Friday, August 17, 2012

Pleasure of Trading Mystery Samples

For many of my friends and acquaintances, I'm a food fairy of sorts.  It's always a pleasure to be able to provide something they would not have had without my intervention and a double bonus if they really like it.  I gave out 70 boxes of Rabbitos Royale last year which remains my biggest hit to date but I like to keep my food surprises more targeted to specific palates.  But on the flip side because I've tried so many things, edible surprises are getting rarer and rarer for me.

But yesterday I was so pleasurably surprised at work that I am still smiling about it.  Recently I traded samples with the ever generous Ira who is my tea fairy.  On top of the CGHT and a Nannuo, Ira gave me four mystery samples which looked like shu and I took one to work yesterday not thinking much about it.


I was rushing about trying to get my brew in amongst the other coffee drinkers in our company's rather tight kitchen.  The leaves look dark but it doesn't look quite right. I only took a few leaves in case things don't turn out.  But the brew looks light- that's not shu I think to myself.  One sip and I know it's not shu or at least the kind I drink.  OMG I think to myself- it tastes much more like the aged sheng I've had except much much mellower.  I brew up the first few cups and run back to my desk. It has a beautifully comforting sweetness like maple syrup with a warm qi.  This is the back rub Israel is talking about. I do not need to send my Heng Li Chang to Berkeley Massage school as he suggests.  This tea already knows how.

The brew did not reveal any complexity or depth in my rather casual work brewing setup but it melted some bubbling tensions away. (I had to restrain myself from boring you with a rant on inadequate engineering designs.) There is a tiny tiny bit of wet storage which goes away. I pleasurably drank the rest of the tea which lasted 7 cups until it gave out. Probably with hotter water, I could have pushed it further.

Mystery Sample B was a 1990 CNNP 7262 shu that has been lightly fermented.  Ira also had included the answers for me in a sealed envelope hidden in the box. The Neifei says "Menghai Lang He Cha Chang".  I would appreciate any information regarding this shu. She also sent me a younger version for comparison.

I desperately want to try both examples today under more ideal conditions but I have a rather hot date with another tea I set a week ago.  I need to keep my palate clear.  Otherwise it's like showing up for a first time date already having kissed someone else. (Actually I have a raffish neighbor who does more than kissing before his dates.  His latest mishap involved a dead cell phone battery. Having missed some rather important texts, he brought two ladies back to his place only to find his current steady girlfriend waiting for him in his bed.  He is NOT a tea drinker I might add.)

10 comments:

  1. Hi Hster,

    Glad you got your back rub. There are very few teas that have that warm, knot-melting effect upon me. These teas truly make my muscles feel as though they had been kneaded. And I find myself breathing very easily and deeply and my brow feels very relaxed and comfortable.

    How do you drink tea at your office? Do you brew in pots/gaiwans? I'm always curious how folks brew tea when they are away from home. Since I work outside, I'm reduced to "grandpa-ing" or pitching hong cha into a thermos in the mornings.

    Israel

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    1. Dear Israel,

      I wonder what shengs if any can actually be pleasurable grandpa style. I think pre-brewed sheng may be more tolerant. Often times if I have a sheng that was brewed about 4 times, the next day I find the tea can be overbrewed and still give an interesting cup.

      On my work brew setup, you can see the photo there but I'm a teapot girl. Gaiwans require too much dexterity for me.

      http://teacloset.blogspot.com/2012/08/2012-ys-yiwu-purple-tea.html

      Hster

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    2. I drink grandpa style sheng everyday in my glass tumbler http://chakungfu.blogspot.com/2012/07/daily-tea.html , as thats what I take to work. The trick is to use very very little leaf, just a pinch, and you will have a good brew most of the time. I usually use left over samples or maocha.

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  2. I understand this post is several months old, but I'd like to share a small portion of wisdom regarding taking tea from home on an outing or an expedition to work.

    Leo Kwan, the man behind TeaGuardian, did some trials and found out how to produce an acceptable brew for the thermos without worrying about overbrewing. His findings was that if you stopper up a full strength infusion (from a teapot) or try to leave the leaves in there, it'll go bad fairly fast. His trials revealed that if you brew a pot of tea using about 1g per 200ml of water (1/2g per 100ml) for 5 minutes, you will have a fairly acceptable tea that will last in a thermos for a good length of time. You simply decant through a filter and into the thermos it goes.

    It doesn't work with all teas. Shu's work best, followed by hongs. I've had good results following his advice; shu's and shenhulin dabai's rank best. Charcoal style tieguanyin is "ok". Whites and greens aren't hanging in there.

    More details: http://teaguardian.com/how-to-make-tea/tea-in-thermos.html#.UWYur6Jg-w0

    Really enjoying your site, looking forward to delving deeper.

    M.

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    1. You can leave aged oolongs in thermoses forever and they just get better. One of their biggest selling points that isn't promoted enough.

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    2. I will give that a try; I happen to have some 2006 Charcoal style Tieguanyin. What ratio of tea to water do you use?

      M.

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    3. Try around 5 ounces for a thermos, you can add more if you think it's not enough.

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  3. Five ounces of tea? Goodness that's a lot!

    M.

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  4. I could do that; just hot water, leaves and go or do you let it sit a while (overnight with cold water, etc)?

    M.

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