Feb 17, 2011

a personal review of 2010 tea

(Photo by Robert Seto.)

Every year, my greatest tea pleasure comes from varieties that are completely new to me. In the past year, I was very lucky to have tasted some new varieties. Some of them I had wanted for years. Some of them were completely surprises and found their own ways to me.

New varieties that I tried in 2010 and absolutely adored include:

1. Orchid Fairy Twig - my favorite green tea of the year!

2. Zhang Ping Shui Xian - one of the most aromatic Fujian oolong I've had! I didn't get time to taste this tea until early this year. But it's a 2010 autumn tea. I also managed to obtain a privately charcoal-roasted version of this tea, which will arrive in a few weeks. 

3. Tong Cheng Small Orchid - It's somewhat similar to a few other green teas from Anhui. But I was very excited to taste this tea, just for the sake of getting hold of it.

4. Zen Patriarch's Tea - One of the tastiest green teas I had in the past year. Besides the taste, it just feels great to have a tea rooted from the earliest Zen-tea culture. In addition, thinking of this tea, I will always remember sipping it from Grandpa's gaiwan in my parents' sitting room on summer afternoons. Every time upon the first infusion, my mom would say, "This tea smells so good!"

5. Yong Xi Huo Qing - It's so much better than I had expected that I felt guilty for having neglected it in all these years.

6. Huo Shan Huang Ya - a traditional yellow tea made into green tea in modern time.

There were teas that came out of accidents. I don't know if they will be produced again in the coming year, but I enjoyed the experience of having them. One such tea is the Red Dan Cong, as a result of artistic rescue of blizzard-attacked tea leaves. Another is Wild Oolong from our Shi Fu of Tie Guan Yin, in order to kill time while yields of a few other oolong varietals were diminished by the snowy weather.

There were also familiar varietals that were from unique sources or made in novel ways. One of them is special edition Tie Guan Yin (blended with high mountain Mao Xie). Semi-wild Huang Shan Mao Feng is another unique product of a familiar variety. It's another of my favorite green tea of the year. Every time drinking it, I felt like to kiss my teacup out of joy :D Although being quite insensitive about puerh, in 2010, I got this one that made me feel like falling in love. It's a bold idea blending old tree leaves. It can be a wonderful idea when the producer knows what he is doing.

In my tea adventure of 2010, I also had a lot of fun making my first group of Tea Grapefruits (this actually started in the last few days of 2009) and trying out the legendary Battle of Dragon and Tiger.

I am grateful that 2010 was a great year of tea. Now waiting for the earliest 2011 green tea to arrive in several days, I expect to have a lot of fun of tea drinking in 2011 too. Cheers!


Rich said...

Hi Gingko,

Sorry, been so wrapped up with stuff that I forgot to wish you a Happy Chinese New Year. Then I forgot to wish you a happy end of Chinese New Year (Yuan Xiao). So... Happy (early) President's Day!

What a nice list of 2010 teas; great idea. Inspires me to think of one of my own.

Thanks for your nice write-up of the 1980s oolong. In the time since, I have acquired several new "old teas," including a unique Tie Luohan from the 1980s/90s. You have a more experienced palate for mainland oolongs, especially Wuyi yancha, that me, so I think you will not only be able to better enjoy this tea, but to also tell me a bit more about what you think of it and how it compares to modern ones. I'll send it out to you soon. It comes individually wrapped in 5gr servings, 12 to a colorful tin box.


Lelia said...

Wow, you have been busy this year! Thanks for giving us lots of new things to try this year.

Gingko said...

Rich, the same to you! And congratulations for the recent life changes that you have! I would love to see your 2010 tea review too! Thank you very much for sharing some most unique teas with me! I have very limited experience about aged oolong, and have learned a lot from you and your blog!

Lelia, what's great about tea is one can always look for new varieties and there is no end :D

Rich said...

Thanks Gingko - I believe there's a lot we can learn from each other and our collective experiences. I'm always very interested in all of the unique finds you get off of Taobao, too! I have yet to seriously dip into that paradise for tea lovers as I know that once I start, it may be quite a difficult new obsession to control!