Thursday, December 30, 2010

Good Bye 2010...

Some of my highlights of this year. Connecting with a new, old friend and fulfilling a dream tearoom....

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Trophies from China

As tea lovers who follow this blog would know... to be chosen for the Mandarin's Tea Selection, a tea must go through a long, intense and very discriminating process. Only by learning and understanding the foundation (tree, place, process, storage and history), and the character changes of a tea, I can teach more people about how to brew, what to look for, and how to appreciate the unique personality of it. Thus the only way to achieve The Mandarin's Standard.

I don't usually acquire Shu puerh, except the 1980's original Menghai White Lotus Golden Needle. This time coming back from China had resulted in a couple of surprise samples which were intriguing.

The story behind this Shu bing is from a 70 years old puerh factory 鸿泰昌. Founded in Yibang, Xishuangbanna in the 30's as a puerh exporting company (producing border tea), They soon established a strong foundation in Thailand, then branching into Hong Kong and Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia. Eventually became the first puerh tea industrial giant. This bing was produced in 2000 and aged in Yunnan until releasing this year. We are still in the process of tasting and testing it at the moment, but if anyone is interested, we are more than happy to share part of the cupping process at our tea room.

Another interesting find was from my Puerh tea master in Yiwu mountain who had already produced 3 of my commissioned sheung bings

This was a 2010 sheung puerh, pressed in this fall using Yiwu mountain old trees, to commemorate the 100 years drought. The harsh condition created a very intense sweetness in the maocha. I am not a fan of gimmicky sales, but as a wine enthusiast, that's something a wine collector will jump right in. Most of the best red wine vintages from all over the world are from drought or harsh growing conditions... so will this translate to the puerh harvest? We'll see in a couple of months if this will be on my product list.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Almost 3 weeks now....

I can not be happier. Thank you all for your kind supports, and hope to see you in our new tea sanctuary.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Our First Tea Tasting...

Kick starting our new tea room with a tasting of a competition winning Wenshan Baozhong 2010.
A generous gift from a dear Taiwanese artist/professor. All I can say is... Artists get the best tea!
It tasted like a combination of a Wudong Dancong, Anxi TGY, a rush of a high mountain Taiwanese, with subtile profile and powerful qi.

Michael, Winnie, Dae was delighted to finally share our combined effort on Winnie's favorite tea table.
I am looking forward to the Events we all so enthusiastically put together. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall for Tea...

Clay, Celadon and Stone.
Tea, Water and Friendship. 
All falls into place naturally.
If Art is to inform and delight, then Tea is to enlighten and unify. A long journey of friendship has finally fallen in to place. As Fall has harmonized both of our passions. I welcome The Tea Gallery with open arms and heart to be part of my life. This adventure so long overdue, my friends.... let this union be a delight to all tea lovers.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why do I use tea to meditate?

The first day I had the experience of being tea drunk was 7 years ago. I was on a leisurely afternoon walk through an old Hong Kong street. It was a sunny day in fall and there was a light, clean breeze traveling through the cobblestone alleys. Temples and colonial brownstones were interwoven with mulberry trees. A tea shop on a Qing dynasty stone street caught my eye.

It was a very ordinary small establishment, like most of the stores in the area. There was nothing loud or attention-grabbing about it. A young lady was packaging boxes, and she kindly invited me to sit with her, have a cup and take a break. I had my traveling bag and camera on, a very touristy look that I am not too keen on. She gave me the normal, watered-down Anxi Light Tikwanyin to start and the conversation begins: “Where are you from?” she asked. “Born here, living in the States,” I replied. “What do you usually have?” she continued. “Anything that's old.” These are my normal conversation starters through the years of tea-shop hopping. Usually what follows is a salesperson starts pulling expensive, aged teas and claiming an extra 30 years vintage on them. Often enough, after looking at or smelling those “shop treasures” I will give them a last chance to explain the origin before their stories fall apart and I politely walk out. This time, it was very different. Perhaps I had met this young lady before (through my years of tea shopping) or maybe she thought I looked like I knew what I was talking about. She opened herself up generously. “Whats the oldest tea have you experienced so far?” “Around 50 years old,” I said. “Do you like it?” she asked. “I am still new to aged tea, still learning about what to look for.” My tone changed—I was trying to be humble.

“To tell you the truth,” she said, “This is my last day working here. I will be traveling in China for awhile, and I don't think I will be back in Hong Kong any time soon. I think it's fate you walked in before I went on with my adventure, and I think we will meet again over tea.” At this moment, a young man walked in. I could see that they were dear friends. He had a slim build and round spectacles and a long, pulled-back pony tail, and had a hand-painted paper fan with him. What an intriguing presentation. Naturally, when good friends gather around, we tend not to be stingy as it is the Mandarin's way to give and receive. She opened the lid of a small Yixing Zhisha and carefully poured hot water in a very controlled stream. A quick pour over to seal the pot and we started drinking when the body of the tea pot began absorbing the spilled tea around it. I took my first slurp, then the second… it was awakening.

“Try to remember this feeling,” she said. “This tea moment, you will never forget it.” She was right, it was my first true tea moment, and I just remember that I was truly happy, like I was getting a soft hug from grandpa. I think I did stay for a good half day until sunset. Mr. Zhi parted with a calligraphed poem documenting our meeting on bamboo stick stuffed with puerh. “Until the mature period of this tea, this bamboo will lead us together again.” “Perhaps; my tea learning is still so tender, and I am looking forward to the day we share a cup again.”

Drinking good tea carries me to this state of mind often: Quiet, content, and caring. A nostalgic feeling that I am familiar and comfortable with. For me, that's a sense of meditation. Mindfulness and relaxation. I am lucky enough to have had a handful of these true tea moments in my short tea journey so far. Each was accompanied by like-minded souls, old and young. I will not forget these humbling experiences that make me feel alive and connected. The blessing is that I have found my path through tea and it is truthful, honest and fundamental.

How to Cook Your Life.... How to Brew Your Tea.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

First Reading on Meditation

Have a moment for yourself, brew a cup of tea, and read and re-read this quote for 10 times. It will only take 30 mins:

"Ego is able to convert everything to its own use, even spirituality. For example, if you have learned of a particularly beneficial meditation technique of spiritual practice, then ego's attitude is first to regard it as an object of fascination, and, second to examine it. Finally, since ego is seemingly solid and cannot really absorb anything, it can only mimic. Thus ego tries to examine and imitate the practice of meditation and the meditative way of life. When we have learned all the tricks and answers of the spritual game, we automatically try to imitate spirituality, since real involvement would require the complete elimination of ego, and actually the last thing we want to do is give up the ego completely. However, we cannot experience that which we are trying to imitate; we can only find some area within the bounds of ego that seems to be the same thing. Ego translates everything in terms of it's own state of health, it's own inherent qualities. It feels a sense of great accomplishment and excitement at having been able to create a pattern. At last it has creatives a tangible accomplishment, a confirmation of it's own individuality.

If we become successful at maintaining our self consciousness through spiritual techniques, then genuine spiritual development is highly unlikely. Our mental habits become so strong as to be hard to penetrate. We may even go so far as to achieve the totally demonic state of complete "Egohood"." ~Chögyam Trungpa

Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tea and Meditation

Tea is my calling--or is it my fate to follow the leaf? I have been a book designer for over 15 years now. In the very beginning, novels and big book titles were my most coveted projects. Throughout my career, I've designed for every kind of book a designer could hope for. Spiritual titles were merely part of my workload until recently, when my calling began to reveal itself and the path that I am now on.

Through designing for spiritual and self-help titles, I was lucky enough to come into contact with many authors and their associates. Most of these meetings were life-changing and mind-opening, to say the least. A recent encounter with a Jewish Tibetan ngagpa lama (a student of Chogyam Trunga Rinpoche and his main successor, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche) from Montreal completely awakened me and my views on life, being, and the relationship between tea and the mind. After learning basic meditation and "Knowing" (direct translation of meditation in Tibetan) with his guidance, I now find myself frantically trying to re-read all of these books that I have designed in my search for the true meaning of tea.

To be continued...

Faith to follow, or to Shepherd?

Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies For Modern Life

The Tibetan Book of Yoga: Ancient Buddhist Teachings on the Philosophy and Practice of Yoga

Footprints in the Snow: The Autobiography of a Chinese Buddhist Monk

Dalai Lama: Man, Monk, Mystic

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jin Jun Mei & The Rose Program Chocolate

Unlike expresso with chocolate, tea and cocoa are not a common paring... or should it be?

Over the last weekend, I have had the pleasure to meet with a wonderful author who celebrates healthy and finer things in life.
Bringing up tea as my natural subject of choose, she rewarded me with a private commissioned chocolate bar made with 70% cocoa.

"I have travelled all over the world to find the best tasting dark chocolate made with the finest ingredients. The result is this handcrafted Belgian Chocolate produced with tremendous love and care in small batches in a remote beach village in South Africa... Enjoy!" ~ Rose.

Sounds familiar? It is the same vision as to my obsession with tea.

Although I am not an advocate of fine chocolate, this beautiful bar do carries a healthy oily sheen, rich and dark brown, it looks robust and piquant. But once in the mouth, the silky exterior starts to melt, releasing full, buttery, oily texture. Nutty and savory, with a kiss of citrus tangy at the roof of my mouth, followed by a breath of clean, fresh, salty ocean breeze. Waves of pure coco floral bouquet coated my palate, smooth but still maintaining the chewy true texture of its ingredient. I am pleasantly surprised by how subtle and balanced the profile is on the aftertaste of this 70% dark chocolate.

What's better than to pair it up with a Wuyi Red tea! The warm, refreshing brew melted the chewy nutty chocolate and washed it down smoothly, adding a dash of floral to the cocoa and in return, it balanced back with a hint of salt to the honey liquor.... Salt baked Kumamoto oyster came to mind with a dash of Oliva Novello on top. Heaven! How the chocolate helps the red tea to blossom into floral fragrance and the tea cuts back its mellow pungent espresso crema character. It is as equally interesting as Italian high roasted espresso paring with semi-sweet chocolate.

Many Chinese red tea I've sampled over the years have shared a distinctive characteristic: Hints of cocoa or baker's chocolate. From Yunnan Gold, Keemum red, Yixing Kung Fu to Lapsang Souchong, all are fine examples of traditional Chinese red tea. Until I found a 'new-old' breed of Wuyi Red Yancha: Jin (Gold, meaning of premium grade) Jun (location, summit name, using wild old bushes) Mei (shape, like an eyebrow).

Created in 2005 by Master Liang to resurrect a style of tea long lost from the region. The production of this rare tea is extremely labor intensive. Harvested from wild old tea bushes growing above 1200-1800m in the Wuyi protected national park, it takes around 60,000-90,000 buds to make a pound (depending on the grade and time of harvest), 1 bud one leaf style. That's why only 1000 kg are produced annually and it's the most expensive red tea (US $1300/pound and up) in the current market. Understandably, 90% of Jin Jun Mei on the market is fake. Many tea noobs will call it a Chinese Nouveau Riche tea, but until they have a deeper understanding of what good tea is, 'Breakfast at Tiffany' is always more a convenient truth.

I have been testing 4 grades of Jin Jun Mei since last year. Most of the grading depends on the harvesting date, the highest grade so far is from March 2010. The earlier the picking, the more golden hair from the tea buds you get and the more baby buds it needs to make up an invoice. This came to my understanding of finer things in life.... The more refined something is, the more attention and love it receives or needs. But to understand these subtle refinement, a individual must continue to educate and strengthen his/her palate and mind.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Thoughts on Brewing Tea....

It is all about ratio, the volume of tea to water, the size of the vessel, and how long the brew is.

Many people choose to brew tea the easy way, the safe way, and foolproof way....To me, using less tea leaves and longer steep is like brewing tea bags, you can not go wrong, just lesser steepings and muted taste. Perhaps 30% of the tea true flavor?

The whole idea of Kung-Fu tea brewing is to maximize full potential of a good tea, pushing its limits, extracting the best essences and energy. Comparable to brewing coffee, how a master coffee brewer could pull a cup of espresso out from a fine machine with the right pressure, temperature and crema. You will never see them using less or underfilled coffee grind for a proper serving, that's like making diner's coffee! My point is, if its not challenging, why Kung-Fu? All good tea should be challenging, it is an adventure, they need full attention and mental focus. It is the least we could give back to them.

Finding the right balance of this practice is just the beginning. Pushing its limit, improving the skill, educating the palate, and listening to the brew is a life long dedication. The reward is both physical and mental harmony.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Classic of Tea

Started reading the first Chapter of Lu Yu's thoughts on Chinese tea:

"Every Tea hour must become a masterpiece to serve as a distillation of all tea hours, as if were the first and with no other to follow..." —Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD.)

A moment translated a thousand years later. A uniquely Mandarin's attitude.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shi Feng Long Jing '10

This post took me 3 weeks to compose, just because of the continuing tasting and researching of this year's Longjing from Xi Hu.

Lion's Peak or Shi-Feng is where the original 18 Longjing bushes tributed to Qing Emperor Qianlong are from. Lion's Peak is situated next to West-lake (Xi Hu), Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. The Mandarin's way to enjoy a true cup of Shi-Feng Longjing is to use the Dreaming of the Tiger Spring, a natural spring that is within walking distance. Quite opposite to Dragon Well's super dense water, on Shi-Feng mountain. (Named after a well that contains relatively dense water, and after rain the lighter rainwater floating on its surface sometimes exhibits a sinuous and twisting boundary with the well water, which is supposed to resemble the movement of a traditional Chinese dragon). Tiger Spring water is light, sweet and soft. I always view green tea as a seasonal craving, a trendy pre-summer luxury. Since my last trip to Shi-Feng years ago, it still tickles my fancy on this special seasonal harvest.

From 2006 on, I've been dedicated a month or two trying to learn more on the grading of Longjing. So far, the experiences were Before Rain Pre-Qing Ming (3 grades), Pre-Ming, and after Qing-Ming Pre-Grain Rain (3 grades). Each year, I do concluded on the same result. The Second harvest after pre-ming or pre-rain is the most bold and savory. Hence the less expensive price tag. Green bean, orchids, dry rice, sweet corn and seaweed.

Due to the harsh Spring weather this year, 2010 harvest has been compromised. More interestingly, a Pre Pre-Ming longjing sample I received from Hangzhou Tea Institute, besides it has much earlier harvesting date, the hair ball from the young buds were very obvious.Traditionally, the fury balls are sifted for a unified appearance. This year, I have seen many vendors advertising the extra fluff as a guaranteed of pre-ming premium harvest. Are these new tactics or marketing scams? The more the vendors add fluff balls or hair, the higher the price they get for that weight.... Some fluff balls I've seen on the web is like bubble tea/tapioca pearls/frog eggs. Very soon, 2011 will have Pre-Pre-Ming, after last snow, first valley mist, White hair Shi-Feng blah blah Longjing, which is covered with fluffs.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for the positive changes and continuing refinement on traditional Art/Craftsmanship. But if there is no revolution or improvement to the tradition, then it is a downgrade. I hope this new fluff ball Longjing is not another 'Pop-up' for the Longjing tradition, similar to the low grade, top priced, high publicity puerh bubble a couple years ago. Prediction and frustration aside, here is a testing from a March, pre-rain, pre-Ming Shi-Feng this year.

The appearance is not the most handsome which I'd expect from a top grade LongJing. They are clearly not individually re-selected by hand.

Dry leaves aroma of dry seaweed, clean morning forest air, dry jasmine rice, corn and tiny white orchid (Mei Lan). All the right flavor are presented.

Heat leaves: Lemon, rice, vanilla, chocolate, and pineapple. Brewing parameter: 1/3 in 100ml gaiwan. 120F water. 1st/10sec. 2nd/15sec. 3rd/10sec. 4th/30sec. 5th/20sec. with shrimp eye boil. 6th/30sec. 7th/60sec. 8th/2mins....

Liquor: Steamed green bean, light roasted corn, veggie, seaweed, roast duck, sweet pineapple, loads of bitter chocolate.

Notes: The liquor is not as delicate and soft as the promising aroma with big nose, and full fragrant upfront but not delivering in the taste. Perhaps the result of a too-early harvest, underdeveloped leaves. Too many tiny buds and fluff balls causing the bitter, veggie, over-brewed gyokuro quality, specially rough on the tongue at the later steeps. Although there are tons of umami, which might not be a good character after all. Will wait and hope for our 2nd harvest pre-grain rain shipment next week and compare.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Seven Chinese Tea Varieties

The very basic to say the least.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lilac Anxi Xiping TiGwanYin Oolong

Spring is here, or is it? The lilac trees in our garden are blossoming purple and white, and the scent of purple lilac is so intoxicating that it covers the night air into morning light. I never bother to find out the true bouquet of the white varietal because its purple cousin was always dominant until a couple of days ago.... Clean, balancing and alluring, the white has casted an unexplainable spell on my palate. The sudden interest in lilac bouquet was sparked by a tasting of 4 different Anxi light Tikwanyin which I am still in the process of learning.

If Wuyi yancha is Cabernet Sauvignon, and Puerh is the Merlot, then Tikwanyin might be the Chardonnay of tea. Specially with its character of dairy, vanilla, floral and buttery French cream. Like all fine wine, it's in the balance and structure rather than in your face. The aroma should be equally pronounced as of the body and aftertaste, nothing like a 30 sec. Walmart commercial which its message only last a mere seconds.

The weather dropped back to 38F tonight... most of the lilac trees are shocked by this dramatic change. I can feel the uneasiness of those wonderful Anxi TGY bushes atop Xiping mountain. Over a conversation with my Anxi TGY tea master earlier, she is still hard at work harvesting the older bushes, but forecast in a drop of production due to the frosting this year. "Second Winter in April", its not a welcoming sign she said. I can deeply understand her feeling. I told her my sudden enlightenment on the white lilac over the more simple perfumey purple. Her reply was over joy and I felt a good karma was sent thousands of miles thru her cell phone to the mountain top, an encouragement to continue her work.

I like the contemplative aspect of Anxi Tikwanyin.... I think it will be my ongoing challenge for a while.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

NYC Tea Meetup - Spring 2010
Thank you Brandon for putting together such a wonderful and beautiful tea gathering.

Photo Courtesy of Brandon and Jeremy

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Da Hong Pao Wuyi Oolong. Vintage 1985

Many teas come through the tea room every season, many of them only last for one session, and some are revisited over a period of days, months or even years. This harsh discrimating tasting process let only the choicest to be selected and pampered. A final Paring test will then conducted for concluding the result.

Most of these early candidates are found from my trips to the farmers or teamasters in China, not by random samples sent by vendors. Many times, in my experience, a newly acquainted master shows you their special selected. I will then test the 1st batch for a season and acquire the same tea on the next. Troubling to said, 1 out of 3, these 2nd acquisitions usually prove disappointment. Not only they are missing 30-50 % of its luster, farmers cheat by blending lesser grade to the batch. Sometimes, specially for high fired oolong, they over roast the lesser grade to become fillers. For me, being bold and asking them the right question after repetitively testing, and learning from the same good batch are the only ways to arm oneself. I always give them the benefits of the doubt, and a second chance... which prove to be more constructive.

This 1985 DaHongPao was acquired from a tea farm/factory owner in Fujian. I am very skeptical on anything labeled DaHongPao, because it's the most faked Wuyi Yancha in the market today. Even third generation of these tea can commend a hefty sum, leave alone the aged ones.... I remember the same owner showed me a tiny pewter box of the original mother tree DaHongPao from the 80s, which roughly costs US$3000 per gram on the current market.

Using 5 grams of tea in a 40 ml yixing, my third tasting of this tea begins:

Weather: Easter Sunday afternoon. Clear sky with 62 % humidity / 60sF.
Water: Fresh Polandspring water / not aged.
Method: Traditional Chao Zhou/ Hong Kong Kung-Fu style.
Tea vessel: 80s yixing zisha teapot / late Ming dynasty's QingBai tea cup.

1. Separate the larger/whole leaves from smaller broken leaves. Crush the broken leaves by hand.
2. Preheat all the vessels with rolling boiled water. Carefully place the broken leaves and line the bottom of the pot.
3. Follow by layering the whole leaves on top.
4. gently tap the body of the pot with the palm of your hand and with a tea-pick to settle the tea leaves, creating an even surface (the heavier whole leaves on top will act like a filter to settle the crushed powder).
5. Softly pour water (212F) from a low height around the rim of the opening, letting the water slide from the wall into the pot until overflow.
6. Slowly pour out the rinse without tipping the pot more than 90 degrees. Proceed to first brewing, steeping time 15 seconds.

Clear, bright and oily liquor, burnt amber copper color. Light Chinese medicine, with subtle lingering floral of orchid and aged pomelo peel. Calming and warming chaqi. Nothing aggressive nor intruding.... peaceful and zen for this Pre-Ming celebration.

Still too early to decide if this could be a Mandarin's tea.

5 days later. Conclusion:
After some intensive evaluations, this tea did not make it to the list. Unfortunately, the age of this 1985 Da Hong Pao is much younger than what I was told. At least 5 to 10 years younger.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Tea Cupping Steps

A Visual How-Tos:

1. Bring water to a boil until steady streams of large bubbles (Rope of Pearls). Pour water into the Tasting Cup.
2. Once water is fill to the top, pour water into the tasting bowl (Spoon is optional).
3. Now all units have been pre-heated. Place 5g of tea leaves into the heated cup (Yixing Red Tea was used). Smell and take notes on the heated leaves.
4. For the rinse; use fish-eye boiled water 195F. Pour a fine stream of water into one corner of the cup, letting the leaves get rolled and tumbled by the water.
5. Pour out the rinse from the cup immediately into bowl.
6. Make sure the air hole is on the top side to avoid spilling.
7. Drain until completely empty by dipping motion.
8. Take notes on the rinse color and discard rinse. For the first brew; pour 195F water in a fine stream aimed at one spot near the wall, until full.
9. Cover with lid and pour out after 30 seconds. Rest the cup onto the bowl. The knob on the lid and the bottom of the cup should sit nicely on the bowl.
10. After 15 seconds, empty cup completely by dipping motion.
11. Repeat above to 2nd brewing. You can either use a spoon for tasting or transfer liquor to serving cups.
12. After the brewing session, display the spent leaves for their visual appreciation.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Mandarin's Tea Room

Pure Premium Artisanal Teas. The Mandarin's Tea.

The Mandarin's Tea Room is officially open for business. Come and experience its time honored rituals and passion for the superiorly crafted tea.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Thanks to the great team at The New York Asia Society, Michael, Yoshie and Fran, my deep bow to you. The Tea Event at the New York Asia Society was a huge success, with over 260 guests attended. After the screening of Tea and the World: The Meaning of Tea by Scott Chamberlin Hoyt. There was a book signing for Mr. Hoyt's tea book and a tea tasting reception. We celebrated the soft launch for The Mandarin's Tea Room. Michael and Dae from the Tea Gallery helped me to present a Kung-Fu tea tasting ceremony using a light Anxi Tikwanyi and a traditional roasted version, both harvested from Fall 2009. Although our guests had a split decision between my light TKY and Michael's heavy TKY. We did have a positive demonstration to our new tea lovers how diverse a same kind of oolong could be, with different processing and brewing methods.

Very nice meeting all of you who came by to have a sip, and thank you to everyone who I know for your support. I am looking forward to introducing more fine tea to my new and season tea friends.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Brewing Wuyi Shui Xian Oolong with Yixing Teapot

5g of a 50 years old, aged Yancha. The tea master who roasted it 50 years ago brewed it up using a gaiwan, just to show me the tea foundation. But I prefer using a yixing to further enjoy the rich yet subtle moment. 

Preheating the teapot with heated water in this brewing method is very important. All vessels should be cleaned and preheated. Here is the Step-by-Step how-tos:

1. Fill the yixing pot with fully boiled water, replace the lid.
2. Pour out the water into the fairness cup (serving vessel). After any remaining moisture has evaporated off the pot surface, pour the water from the fairness cup back over the lid and the exterior of the pot.
3. Fill the teapot up to 1/3 of it's volume with the tea leaves. Softly tap the body of the pot with the palm of your hand to settle the tea leaves to create an even surface. Please remember the teapot will be hot and this step requires quick but gentle movements.
4. The heated leaves are ready to be rinsed. Slowly pour more water (fully boiled and left to cool) into one corner of the pot until it overflows.

5. Replace the lid and immediately pour the rinse into a fairness cup.
6. Fill the drinking cup with the rinse. Pour the remaining rinse back over the pot, avoiding the air hole in the lid.
7. Once the pot has dried, slowly pour more water into the pot for your first brew.
8. Fill until the water level rises above the teapot opening and use your lid to skim off any foam.

9. Replace the lid. Pour water over the pot to seal in the heat. Discard the rinse from the drinking cup at the same time.
10. Steep the first infusion for about 10 seconds. Pouring into a fairness cup from a little height to help oxygenate the liquor.
11. Serve the infusion from the fairness cup into the teacup.
12. If there is any remaining liquor, pour it over the pot to build up the patina.

Brewing Light TiKwanYin Oolong with Gaiwan

7g of top grade Anxi Xiping TikwanYin harvested in OCT 2009. How do tea masters brew it in Xiping? They mostly use a Gaiwan.

Here is the step-by-step how-tos:

1. Use a Standard (3 oz) / 4 serving Gaiwan set. Bring water to a boil until the bubbles are no larger then fish-eyes.
2. Fill the gaiwan with the heated water.
3. Pour the water from the gaiwan into the drinking cups. Once the cups have been heated, empty them and discard the remaining water in the gaiwan.
4. Place 5g of tea leaves into the heated gaiwan.
5. For the rinse; use fish-eye boiled water that has been slightly cooled. Pour a fine stream of water into one corner of the vessel, letting the leaves get rolled and tumbled by the water.

6. Pour out the rinse from the gaiwan immediately into all cups and then empty the cups.
7. For the first brew; pour slightly cooled down water in a fine stream (around 6 inches height) aimed at one spot below the rim until the leaves are just covered.
8. Cover with the lid and pour out after 5 seconds.
9. For the second brew; pour in a fine stream at a lower height then the 1st brew.
10. Use the lid to gently turn and loosen up tangled leaves.

11. Use the edge of the lid to skim off any foam
12. Cover the gaiwan with the lid at a slight angle creating a 0.25 inch gap.
13. Use your thumb and middle finger to hold the very tip of the gaiwan's rim, and index finger to hold onto the lid.
14. Pour out in a continuous stream. The 2nd brew should be steeped no longer than 20 seconds.
15. After the brewing session, display the spent leaves for their visual appreciation.
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