May 11, 2014

spring time tea

Perfect green tea season now!

I had a tea gathering with my friend Bin and his wife. Obviously my friends are of the Facebook generation. Bin took photos during our tea drinking and post them on WeChat (which is used more than Facebook by a lot of Chinese). All the photos below were taken by Bin.

I asked Bin to select tea to drink and the order of drinking. It was a challenge because we could just drink so much tea no matter how much more are available. We ended up tasting 5 new green teas, which turned out a good amount. The types of tea and order of drinking were casually determined by Bin on the spot, and they turned out excellent choices.

In our drinking, we used a very small teapot to share the tea, in attempt to save our tummy space for more types of tea. But this is not a typical Chinese way of drinking green tea. If it were not for the purpose of multiple tastings, I would serve people tea in a glass or a tea bowl, or a personal gaiwan for each person, for them to drink directly from the gaiwan. I would use one of these method.

We had Shi Feng Long Jing first. I sort of pushed for it, as a way to show my hospitality :-D Although I believe each tea has its unique strength, in China, treating guests with Long Jing is a way to express that the guests are taken very seriously.

We then had Tai Ping Hou Kui, which is another showy tea that a host would be happy to serve the guests. We didn't have my favorite vessel of brewing Hou Kui on the spot. But we managed to brew the tea nicely.

The third tea was An Ji Bai Cha. It turned out we used more tea leaves than the most desirable level. But luckily for An Ji Bai Cha, it's usually ok. This tea is featured with high nitrogen contents and low carbon contents, compared with many other green teas. Therefore this tea doesn't usually get bitter even when over brewed.

The next tea we had was Orchid Fairy Twig. We brewed it in a yixing teapot that's not very absorptive. And I figured that next time I would rather brew it in a shibo, or glass. This tea has very floral aroma, and it could get lost in a teapot with certain height.

The last tea we had was Lu Shan Yun Wu, this one made by Uncle "si shu" again. This time again, we used more than usual amount of tea leaves. But for Lu Shan Yun Wu, I often intentionally make it stronger, first because the tea wouldn't be harsh on stomach even when brewed strong, and secondly because the tea has very nice liquor texture, which is more prominent when the tea is made strong.

Overall, we had a good time, enjoyed the tea, and exchanged quite a bit gossips :-D I'm glad that we started with Long Jing and ended with Lu Shan Yun Wu. Among all 5, these two both have very long lasting sweet aftertaste, and their flavor is of lower tone compared with the others. In Chinese tea aesthetics for green tea, the lower tone types of aromas (such as the so called "chestnut aroma" of Long Jing) are often valued more than uprising aroma (such as floral aroma). Drinking several teas in a row somewhat helped me understand such traditional aesthetic. Somehow, among the 5 teas, Long Jing and Lu Shan Yun Wu became more impressive than others. They are both very good statement teas. But maybe it would also be a nice idea to put Long Jing later in the sequence. When we had Tai Ping Hou Kui after Long Jing, we felt that the aftertaste of Long Jing was reaching into our Hou Kui tasting, and could be a bit distracting.

Tea always tastes better when you share it with friends!


Scott said...

Great selections, and what a wonderful gathering! Really enjoyed your tasting notes and overview. Great post, thanks for sharing.

teteriaonline said...

Very interesting post! Enjoyed a lot!
Best wishes!

SimpliciTEA said...

Hi Gingko,

I had a couple of tea tastings myself recently, so it was good for me to read about your experience and compare/contrast it with my own. And, such beautiful tea-ware!

I completely agree with this: "Tea always tastes better when you share it with friends! " I don't know about you but I am finding as much as I love how Tea engages all of our senses, Tea's true gift is in it's ability to bring others together to share fellowship.

Eli Joseph said...

How cool is that! I haven’t made green tea using this method. Thanks for sharing it! Well, I like Green drink more that green tea. A green smoothie is the best thing to start your day. I also add some fruits in my smoothie.

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