Monday, June 14, 2021

Gaiwan, Gaibei, zhong

Joyeux festival des Bateaux Dragon! C'est le jour où la tradition chinoise veut qu'on puisse faire tenir un oeuf debout autour de midi! C'est aussi le meilleur jour pour puiser son eau pour le thé! Et c'est aussi un jour où l'on boit beaucoup de thé pour aider la digestion des zhongzi, cette spécialité basée sur du riz qui colle bien!

Comme j'avais mon livre du National Palace Museum sur le thé sous la main, j'en ai profité pour faire quelques photos en complément de mon cours sur le 'gaiwan, gaibei et zhong'.

Vous pouvez voir ci-dessous que pour des accessoires similaires, le nom varie sans raison apparente. Cela montre qu'il n'y a pas de différence entre wan (bol) et zhong. Bei (coupe) est généralement un peu plus petit, mais quand c'est un gaibei ou un gaiwan, on peut utiliser l'un ou l'autre nom indifféremment. Par contre, dans mon cours de ce weekend, je vous apprends que le mot zhong avait une utilisation un peu différente durant la dynastie Qing. D'ailleurs, on voit qu'autrefois cela pouvait qualifier même un bol ou une coupe sans couvercle.

Voici quelques pièces et leur nom officiel au National Palace Museum. J'ai traduit le mot clé souligné:
Zhong


Bei

Wan

Gaiwan

Gaiwan

 Tous ces noms officiels proviennent des inventaires des empereurs de Chine. 

Et pour finir, voici ma photo d'un des plus beaux gaiwan du musée. Il est en porcelaine turquoise du règne de DaoGuang (1821-1850):

Friday, June 11, 2021

Absolute Beginners

This weekend, my live video tea classes on FB will be about gaiwan, gaibei and zhong! It's the Absolute Beginner's tea vessel! As we are approaching my blog's 17th anniversary next week, I thought it would be fitting to mark the occasion by learning more about this fantastic tea vessel. It's the brewing vessel for beginners and experts alike. It's a reminder that despite the years of learning, we remain Absolute Beginners in front of tea. And that's how we can keep this passion fresh and alive, and keep on tea blogging!

If you miss the class, don't worry, I'll post it on my YouTube channel

Honestly, I had no idea that tea blogging would turn into such a long undertaking and a new career for me. It has allowed me to be a 'stay at home dad' and take care of my kids (with my wife) every day for the last 17 years. I'll be forever grateful for interacting with so many kind, knowledgeable and passionate tea friends over the years. 

During all this time, I have never purchased a single ad on Google, Facebook, Instagram... All my promotional activity is dedicated to teaching tea and spreading the beauty of tea through my social media accounts. And instead of paying advertisers, I have always preferred to give gift samples, tea books... to my customers! Satisfying you is the best way to achieve a sustained reputation. So, to celebrate this anniversary, I have just reduced my prices on over 40 products for a limited time only to say THANK YOU!

And here is one of my favorite songs (and movie) from (with) David Bowie:

 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Stealth Naked Kombucha is the best kombucha

As a kid, I always loved Coca-Cola. I had the right to drink a can for the Sunday lunch (while my parents were enjoying a bottle of wine)! During the summer vacation by the sea, I would have a can every day. So, naturally, 29 years ago, when I was a student at a university near Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, I always had a big bottle of Coca-Cola in the fridge. This seemed the American thing to do as a French student adapting to life in the USA!

I've written before that tea saved my life by helping me stop my addiction to Coke. I've stopped drinking soft drinks, but I still enjoy drinking sparkling water, and sometimes I like to add some apple juice to my sparkling water. In the summer, this is a very refreshing mix.

But I have found an even better alternative: Stealth Naked Kombucha! It's made in Rhode Islands by Ron Chapdelaine, with teas from Taiwan selected by me! Ron was vey kind to send me several bottles of kombucha made from my traditional Oriental Beauty from Hsin Chu, high mountain Oolong and a mix of Hong Yu and red tea from the East Coast.

At first, when I tasted the kombucha, I thought this is amazingly similar in aroma to my mix of apple juice and sparkling water or cider. The fruity aromas feel completely natural and they linger nicely in the aftertaste. It feels clean, pure, full of sparkling energy and freshness. However, one thing bothered me. It tasted very sweet, not acidic or funky as one expects it from kombucha. So, I gave Ron my feedback and his answer amazed me even more.

 "The sweetness you experienced is not candy like sweetness found in soft drinks (there is only 2g of sugar in that kombucha which is nothing) but sweetness solely from the bacteria derived by the transformation (fermentation). You see, Beneficial bacteria is difficult because there are hundreds of different kinds of bacteria. Some bacteria like acetic acid (main ingredient in vinegar) is a weak acid with a very insulting foul taste but the more difficult bacteria to get have wonderful natural world class sweetness without ever the negative effects of candy like sugar found in soft drinks (sucrose).  These difficult bacteria that have a natural sweet flavor are also stronger acids which means they have the better ability to bind to the toxic metals in our bodies and transport them out through the liver.

The sweetness you referred to is natural sweetness from the bacteria not table sugar sweetness. If you concentrate where the sweetness falls on the palate you will notice it kicks you in the back of the tongue while your taste buds for table sugar is at the very tip of the tongue. Forget about kombucha, a good tea in of itself should be sweet and this also shows up after the transformation but doesn't mean the tea sweetness is bad for reason you know and reasons I just I mentioned.

Making good kombucha is all about a perfect balance and this balance that very few get is very rare. 99% of kombucha is not properly balanced and this is why they all add flavorings - to make up for and disguise their mistakes and negligence.

Believe it or not, I'm the only person in the world doing a true naked kombucha."

Ron adds the following that makes complete sense: 

"Kombucha is only as good as the tea and water you use because both provide the kombucha culture the nutrients it desperately needs to grow, reproduce and eliminate (in the for of co2). The bubbles you noticed is all natural carbonation which is another byproduct of fermentation. An imbalanced kombucha has no natural bubbles because the transformation never really evolved. Most kombucha have artificially injected carbonation - shake that stuff and it is like a hand grenade. One thing is certain, it would never survive a rough trip around the whole world. You may notice my kombucha had natural bubbles but they were under complete control. Again, the balance...

The sediment on the bottom should be released by a light swirl as the sediment includes many beneficial nutrients. The kombucha I sent you would have been even better if let to settle three weeks giving everything the time to all come together as one again but it was fine to consume it now. The elixir would have also cleared up nicely. My kombucha ages like a fine wine or fine tea and this is why I age it after bottling (curing days found in the documentation to the right on the label). I like to cure/age for 3 months but usually 1-2 is fine. The OB kombucha would have been more well-rounded if cured at room temperature a few more weeks  but that batch of OB kombucha is all I had and I wanted to get it out to you."

My bottles arrived at the end of January 2021. They were so delicious that I tasted/drank them quite quickly, but I kept one bottle half empty in my fridge until today. It has aged 4 months after being opened and half emptied. This is not the aging that Ron recommends. He says that it's best to finish a bottle within a few days. However, thanks to the sediments, I thought that it would regenerate itself. And it did!! After 4 months, the kombucha was still sparkling, sweet and maybe even more fruity! Actually, it also reminds me of apple cider, especially the kombucha made from high mountain Oolong!

This experiment of aging half a bottle for 4 months is the kind of tough test that I apply to select my teas. If the leaves still produce a nice cup of tea when they over brew, then they will taste even better when my customers brew them with attention. This test has confirmed the extreme high quality of the Stealth Naked Kombucha! I'm glad that my teas helped Ron improve his kombucha even further! 

So, if you live in the US and enjoy a fresh sparkling drink in the summer, I really recommend you try this amazing Kombucha made by a passionate guy who's insisting on the same outstanding quality as me! 

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Video: Tea happiness starts with the preheating step

This video is the start to a shorter tea clas format. I think it's better suited to the second half of 2021, now that the Covid lockdowns are progressively lifted all around the world. We should all spend less time behind our screens! According to the number of views, the comments and the likes, most of you seem to agree! Please watch if you haven't done so, yet!
   
The weekly lessons continue at the same time on my Facebook page. That's 10 PM Eastern US on Friday evening. The advantage of the live class is that you get to ask questions and receive my answer. But in order to keep the video short and easy to watch, I won't post these live interactions unless I find them necessary to clarify my class. 

These classes are free and open to everyone, but it's easier to learn with me if we brew the same teas (from my selection) with the same accessories. You can also see these videos on my YouTube channel. And you can support my efforts for spreading tea culture in English, French and German by liking the videos and sharing them with your tea friends!

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Thé noir, pas tout à fait noir, il reste l'espoir

Le titre de cet article est inspiré d'une chanson de Johnny Hallyday "Noir c'est noir", l'adaptation française de "Black is Black" du groupe espagnol Los Bravos. Quand la chanson de Johnny sort en 1966, la plupart de ses fans sont des ados, comme ce puerh! Les paroles résonnent avec la vie personnelle du chanteur. En effet, il vient d'apprendre que sa femme, Sylvie Vartan, demande le divorce.

"Noir c'est noir
Il n'y a plus d'espoir
Oui gris c'est gris
Et c'est fini, oh, oh, oh, oh
Ça me rend fou
J'ai cru à ton amour
Et je perds tout"

Cette chanson de rupture plonge son interprête dans le désespoir. 

"Je suis dans le noir
J'ai du mal à croire
Au gris de l'ennui
Et je te crie, oh, oh, oh, oh
Je ferai tout
Pour sauver notre amour
Tout jusqu'au bout"

A la seconde strophe, Johnny est encore dans le noir, mais il décelle une lueur d'espoir avec le gris. Ce texte français de Georges Aber est plus subtil que l'original anglais où la couleur 'grey' sert surtout de rime à 'went away' et pour amener une autre couleur qui est intraduisible "feeling blue".

"Si un mot peut tout changer
Je le trouverai
Il ne faut plus en douter
Il faut essayer"

Dans la première semaine de semaine, juste avant la rupture officielle, Johnny enregistre des chansons pour son prochain album à Londres. Il veut bien faire un essai pour cette chanson particulière, mais ce qu'il ne sait pas, c'est que le réalisateur du disque fait un enregistrement de cet essai. Et c'est cette unique prise de son, effectuée dans les conditions du direct, qui sortira en disque!

"Noir c'est noir
Il n'est jamais trop tard
Pour moi du gris
J'n'en veux plus dans ma vie, oh, oh
Ça me rend fou
De perdre ton amour
Je te l'avoue"

Et c'est vrai que dans la vraie vie il devient fou. En effet, le 10 septembre 1966, le jour où il apprend la rupture de Sylvie par voie de presse, Johnny avale des barbiturique et se taillade les veines. Heureusement, son secrétaire Ticky Holgado le découvre et l'amène à temps aux urgences. 

"Maintenant pour le sauver à tout je suis prêt
A l'instant de la vérité pourquoi en douter ?
Noir c'est noir
Il me reste l'espoir
Oui gris c'est gris je n'veux plus d'ennuis, oh, oh
Ça vaut le coup de sauver notre amour
Rien que pour nous
De sauver notre amour
Rien que pour nous."

Et cette chanson aura un succès immédiat et phénoménal. Elle sera No1 pendant 4 semaines et on vendra 200,000 exemplaires. Elle permettra aussi à Johnny de se réconcilier avec Sylvie Vartan. Ils feront un triomphe ensemble au printemps 1967 à l'Olympia de Paris! Tout n'était donc pas noir et il fallait bien toujours garder espoir! (Ce n'est que le 5 novembre 1980 que le couple finira par rompre définitivement.)

Mon puerh cru des 50s illustre ces paroles, car il ce thé de la famille noire n'est pas entièrement noir comme le serait un thé fermenté manuellement. Cela se voit à ses couleurs variées à sec, la belle couleur ocre foncée de l'infusion et les teintes brunes de ses feuilles ouvertes. Mais surtout, c'est un thé qui reste vivant, plein d'énergie et d'une immense douceur! Et c'est un peu de ce doux plaisir qu'on ressent en entendant ces vieilles,belles chansons d'il y a plus d'un demi-siècle. Ce plaisir est encore plus intense si l'on a la chance d'être sensible aux arômes du thé qui nous transporte au temps du yéyé!