Too often, the tea room is also my only smoking heaven... due to the marriage certificate which I signed: "I agreed to confine my smoking habits inside our home to a small area...." This passed weekend, during my one-and-a-half relaxing moment, my smoke once again enlightened me about tea drinking.
Cigar, like Raw puerh should be aged. This has been a fact outside the US. because of the US. embargo to Cuba, most smokers in the US could only enjoy Pure Dominican Republic as the closest alternative to fine Cuban. The gage and length of a stick usually determines the amount of time to consume one. The thicker the gage the longer it takes. I normally consume at least one a day, and my choice is usually a Robusto 5 1/4 x 52 which lasts for an hr/10 mins to 2 hrs. Funny to say, a tea session for me also equals around an 1 hr to 1 1/2.
Why do we age cigar and what is the difference between Cuban and DR? These are the heated topics in the US cigar circule. Like Puerh, most fine cigars have to be aged to marry and refine its flavor and balance. It also went through aging periods like puerh: 1. First consuming period - Production to 3rd week. 2. Sick period 1st month - 6 months. 3. 1st maturation period around 5 yrs. 4. 2nd Maturation period 15-25 yrs. 5. 3rd Maturation period 50+ yrs.
A good cigar is a combinations of 3 materials: Filler, Binder and Wrapper. Like good receipt puerh, for example 8582 from 1982, is also a combination of a couple of mountain and grades, mostly medium and spring harvest. If you drink a newly made 8582, it is bitter, astringent, unbalance and rough. Same as a Cuban Montecristo Number 2, which has a range of 1 yr - 5 yrs aged layers, if consumed in the first yr, the ashes are dark and rough, powerful but unbalance. But if you have a 1982 Monti 2, it will be heaven on earth. Ashes are light grey and the draw and body is as fine as a good Bordeaux from the 80s. Paring both 8582 and Monti 2 will be quite an experience.
If you try to age a DR cigar for over 10 yrs., it losses a lot of aroma, body and complexity, and ashes will be snow white, but its almost like drinking a lowland plantation harvest puerh, which had been aged for 10+ yrs. flat, sweet but without complexity. Something about the Cuban Terroir and the way they process the leaves, which gives an edge like a fine wild Yiwu.
My choice on a snowing Sat. was a Winston Churchill (by Davidoff) Number 10. The cigar had been aged at least 3 yrs before being released to the market. I am paring with a Yiwu 06 spring harvest. Like the Yiwu, it started off with a floral and mild body, and gradually the kicks come in around 2/3 stage. Feeling the harshest from the smoke and the vigor body of the Yiwu, I decided to tone them down by using water boiled from a new tetsubin using wood burning fire. It took a full pot to boil in less then 3 mins. and the Cast iron kettle kept it hot for another 30 mins! The tea makes a scholastic turns, smoother texture, full body and complex, which you can kind of taste every layers from the high to the low tone of the tea. Moreover, it helps to balance back the spicy, cider, full leather taste of the smoke! Loving it. The stages and timing of the full sessions work like clockworks, playing the balance and evening out each other flaws. Hope Michael could appreciate this kind of paring on our next tea meeting?
Picked up a new hobby at the Tea Gallery the other day. Michael has been pairing yixings with different teas to find a match before clients purchase them. This is an idea which has been around from the beginning of this culture.
If my memory serves me right, the first time I heard of it was around 1996. An old pot master retiring in Hong Kong had planted this seed in my head, while we shared a cup of Red Label. He mentioned: "If you start understanding this tea, you should understand how and what this tea is brewing from also... there is a small Universe around us at this moment, we created it by understanding each element in it." Tough Love! I recalled.
Pairing Yixing is not a easy task.... tell me about it. 1st, you have to understand how they make the pot, why the craftsmen do this and that, style, shape, size, thickness, joints, holes sizes.... 2nd, you have to understand clay, what kind, mine, age, generation, process and how it's fired.... 3rd, The history of the pot, why it is made, who it is made for, and what was in it before.... then you have to know your tea! further on, how you made your tea!!
Recently, I picked up calligraphy which inspired me tremendously. Thinking about each character style as a single pot, and how this character could become a composition. Just like how a tea pot could create a good tea moment.
Anyhow, at the end of the day at the tea gallery, we both found out this little 90 ml Square Jade YuYee could provide a better Yin yun to puerh. Jackpot!
Having a tearoom at home is like having a painting studio for artists. A space to be inspired and a place to practice. This blog started only because of this red room. It is too often that the little space was not used to its fullest or even neglected. Paging through old Qing's painting, scholar, hermits and mandarins was usually illustrated into the composition, so why so empty here?
As a new year resolution, I will invite more and more like-minded tea scholars to gather and waste an afternoon in it. My first victim was MarshalN, I was lucky enough to steal him out of his hectic schedule and prolong jet legs from Asia, to join me for a couple of hours of a tea adventure. Although I miscalculated my poland spring water delivery dates and we ended up with filtered water, it ended all our tea in sour notes. The time we spent was certainly sweet. Here was the menu:
1. Puerh Worm Poop Tea from Hong Kong wet storage (courtesy of Mr. M). 2. My wet storage pu poop tea, fresh off the bing.
3. 2005 Feng Xing High Mountain 2300m brick 4. 2005 Wuyi 200 yrs old brush SX 5. 2008 Anxi high fired TGY
6. 30 yrs Lui An (from the day before)
While drinking, we shared a book on the facts of aging cigar: Min Ron Nee's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Post- Revolution Havana Cigars, which encourages lots of interesting points in the way pureh could be aged. My next step is to convince him to smoke one... and that already being proven a very challenging idea. I am very thankful and happy that this Mandarin's tea room started off with a good company, and what will be more appropriate than to end the day with a Montecristo Edmundo.
Michael from the tea galley could be my next victim.... hmmm.