Saturday, February 27, 2010

Compare, drink, enjoy or an ordinary day of a tea blogger

Tea knowledge can be found in books, on the web and in tea classes with a master/professor. There is a lot that can be learned like this. The first step is to gain access to reliable sources for the knowledge. However, tea isn't an abstract science, but a very practical one. So, the second step is to experiment with tea to understand what you've learned or just to train your tasting skills. Here again, it's important to have a reliable source to get your standards right. And the whole process of learning and testing should bring you joy!

So, today, I started with a first experiment: comparing 3 different Jinxuan Oolongs to better understand the nuances of this (sometimes underrated) tea. So, I had the winter Zhu Shan and the spring Lu Shan Jinxuans from my selection and one sample from this winter from Ali Shan.

I used my blue Cha Bu to create an appealing Cha Xi that, I feel, is in harmony with this light and fragrant Oolong type. They say students learn better when they are happy and interested in their subject... Such a setup required and received my full attention.

I could 'feel' the difference between the floral, bursting spring flavors compared to the colder and lighter winter flavors. I could feel the depth and concentration from Lu Shan. I felt something similar with Zhu Shan, but with a little less strength (due to a lower elevation). And I felt a dark and exhausted soil from Ali Shan. (This was the reason I hadn't selected it.) It's still difficult to put words to characterize the smell of jinxuan. I would try with light milk caramel with a fresh twist.

Next, I want to test different cups with shu puerh. To get into the mood for this tea, I flip my Cha Bu and replace a porcelain jar with big a stoneware jar. I use a (Shan Shui qinghua) gaiwan to get a neutral result that will be only impacted by the cups.

The gas fired industrial porcelain cup gives the lightest brew. It feels boring and flat compared to the three wood fired glazed cups. In these cups/bowl (more on them next week), the puerh feels thick and rich, smooth and sweet. They are an excellent fit with this tea.

There are countless experiments and comparisons one can perform. They all involve drinking tea and the satisfaction of learning!

8 comments:

Karen said...

SO beautiful--my eyes just want to continue drinking in both tableaux. Thanks for sharing.

Stephane said...

I wish you a lot of beauty with the Cha Bu that you will soon receive! Please send me a picture of your Cha Xi if you have an opportunity!

David said...

Reading... Testing... Story of my life these last days. And I am so glad !!

Your blog is a very good inspiration for that.

Have a nice weekend.

Evan said...

Great post, Stephane. I just bought my first Yixing pot today and you've inspired me to do a little experimentation. I'm testing two teas (a Denong wild pu-erh and a winter '09 Da Yu Ling) with my two tea vessels (a white, glazed porcelain gaiwan and the newly-acquired clay pot from Yingge, Taiwan). Thanks for posting!

Stephane said...

Thanks David and Evan. I'm glad that my blog could inspire you! Did you find anything interesting that you wish to share?
Evan, which vessel brewed your Da Yu Ling better?

Virginie said...

Bonjour Stéphane!
Je suis très amatrice de thé,ça fait un moment que je te lis et je découvre depuis peu que tu disposes d'un catalogue à merveilles!
Benoît (ma route du thé)m'a envoyé le lien malheureusement il ne fonctionne pas.
Peux-tu me dire comment faire pour pouvoir le consulter stp?
D'avance merci!
Virginie (virgilafee@hotmail.com)

Evan said...

While the Da Yu Ling is great in both vessels, I think I prefer it with the clay pot. The pot seems to better accentuate the round, mellow aroma of the tea and really brings out the mouth feel and aftertaste.

I'm undecided on which type of tea to primarily use my new pot for. It performs well so far with pu-erh, aged oolong, and high mountain oolong. I may have to seek outside opinion from some tea friends here in Seattle who would know better than I.

Stephane said...

Evan,

Thanks for reporting your findings. I recommend you continue to test your teapot. With time and experience, you will know it best and you won't need other people's advice. The purpose of these tests is also to train your palate to become more sensitive and discriminate.