Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to All

The past month I have been trying many samples of sheng to decide on a cake to get for Christmas.
Unfortunately I still have not found the one cake I have to have. 
So I'll keep sampling until I find the one I really want. 

Christmas Eve was a nice time with family, we had a nice dinner and exchanged gifts.
I did not have tea, but I made my homemade fruit punch. Made with green and red apples, hawthorn apples, plums, yellow cherries, cane, jamaica leaf, and cane sugar. All boiled in water and drunk warm.
 I will finally have some good gungfucha sessions as I am off of work for the next two weeks. 
And I have a 92 brick from Hong Kong which I have been waiting to break into. 
I think I will break off a chunk for Christmas evening.

I have forgotten what this tea was, all I remember is its a '92 300 gram sheng.
If anyone knows what it is I would really appreciate any info.
And I hope everyone has a great holiday season. And stay warm with a hot cup of tea.

Friday, November 30, 2012

1999 Fuhai Yiwu Yesheng

Sometimes you drink a tea with a tear in your eye, 
this is almost the case of my session today. 
The one traditional stored sheng that I really enjoyed a sample of, 
but when I finally went to order a cake, it had vanished.
This is the last little chunk of 99' Fuhai Yiwu I had tucked away in my cabinet airing out for about a year now. 
As I remember the initial sent and flavor it was a bit wet tasting, as it came from EOT.  But this was the one sample that I did really enjoy from them as after the initial steeps it became a very good tatsing tea with some complexity and good chi, and decent price, and so I wanted at least a cake.
The wetness has mostly subsided now, leaving a very enticing leather and spice aroma to the dry leaf.
The chunk is very dark and aging well.
After a quick rinse the leaf still emanates a slight humid sent but quite subsided.
The first infusions are actually very good now, bringing a full leathery, mushroom, and grain flavor, with a very spicy and lively mouthfeel. I sit in meditation, close my eyes and breath deep, collecting the chi and just letting go of the stress. 
As I open my eyes I feel renewed and calm, after only two infusions.
The infusions continue on, building a very serene sense of being. I am not sad that this was my last little chunk of this very good tea, I am quite happy as it is just what I needed at this precise moment, at least had the chance to enjoy it. 
It gave me a very good session today that was very needed.
I bow to you, good tea.

Here is another bonsai that I ahve been training for quite some time now.
It is a siberian elm, which is an air layer from a large branch from a big tree.
This one will be ready for show maybe this next year, and I have just the right pot for it now.
Sorry bad lighting on the pic.
Siberian Elm informal upright

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving day, I am very thankful for having a great family.
The day went well as we all gathered at my parents house for the big dinner.
My two brothers and I all made a small turkey each, a little turkey competition.
Mine turned out quite good,  I made it as I have been doing for the last few years in my fathers old wood burning heater out in his barn.  It was made with an orange-honey-butter sauce and a homemade stuffing. 
After the big meal when we returned home I washed it down with a few infusions of 
2010 Guafengzhai from PuerhShop.
It brews up a very nice strong tea, and settled the heavy meal well. This tea is one of my favorites, as it is very savory with just the right amount of bitterness and a bit smoky in the first brews. Better than many of the extra expensive new cakes from the same area.
Thanks to all of you for reading.
I will try to get back on the blog more often.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Just a Cup

As the fall season is well underway and winter approaches, my work gets very busy. as I work two seasonal jobs that overlap a few months. I am still drinking tea every day but with a much more everyday manner. Only getting a chance for Gungfucha on the weekends.
First thing in the morning is go turn on the kettle.
And before going out the door throw some sheng, either samples or moacha usually in the thermos mug, before I was using a glass infuser but two weeks ago it broke, fell out the door at a gas station. It did not shatter but the inside layer had multiple cracks. Oh well.
So back to the mug, I reinfuse the tea in the mug a few times during the day 
as I pretty much drink tea and  water all day. 
At the end of the day just a small chunk of sheng in a handmade large cup/bowl and reinfuse a few times.
It is a simple method but very relaxing, and I have been getting to use all my cups.
Every cup does give a different flavor.
handmade cup collection
favorite glazing

I have also been noticing that I have been prefering the younger shengs in these types of brewing methods.
The trick is to use a very small amount so you dont get an overly bitter brew.
Then on the weekends I go for the older teas and have been dipping into some dark roasted oolongs also.
I am still trying to make a small list of teas that I would maybe want for Christmas as my wife usually lets me pick my gift. So maybe I will pay for half to get something really good. 
Any recomendations, I am looking for some good over 10 year old blended sheng that is still available.

Friday, November 2, 2012

2011 Gu supervised Handmade Xi-Gui Tuo

So I had bought this 250gram Xi- Gui Tuo from Ebay a few months back.
  It is actually a compressed ball of raw spring pick leaf, made on 4/8/2011. It reminds me of a softball and is quite nice looking.  Looks to be made of small leaf and buds just judging by the compressed leaf.
 Very enticing color also. 

 I almost didn't even want to break in to it, as it is so perfectly shaped, but my pick wont take pity on it. It breaks apart pretty easy with the pick as I pry some leaf from it. 
 It has a very mellow straw and fruit sent to it, just enough to be tempting. The liquor is quite clear with just a tinge of yellow. It is a very light smooth tea with very soft aroma and flavor. It has the straw and sweet sugar cane flavor, with a bit of bitterness and astringency. I push the infusions much longer than my usual timing but it stays very soft, just getting a little more bitter with the extra time.

 It does last very well holding its sweet flavors but never opening up into something special. Has to be all plantation material as there is not really any chi feeling, and the mouthfeel is a bit drying. Very relaxing though. I think this would be a very good tea for maybe someone barely getting into sheng, as it is very smooth and sweet, and forgiving if infused long. Its another example of something that looks so very nice, but does not have the strength and character of the not so nice looking. So I will let it sit and look pretty for another year or two and try it again, maybe it will wake up in a few years.

And yet another bonsai.
This is a Norway Maple I dug up about 8 or 9 years ago from my parents house just before they moved.
It has more of a sentimental value to me as it was from the home where I grew up,
 surrounded by very old norway maples. 
This has been styled in the literati or bunjin style, evoking a feeling more than a real tree image. 
It has very big leaves as you can see the last leaf to fall sitting on the pot. The pot was made by my friend Fred who also made a few of my tea cups.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 Bai Cha Yuan

Ok so finally I get around to the fourth 2012 Zhi Zheng Tea sample.
They dont have it for sale yet and I dont know any info on it but...
 The dry chunk and loose leaf looks very good, long full leaf with a very feint vegetal sent.
It must be of a very light stone compression as the leaf has no sign of any breakage. 

 First infusions release a light buttery, nutty, apricot, and vegetal flavor. The aroma is of buttery veggies.
 Around the fourth brew I get a little astringency and bitterness also, but very light.
It is a very smooth buttery brew, with little bitterness and full of almond and fruit flavors.
I think of the four samples it is the lightest, as it begs for my full attention.
Now on the sixth or seventh infusion I get a very strong sweet cane, sugary flavor, wow.
I thought it would die down but it actually opened up in the later infusions,
 with the sweetness and vegetal notes coming to the forefront. 
The mouthfeel is light as it does give a nice feeling but not that lasting.
The chi is mellow, as I have to focus to feel it. 
It starts to fade out around the twelfth brew but keeps the vegetal flavor for a few more as I push it hard.

 Infused leaf is full with absolutely no breakage. Two very green leaves and a bud, and dark large leaf.
I have to say, this is maybe the best looking infused leaf, no broken pieces!!

Overall this is a very interesting tea, long lasting but very quiet as you have to pay close attention to really be rewarded.
Now of the four samples I have to say Nan Nuo is tops, hands down. But all are very good.
The prices are on the high scale but in line with other full hand made, well chosen teas.
Top quality.

 And yet another Bonsai.
This is an old boxwood removed from a five foot tall hedge about six or seven years ago.
I started cutting it down little by little thru the years and have finally got it to the size I want, next is wiring the branches and refining the foliage pads. The trunk and root formation is just outstanding, reminding me of old penjing style plantings. It will be ultimately planted on a stone slab.
What side do you like most?


Side 2


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2004 Xiaguan JiaJi Tuocha

I do have one more sample of the ZhiZheng teas to post, but I found this little untouched 100gram tuo hiding in my oolong cabinet and had to give it a try.

The first impression is good as it has the signature xiaguan heavy sent when I open the wrapper.
 It does give up its age though as it smells much smoother than some younger xiaguans I have.

Of course its always good to see the big G imprint on these as I think it is a sign of better quality.
It comes as all tuocha, extra heavy compression, but my pick breaks off a chunk with little effort. 
I do find a small piece of brown egg shell, someone must have been enjoying a good farm fresh egg.
 After a quick rinse the aroma is heavy with camphor, slight smoke, and some astringent citrus notes.
I have to say this is one of my favorite puerh aromas.
 The first infusions give up very strong citrus, leather, wood, camphor, and good astringency.
The mouthfeel is quite good, showing some spiciness and thickness. 
 After a few brews it turns to a sweet citrus leather concoction, still holding its thickness, I am really enjoying this tea. I guess I'm a sucker for xiaguan tuocha.
It's strength makes me go out into the drizzly windy weather for more training. 

The Tiger is a good form to tame the Crane of xiaguan.
As I practice my favorite Tiger form which comes from a Taoist five animal style.
The hard external and soft internal movements strengthen the entire being.
The chi is focused.

As I get back to the tea it seems to take another turn.
A smooth honey wheat note arrives, but still holds its camphor and sweet citrus.
 The spiciness and astringency is replaced with a very cooling almost minty sensation.
I am now tea drunk, so I will let it rest overnight and finish it off in the morning.

 On a side note, you may have seen this little cup accompanying my regular cup in the last few posts. I have been breaking in this Duanni cup for a few weeks now. It was a gift from Peter of puerh.sk with one of my orders. It really smooths out any rough edges in stronger sheng and is starting to give a good cup.

And here is another bonsai for you.
American Elm, collected by me from a large hedge about 6 or 7 years ago.
Cut to a stump and branches developed.
It has come along quickly,  and is now starting to get a good branch structure.
The apex needs to be shortened and branches thickened and ramified.
It will get a good wiring soon.
 Maybe another 3 years to get to the form I want.
Last leaves hold on.

Ready for its winter sleep.

Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 Bulang Peak Spring Pick

The third sample from Zhi Zheng Tea Shop.

 First impression from the dry aroma upon opening the bag is of citrus fruit, with a bit of woodiness.
The chunk of tea is very good looking with more of a medium compression that comes apart easily.
 As I pour the first infusion a citrus spicy aroma arises and fills my senses. The liquor is quite a bit thicker than the other samples. The mouthfeel is thick and lubricating, filling the entire pallet with a bit of honey and spice.
There is just the faintest hint of tobacco and bitterness in the aftertaste.
 It really is a thick smooth liquor. The later infusions release a full honey broth with much sweetness.
It lasts well over fifteen or so infusions as I just lost count.
The chi in very energizing and sends me out for some extra form practice.
All in all a good tasting tea with a really good mouthfeel and thickness.
 I drank another bit of this one in the gaiwan to see if I got any differences.
It was very smooth and fruity, with the same thick liquor and strong chi.
Not really any changes but as I used much less leaf it was just without bitterness.
A very good tea.

Good looking medium to large size leaf.

More fall color on bonsai.
Trident Maple in full color

Large Siberian Elm dropping leaf