Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Swedish gourmet food writer visits Taiwan

This evening, Petter Bjerke (right) will go fly back to Sweden after a week of exploration of Taiwan's tea and food scene. He is the author of the book 'Tea- from Sencha to Lapsang' (in Swedish! For some pictures click here).

Last night, Petter told me he spent a wonderful time in Taiwan. The food is so good, fresh and available almost everywhere, even on top of mountains or in small villages. High quality teas, on the hand, were more difficult to find, he said. The only one he liked was a Qizhong Oolong he tasted in Taipei tea shop. Luckily, I could find the time to meet him in a tea shop and taste some of my selected teas with him. We put the teashop's pot aside and mostly used a glazed gaiwan:

- Winter 2007 Li Shan Oolong: very floral, some grassiness, fresh/minty, sweet, delicate and longlasting. Petter thought that this kind of tea is so different from teas known in Europe that this kind of Oolong would fascinate new tea amateurs most.
Then, we compared how the gaiwan compares with my silver teapot. I brewed this Lishan Oolong again, but with the silver teapot. Petter felt the Oolong came out more brisk, pure and hot. The better thermal conductivity did have a positive on this fresh, high quality Oolong.

- Spring 2007 'classic' Dong Ding Oolong from Feng Huang (wih gaibei): Petter asked several times if the tea shop had sweetened the water! But this was caused by the light roasting!

- Wild raw Yiwu puerh of Spring 2003 (only a few leaves in the silver teapot): shows signs of change. In transition. Very concentrated. The open leaves occupy 10% of the teapot only, but the brew shows a dark orange to red color. No astringency and very round and long. You can wait to age it, but it's also enjoyable now. So, why wait?

- 2005 roasted Tie Guan Yin (with gaibei):
The heavy roasting has created dark chocolate notes. I asked Petter to smell both the lid of the gaibei and the wet leaves. He was astonished how different the smells were. The nice, heavy fruit, chocolate and brandy notes were under the lid, while the leaves mostly had charcoal smells.

Here ended our 'tea evening- from Lishan Oolong to roasted Tie Guan Yin'. This is not just to the reference to Petter's book's title, but also a good way to try different teas: from the lightest oxidation/roasting to the heaviest oxidation/roasting.

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