Thursday, June 23, 2005

Additional notes on my newest Yunnan 2004 tasting

I am adding pictures of the open leaves and of the color and clarity of the tea 'soup'. See below and above. That's why I just tasted my 2004 again, and decided to apply the advices I wrote.

And what a good surprise to see (taste) that my advices are working! Today, I took my time to flake the cake leave by leave. I think I didn't break any leave today, as opposed to Tuesday when I was so excited to taste from it. I also reduced the amount of dry leaves, which are so full of vigour. What I didn't change is the water that had just reached the boiling point. (I remain true to my tea master's teachings not to use lower temperature water to reduce the bitterness).

The result is a pleasant young pu er flower bouquet with some smoked wood smell and a little bitterness behind all that. I am amazed at how the bitterness dramatically dininished. The careful flaking did the trick. It worked so well, I think I shall use a few more unbroken leaves next time.


Cindy W. said...

After your advice to me about the dong ding oolong, I've been using the boiling water more often, and rarely lowering the temperature -- it does take some experimentation to get things right, but when it works it's fabulous. :)

Question 1: do you also use the higher temp water for white teas? what about green?

Question 2: I've read that some suggest steaming a puerh cake or tuocha for a few minutes to loosen it, then delicately move the leaves to separate. What do you think of steaming the puerh? I worry that it would alter the flavor, so I haven't tried it, but it does seem to be a gentler method than breaking or flaking.

TeaMasters said...

Happy to hear your oolongs taste better now (and you can use a little less leaves since they give out more flavor at higher temps!)

Answer 1: I haven't seen white tea in Taiwan. I confess my inexperience. For Chinese green teas I also use the highest temperature, but I pour slowly and carefully on the walls of the gaiwan, from a very short distance. Japanese teas may not stand such temp. They are more fragile.

Answer 2: Here is a comment I made just minustes ago on Yahoo's Tea-Disc Group:
"Following a discussion about steaming a few months ago, I asked my tea master (writer of over 10 books about tea in Chinese and creator of - nice picture of a huge pu-er leave posted there recently-.) about it.

He told me then that he feels the same thing as the French do when
they see Taiwanese businessmen drink French XO Cognac straight up in shot glasses. He even said he wouldn't call it drinking pu-er anymore!
For your reference only.

I haven't tried steaming and can't say if it changes flavor or not
(something must be different if you need to dry it afterwards!) But I can testify that you can taste a big difference if the flaking was carefull or sloppy."

The flaking, done slowly and carefully, can be like a Djenga game. You put some pressure on a spot with a knife. The leaves open up a bit and then with your fingers you try to find the leave that will come off without breaking, then the next etc. You could almost play it with a friend. Each time you break a leave it's your friend's turn to flake. The one with the most leaves wins!

Cindy W. said...

Your tea master's response made me smile, in part because I have myself sipped expensive cognac from a shot glass upon occasion. At least it's better than a styrofoam cup!

I like your Jenga game metaphor; it brought forward a vivid image of the process. A puzzle with a reward of wonderful tea at the end seems like great fun.

Thank you very much for your thoughtful response. :)