Friday, September 28, 2012

Cure All Miracle Elixir

As fall is in the air, and the temperatures are constantly rising and falling you cant help but to catch a cold.
So step right up I have here the best cure all miracle elixir of our time chock full of antioxidants!
And it tastes good too!


As may people around at work and just anywhere are sniffling and coughing already.
 I have noticed for the past few years by drinking tea everyday that I have been almost immune to the recurring cold I once had every change of season. I have to say I cant think of any other reason for this change, it has to be the tea. Even my wife and son have not gotten sick as much as before, as my son also gets his daily dose of whatever I am drinking, my wife only 2-3 times a week but it has also helped her. 
Now when I do start to feel a cold or sniffles coming I just let a strong young sheng infuse far a few minutes coupled with a good homemade chicken soup and some chi kung, and by the end of the day I will feel much better.
Has anyone else noticed this?

 I have read many different articles and books with many contradictions on the health benefits of tea, with every different type of tea also benefiting different areas of our health. Some even say tea is bad for you.
I myself have lost some weight, and just feel much more healthy and energized.
 I dont drink any coffee at all and never have,  as I just cannot stand the smell and taste. 
Just water and tea for me.

Fall colors starting to show on some bonsai and accent plants.
trident maple cascade shohin

trident maple

japanese mountain maple

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Circa 1990 Menghai 8972

Now getting back to some proper gungfucha brewing I open another sample from Life in Teacup, the 90's 8972 raw brick. Gingko writes about this tea here,  a very interesting tea indeed.

So my first impression is good as I open the package, I am greeted with a very mellow sweet aged sent.
The chunk itself composed of pretty full leaves it looks like, with a good dark brown reddish color.
It comes apart very easily with no breakage at all.
 The first aroma is of wood and rawhide with a bit of mustiness. The first flavors are very aged tasting. Almost having a very top quality shu flavor but with no wetness to be found. The aftertaste is leathery and sweet with just a hint of camphor and fruit. The mouthfeel is very spicy but soothing and filling.
 I notice the chi building fast, with a sensory elevating feeling.
First Infusion

Fifth Infusion
 The liquor is quite dark almost burgundy with a tinge of orange. As the infusions pass the flavor gets stronger and heavier, with a spicy camphor and earthiness coming to the forefront. There is something different about this tea I cant quite put my finger on it. I very much enjoy it because it is giving me a very unique different brew than most other 90's sheng I have tasted.
Tenth Infusion

Twentieth Infusion

 This is a good example of a tea on its way to becoming well aged. It also lasted over 20 infusions. I would call this an actual tea liquor. Spent leaf is a mix of large and medium size, very dark and a bit fragile but thick. I do recommend you try a sample at least, even if you end up not liking it,
 I think it is a unique good tea to try.
I did like it better than the Butterfly Tuo.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Xiaguan Binge Drinking

It has been a full week without a new post, mostly just because I have extra busy. 
Working two jobs, and trying to maintain a good home life, plus training.
 By the time I have been sitting down to some gungfucha I dont want to even think anymore just relax and enjoy the session. 
 The time I have had, I have spent going thru some of the Xiaguan I have on hand, including some very interesting samples most graciously sent by Hster.  
My favorite of the big factory names is Xiaguan, especially the tuochas and bricks.
Is it that I like the cheaper grade material? Sometimes I do.
 I think that when I want to get a full flavored traditional tasting sheng I will always reach for a tuo.
So I have been drunk on Xiaguan all week, and for the hangover cure I just throw the leaves from the day before in my tumbler.
Tonight I changed to a young Guafengzhai and could not get a good cup from it, I have had it before and really enjoyed it. Maybe after all that strong heavy Xiaguan I need to rest my tongue a few days to get my tastes back. I will drink lighter teas and mineral water for the next few days and see how it goes. 

On another note this past Sunday I also very much enjoyed the local Mexican Independence festival and parade with traditional dance, music and good food. A great time with family and friends.

Dance with tequila bottles on there head.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tea with Billy

So thursday night my brother and I went to the grand opening of the first teahouse in our area.
 Madame Zuzu's teahouse in Highland Park, IL.

So this teahouse is co-owned by Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. 
One of my favorite bands from the 90's.
I had read an interview with him before opening that he wanted it to be a 1930's chinese-french style teahouse, so I was a bit exited. I hoped there would be some decent traditional tea at least.
As we arrived around 6pm the small teahouse was pretty full. So I go strait to the Tea Bar? is that the correct term? as I see some tea brewing in some glass pitcher brewers with metal strainers.
 They were serving free tea and some snacks, three tea choices, Gunpowder Green, Earl Grey, and Kings Crimson-herbal. I of course ask if they have any puerh and get a No Puerh. 
 Here is there menu but they only were making those three for sampling so I was not very impressed and wanted to at least try some white or japan green.
Gunpowder green and chips
The Gunpowder was ok but the other two I just couldnt drink. The teahouse looks to just have ok quality teas for the most part. I might go back to try some other teas if I am in the area, but not going to make a special trip. Now what I did like is that Billy Corgan showed up and played a few songs from some of his albums, and that was very cool. As I really like his music.
Billy messing with the piano

My camera died as soon as he started to play so no good pics or video as I forgot to check the batteries.
I took some video on my cell but coudnt get it to upload here.

Overall tea was ok, the place did have a good vibe to it, but it was because Billy was playing there. 
He didnt drink any tea though only water.
I guess it will be a cool place to hang out for some people.
I did have my glass tumbler filled with sheng, waiting in my truck for the ride home.
It was a good time at least, and my brother who really loves smashing pumpkins got a lyrics sheet with an autograph so he was very happy.

Monday, September 10, 2012

1996 Xiaguan Butterfly Spring Tuo

When I got home today I was very happy to see a small package waiting in my mailbox. What could it be? 
I finally received the pre-2000 sampler I had ordered from Life In Teacup, including the infamous Butterfly. I was just thinking this one would have been great yesterday after the Monarch festival, but I have been highly anticipating it nonetheless. I first do some breathing to clear my mind of any outside thoughts or preconceptions about it as it has been highly discussed around the blogs and forums.
I first have to say the wrapper is just plain cool.
And so to the tea.

The first sniff after opening the sample pack gives me sweet plum and woody mushroom aroma, almost reminds me of the sour dry plums I sometimes get in chinatown.
The first infusions gives an aroma of mushroom and spice. As I smell the infused leaf in my pot I do get some mild humid storage aroma, but it does not come out in the flavor.

 The liquor itself is a good clear orange and has a spicy and a bit dry mouthfeel. The flavors are very traditional xiaguan but already changed from the heavy liquors I have found in 2000's tuo's. It develops into some honey sweet,dark, woody, fruit flavors with an almost cinnamon raisin aftertaste.
 I do like this tea and it gives me a good mellow warming chi feeling that actually re-energizes me and sends me out for some form and chi kung training.
As I return to the tea it then turns back to mushroom, leather and wood towards the later steeps.
The comparison I can make in my own teas is to the 99 xiaguan cake and a 2004 tuo that I really like, but this butterfly tuo is a bit lighter.
 I think it is a good xiaguan example but not that extraordinary, but it is worth a try. I enjoyed the session, and thats really what counts to me.
I cant afford it anyway even if I did really love it. I will just let my younger tuo's age a bit more.
 I will say I do very much like xiaguan productions especially the tuo's and bricks because of there rough strong nature.

 As I sniff the infused leaf again I do really smell some humid storage? Is it just my nose or what, because I did not taste any.  The leaf is as most xiaguan tuo, small, broken and dark, and somewhat fragile as I cant unroll the leaves without tearing.
And so continues the quest for good Xiaguan.
I also got a sample of the Hei Cha and it smells really enticing, so I will probably try it next.

Drink up!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

2008 Ancient Aini Nannuo Maocha

Every once in a while you find tea in an unexpected place.
 So today I took my son to the Monarch Festival here in downtown Waukegan.
And after walking around and my son getting into some of the kids activities I came upon one of the vendors, and the first thing I hear is " would you like to try some tea?" and of course I reply " do you have any raw puerh?" which is the same thing I ask every tea merchant I happen upon. And so the lady was very kind and right away grabs a small bag of green puerh, called Ancient Aini from Nannuo 2008. Now she did not have samples of it and so I buy the bag, but I do have a small cup of pouchong which was very good. 
This vendor is Napoleona Tea and is an online vendor who I had not heard of before but they are local and looks like they do some classes and tastings also, so I was glad to see them here and look forward to trying more of there teas. 
She also said she has a 99 vietnam puerh that is very good, but was sold out at the fest so maybe I will try that one later.
So after a few hours of fun at the festival I head home and strait to warm up some water.
 First off the package is very nice.
 The dry leaf looks very good with a nice dark color and is quite large.
 The dry aroma of the leaf smells of flower and citrus. The first infusions are a bit sweet and woody but have a pronounced astringency in the aftertaste. The mouth feel is cooling and gentle. After a few infusions it develops a very mellow smooth sweet orchid sugary flavor with a bit of the astringency holding, and some good bitterness. It does get strong when I overbrew so I keep the brews short. I will throw some in my glass tumbler tomorrow for work and see how it does.

 The infused leaf is mostly large full leaf with very few stems and buds.
This maocha is better than the other 2008 nannuo maocha I have had from Puerhshop which was a bit empty. It definitely has some full sweet flavors and lasts well over the 6 infusions the vendor mentions.
All in all it was a good decent tea and a great day.
Now to finish off some Wuyi I was having earlier.

Enjoy your cup of tea!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Whats Hiding In Your Tea

I just find it amusing at the different things which have been found imbedded in all types of puerh. 
Here are two I found in some of my cakes.
The first one is in a 2003 Wu Chi Dao, Mengku Zheng Shan.
 This one is not bad at all, someone was just having some sunflower seeds while pressing cakes back in 2003. I wonder how aged seeds will taste. I guess I can give it another ten years.

The next one is a bit more off putting, but not as bad as a cigarette butt as I had seen somewhere on an older post I think it was on Half Dipper.
It is in a 2008 Laocangjia Yiwu Arbor cake.
 Can you see that little bug almost in perfect condition wings and all.
Looks to be maybe a fly or a bee? I'm not sure what it is .

What have you found in your cakes?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Enjoying an Outdoor Session.

I had the most relaxing and refreshing tea session today.

 The weather was perfect, and a monday off of work is very needed when working two jobs.
My son running in the yard, my wife watching her tv show, 
and the grill warming up for some grilled chicken and vegetables.

99 Xiaguan under a dawn redwood bonsai.
It doesn't get much better than this.