Sunday April 9, 2006

Well, Sunday afternoon was reserved for another day of tea tasting, this time the new qingxiang tieguanyin I got from Beijing a week ago.
Compared to the stuff I tried yesterday, the packaging cannot be more different. When I bought it, they essentially took the tea out of a big, vacuum sealed bag (the bag probably held about 2-3kg of tea). Scooped some out, let me try it, and when I decided to buy it, weighed the stuff and then put them into small, 50g bags that are obviously generic tea vacumm bags. The vacuum seals on the qingxiang tieguanyin broke while on my way back, while the ones for nongxiang held. The store itself was barebones, with no real decoration to speak of. They were one among the dozens of stores in the tea mall on Maliandao. The way the building was set up, it was basically a series of large cubicles — walls that don’t go up to the ceiling – and each store was about 100-200 sq. ft. At least I know that whatever price I’m paying, not much is going to packaging or rent.

They had a dizzying array of qingxiang tieguanyin, of various grades. When I said I wanted one, she asked, very specifically, what type I wanted. I said I would take one that is qingxiang, higher in fragrance and preferably not too bad in the mouthfeel department. Then I had to choose a price range. It was a process that required some knowledge, and I can see people who don’t know much about tea getting pretty lost in that area.

Anyway, on to the tea. The tea leaves themselves look rather similar to the ones from yesterday, except this is greener in colour and the colours are, in general, a little fresher looking. The dry leaves also smell a bit stronger than the stuff from yesterday.

When I brewed it, the first few infusions yielded a light green liquor. Yesterday, the Fook Ming Tong stuff, was darker, more yellow than green. The taste of today’s tieguanyin is very much a fragrant one. There is a strong note of vegetal taste. As I went into the 3rd/4th infusion, the liquor changed into a yellower tone, and the taste got a little more robust and less vegetal. There a nice aftertaste that lingers well beyond a few seconds throughout. The “cha qi”, however, seems a little weaker than yesterday’s tieguanyin. I didn’t buy the really expensive grade of tieguanyin, and it shows. The greeness of the tea though is a little surprising — I don’t remember it being quite so green in the tea store. Then again, they used a pot, rather than a gaiwan, to brew it, therefore it was possible that some of the taste I was tasting was from the pot. This is always a danger of testing teas that are made from the pot. If it’s seasoned enough, and tea store ones generally are, you’re never quite sure what it is you’re actually drinking.

I’d consider this a good buy, and a nice variety to have around compared with the other ones I’ve had the past few days. Too bad I can’t just go to Maliandao again to try some other stuff. I remember that day, by the time I got to that store, I was already rather high on tea and was on the verge of getting drunk.

Four days is enough for tieguanyin though, and I’m ready for a change. Too bad tomorrow is a work day that will keep me from home, which means take out tea. Yay….


Comments

Sunday April 9, 2006 — 4 Comments

  1. Hehe…now, I know you don’t take British tea seriously, but I’m happy to share that my parents just delivered me several hundred PG Tips British Blend teabags straight from the source. I take comfort in the fact that each cup I make is exactly like every other cup I’ve ever had, plus the distinctively metallic “Shanghai tapwater” aftertaste, of course. We (half) Brits don’t really like adventure in our tea. Enjoy your new purchases and try not to get too addicted to caffeine!

  2. Heh, I know, caffeine addiction is probably worse than nicotine.

    The only British tea I take seriously is darjeeling, but I am generally less of a fan of red tea, so I don’t tend to drink it a lot. When I do, it’s when I’m out of the house and I have to buy it from somewhere. Darjeeling is quite flavourful — give it a shot if you haven’t tried 🙂

    Gotta love the Shanghai water, but not as bad as Beijing!!

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