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GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Are there any real temperature guidelines for tea brewing? the OP is incredibly vague.

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GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Devi posted:

Speaking of Asian supermarkets--as someone with access to nice, affordable, totally great loose tea should I skip the tea aisle at Asian supermarkets or might there be something tasty and new? I'd think that as long as I can get what I want from a tea shop I should stick with that but maybe there's something in the market that my shop doesn't have.

Sometimes there will be two tea sections in Asian markets, so be on the lookout. They will have foojoy, yamamotoyama, and bagged ten ren stuff in an aisle, then in front, near the fancier liquor, they will have some fancier Ten Ren stuff, which isn't exactly top notch but it is p good everyday tea from what I hear/read.


Scored this gaiwan at a chinese sundries store today for 6bux


GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



TRIP REPORT



Passed by a fantastic tea shop in Oakland's Chinatown that aldantefax recommended to me in irc (#tea-chat on synirc, come on in). (Lilly's Golden Tea Shop) Picked up some teagear:


And a couple of teas. They were very helpful and prepared a few infusions at their tea table in the back to sample the teas I was interested in.



Walked away with a ti guan yin and a looseleaf sheng pu erh.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Death Vomit Wizard posted:

Thanks for the nice pics/ report. What kind of pot do you plan to brew the Pu Er in? The reason I ask is that its strong smell will completely "take over" the pot. I'd recommend one pot for aged teas/ pu er/ black tea and a separate pot for oolong/ lighter teas (this includes your Tie Guan Yin). This way, your "lighter" type teas will begin to taste better and better as you season the pot through successive brews of only lighter teas. Of course, like all things tea prep, this is not the one and only opinion (but the majority of Taiwanese mostly drink light oolong and have a specially relegated pot for it). I also know a tea farmer who told me that that's all bullshit and I may as well just brew anything in anything.

One view of pots that's a little more universally accepted is that Pu Er is best brewed in a thick walled vessel (I think most Zi Sha pots fit this description), whereas oolongs are better brewed from the thin walled variety. This has something to do with water temperature, but I don't really know more than "oolong should be brewed hot-as-poo poo and Pu Er shouldn't."

Also, what is your opinion of sheng vs. shou Pu Er? And how many brews can you get out of the Pu Er you bought before the leaves are spent?

Yeah, I was planning on using it for only one type of tea, probably young sheng pu erhs. I'm not planning on getting super spergy about Yixing stuff, but it was a good deal and figured why not. For most things I will stick to gaiwan for now, at least until I have money/space for a fancy display case for all the pretties :3

I'm pretty new to puer, Bob_McBob and bears have been helping me out a lot. I've literally tried one sheng, this one, and dozens of unmemorable shous over the years. I've yet to try a truly aged sheng, but I have my eyes on a sample of some 1970's stuff that I might pull the trigger on sometime soon. So far I think comparing young shengs (based on the one sheng I've had and the descriptions I've read online of others) and shous are like apples and oranges. If I was to Yixing sperg, I don't think I would have just one pot for pu erh, I would probably have 3: one for young sheng, one for aged sheng, and one for shou (if I would even grace a shou the privilege of its own yixing pot :P). Since shou ("cooked" or "ripe") pu erh is a style made to imitate the effect of age on a bingcha (tea cake for the uninitiated), I think the better comparison to draw is between aged raw and cooked pu erh. I have not had any remarkable shous to my recollection. I've only had restaurant pu erh with dimsum, Asian market bingchas, and factory-removed tuo chas from online vendors back when they were called "special teas" and not teavana. All of these would brew a deep dark mahogany brown cup (admittedly a very beautiful color) and taste of anything from forest floor to minerally earth to dry autumn leaves. I haven't had any offensive shous, but I know they exist. I have heard that there are good shous out there, but I haven't had a chance to try them yet, I hear good things about the menghai 7562 brick so that will likely be my first foray into "good" shous.

The sheng I have has a pretty cool herbal almost effervescent note of camphor. It brews a light yellow brown cup and lasted about 7 infusions the way I did it last night:

Some tea pics! Here are the dry and spent leaves of the raw pu erh I got yesterday.


GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Dick Smegma posted:

What's good to sweeten green tea with? Honey seems overpowering.

I don't care for sweetened tea, but agave nectar is a nice neutral sweetener that I use for other things. Otherwise make a simple syrup.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Death Vomit Wizard posted:

I've had a few different young shengs that were all cakes made by up and coming Taiwanese-teamaker-setting-up-shop-in-Yun Nan pu er companies, and I liked them all (though not enough to pay the exorbitant price for a cake of my own).

Can you take a picture of the chinese name of your pu er? I'm also curious what the guy told you about the pot you bought and how much it cost. Here's a picture of a small pear shaped yixing pot I've been using for my dark teas. I'm a little proud of my current setup. The steel plate is from my childhood camping set, and the little wooden stand ran me $2 at a flea market:



If you really think about it, bingchas of young shengs aren't really that pricey. For instance, you can get a 357 g bingcha of 2007 Menghai 7532 for 31bux, which is a pretty tippy mix, from a well known factory, using an average of grade 3 leaves. 31 bux for tea may sound like a lot, but when you're only using 5g or so for a 100ml gaiwan, and you can do, like, 10 infusions for each 5 g, 357 g makes a lot of tea.

The pu erh I got was loose in a jar, so I have no idea what factory it's from. The pot was from a different shop, a random kitchen supply shop that carried other things like carbon steel woks and cleavers. It was .

I was in the area again yesterday. I decided to pass by again, as they had some Jun Shan yellow tea so I picked up some of that. They had a friend in the shop and brought out a broken-into bingcha of something he said was 26 years old and raw. I couldn't believe it, so I politely asked if I could have a taste and he said sure. So I have now tasted aged raw pu erh It was pretty amazing. I can see what the shous are trying to get at, but also how they are nothing like the real thing. It tasted like what wet forest floor and fallen leaves smell like, and had a subtle sweetness, but it also had a bit of the camphor notes that my young sheng has, very interesting. Not wanting to push my luck and his generosity by asking to see the label on the cake and all that, I didn't get a chance to see what factory it was from or what the recipe was, but I really enjoyed it.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



MOAR TEA PIX

So here's my current setup with tea table.



Drank some of this potpourri ti guan yin today:



It is wonderful. I'm always surprised how much oolongs unfurl in the cup. This tea has a fantastic floral and green aroma that jumps out of the cup. Subtly sweet, and lasted 3 infusions before starting to noticeably water down. I think I got about 6 infusions before I gave up on them, but then again I also didn't jam leaves into the gaiwan like some do.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Sirotan posted:

The only thing good from Starbucks...

The only thing good from starbucks are their cups. Even their coffee sucks.

</derail>

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



TRIP REPORT

Was in the area after a gig today so I passed by this place in Monterey Park. "Wing Hop Fung" Found it just randomly internet searching for tea shops near me or places I frequent. It was quite awesome.

Tetsubins and clay pots



Yixing selection. The small plain shui ping style ones are about 10bux.



Care for a gaiwan? I found the one I bought for 6bux the other day, here for 3bux.



Looseleaf tea selection. Lungjings, Ti guan yins, and Bai hao yinzhens, Oh my!



Some cheaper bingchas, a few ripe, but mostly raw here. These were from Six-famous-tea-mountain, CNNP, and Mengku.



More pu erh, some older bingchas, in a display case.



Tongs and individual bingchas on shelves behind the counter







My haul:

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



chomper posted:

I got a Yixing (clay) tea pot as a gift... I haven't used it yet and was wondering what the best way to 'season' it is? Or do I not have to season it?

I plan on using one of my go to Oolongs as the main tea I will use in it... if that matters.

http://www.jas-etea.com/pages/Seaso...ing-Teapot.html

I'm sure you know this, but in case you don't. Be sure to only use oolongs of the same flavor profile in that yixing pot, don't use the same yixing pot to brew roasty oolongs as you would light and floral ones.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Death Vomit Wizard posted:

Gunpowder, AFAIK, is just another name for oolong

What? Gunpowder is a green tea.

quote:

Well ya, but there's "yixing" and then there's real yixing. There is nothing special about any kind of $10 pot that you are going to buy in a big store setting. Buy it, and love it, but those are just red clay that may as well be Canadian.

What? I'm not some super REAL Yixing TM DOP sperg or anything, but like, I was just trip reporting, not making any claims on the authenticity of the yixing. Anyway, is the tea made in a REAL Yixing TM DOP any different than tea brewed in a lolcounterfeit "yixing?" A good brew vessel should be neutral tasting (when new), so either the clay pot is neutral tasting, mildly absorbent, and used in the Yixing fashion to which I don't see the harm in calling it a "Yixing pot", or it's an awful pot that shouldn't be used.

Also, Yixing depleted, what? Only things I've read are that due to demand, authentic clay is scarce.

I guess I'm just confused about what you're trying to say, are you saying that they suck? Are you going solely on price? because lol. If it's not expensive it must suck . But then you say that I should buy it anyway and use it.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Death Vomit Wizard posted:

Sorry, that was a spergy derail that I could have made without bringing your post into it. My irk is semantic - I wish there was a common term for "small red/ brown pot" besides yixing. (Chinese pot?) Yixing should be a reference to clay from a specific town is all I meant to say. I realize that due to the nature of the teapot market that this naming convention is only going to increase in popularity, so I should probably just shut up and accept that the term yixing is, in practical usage, very broad.

Well one could just differentiate between Yixing style pots made of Yixing clay, I suppose. But does anyone really care if a Dutch oven was or wasn't made by a Dutch person?

By comparison to the 10bux one I got in China town, these pots at Wing Hop Fung seemed a lot better constructed. Fit and finish was better. The sound of the lids against the pot was definitely more metallic sounding than the one I have. Mine also feels a lot more porous compared to those which were definitely not glazed but felt smoother to the touch. All in all, I'm kind of kicking myself for buying this one when those feel a lot better in quality and value. May buy one of the basic ones for some tieguanyins.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



I cracked a new bingcha last night. Thought I'd write up a picture guide of how to break it up if you plan to use the whole cake roughly right away. The idea here is to loosen the tea cake up while breaking up the leaves as little as possible. Don't do this if you plan on just tasting the tea and want to store it for longer.



Here's a bingcha. I'm away from home for the next few weeks so I brought this random shou distributed by foojoy with me. I have no interest in long term aging this cake so here goes:



Using a pu erh knife, letter opener, or in my case, an oyster shucking knife, insert along the waist of the bing. Twist the knife to lightly to loosen the layers.



Repeat at 1" spaces along the side until you go around the whole cake effectively separating the dimple side from the round top.



Flex the disc slightly but do not bend strongly. Wiggle it back and forth to loosen the leaves:





Eventually, the leaves will get loose enough that you can pull the two chunks apart. Repeat.



Then enjoy some tea!

GrAviTy84 fucked around with this message at Jan 25, 2012 around 22:45

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Oh yeah. I'm in NY for the next 3 weeks and was planning on stopping by The Tea Gallery to do one of their intermediate tastings. I emailed to set up a reservation and I got this reply:

Dae from TTG posted:

Thank you for your interest. I'm sorry but at the moment The Tea Gallery is not conducting any tasting events or selling their teas.
Our partner, The Mandarin's Tearoom is hosting private classes by appointment only. If you are still interested in visiting our tearoom you can learn more details here:
http://www.themandarinstearoom.com/...ss_ep_53-1.html



I may do the Mandarin's Tea Room private tasting, but I'm not sure how it works or what they'll be pouring. Anyway, TTG being on hiatus makes me sad, that is all I am posting to say.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Ok so I got a reply from Mandarin's Tea Room. They said I can take a 90 min puer class at 85bux. I'm kind of tempted to do it considering that it is some of the best tea available in the US, brewed by some seriously awesome teaheads that I can converse with. But then, it's 85bux for an hour and a half of tea. what to do what to do?

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Devoyniche posted:

You can actually steam the cake, as well, if you want to use it all right away, and it will loosen up and come apart in more complete pieces. I've used it on chunks of puerh, and it worked pretty well, but I didn't actually have a steamer and just used a sieve that fit into a larger saucepan half full of water with a lid over it.
It's near the bottom of this page, but of course once you steam the tea you have to leave it out to dry.

The only thing I'd worry about with steaming a cake is the addition of moisture. This can really alter the flavor profile of shengs as moistening and drying is something they do to fake age it or lightly "ripen" it.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



On the off chance someone here is interested and lives in New York, I'll post this. I'm going to be doing the private puer class at the Mandarin's Tea Room this Saturday, and there are 2 more slots available. It is $85pp. PM me if you are interested.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Death Vomit Wizard posted:

Can we get a trip report? I hope you took some pictures! (Or are you sworn to secrecy?)

I wish I could say I'm sworn to secrecy. I got a cold on thursday night and called to cancel.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Goddamn posted:

Just get samples whenever possible, with everything. I've run into $4/100g teas that I love and $4/1g teas that I don't care for.

Keep in mind that tea, in general, is cheap, and is, in general, consumed heavily by people in pretty poor economic situations. While I'm not saying "don't ever be suspicious of anything", taking the "cheap = dubious" train of thought too far can get you ripped off by people who just up-sell a huge margin on the same leaves with a fancier name/package.

I would agree with you for some types of tea, however the class I cancelled was a pu erh class at the Mandarin's Tea Garden. A class at arguably the best tea supplier in North America, for a variety of tea that is renowned for being daunting, confusing, and mind numbingly expensive.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Toriori posted:

I'm having tea pot issues now. Had some goji berry and jasmine tea in my pot, it got left and there were small bits of mold floating in the water. Now I've been paranoid about using the tea pot, and definitely haven't been drinking that flavour of tea since it's just not appetizing to me right now.
Should I just use some soap and really hot water, let the pot soak for a bit and give it a good scrub?

Don't use soap, just some vinegar and a bottle brush then let it air out for a few days.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



aldantefax posted:

Low-grade shou puerh can have fishy undertones, signifying that the actual leaves probably got moldy or were not well kept. In my limited experiences, puerh has a herbal flavor similar to a strong medicine with woody afternotes such as camphor and the like. Generally taken after a heavy meal, it settles the stomach, but is good by itself.

Puerh also should be steeped very quickly - from a gaiwan, as soon as I add the boiling water to it, I pour it out for consumption in less than 10 seconds. The leaves will eventually break up and open up with a little more sweetness and even out the experience, but I prefer the first few steeps that have the most strength.

That said, puerh isn't for everybody, definitely an acquired taste. It has a very fanatic following, particularly in Hong Kong and throughout China, since sheng puerh can be stored indefinitely (with care!) as an investment, and shou puerh can be stored (again stored carefully) for many years without diminishing in flavor.

In addition, I've noticed my shous can benefit from at least two rinses, whereas my shengs just need one. It should also be noted that western tea retailers like teavana and adagio are generally awful for pu erh. They will carry pretty much only lower grade shous. If you really want to experience pu erhs, check out:
http://www.yunnansourcing.us/store/
http://banateacompany.com/pages/puerh_teas.html

Quick primer in case it hasn't been mentioned, apologies if it has:
Shou - cooked. Basically controlled composting meant to approximate, at a lower cost, the long term aging of:
Sheng - raw. These are just the tea leaves picked and then pressed into cakes of various shapes like:

Bingcha: disks with dimples (typically 357g)
Tuocha: birds nests (typically 100g)
or Bricks: well, bricks. (typically 250g)

Shou from larger factories like Menghai or Xiaguan tend to be better than smaller ones. This is because it is a proprietary process to cook tea without getting off flavors, remember they're basically composting it. Smaller factories tend to not really know what they're doing and this can lead to musty fishy flavors.

Sheng from smaller factories tends to be better than larger factories. This is because they have a smaller market share and can use better quality leaves, they are manually pressed, etc. This comes with the caveat that this is a Chinese product, some small companies just give no shits about quality.

Aged shengs will be the best of the lot and two cakes from different factories will likely have very very similar packaging. This is because of :communism:. All factories up until, probably the last 20 years or so, were released under the label China National Native Produce or CNNP (read more: http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2011/...isters-and.html).

If you want to try aged shengs, expect to pay a decent amount. If you plan on getting into pu erh, you should try at least one aged sheng, aged at least 20 years so you have a reference to what the young shengs will turn into and what the shous are trying to imitate.

Resources:
Great advice for newbies: http://puerh.blogspot.com/p/new-to-puer.html (also a great blog overall that favors pu erh)
Pu erh "recipes" http://chahai.net/puerh-qa/
Factory reference: http://www.pu-erh.net/factories.php

GrAviTy84 fucked around with this message at Mar 9, 2012 around 21:57

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



aldantefax posted:

Type: Black Tea (c. sinensis var. assamica sinensis) - edit: pork corrected me in saying that most darjeelings are of var. sinensis instead


This is another big thing about Darjeelings. They are the only Indian tea that is actually Chinese by variety. This can be seen on the palate where Darjeelings tend to be more nuanced and complex than its national brothers and in the caffeine content where assamica can be quite robust.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Dick Smegma posted:

For the gaiwan users. How do you keep the water at the right temperature? With multiple back to back steepings, whats the best option besides a $100 Zojirushi? I want to keep my water at 195. I feel like I spend more time staring at a digital thermometer, waiting for the water to hit 195, then I do drinking tea.

sperg less. The places I've been tasting go based on the sound of the kettle on the heat source. You can get in the ballpark that way.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Dick Smegma posted:

I don't mind being in the ball park. I just hate boiling water over and over and over. I'm a student, and I drink a lot of tea when I'm studying. I just want to pour, brew, and go. I didn't know if something like a cast iron teapot would keep temperature around the appropriate temperature for 2 hours or something.

vOv

I just flick the switch, wait till it boils, and pour. Keep the kettle near you and get a tea tray. It's really not that big of a deal, you don't even have to stand up.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



how long are you steeping for? what kind of tgy? I'm assuming you mean a greener one and not a high fire.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Dick Smegma posted:

My cheap everyday drinker that I am talking about is Rishi's Iron Goddess of Mercy, which I believe is a medium roast. The first few steeps with boiling water were great, but after 3, it all goes down hill and tastes like a bitter mess. Perhaps i'm using too much tea? I steep about 5 seconds the first 5.

rishi is your cheap everyday drinker? You need to find you a bulk Chinese tea seller. I don't know if it's possible to use too much tea in a gaiwan. When I brew oolongs the leaves physically push the lid up when they expand. Could just be that the quality level of that Rishi is coming out, that it really is only good for 3 steeps.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Dick Smegma posted:

Do you have any recommendations? I consider my "good" oolong to be my stash of Verdant Tea's Hand Picked Autumn Tieguanyin.

come here:
http://cgiirc.synirc.net/
#tea-chat

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



TRIP REPORT!

Went to Wing Hop Fung in Monterey Park after a rehearsal today. Tasted some teas, bought some teas, was a good time.


outside


teawares


awesome $1800 stone tea table


Taiwanese High Mountain Oolongs (Li shan wulong)


Weird dragon bench thing




Tasting two dancong wulongs. One at $40/lb one at $138/lb. Without telling me which was which, she asked me which I liked better. I picked the expensive one So I got an 1/8th of a lb of it.



Walked away with an eighth of this, too:


Edit:
Forgot to add this picture! not really tea related, but I drank a lovely restaurant tea while eating them. Stopped by a dumpling house for dinner on the way back home because the 60 was a parking lot.


Xiaolong Bao

GrAviTy84 fucked around with this message at Mar 22, 2012 around 09:13

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Death Vomit Wizard posted:

Awesome post Gravity! I gather that the $138/lb tea you bought was the honey aroma. What about the tea that lost in that taste test, was it a honey aroma too? I find that the honey aroma oolongs I've tried taste very similar to Oriental Beauty (even though they look different), have you tried that variety?

And how do you like your Alishan Jinxuan? As I said before, I personally avoid Alishan teas unless I am specifically recommended one, just because the name Alishan includes such a wide range of qualities. I have a 2011 spring Jinxuan from Hehuanshan (He Huan mountain) that I love though.

The two best high mountain oolong varieties -as reflected by those price tags- are in your other photo. The right-most jar (Da Yu Ling), and the jar next to it (Li Shan). Did you get to try either of those? You should go back in a few weeks after the spring teas have arrived. Tomb Sweeping (Qingming) Day is this Wednesday, so here in Taiwan that means 2012 spring oolongs will start hitting the market next week. I'm not sure about the U.S. arrival times.

The other was a honey aroma also. It just tasted milder, didn't have the balancing bitterness that the more expensive one had, and wasn't nearly as aromatic, the more expensive one just "jumped out of the cup" for a lack of a better description. Thanks for the rec, I will keep an eye open for it.

The alishan jinxuan is pretty good. I know it's not as high of a grade, but I kind of got it as a casual drinker. I didn't get to try the others. I didn't want to push my luck with trying all the expensive stuff, but I also plan on going back, so I will try them another time. I have had a Li Shan before though, a friend gave some to me as a gift a while ago.

Thanks for the heads up on the spring oolongs, I will keep my eyes open.

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Arcsech posted:

Just got some Pu Ehr to try. I actually rather like it, but it's got a pretty powerful smell... my roommate says it smells like "dirt... with a hint of cheap ramen noodles", while another of my friends claimed she smelled "fish bait".

It's not bitter at all, and it makes multiple cups very well, which I rather like. I've been brewing it at 205F for 4-5 minutes. Is the caffeine content of this stuff about the same as normal black tea or more/less?

Is this a cooked or raw/rawaged pu? Is it in tuo, bing, brick, or loose form? Do you know the factory/year? Caffeine content is the same. It is still camellia sinensis.

You should try it gong fu style (more tea, less water, much shorter steep time).

GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



Arcsech posted:

It's Numi's Emperor Pu-Erh (bagged) because going to the supermarket is way easier than getting to the tea shop and I wanted to see if there was any chance of me liking it at all first, and Steepster didn't crucify it so I figured it wouldn't be too bad to get my feet wet with. I'm planning to get some of either the loose leaf or small cubes that Upton sells next time I make an order so I can try it "properly".

I also don't have gong fu stuff and I'm not courageous enough to try it with ghetto equipment I know it's cheap I just haven't gotten any yet.

If you end up wanting to pursue some serious pu erh, just a warning, it is a slippery slope. You can spend serious money on it, like, serious money. Picture mixing wine vintage, vineyard, and winemaker spergery with long lost Chinese tradition spergery and proprietary methods, etc, then make it incredibly difficult to get in the US and you'll have rough idea of how it can be.

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GrAviTy84
Nov 24, 2004



platedlizard posted:

Lately I've been drinking pu-er. I got a brick off ebay a couple months ago and found that it was kinda... tasteless. It's very fermented looking and earthy.

There is a lot of really really really bad pu erh out there. I suppose I could write up a thing on pu erh if anyone cares. I thought I did a while back, but I don't remember.

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