Thursday, 30 September 2010

Jin De Zhen tea set

I have been slumming it somewhat with my various gaiwans and cups since I started my little tea fetish. As with all hobbies I guess at first glance the prices of the finer things are shocking but after time one's 'price gag reflex' starts to relax and we spend ever increasing amounts. So I have been getting by on some rather average gaiwans that was until today when my Jin De Zhen tea set came to visit.

The set comprised of a gaiwan, jug and six cups with matching fragrance cups at a total cost of about £62. I must say that I was very much drawn towards the use of fragrance cups after seeing them in Hobbes' excellent tea blog. After much searching around the internet I didn't find much to choose from and settled for a non glazed set which Nada had lying about but the naked clay seemed to absorb the aromas. Do I need six cups? no, but as it came as a set I decided to go 'all in'.

Whilst not hugely priced this is a very decent tea set for the money. Perhaps it is all in my mind but I have really enjoyed my first session, the more subtle flavours in the soup were easier to discern, the huigan improved and the smoothness of the cups as they touched my lips gave me an extra dimension to each sip. Today was a good day for drinking tea.

Why didn't I invest earlier?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Our little London trip

It's one of those things, I take my girlfriend to see Camden Town in London, a busy market renown for quirky fashion, in your face food stall sellers and dodgy dudes hawking oregano in little plastic baggies. We spent a good couple of hours mooching around, I was happy to just tag alongside until I caught sight of some teapots.

"Tea!!!" I proclaimed and off I scuttled, probably showing the first real interest in the afternoons browsing. Somewhere near the very northern edge of the stables area of Camden was a little tea shop specialising in matcha and other Japanese green teas. For about three quid or so a drink, we sat down with a matcha and a more fancy genmaicha matcha latte with the usual complimentary sweet tit bits that come with it. The fare was actually kinda ordinary, but this is Camden after all and it provided me with a welcome little tea break away from the usual Camden garb.

Next stop, Vitaorganics in the Soho district, an oasis of good nutritional vegan food and a favourite place of mine to eat when I'm in the area. I just feel better about myself after eating there. Again for three quid or so I ordered a pot of kukicha as the day was dragging on and I felt like avoiding caffeine. Out came a small tetsubin pot of quite tasty kukicha resplendent with nuttiness and sweetness. I had a peep inside the pot for the twigs only to be disappointed with naught. It's not a fancy tea nor complex but it's thick caramel soup kept me entertained whilst I munched away and watched the unusual locals go about their unusual Soho lives.

Sometimes it is not really about the tea you drink but the experience around it that lingers in the memory for the years that pass us by. I think I might have some more matcha and kukicha soon.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Why do I drink tea?

An odd hobby?

It is an odd hobby I suppose, drinking cow pat shaped lumps of tea that can cost more than gold but there is little about my choice of past times that could be considered mainstream.

You begin to notice things in greater detail

I guess the main reason why is that I have the chance to develop an appreaciation for something elusive and fine. By seeking such I also have a chance to reflect inwardly upon myself which is a gift. Lastly, and most unexpectedly, I have met new friends, again a great gift.

Why do you drink tea?

Friday, 3 September 2010

2010 Nannuo (Essence of Tea)

Even the Emperor can wear simple clothes
It's no secret that I have the complete selection of pu erhs from Essence of Tea this year after my visit to Falmouth. I didn't realise that they had picked a Nannuo this year and correspondingly didn't put it on my list until Nada mentioned it.

"No harm in having another cake!"

I poured out some spring water that was a full five litres the day before but was now two thirds gone! Have I really been drinking so much? Like the other cakes from Nada a chunk of leaf was prized off without much of a fight and the individual parts easily spread, "There seems to be a few extra streaks of silver." I noticed. A strong fragrance from the bing emerged.

Forgive my rather naff pictures taken off my iPhone, I tried my best to capture the light yellow colour of the soup. Using very quick steeps the soup was indeed fruity, very melon like, sweet as sugar with a strong presence of green apples. I thought it was a little bit astringent, which again made me think of apples, as my mouth was left a little dry, the huigan was candy sweet too around the sides of my tongue.
Light clear soup
After several infusions it started to settle down and level out with straw and butter, I feared the most that I had finished my journey when up pops the huigan again filling out the back of my mouth. A few more infusions and the job was done.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Tea in the park

Uneven pouring on uneven ground

Today's theme doing the tea blogging rounds is tea outside so it seems and as I have just this minute returned from sitting in the park with some roasted Dong Ding oolong I thought it apt to post a picture or two.

Actually the tea was quite spoilt by the remaining flavour of my flask tainting the water with the faint whiff of  Chinese herbs.

I love my new pot
Still, tea was drunk, food was devoured and an interesting passage on the clinical application of Rhei Radix et Rhizoma (大黄) was read.