Tieguanyin (unknown maker)

Found in a red tin in the back of my family’s tea cupboard. Had about 10 smaller red packets of tea inside, each about 10g, so I used one packet. I thought a packet was a gongfu brewing suggestion (or something like that), but in the end I think it was definitely too much leaf for my gaiwan!

tieguanyin
Before & during & after 15 steeps.

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Teaware GET!

> You are now THE BLOGGER.

> You obtained a FINUM BREWING BASKET! Now you can brew tea without having to fish tea filters out of your mug with chopsticks. You put it away in your TEA STUFF HOARD.

> You obtained a THERMOWORKS POCKET THERMOMETER. You’re not sure if this will measure water accurately, but hey, a thermometer is a thermometer. You put it away in your TEA STUFF HOARD.

> You obtained a GAIWAN! Plain but cheap. What a steal! You put it away in your TEA STUFF HOARD.

> You gained 50 xp points. Your level has risen! You are now a SLIGHTLY MORE SERIOUS TEA NERD.

> You obtained a WHITE SAKURA TIN! You can put loose leaf tea, tea bags, erasers, chocolates, or stickers in here. But why would you put anything other than tea? You put it away in your TEA STASH.

> You obtained a 30G TIN (RED)! You put it away in your TEA STASH.

> You obtained a 30G TIN (BLUE)! You put it away in your TEA STASH.

> You obtained a 30G TIN (GREEN)! You put it away in your TEA STASH.

> You obtained a 30G TIN (YELLOW)! You put it away in your TEA STASH.

> Would you like to write something to the LOG? [yes] [no]

> LOG: “Now that I have these tins, I obviously need to buy more tea to fill them! /laughs irresponsibly while wallet cries”

teaware-get
taken on the floor because I’m a lazy bum

Kuradashi Tea (Uogashi Meicha)

We have some Japanese friends who kindly gifted us with some Japanese tea. I didn’t know what type of tea it was until I took a careful look at the kanji and looked it up in a Japanese tea guide booklet, which came in my Yunomi order of genmaicha. Kuradashicha – green tea that’s been stored? I think this is the correct tea, but as I don’t know Japanese, it’s just an educated guess. This is a kuradashi tea from Uogashi Meicha, a company which owns tea places in Tokyo. Our tea was given to us a while ago, so it’s a few years old already, but man. This tea is delicious.

kuradashi-closeup

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Teaware thoughts

Now that I’m gonna go for this serious tea drinking hobby, I think I might want to get some basic teaware things. In order of interest/importance:

  1. A gaiwan for gongfu brewing. After witnessing gongfu-style brewing at T Shop, I know that I want to try brewing this way. Don’t need an expensive one – we’re going to a restaurant supply store in Chinatown in a few days, so hopefully I can find one there and sneakily buy it without having to explain or justify the need for it to my parents. >__>
  2. brewing basket, which would just be useful when I don’t want to do the full ceremony and just want to brew in a mug. I anticipate quite a few late nights over the next semester haha.
  3. digital scale for weighing out tea. Might not be strictly necessary, but I would like to be more precise, if only to better run empirical tea tasting studies. Then I could be like “5g of tea” as opposed to “two pinches and a tiny dash.”
  4. tea board, which certainly isn’t necessary but would make me look legit as heck.

These will probably cost… a fair amount of money… but it’s for tea! I can sacrifice for that.

Also, it’s a sign of my obsession that yesterday, when I went to the mall, all I could think was: if I don’t buy these $12 jeans, I wonder how many grams of oolong that will get me? My new tea obsession is actually restraining my formerly unrestrained habits of buying lots of clothes. Dang.

Quick thoughts on Puerh (from a tea bag)

Found a red Chinese tea bag in our cabinet that had 普洱茶 on it! I hadn’t tried puerh tea before, so I brewed it (after finding, to my surprise, that the tea bag actually had loose sheng in it). A few thoughts:

  • ruddy color
  • thick, unsweet
  • tastes like unsweetened 豆腐花

Given that it was just from a tea bag I stumbled across in our cabinet, I don’t know how close that taste was to real puerh, and whether it was raw or ripe. I did like it, though. Now I’m even more excited to try real puerh.

puerh-bag

Tieguanyin at T Shop

A few days ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to go into NYC and visit a tea shop that I’ve heard a fair amount about on Serious Eats and reddit. It was a cold winter day when I went in – maybe around 15 F, so I was looking forward to drinking warm tea.

It’s a small shop in the back of a long corridor. No one else was there when I went, except of course for the owners of the shop. I took a look at the menu, then decided on a tea tasting session – $10 for 5 brews of a tea done by an “expert.” Because I don’t know my oolongs one from another, I asked for her suggestion, and we ended up with the tieguanyin.

The tieguanyin was delicious. Nutty and sweet, a milky milky mouthfeel. A taste that lingers in your mouth. The first cup, she told me, is like an introduction to the tea; in later steeps, the tea matures and produces a much fuller taste. At one point, another customer came in so she left to help him, so I sat there, enjoying the taste of the tea left in my mouth from previous cups.

After the tea tasting session, I bought 2 oz of their Four Seasons Oolong for $12, which is about as much as I can afford right now as a student. Note to self: when money, buy that tieguanyin. She generously also gave me a bit of her Roasted Nantou, which she had suggested when I asked for an oolong that wasn’t tieguanyin. (It was $20 for 2 oz, out of my budget.) Can’t wait to try the Four Seasons Oolong, which unlike my tieguanyin, isn’t roasted.

I didn’t take pictures because somehow, it felt like taking them would be an interrupt to this tasting. But I’ll definitely go back there at some point.

Chocolate chili chai (DAVIDsTEA)

Maybe I should stop labeling everything “TTT” (Tea Tasting Tests). Then again, I’m not really writing reviews of tea – don’t think I’m experienced enough for that. This is literally just documentation of my progress from “only drink tea from tea bags, and sometimes Vitamin Water” to actual tea-hobbyist/amateur. Hence the steep-by-steep thought log. More thoughts: maybe I should post things on this blog that are not about tea. After all, it’s eat drink draw code and not like drink drink eat drink. (Har har. I’m so funny. I may be a senior in college but I’m always going to be middle school child.)

Chocolate chili chai tea, from my DAVIDsTEA loose leaf stash. I’ll be honest, I taste a little chocolate, just a hint of chili, and just about no chai.

Which might be a good thing. I had chili chocolate once, Lindt. The combination of spicy and sweet confused my tongue. Not an experience I’d like to repeat.

chocolate-chili-chai
What are the pods?? They look like unpopped popcorn…

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Jade Citrus Mint (DAVIDsTEA)

Just smelling it out of the bag, I can definitely tell there’s a good amount of mint. Unsure if I like this much mint or not – it really controls the entire taste of the tea.

jade-citrus-mint

Don’t have time for a long post, so just posting here to record what tea I’ve tried before. I’m so unused to the taste of mint in my tea. It is a fairly sweet tea. I taste just a little bit of the citrus, but really, the main focus is the mint. Mint is a very strong flavor, and it sticks in your mouth even after the tea has gone down. Given that these teas were part of a Christmas set, this makes sense, but I don’t really like it because I felt like I didn’t taste anything besides the mint.

Flavored blends are alright, but based on what I’ve been tasting, I’m leaning more and more toward unflavored teas.