Dec 24, 2011

tea away from home (2)

Here is some previous discussion on tea and tea aware away from home.

Winter solstice! Hanukkah! Christmas! The most wonderful time of the year!

Once upon a time, I wasn't really enthusiastic about this time of the year - cold, dark... But with time being, I feel have deeper understanding of the holiday season, and can see its natural causes. Why do people in different cultures all have various celebration at this time of the year? I believe it's nature's schedule. This is the time when daylight is the shortest, which means we are having more and more daylight from now on. How exciting! The darkest time of the year gives you the most hopeful feelings. Besides, in traditional societies in most regions of the earth, this is the time when there wasn't much agricultural work to do. So it's the time to enjoy the storage from autumn harvest, have a good rest, and prepare for the spring.

For my holidays, I am soon away from home again. Well, I will be visiting my 2nd home and my 3rd home soon! A few updates of this blog have been scheduled for the next a few weeks.

These are some tea ware that I've used on the road, and will take some of them with me on the coming trip.

This is (part of) the kamjove teapot that I discussed here. It's one of my road trip favorite because it can be used for almost all kinds of tea, and the mug is a perfect green tea glass!

This Petr Novák tea bowl is one of my favorites for both trips and home. It can be used for all kinds of tea, and can be used as a perfect brewing vessel for green teas that requires hot brewing temperature and easily sink to the bottom.

This is the above tea bowl paring up with a Yuuki Cha kyusu for yan cha. This is one of my favorite kyusu. It's small enough for gongfu brewing. Besides, it straining screen makes it an excellent vessel for certain types of teas. I discussed on using this kyusu for a puerh brick here. It's price is blissful for its quality! For a few times, I had to hold back my desire to buying a second one of the same kyusu :-p It's just so perfect. Besides, it looks and feels sturdy, and therefore a great piece for trips.

This is a Yunnan Sourcing teapot, which I've seen from photos of quite a few Tea Chatters! It was a great deal, and very well made for its price. It's not a thick-walled teapot, but somehow seems very sturdy. I use it for dark oolong, sheng puerh, and sometimes, shu puerh too, if it's not stinky. On the road, if necessary, I might as well use it for greener oolong. But there hasn't been such needs yet as I usually would carry a gaiwan set anyway.

This is a very convenient heat-resistant plastic bottle with a strainer near the top. I use it a lot in summer for cold brewing tea. Besides, it's good for hot-brewing too, as long as the lid is not screwed tight when the water is still hot (otherwise the built-up steam pressure could be troublesome). In the past summer, on my road trip, I've used it a lot for hot brewing of a favorite Shui Xian. At the beginning, I felt it a little wasteful to brew a good yan cha in this way. But the tea turned out very well brewed in this way, the pot did a perfect job, and the aroma along with the tea dance made people jealous :-)

All this being said, I am not going to take a lot of tea ware with me on the trip. I don't really feel I have to have tea every day. With all the dim sum, Mongolian lamb hot pot, egg tarts, roasting ducks... waiting for me ahead, I will be ok skipping tea for a few days :-D

Dec 11, 2011

a visual aid on 24 solar terms for better understanding of tea calendar

Going through the statistics of this blog, I've noticed that the tea calendar is one of the most popular posts. Although I understand people are keen to learn about tea harvest time line, I was a little surprised to see people's vast interest in that calendar, as I feel I've made it rather geeky and dry :-p

Then, the other day, I was fascinated by a douban (a Chinese social network focusing on books, movies and culture) friend, 青简's photo album of the 24 solar terms. It's absolutely beautiful! For people who are not familiar with the 24 solar terms, these pictures tell all!

All these pictures are taken by 青简,a woman photographer who takes photography merely as a hobby. To tell the truth, I always feel pictures like these are much more enjoyable to me than a lot of million-dollar pictures I saw in some galleries and auction houses. But admittedly, I am a layman and know nearly nothing about arts. So I dare to give silly comments aloud :-p Some of my professional artists friends wouldn't say things like that. Sometimes they wouldn't say it because they have better understanding of arts than I do. Sometimes they wouldn't say it because, as I suspect, they simply want to be polite :-p

China is a large country, just as there are quite a few different climate zones in the States. Some of the pictures in the photo are typical of southern China, and some are typical of the North. However, majority of the Northern Hemisphere share a lot of similarities in the solar terms features. Currently in my life in New England, I observe the 24 solar terms all the time, and would feel somewhat lost if I can't find a Chinese calendar at the beginning of a year. In fact, some of the solar terms, such as solstices and equinoxes are featured on most western calendars too.

Here are 青简's photos, starting from Li Chun (Start of Spring). The sequence is the same as what I've put in my tea calendar. Additional notes are available in the tea calendar if you would like some more references. But, like they said, a picture is better than a thousand words!

1. Start of Spring

2. Rain Water

3. Awakening of Insects

4. Spring Equinox


10. Summer Solstice


16. Autumn Equinox


22. Winter Solstice


You can see all the 24 picture in 青简's album here!

Dec 3, 2011

tea world

The fun of tea business, tea blogging and tea swap!

Interestingly, I used to think tea drinking is mostly restricted within a relatively small group of people. But just in few years, tea has led me into interactions with people of more countries than I had ever had interaction with in any university or any metropolis.

I haven't been keeping track of all my tea interactions. So there are probably some flags left out of this picture. But I am sure this picture will be growing!

(In the above picture, Brazil is the only country I haven't had tea interaction with yet. I just couldn't help putting Brazil flag there because Brazilian national soccer team is always in my mind!)

Nov 23, 2011

wondering what 7542 is like after 10 years?

Extra notes: Just because a tea has a wrapper that looks the same as this one, it does NOT necessarily mean it is the same tea. Due to the chaotic system of CNNP, I myself have quite a few teas of this same wrapper (such as the two mentioned here) and I'm sure you would see many more out there. They could be completely different.

Before I start, let me clarify that a lot of opinions in this post are my personal opinions. This doesn't mean these opinions are not shared by many people - in fact, they are confirmed by a lot of tea friends and tea professionals. But I do want to point out that in discussions of dry-stored vs. wet-stored puerh, there are always different opinions and different observations. The differences may not be about right or wrong, but rather due to individual tastes and from which angle the observation is made. The collecting and storage process of "88 sheng" is largely from the collector's own narration, so I would take it pretty much as a fact instead of opinion.

7542 is one of the most popular Dayi products. It's known for its solid quality, plain price (that's if Dayi doesn't keep inflating prices) and typical Meng Hai style (thick liquor texture and powerful sweet aftertaste). Although 7542 is intrinsically good, it's current reputation has a lot to do with the famous "88 sheng" (88青饼), which is 7542 product from approximately 1988 (most likely from 1989-1993), collected by a Hong Kong merchant Chen Guoyi in 1993, for about $2 a cake (now, everybody is jealous...). 10 years later, in 2003, when Mr. Chen released his collection to the market, it was sold out very fast at unprecedentedly high prices. The current market price for 88 sheng is more than $1500 or even $2000 a cake, that's if one can find an authentic and well-stored cake.

88 sheng is a very interesting phenomenon in a few ways.
1. It's a legend of 7542, an inexpensive tea to begin with. It demonstrates that the value of a tea doesn't entirely depend on original cost of tea leaves.

2. It's a legend of dry storage and relatively dry storage. The tea was stored in Yunnan (supposedly dry storage) for its first a few years, and then stored in non-humidified warehouse in Hong Kong, which was, at that time, very untypical for Hong Kong tea industry. Nowadays, more and more collectors in mainland China, Hong Kong (such as the famous Cloud) and Taiwan (such as the famous Shi Kunmu) favor dry (or relatively dry) storage. More or less, the confidence on dry storage originated from 88 sheng.

3. It's a legend that's Not replicable. Many legends are like this. Once it has happened, it won't easily happen again. Otherwise it's not a legend. Nowadays, 10-year-old 7542, although not extremely easy to obtain, is not rare. But if you see one, including the one in my collection that I am going to talk about, please do NOT think it must be comparable to 88 sheng. In my opinion, 88 sheng is not replicable for several reasons:

a. Although people say, big factory products like Dayi's have "stable formula", it's all relative. Tea, as a biology products, can't possibly have absolutely stable formula. Not 7542 products across all those years are of the "same formula". Besides, life of each batch of aged puerh is unique. Even when strictly controlled storage conditions are used (as nowadays more and more used in Guangdong, China and Malaysia), it's impossible to guarantee the same 10-year outcome.

b. 7542 production is larger and larger. Even for the same quality, probably no one should expect to make as great a fortune out of 7542 as Mr. Chan did. No one should... but "88 sheng" did ignite many people's dream of fortune :-p

c. When 7542 was first released to the market, it was one of the few, if not the only one, (relatively) dry-stored big factory routine product puerh over 10 years of age. It changed many people's view of puerh, especially people who supposed puerh all had damp taste and didn't think they liked puerh at all. So the legend of 88 sheng had its historical background. Later on, such style is more and more commonly seen, and is no longer deemed as so much of a unique style.

d. The early 2000s puerh madness also contributed to the legend of 88 sheng. Some people, after tasting 88 sheng, expressed slight disappointment. Usually it's not because they didn't think the tea was great, but because they had expected more "out-of-the-world" taste that they didn't eventually find in the tea. To my understanding, the problem is less likely of 88 sheng, but more likely of unrealistic expectation.  

Now here is my own version of  13/14-year-old 7542.

I think it's a very powerful tea. The aroma is not as prominent as some other puerh of similar age. But it gives great warmth and strong sweet aftertaste. The tea is already quite drinkable. But it should have great potential for further aging. When it comes to sheng, I am more of an "aroma" person. I value the honey-like aroma in some sheng, and often fear that such aroma would disappear with aging. But the strength of this tea is not at its aroma, but at its rich texture and thick flavor. So to me, there is no fear of loss in aging :-)

Overall, this is one of the sheng puerh that I like very much. But there are a few other sheng that I like better. I don't think this tea is a legendary tea (otherwise I would become so rich haha...). But I think it's a great tea.

Nov 11, 2011

Hua Luogeng - a tea loving mathematician

Today is the 101st birthday of Hua Luogeng (华罗庚,1010-1985), one of the greatest contemporary Chinese mathematicians. He was an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences and a foreign academician of United States National Academy of Sciences.

The picture above is today's Google logo on its Hong Kong website ( The 1+1 indicates Hua's significant contribution to solving Goldbach's Conjecture before its "1+1" stage. Up to now, Goldbach's Conjecture is not completely solved yet and deemed by many mathematicians as the most difficult mathematic problem ever.

In China, Hua Luogeng is best known for his innovative work on Integrated Approach, which was applied in many industries, as well as various other aspects of the society. In the google picture, the teapot and teacup indicate this achievement of Hua's. Hua was known to be a tea lover. His work of Integrated Approach germinated when he boiled water for tea and pondered what would be the most efficient plan to boil the water, rinse the tea ware and brew the tea.

Hua was not only a genius scientist, but also a very interesting person.

In 1930, at the age of 20, he was invited to work as an assistant professor in Tsinghua University, one of the best universities in China. By that time, he only had a middle school (equivalent to 10th grade in the States) diploma but was already one of the most promising young mathematicians in China.

Between 1936 and 1938, he was a visiting scholar in Cambridge University and published his influential work on Gaussian theories. At that time (and even today), a graduate degree in a world class university like Cambridge would guarantee one a tenured position in China. But Hua didn't apply for a degree diploma, because he didn't think it would make any difference for his life.  

In 1938, China was already dragged into war, and most provinces of the country were under Japanese military occupation. Some of the best universities and best scholars of China recessed to the Southwest. There, life was hard, people were short of everything, but they continued their academic lives, and drank tea every day! (I expressed my admiration of Kunming Era in this blog.) At that time, for many Chinese overseas, China was the home that they couldn't go back. But in the year of 1938, Hua left Cambridge for Kunming, joined his Tsinghua University colleagues in teaching and mathematics research.

In 1946, Hua was invited by Princeton University as a researcher. He worked there till 1948. In 1948, he was awarded a tenured position as a full professor in University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. But in 1950, he gave up his tenure and returned to China. In the next decades, throughout all the political storms in China, he wasn't treated fairly all the time. I am sure he and his family would have had a much more peaceful and comfortable life in the States. But by giving up that kind of life, Hua made significant contributions to mathematics research in China. In addition, a whole generation of Chinese mathematicians and computer scientists owed their enlightenment and mentorship to Hua Luogeng.

In 1985, Hua Luogeng died of heart attack in Tokyo, Japan, right after he finished an hour-long research lecture. He experienced a fast death at the podium. I think, this is one of the best and luckiest ways of dying.

So today we raise our cups to celebrate the life of Hua Luogeng.

Nov 2, 2011

blog sale: Petr Novák tea ware (2)

The last blog sale of Petr Novák tea ware generated a wave of excitement. I was contacted by quite a few people about each of the single-copy teapots and tea sets. This enthusiasm (mixed with my own selfish desire of having more of Petr's tea wares...) led to the decision that we should carry Petr's tea ware in our web store. So now we've got more teapots, tea sets and tea bowls!

The last blog sale was very helpful for me to learn about American and Canadian tea drinkers' preferences. Besides, not all Petr Novák fans' wishes were fulfilled from the last blog sale. So before the new shipment of Petr's tea wares go to the web store, they are available in this blog sale, with a special discount. There are various factors to consider for the store prices and they are not finally determined yet. But it's guaranteed that prices in this blog sale are much lower than future in-store prices, and the prices are some of the best that one can get in North America. Those of you who participated in the last blog sale may notice that prices of this sale are even better. For this we thank Petr for coordinating this bulk order!

US domestic shipping for each piece is $7 (insurance included). $2 shipping for each additional piece. 

Shipping to Canada by first class mail is $9. $2 for each additional piece (no insurance, shipment number is available but online tracking is usually unavailable until after the package is delivered... yeah it's silly...). Shipping to Canada by priority mail is$20. $2 for each additional piece (with partial and dwindled insurance, a better online tracking, but sometimes slower than first class mail... it's puzzling...)

People in Europe or on other continents may consider contacting Petr directly through his blog, his website, or by email (which can be found in his blog). It's much better to get it directly him to avoid multiple times of international shipping, save the costs and painful waiting. But of course you are welcome to get it from me if you are so thirsty for a specific piece of work!

Following photos are from Petr's google album. You can find much more photos of his other tea wares in that album. Just watching the album is a lot of fun, especially if you love window shopping ;-)

Sizes are measured with a ruler, precise to + - 5%. 

Volumes are directly from Petr. I didn't re-measure them, but by experience, they all look quite precise to me. I've realized that recently there is the trend of measuring volumes with chemistry lab accuracy :-p So if you feel you really really need the specific volume (I am talking to you science and engineering geeks...), please let me know how you would like it to be measured (e.g., to the rim, room temperature, by weight of water replacement or graduated cylinder...) 

If interested, please email gingkoheight at gmail dot com in 1 week. First come, first serve. All questions are welcome! If I can't answer them, Petr himself will!

Items will be shipped in 1 week but sooner if possible. 

Some complementary "gifts with purchase" are at the bottom of the list.


1. White Shiboridashi Set, with one shiboridashi and one tea bowl. 
There are 5 sets of them. All similar but with small color, pattern and size (+ - 3%) variation. 
Volume: 110ml. Diameter of the shiboridashi is 3.75"

2. Black clay teapot.
Volume is 130ml. White glazed surface inside.

3. Shiboridashi set with one shiboridashi and one bowl.
Volume is 140ml. Diameter of the shiboridashi is 4".

4. Black Shiboridashi Set with one shibo and one bowl.
Volume is 110. Diameter of the shiboridashi is 3.75"

5. Snakeskin Shiboridashi Set with one shibo and one bowl. (This style has quite a few fans on teachat!)
Volume: 140ml. Diameter of the shiboridashi: 3.75"

Oh they are all so handsome! I want to keep them all! :-D

I am not sure if it's a little too devil to add to the temptation... but here are some complementary "gifts with purchase". Buyers please choose one :-D

These are some teas in my personal collection that's not available in market, at least not before I secure more of them :-)

1. Tie Guan Yin red tea, 2 small packs with 5-7g each. Well I guess you can find some TGY red tea in market, but not this one, because it's made by my friend :-D

2. 1960s Phoenix Dan Cong, 8g. Haha, I know...

3. 1996 Menghai Tuo, 10g. Somewhat similar to the 1996 Xiaguan Butterfly Spring Tuo, with a deeper tone. 

4. 2011 Wild Oolong and 2010 Wild Oolong, 10g each. 

5. Tong Cheng Small Orchid old tree cultivar, 15g. Similar to the Tong Cheng Small Orchid in the web store but from old trees. 

Besides, an option of teacup -
6. Korean celadon small teacup. It holds about 60-75ml. Diameter is 2.75". (I think I only have 2 or 3 of these, so first come, first serve.)

Oct 28, 2011

found a new way to clean white porcelain tea cup!

Warning - those of you who always stay neat and organized may find this strategy totally useless... but indeed it works for me...

I don't have a photo to show the effect. But I swear it works! I've seen quite a few online discussions on how to clean porcelain teacups. But to be honest, I didn't read most of them thoroughly... because... this problem just doesn't bother me much. Most of my frequently used porcelain teacups have layers of tea stain, lighter or heavier, always! There are few days of a year when they look bright white, and that's because my dear partner has cleaned them for me :-p

I've learned that baking soda is one of the best things for cleaning porcelain. That's what I use, very occasionally, when I need to pretend being neat and treat some guests with bright white teacups. But baking soda should be used with care and shouldn't be used to soak the porcelain ware. I remember when I was little, when my mom wanted to "deep clean" some dishes, she would soak them in baking soda water, and the dishes would eventually gain a "scrubbed" handing feeling.

Recently I used a teacup with heavy tea stain for red wine (I do this kind of messing-up very often...), didn't quite finish it, and left the cup there for a night (usually I am not that messy...). But then the second day, when I wash that cup with plain water (and I never use detergent for teacups), the wine stain and tea stain both came off, and I had a bright white cup in my hands!

So next time, if a porcelain cup is too heavily stained, I would use it for wine, and wait till the next day to wash it. Lazy people can always find a way out, haha!

I guess, it's because the tea stain is slightly alkaline, and wine stain is slightly acidic. So they perfectly neutralize with each other. Probably vinegar, cider or lemon juicy would do the same?


Announcement: A big box of Petr Novák tea wares (beautiful teapots, shiboridashi, teacups...) have arrived today! Most of them will be available in Life in Teacup online store soon. But before that, some special blog discount will be available. So stay tuned :-D

Oct 23, 2011

2011 wild oolong

2010 wild oolong and why this tea was made are recorded here.

Now here is the 2011 version of the same tea, made by the same people. Actually there are quite a few changes!

One obvious change is the dry tea leaves. The producer is still exploring how to make such a tea fits the taste (including visual tastes) of a broader range of tea drinker. The dry tea leaves look more "ordered" than last year.

The flavor, I feel, is slightly closer to that of some Taiwan tea, while remains a taste resembling some herbal medicine. A friend commented that this tea shares some similarity to Dan Cong. I don't think it has a lot of uprising fragrance that's commonly found in Dan Cong. But this tea does have a strong throat feeling which some people may feel resembles Dan Cong to certain degree.

The leaves indeed look much prettier than last year!

A very interesting tea! I look forward to finding out what 2012 version will be like!

A concern, which is also a general concern for tea, is that it will be harder and harder to find enough tea workers in the harvest seasons. This may only slightly affect prices of some popular teas, but will largely impact the production of some "boutique" tea and "experimental" tea.

Oct 14, 2011

Big Snow Mountain sheng puerh ball

These little tea "balls" were produced in 2010, used tea leaves from Big Snow Mountain (大雪山), a tea district in Lin Cang region, near the town of Meng Ku. In my personal opinion, it's one of the regions that produce puerh that can be quite tasty when young.

What's special about these balls is, they are hand made with whole leaves from big trees.

 Each "tea ball" is about 8g. My only complain is it's a bit too much for one tea session of mine. But to make tea balls manually, this is probably a perfect size and good compromise between production and tea drinking. Besides, if I think 8g is too much, it's my fault because I was drinking this tea alone. Tea is meant to be shared anyway!

I used the little shibo from Petr Novak, my current favorite vessel for sheng! I should have given the shibo a better photo. Next time!

The "tea ball" wouldn't dissemble after a few infusions.

The tea went for quite a few infusions, probably above 10.

The tea leaves near the end of the tea session.

What I like most about this "tea ball" method is that all the tea leaves are preserved intact to the maximum degree. There is no prying required, which is both convenient and avoids damage of tea leaves. I have no idea whether this is a good way for long-term aging. Currently not many manufacturers are making "tea balls", as the manual work is somewhat exhausting and buyers are not very keen to it, because the beauty of the leaves aren't so obvious on a small "ball" as on a tea cake.

But interestingly, "tea ball" is not anything new. In 1960s, when tea experts uncovered and tasted some puerh from Palace Museum, the previous royal palace of Qing Dynasty, among all types of puerh, there was a type of "tea ball" as big as "ping pong (table tennis) ball" documented. The "ping pong ball" puerh sounds like 3-4 times as large as this 8g "tea ball". But they should look quite similar! I also wonder how the "ping pong puerh" was supposed to be consumed. Since it was already made in such small size, I guess a whole ball was supposed to be used each time, either in a large teapot shared by several people, or separated into a few smaller pieces and distributed to different guests.

Oct 7, 2011

thinking of Wegman's

(In case some people are interested - a book club on Anna Karenina has started Today at! It's always fun to read with people, especially for such a long book with long sentences and all people's names long!)

This not exactly about tea. Wegman's is a grocery chain store. But the more I think of it, the more I feel it's not totally irrelevant to tea. My observations and thoughts are in 3 aspects:
1. Wegman's and tea drinkers
2. Wegman's and me
3. Wegman's and business

Wegman's and tea driners

In the past a few years communicating with tea drinkers, I have got the impression that many tea drinkers enjoy shopping at Wegman's. I remember reading Alex Zorach's (of talked about his tea shopping experience at Wegman's. Marlena at Tea for Today wrote about her tea from Wegman's too. And I think I saw Wegman's mentioned in a number of other blogs and online tea forums too. For a few times, I saw Wegman's mentioned in some tea reviews and topic discussions on Steepster. So I did a quick search by googling (Wegman's The turn-outs are numerous, although Wegman's is not specifically a tea company. Interesting!

I guess there are a few major reasons why tea drinkers like Wegman's. First of all, Wegman's has a broader range of loose leaf tea than most other grocery stores. Secondly, Wegman's has a broader range of many other agricultural products (such as vegetables, grains and nuts) than most other grocery stores. In my observation, most tea drinkers have great interests in fine food and natural food, and Wegman's does very well in this aspect.

Wegman's and me

I lived in central New York for several years and went to Wegman's frequently. Later, after I moved to a region without Wegman's, I miss it so much! I even went to their website to checkout their pace of expansion, hoping they expand to my area soon! 

Why do I like Wegman's? There are several reasons. First of all, as mentioned earlier, it has a broad range of things, especially fresh stuff such as vegetables (and of course tea, but several years ago tea was not yet as abundant as today). Compared with Wegman's, many groceries have very small veggie and fruit section, so small that it almost seems like they are determined to let us have very little fresh goods and drive us to the central aisles of the store where many processed foods are located. 

Besides, I could find in Wegman's a number of things that I could hardly found elsewhere. For example, there was a time when I missed a kind of Chinese green beans very much. Before visiting Wegman's, for a long time, I had thought this kind of beans are not available in the States. Later I was so glad to find it in Wegman's. It's labeled "Italian flat beans" but it's the same as my Chinese flat beans. Wegman's has other things that are not so rare but most other groceries don't carry, because they are not what everybody buys every week. 

As I remember, Wegman's was also one of the first groceries that had extensive bakery sections. Later on, a few more groceries expand their bakeries to sort of match Wegman's offerings. I grew up without bake goods ready to pick up on store shelves. At the beginning, I was attracted to bakeries because freshly made breads always taste so much better than shelf breads. Later, it took me some reading and studying to learn that there are huge differences between bakery breads and shelf breads not only in their tasting quality, but in their overall ingredients! Therefore I really appreciate it that Wegman's took the lead to have in-store bakeries.

Wegman's and business
As I've learned from Marion Nestle's book, What to Eat, in terms of business model, what distinguish groceries like Wegman's and many other groceries is, family-owned groceries such as Wegman's don't have to work for the stock market, and therefore can possibly aim at a balance between making profits and fulfilling other missions (such as providing good food?). For a lot of businesses that have stock holders, making profits is not enough, and sometimes is even a failure. Many of them have to maintain an increasing rate of profits in order to boost stock holders' confidence. This means, their profits must increase almost exponentially for several consecutive years. Such profit increase would be hard for most businesses. To make it happen, a business has to try everything to maximize its profits - for a grocery, this often means carrying products (often "bad" food) of maximum profits and dropping many others (often good food). 

In this sense, although Wegman's is a grocery, it can be a role model for tea businesses too. With the expansion of American tea market, there will be a lot more large companies, and tea companies have started entering the stock market. Generally speaking, such expansion is a good thing, and indicates a new era of American tea market. On the other hand, I believe, for tea drinkers and tea businesses (small and large all included), the vitality of tea always lies on its diversity.

Oct 1, 2011

Blog Sale - tea shirts and others...

First, my apologies - this is going to be a very long blog post, as there are quite a few items, a bunch of photos, and I am rather talkative...

These items are of limited amount and not available in the store (or not yet). Most of them are not found else where in the country. The prices are made low for blog sale and do not reflect future store prices of the items.

Please contact me through email (admin at lifeinteacup doc com) for purchase. Feel free to pick up some free samples from our web store. For North American buyers, shipping can be combined for blog sale and any web store purchase.

Shipping is $4 flat for US and Canada, $10 for Europe.

Items will be shipped in 1 week but sooner if possible.

1. Hand-painted Tea Shirt. $22

These are hand painted with eco-friendly paint. Custom design for Life in Teacup. Please ignore the size tag on the tea shirt. I normally wear S to M size T shirt, but couldn't fit myself into the female size XL from China :-p There are two sizes (both bearing XL label though):

Smaller size: 15.5" from shoulder to shoulder, and this width can be stretched to above 21". Length is 23". This is similar to female T shirt size M or slightly smaller.

Larger size:  19.5" from shoulder to shoulder, and this width can be stretched to above 28". Length is 27.5". This size is similar to male T shirt size M .

Since these are hand painted, they require more carefulness in washing. Hand washing is preferred, or at least for the first time. Ideally the shirt shouldn't be soaked in water for more than 30 minutes. When washing it for the first time, it helps to use salt water for the first rinse. If using machine washing, gentle cycle is required and the shirt should be turned inside out. 

The first order of these tea shirts are mainly for family and friends. So currently there are only 2 yellow ones and several white ones available. I would love to hear what people think of the design and whether hand-painted design is preferred to ink printed design.

Front: The line says "There is a world in the teapot."

Back: lotus flower.

Yellow color (small size only)


2.  Hand sculpted ceramic teacup. Sold.
This is one of my recent favorite :-D
Height: 1.9"; Diameter: approximately 3.3"
It can hold about 50-70ml
Since it's hand sculpted, the shape is slightly irregular and ceramic color pattern variation exists from cup to cup.

3. Pair teacups of lotus flower and lotus seed pod. Thin porcelain. Made in Jing De Zhen. Hand-painted under the glaze. Since the patterns are hand-painted, small variation exists from cup to cup. $28 per pair. There are 3 pairs available.

Each pair has a cup with lotus flower and another up with lotus seed pods. These are my recent favorite :-D

Height: 1"; Diameter: 3"; each cup holds about 50-60ml.

Chinese traditional aesthetics put great value on theme variations that reflect natural patterns, especially seasonal transforms. In the old days, it was a fashion trend to make two gowns that were almost exactly the same, but one with flower buds of plum flower or lotus flower, and the other gown with the same plum tree or lotus stems but the flowers were at their blooming peak. The first gown was meant to be used for the morning and the second gown for the afternoon. I don't think I can ever afford this kind of things (or afford the time handling this kind of things). But I like the idea very much!

I also have a pair of hand painted shoes that reflect such fashion (the shoes are not for sale :-D) Now probably you can tell I love lotus flowers very much :-D

4. Porcelain gongfu teapot. Sold.
Height: 2.5"; Length: 4"; Width:  2.5"; Volume: about 120ml (4oz.).
It has a 7-hole strainer.

The teapot is made for Taiwan market. Due to the design of the spout, it takes about 20 sec. to pour all the water in it (when it's tea, it will take slightly shorter time). So it's probably suitable for Taiwan greener style oolong, green tea and/or red tea. The pouring time could be too long for Yan Cha, Dan Cong or puerh.

It's not artistically made, but very well made and handy. It can pass the block-the-hole-of-lid water test, which is quite outstanding for a porcelain teapot.

5. Porcelain tea jar. Hand painted plum flowers. There are 2.
Height: 2.5". Wdith: 2.5" at the widest.

$14 each.

Although it's not up to artistic level, I've found the painting on the jar quite lovely and unique. The jar is made for Taiwan market. It seems a market trend in Taiwan that the lid has filling material and foil to make the jar better sealed. So it can be used for green tea or greener style oolong.

6. Lapsang Souchong sample set, including 5 samples, 5g each. Purchase is limited to 1 for each buyer at this time. $5 each set. (They will be labeled as 6a - 6e.)

6a. Traditional smokey style - leaves were intentionally chopped. Plum sour and slightly smoky. Although it's a smokey style, it's not as smokey as lower grade Lapsang Souchong. If interested, please let me know and I will also include a sample of Grade II Lapsang Souchong (the one from web store) for your comparison. The Grade II is smokier, yet it's not the smokiest Lapsang Souchong compared with many others in the market. If there is no particular request, Grade II will not be included as it's not at the same grade level as other samples in this set.

6b. Superior Grade Lapsang Souchong (this is the same one from the web store) - relatively heavy flavor, slightly smoked, but doesn't taste very smokey.

6c. Lapsang Souchong - relatively heavy flavor, slightly smoked, but doesn't taste very smokey. It's a little hard for me to decide if I like 6b or 6c better.

6d. Lapsang Souchong - unsmoked, relatively light flavor.

6e. Lapsang Souchong - unsmoked, relatively light flavor. 6d and 6e are more similar to each other than to the rest of samples.

7. Tea samples. $1 each. These are for tasting purpose only. I will prepare 10 samples of each. Purchase is limited to 1 sample of each tea at this time.
(1) Jing Mei Tang 2007 Bao Zhuo shu puerh. 8g sample. Here is what it looks like from Jing Mei Tang official site. But ignore the price on the webpage. They put a high price tag on this tea just because they barely have any of this tea in stock.

(2) Jing Mei Tang 2007 Bao Zhuo Red Iron Cake sheng puerh. Made by Chang Tai. 8g sample. This tea was made to mimic Xia Guan style. It doesn't have the highest level of leaves, but focuses on untamed flavor, smokiness and powerful aftertaste. Worth mentioning is that although it's a 2007 tea, it uses significant amount of 2002 leaf materials. Purely dry storage and is already quite drinkable now.

Here is what it looks like from Jing Mei Tang official site. But ignore the price on the webpage. They put a high price tag on this tea just because they barely have any of this tea in stock.

(3) Yi Ru Chang Flowing Water 8g sample
It was discussed here in the blog and here on Steepster. 
I eventually got more of this tea and probably can't help getting even more soon :-D

(4) Old tree Tong Cheng Small Orchid green tea 8g sample. This is of the same cultivar but different version (from older trees) from the Tong Cheng Small Orchid in the web store.

Buyers are welcome to claim some free items:
(a) I've got some more samples of modern green style Tie Guan Yin. They are of various grades, but most range from decent to outstanding. I can't have too much modern green style oolong, so please take them away!

(b) Nan Jian Tu Lin 5g mini sheng, made in 2009, with leaf materials from 2005. If you have tried mini sheng before, probably 80% of the chance it's a bad memory. If that's the case, take this. The leaves are very choppy. But the taste is decent.

(c) Da Dian 5g mini sheng, made in 2009, with 2009 leaf materials. Decent leaves and decent taste. This tea completely changed my view on mini sheng.

(d) Wild oolong 2011. 2010 version was discussed here in the blog. 2011 version is made from the same tea but with slightly different style.

Question and comments are all welcome! Learning about what you think is my best gain!