Jan 30, 2010

Old Bush Wuyi Shui Xian (武夷老欉水仙)with broken leaves

This is one of my favorite inexpensive tea, from one of my favorite suppliers. When its package arrived, I was instantly driven mad by how the tea was packed. It was no fault of the supplier. She packed all this tea in individual 8g small packs, which is a common practice, especially when the tea is semi-precious. I don't favor this way of packing, but don't detest it either. The problem is, our new shipping agent, who obviously doesn't care much about tea, spread these little 8g packs all over the parcel, so they literally served as cushions. And of course the tea leaves are largely broken.

I took 2 small packs, sifted the tea over the sink to get enough leaves for one tea session. The powder and crumbs fell into the sink, touched the water and smelt intoxicating. What a pity! Maybe next time I will save all the crumbs and make them into teabags.

To my joyful surprise, the tea is not a bit bitter, even with broken leaves. I've seen some wonderful Wuyi and Dan Cong teas that were devastated into bitterness and astringency when leaves are broken. Fortunately it's not the case for this tea.


First infusion:

Fifth infusion:

Jan 19, 2010

Da Fo (Great Buddha) Long Jing (Dragonwell), 大佛龍井

Da Fo Long Jing, or Great Buddh Dragonwell, is one of the earliest harvested green teas in China (see Tea Calendar here). It is produced in Xinchang county of Zhejiang province, about 100km southeast to Hangzhou, hometown of the most famous Dragonwell green tea.

Great Buddha Dragonwell as a tea product was developed in 1980s. However it has been a long tradition that regions other than Hangzhou produce dragonwell style green teas, some of which are harvested earlier than Hangzhou Dragonwell. Great Buddha Dragonwell is made from the same tea varietals used for Hangzhou Dragonwell. It is less famous than Hangzhou Dragonwell, and hence much less expensive. As the earliest green tea of Zhejiang province (and primarily earliest in entire China), Great Buddha Dragonwell is favored by tea drinkers especially in early spring. It quenches the thirst of tea drinkers, after they've been longing for months for new green tea.

Although not as famous as Hangzhou Dragonwell, Great Buddha Dragonwell is of very high quality and has a few important advantages. First of all, most Great Buddha Dragonwell tea plantations in Xinchang are distributed at 300-600m (1200-1800ft) above sea level. This is considered great elevation for green tea cultivation and most part of Xinchang producing region is of even higher elevation than producing region of Hangzhou Dragonwell. Besides, Xinchang is located far away from any industrial pollution regions and enjoys pristine natural environment. In addition, as a relatively new tea producing region, Xinchang tea plantations focus more on organic cultivation and producing early spring fine tea products.

As a tea drinker, I see Great Buddha Dragonwell as a more "accessible" great tea than many other more famous teas. Price of top notch Great Buddha Dragonwell is quite modest, compared with mediocre-level products of more famous teas like Hangzhou Dragonwell and Bi Luo Chun.

Although the earliest green tea of Xinchang hit the market in as early as late February, the high mountain organic Great Buddha Dragonwell will appear in the market much later, in early April. Thanks to modern communication and transportation, we can expect to get it by mid-late April in North America!

Jan 18, 2010

Teabags, Granny Tea and crumbs of good tea

Talking about informal brewing... I recently had some dhp teabag and shui xian "grandma tea" (huang pian) sent to me by a Wuyi farmer along with my other tea. I wouldn't otherwise buy them because postage is a lot more than the tea itself. But I have to say they are pretty good :D

The teabag is made with the crumbs from the last refining step of making dhp, entirely different from commercial teabag, which, according to tea farmers, is simply made from floor dust from earlier steps of tea processing - maybe they have some exaggeration here but I can imagine many commercial teabags are not much better than that.

The "grandma tea" (huang pian) is the older, bigger leaves selected out from the final tea product. It's often drunk by "grandmas" of tea families, hence the name. Another saying is, the leaves are older than others so that can be seen as "grandmas". The one I got is some selected out leaves from a king grade shui xian. It didn't last for more than 5 infusions (because older leaves are not that flavorful) but the fragrance of the first a few infusions is great.

Quite a few tea farmers and dealers mentioned to me how much they drink their homemade teabags or grandma tea. I guess most of them are rich enough to afford the top grade tea they sell, but as seen from many tea people, they just hate to waste any good stuff, even crumbs of good stuff.

Jan 8, 2010

Gold Medal Rou Gui

It was given to me with a name Gold Medal Rou Gui. I have no idea where it got its gold medal, but I would have no problem giving it one. It's indeed exceptional. Now the struggle left for me is, should I get a lot of this tea?

Dry leaves:

First infusion:
Then I was interrupted. Otherwise I would usually take a 5th or 7th infusion.

Spent leaves after a few dozen infusions. These leaves make me suspect I didn't give them enough infusions, since they don't look that much "spent".

Spent leaves in water: