Aged tieguanyin

This is an aged tieguanyin that I picked up along with the aged shuixian I had yesterday

No indication of when this was, other than that the loosely rolled style signifies something from at least probably 10 years ago — nowadays tieguanyin are mostly tightly rolled, Taiwan style. I haven’t seen many tieguanyins that are new that are loose like this.

The tea smells musty when water first hits it. I thought puerh. In fact, the wash and first infusion smelled so much like puerh, for a little bit I wondered if she gave me a puerh instead.

Doesn’t it look right?

When I sipped it, it tastes almost just like the Yetang aged Dongding that I have. There are subtle differences — this one is a little less floral (it’s orchid like), and a bit thicker — perhaps because it is a tieguanyin and not a Taiwan oolong. The finish is also different, with this one being obviously stronger. Yet, the similarities are stirking.

The tea lasted many infusions — mostly keeping to the orchid like quality, but at times something else shows, a different kind of aroma than what I got from the Dongding… I don’t really know how to describe it, but it’s unique to this tea. It also cools the throat a bit, like a puerh sometimes will. Doesn’t happen too much with tieguanyins though.

And to think this is only about 1/3 of the price of the Dongding, ugh.

The leaves are quite robust

Much better than the shuixian yesterday. Costs more, but not that much more. Between the two, there’s no competition. I’m surprised this tea isn’t sour at all, but it isn’t. It’s really quite a nice find, I think. Now I have one more tea left from this store — I have high hopes now, given how the last two have turned out. I wonder why it’s kept so well?

Passing the year

Today’s the final day of the year of the dog, and tomorrow (in about an hour) we usher in the year of the pig. In China people would be lighting firecrackers like crazy at midnight, and sleeping might be difficult for a few hours. In Hong Kong, no such things are allowed (all firecrackers/fireworks are outlawed — too dangerous in a place with such a high concentration of population). Nevertheless, people celebrate, mostly by eating dinner at home or outside, but definitely with family. This is about the equivilent of the Thanksgiving Dinner in the US, where families try their best to gather together and have a long dinner. We just finished ours.

During the day today, as you can imagine, it was rather quiet outside, but a little gathering was going on in the Best Tea House. It was, surprisingly, an exceptionally busy day for them. I stopped there earlier with my cousin, but it was so crowded with (mostly Japanese) tourists that we had to take a walk. When we came back, I saw somebody unexpected — sjschen of the LJ Community. He is in town visiting, and by chance found the Best Tea House a few days ago. We ended up chatting a good bit about the teas they had, and started brewing some.

Among the teas we drank was a somewhat wet stored cake, which tasted like a 10-15 years old tea and was still a little sour/green in the undertones, but generally starting to taste like aged teas. Then it was a loose tea from, supposedly, the Menghai area. It’s starting to taste like a real old tea, with a shadow of the Red Labels I’ve had. It’s not quite as strong in the qi, but the taste is very similar. It’s sometimes quite interesting to see these changes in puerh.

Then we tried the puerh I bought for Rosa, which I personally now think is good value for the money. It’s not a great tea now, but it has some signs of a good one to come. The chaqi is strong and the tea is generally good. Rosa was happy with the purchase.

We finished with a high fired tieguanyin. Always nice to drink such things after a bunch of puerh. We didn’t get to the one cake I recommended sjschen to try, but oh well, what can you do. Maybe they went back to the store after dinner? I’m not sure. Either way, we had to leave and so we all left. It was nice meeting another tea friend in person, and it reminds me again of the real benefits I get from this blog — I get to meet all sorts of people from all over the world, people who I would have never met otherwise, all because we share one common interest.

I wish you all xinnian kuaile (Happy New Year), gongxi facai (wishing you to be prosperous – standard Cantonese new year’s greeting), and most importantly, xinnian he haocha (drink good tea in the New Year!)

Lightly roasted tieguanyin

To those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you would’ve noticed that I haven’t had a tieguanyin for a long, long time.

Well, I decided to finally drink one today. As you might recall, I’ve self imposed a “no young puerh” rule recently (although I must say that if I go to Maliandao young puerh will be unavoidable), so it is a great opportunity for me to get away from those young puerh tastings, which isn’t always enjoyable anyway, and back to the stuff that got me started.

On the menu today is a lightly roasted tieguanyin I got in Beijing when I first arrived, some five months ago now, from the store Chadefang on Maliandao, which, incidentally, I have never been back since.

I stored this tea poorly in a papier-marche box. There were two teas that I put in those boxes. One was this, the other was a Maocha. The maocha suffered horribly, tasting like paper. I thought the same fate might befall this one, but oddly enough, it hasn’t. Nevertheless, since I haven’t had this tea for so long (3 months now, I think), I figured I will use the gaiwan today to taste its condition, so to speak.

The first two infusions were light, a bit thin, and you could almost say it was watery. I was a little disappointed initially, but then I was probably out of practice in brewing them. I also decided to add a little of the 5100 leftover from yesterday to my kettle of my usual water, to give it a little kick. Remembering the experiment yesterday, I figured it might give me more from the tea.

The result was as expected — it did. The tea started tasting sweeter, softer, peaking at around infusion 4, and then starting on a gradual descent, but lasting me about a total of 15 infusions or so, which is quite decent for a tieguanyin.

Infusion 5:

Infusion 6:

Infusion 8:

Meanwhile, I kept my tieguanyin pot around to season it with leftover tea. I didn’t want to drink too much, so about 1/3 of each infusion went to the pot, instead of me. When I opened the lid, a film of tea stayed and I took a shot of it

That’s some serious surface tension.

I was pretty satisfied with myself today, mostly for not messing up the tea, but also in rediscovering why I liked roasted tieguanyins in the first place. In a way, drinking young puerh, which is interesting and exciting because of its sense of discovery, is not quite the same as drinking a nice, mellow oolong just for enjoyment. Today I was just enjoying my tea instead of trying to figure out where it’s from, what kind of leaves were used, etc

Although, now that I’ve said that I wasn’t trying to figure out what kind of teas were used, I do wonder if this is tieguanyin at all, or if perhaps this is a benshan. I’m not very good at spotting the difference. The price would suggest a benshan, or a tieguanyin from an outlying region. But whatever… it was nice drinking it. I will probably brew it up again fairly soon, instead of waiting another two or three months.