smoothed me out a bit too, as my brewing is a bit more consistent now. I figure this is a good time to revisit something that everyone else but me seemed to love.
I'm still not 100% convinced I really like this one, but it's definitely been a much better conversation this time around. I feel I was actually able to get somewhere with this, instead of the pure frustration I ran into last time. The bitterness I kept getting last time was likely due to lower grade water, steeping too long, and too much leaf. This time, it's significantly better and will likely just be a matter of tweaking the leaf quantity and steep times.
So, it's better this time around, but still not where I'd like to see it. I'll try again soon.
I don't have a whole lot to write about tonight. I did fall in love with the 2008 Yong De Zi Yu Sheng toinght, and as promised in a prior post, I would revisit the Xiaguan '8100' as soon as my daughter said "I love you Daddy" for the first time. Quite a fantastic night for tea, but since my brain is all washed up until morning, I'll leave you with this instead:
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Alex recently emailed me inquiring as to how I steep my teas.
As far as my parameters for testing out a new pu-erh, this is my process:
Water: I use spring water. Not always particular on brand, so long as it's spring and not just 'purified drinking water.' The mineral content seems to enhance the taste of every tea I drink that way.
Temperature: Right now, I have a Sunbeam Hot Shot that I use for heating my water. It wasn't until recently that I discovered that although it heats the water quickly, the water comes nowhere near boiling, which is ideal for many pu-erh teas. I had been using a thermometer and ramping on the button until the water hits 200F. At that point, it will coast up a few more degrees and come close to the boiling pot without ever actually bubbling. I can't do this anymore though because it's killing my Hot Shot. I've looked at the UtiliTEA on Adagio's website. $50 well spent, in my humble opinion.
Teaware: I always test out new pu-erh in my koi gaiwan. I like to taste the leaf without the aid of a weathered pot. By doing this, the brew hides nothing.
Leaf Quantity: I usually fill the gaiwan to about 1/3 full. The leaf will expand and fill out a lot more of the gaiwan, and this has, in my own experience, given me great results in terms of flavour. Further, doing this, I rarely have to remove leaf because I've added too much. It still happens, but it's much more rare these days, which is a far cry from the surplus of leaf I used to waste and have to feed to my garbage disposal. I'm sure those blades have a healthy coating of tea-oil on them by now! ^__^
Rinse: This one varies a bit depending on whether or not it's shu or sheng and how tight the compression is. Sheng is always one rinse at 15 seconds. Shu is also at 15 seconds, but I just rinse it twice. If it's really loose, I'll cut the rinse time in half.
Steeping times: This one is something I think everyone needs to experiment with as a personal discovery, as we all have varying palates. At present, I think my steeping times have already changed three or four times, but after the rinse, this is how i do mine:
15s, 12s, 25s, 35s, 50s, 1:15, 1:25, 1:35, 1:45, 2:00, 2:15, 2:30, 3:00, 3:30, 4:00, 5:00
I don't normally go past 15 or 16 steepings unless it's something with longevity, like the LCT. At that point, if it's still hitting, it's no longer a matter of science but a sort of 'conversation' with the tea as Teddy put it. By that point, I try to feel out what the leaf is trying to say and brew longer or shorter times depending on that.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
When I arrived home from work today, I was pleasantly surprised to find a package from Norbu sitting on my porch. As always, the green rug pulled over top to ensure nobody knows there was a box 8 inches tall hiding underneath it. Inside of this box lies a sample of the Haiwan 2007 Lao Cha Tou Ripe pu-erh. I already know I love the Menghai equivalent, but considering it's the same price and you get 500g instead of 250g, I wanted to compare them myself.
The first thing I notice about it is the aroma. It's oozing with this incredible scent that rips right through the bag. If anyone has ordered from Norbu yet, the first thing you'll notice is the quality of the bags he ships in. They're thick, durable, and have a solid, reinforced feel about them. One close-up look at the bags and you'll immediately understand why I'm impressed the aroma carries as strongly as it does.
It really starts to wake up around the fifth infusion, much like Menghai. The nuggets are slightly larger and appear to have a bit less compression. It doesn't really seem to be a factor in the taste or the longevity of the tea. As for the soup, a rich amber liquor that quickly shifts to a much darker shade of red. I'm talking about the sort of colour you'd expect from a mature cake. In my experience, this seems to be a pretty standard characteristic of most shupu.
The Haiwan is, as expected, full of flavour. It's complex, warming, leaves my mouth tingling, and dries out the back of my throat. The menghai may have a little more kick to it, but they're so close that I can't immediately justify a reason not to purchase the Haiwan brick. It's my understanding that Menghai pioneered the Lao Cha Tou, and because they don't release annually, their bricks fetch a higher ticket price. Either way, both of these factories have created something special. Is it really any wonder, considering both factories have felt and been rewarded by the brilliance of Mr. Zhou Bing Liang?