Friday, November 30, 2007

An old tea which is young at heart.

Testing this 16 years old TGY from Anxi. A refine firing every 2 years, a total of 8 times roasting! Taste like a young TGY with all the floral and fruit, plus the aging and smoothest of an old tea. Extra Sweet!

Has been almost a month of testing this tea. Thanks to Michael at the Tea Gallery, I would like to make some personal conclusion....

For 2 years, I have been searching for a aged Kung-Fu tea worthy to conduct this experiment. Which lead me to 2 trips to Quang Dong Province, including Chaozhou (for traditional Chaozhou Kung-fu tea, eg. DC and SX) and finally ending in Anxi and Wuyi in Fujin.

Based on a post back in August 2006:

Reason for it was my personal frustration on the blur foundation of Quang Dong style Kung Fu tea and its practice. Personally I do believe is the origin of all Kung-fu tea.

Here are some of my quests divided up in 3 categories:

1. Tea for traditional Kung Fu tea

Most of these are from Anxi, Wuyi high fired oolong:

Back in late 19th C., to had tea harvested, processed then traded to Hong Kong or Canton (which are the main hub in China) will took at least 6 months. So freshest was not the mean focus. Instead, consistence of quality was the key. Tea are usually processed 2 times before ending in the final market (Hong Kong).

First, harvesting and stabilizing the tea by farmer or town. Secondly, the processing (firing/roasting) by the shop. These lengthy transportation, weather risks and processing differences leads to the solution of blending and aging tea, much like early Puerh trading.

Securing a stable group of customers and market, quality consistence is very important. Who will buy Maxwell coffee if every can tasted different? To cut the story short, Most tea are blended. For Anxi TGY which distribute to Canton and HK are usually an end result of blending 2 harvest: 60% Spring and 40% Fall by the final vendor. This proportion will give the blend a more body (spring) and higher aroma (fall). With a good firing, not over firing (due to preserving and older consumers requirement), this blending process usually will suites most people.

2. Practice of the brewing skill and 3. Aging. These 2 point will continue to discuss in the future.... But anyone have any option will be greatly appreciated.

This two pictures showing a pre-roasting/blending of 2 harvest from Anxi. The spring are usually larger with more body, and the fall is weaker, but more aroma.

The about picture showing this 16yrs TGY accurately had leaves added to, which were covered by tea sap. The yellowed leaves were results of tea tree sap dropping onto leaves which grew at the lower part of the plant. Similar to maple saps, which adding sweetest and extra fragrance to the brew.

I am fortunate enough to have a few friends tasting this and giving me feed-backs. My Father was the first test subject, as a birthday gift. A tea friend for his engagement treats. Of course, Michael from the Tea Gallery, which he is still conducting the testing....

Tasting of it included steeping over a 24 hrs period, lasting a week: After the first initial 8 brews, use boiling water and cover over-night. Taste the brew in the morning when taste buds are most sensitive and repeat. Only aged tea can be brew this way, puerh, SX, Lui an, as far as I'd discovered...

As a retrospect, I believe most of the better traditional High fire Kung-fu have to be properly aged and blend. Almost drawing parallel to the famous red-label, 8582 or even older Song Pin. The skill and talent of the tea-master (as blender/roasting/firing) are fully tested and blossom in these creation. A good age TGY should not be overly sour, or heavily charcoaled. The fire should be mellow and the nature of the tea flora and youth should be alive but not masked over. Just some thoughts....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

An Experience on 8 grams of 50's Red Label....

Beside the color correct/balance.... Everything was perfect!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Chance of a Life Time!

Had this greatest honor to design and package a book about American Chinese in New York City!

After 3 months of soul searching, artistic break-down and intense deadlines, A book by Ann Volkwein was finally released last week! For me, is the Chance of a life time! And of course, what is a book about Chinatown without tea : ) There is a section for tea adventure, which personally made my day!

This is Ann's second book published by Harper Collins, we did collaborated for the first one also, which subjects are American Italian in NY:

Ann Volkwein is an amazing writer and food editor. Her spirit and passion inspires and touched every one of us whom are fortunate enough to work with her. With Vegar Abelsnes photographer Genius, this is bound to be a Fruitful Success!

She is currently working on the next book - Austin Texas.
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