Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tiggers Love Puerh Tea.

I love puerh tea. Just like Tigger, It gives me bounce because it helps me to digest my food, detox, shed extra calories and lose weight. It to me is also very grounding and soothing. It's a tea I especially like to drink when I am spending quiet time at home. It is not as commonly known or popular in the states but is very popular to tea connoisseurs in the industry. 

It has an earthy, rich flavor, and in some cases, an acquired taste. I am not sure of the tannins, but I believe that the aging process mellows them. The tea comes inexpensively, but the older teas are a bit more, and are sold in cakes. The less expensive ones I find are sold in bricks. 

Some varieties are sweeter and more mellow than others. I am currently drinking a MGH Menghai ripe tea, and yesterday, a green tuocha "mushroom." They are made into different shapes, mostly dependent upon price and region. ...or maybe boredom, on the end of the tea makers! LOL...I usually have to be in the mood for a puerh, and it is at those times that I need more grounding, and some detoxification. It also happens at seasonal changes, take autumn, for instance.

To make a good cup of puerh in my eyes, simply take about a teaspoon or two into a quart sized teapot. Rinse the leaves with a bit of boiling water for several seconds and pour off. Then pour a cup or so of boiling water onto the leaves for about 10-15 seconds and pour off to drink. This is your first cup, prior to your meal.

 Eat.  Make your second cup by pouring boiling water on for a bit longer this time, maybe say 30ish seconds, maybe a little more depending on flavor. With my strong green tuocha, this is plenty. For my Menghai, I prefer a little more time. I drink this during or after the meal. Once again I pour on another two cups and I let the brew "stew," as the English say, when leaving tea leaves in water for extended periods of time. 

The flavors by then have gone through all their seasons and may be time for a new spoonful of fresh leaves, if one wishes to continue drinking.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Hot road, no ice.


A Hot and sweltering drive to mom's house in Lancaster led me to ponder only one thought: where is my mason jar full of Ice cold brewed green tea!?

What is this change that has come over me, this passion for this cool liquid love I've found? Won't someone help? This is not the Connie I know. She is forever fond of the heat...but I do realize that it may be due to too much internal heat, looking at Chinese medicine. I am positive I am intuitively quenching a flame...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Results are in.

So here it is, my beloved green P'uerh cold steep after about 7 hours. It was plenty strong after about the first hour, so I had to keep adding water. Not sure what I was thinking, but up until this point I was only placing about a teaspoonful of tea into a quart sized mason jar. So I was  thinking I had put a lot of leaves, but that it wouldn't quite be so strong. I think I put a tablespoon of broken leaves, the fannings from prying the leaves from the cake. Instead of creating more fannings, I thought I would indulge.

I noticed a slightly perfumey, herbal green taste from the tea. I could taste the aged edge that makes it so distinctive. I am rather impressed that a certain freshness could be tasted when cold brewed. However it still gave a mild bitterness or a bite that occurs in the hot steep. 

I'm going to try a cold brew with my newer cake to see how the flavors will unfold. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cold brewing P'uerh.

Now I'm getting crazy.

I've decided, after a hot cup of brew, that I will now attempt cold brewing a 2010 Prevernal "green," or raw P'uerh. I learned so much about these tea cakes during the Tea Expo that I have to continue the exploration. I cannot tell you of all the particulars that P'uerh offers, but it is a way of life, and I am slowing stepping into it....or shall I say, steeping into it??

Like an aged cheese or fine wine, there is an art and a process to cultivating the flavors in P'uerh. Especially during the summer, I am really feeling the greens over blacks. It's incredible. The color is already forming. I will probably steep this one for two hours before tasting the initial flavors. without the bitterness and all of the oils intact, I am excited to taste a more distinctly floral or herbal flavor. I can say for sure, that I already love the color coming through. Hot and cold are two very different experiences. Makes me want to take a chemistry class.  I'll let you know how it tastes. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The surprising flavor fiesta of cold steeping.

I'm normally a hot tea drinker. My constitution has always preferred hot foods and drinks, to cold. I love warm, zesty, savory, spicy edibles and drinkables. So imagine my surprise when I made this amazing cold brewed tea and caught my world on fire. Up until this point, I had only thought that people would hot steep the tea, then put it into some ice and go from there. With cold steeping, not only can you leave jugs of tea sitting about, but it allows the full bodies flavor of the leaf to come pulsing through, resulting in a more fuller flavored and satisfying tea. The way I see it, the more one can have satisfying food and drink experiences, the less inclined one will feel to eat thoughtlessly and for entertainment, but for nourishment and pleasure.

I had first heard about throwing my leaves into a glass of cold water at the World Tea Expo I attended some weeks ago (at the start of the mercury retrograde phase, unsurprisingly). What I learned over the course of the several hours I was there, was mind boggling...but also, a sure sign that I needed just a bit more focus to become that tea sommelier or health expert, buying and tasting expert etc., in order to feel comfy professionally handling the leaf. And what drew my eye to the cold brewing practice was a company whose name I wished I could remember, that sold these wine bottle-shaped containers to steep tea in, for cold brewing only. The representative working the booth was kind enough to tell me about steeping the tea for several days. She let me taste a two day and a three day steep. This is where I first learned that the leaf would not become bitter as in a hot steep, where the brew would increase in flavor intensity at a much more rapid pace.

It was also believed that certain phytochemicals would not be manifest in a cold brew, but it seems to be that studies are showing otherwise. And what I found in flavor, was enough to help me make the switch to drinking cold greens for the major part of the summer. 

I have been experimenting with all my flavors of Green tea in cold steeps. Cocomint green is rapidly winning my heart. Ten Ren's "403" green laced with ginseng, has an award-winning color and flavor when cold steeped. I love that I can package it in mason jars and walk away for days, and come back to a cold glass of it whenever my heart desires such relief. I was a little bit disappointed in the gyokuro, whose green color I wanted to enjoy more so. So far it seems to be the only green tea I still must enjoy hot, if I want the color. It really is part of the enjoyment for me, whether the tea has a distinctive green color and taste.

I was less interested in steeping black or white teas for the potency I attain when they are heated. Powerful medicine, these brews...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tea stories of yore.

I Just decided to post some tea wisdom for the soul. It enlightened my afternoon. Hope you can find the same peace from it.

A master of the tea ceremony in old Japan once accidentally slighted a soldier. He quickly apologized, but the rather impetuous soldier demanded that the matter be settled in a sword duel. The tea master, who had no experience with swords, asked the advice of a fellow Zen master who did possess such skill.

As he was served by his friend, the Zen swordsman could not help but notice how the tea master performed his art with perfect concentration and tranquility. "Tomorrow," the Zen swordsman said, "when you duel the soldier, hold your weapon above your head, as if ready to strike, and face him with the same concentration and tranquility with which you perform the tea ceremony."

The next day, at the appointed time and place for the duel, the tea master followed this advice. The soldier, readying himself to strike, stared for a long time into the fully attentive but calm face of the tea master. Finally, the soldier lowered his sword, apologized for his arrogance, and left without a blow being struck.

Tea or Iron

The Zen master Hakuin used to tell his students about an old woman who owned a tea shop in the village. She was skilled in the tea ceremony, Hakuin said, and her understanding of Zen was superb. Many students wondered about this and went to the village themselves to check her out.

Whenever the old woman saw them coming, she could tell immediately whether they had come to experience the tea, or to probe her grasp of Zen. Those wanting tea she served graciously. For the others wanting to learn about her Zen knowledge, she hid until they approached her door and then attacked them with a fire poker. Only one out of ten managed to escape her beating.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Can't leave, gotta drink more tea.

It had been next to impossible to leave the house that day. I had officially purchased too many different varieties of tea and was certain that I would never be released into the day, for wanting yet another cuppa brew. Too much obsession ran through my head and heart, as I knew no cup would match what I have found in my own home. 

The delicious flavors and leaves were just all too fascinating and I had to make just one more cup to see how different one tasted from another, one brand to the next (though I'm pretty true to Adagio and Ten Ren these days). 

Would there be an end to the obsession?? Now that my pot offers precise temperature and therefore dictates accurate flavors, I'm not sure leaving the house is an option anymore.

I was literally pulling out three ceramic pots: one made 16 oz., 1 quart and 2 quarts. The largest one I made white tea in. The quart sized got the greens and the small one got a cup of black tea just for taste. Once the teas were made, I got to steeping and sipping on the variances between cups, documenting my findings. 

I am still learning how to talk about the body and leaf, and make it appeal to the tea community. Best thing to do is to keep talking to other tea afficionados who love the leaf as I.

Yeah. Busy day.