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!)