Friday, September 16, 2005

New Stuff from ITC

The day before yesterday I received me order from Imperial Tea Court: 1 electric water kettle, 1 set of bamboo gungfu tea tools, and a tea towel. They threw in a nice glass tea thermos.

Now, before making this purchase, I had read that one shouldn't heat water for tea in metal kettles. I had wanted to purchase a clay electric kettle, but the only one I found is way too expensive. I already have a ceramic tea kettle, but I really wanted the convenience of preparing tea without having to step out of my bedroom.

The kettle I got was made and designed in china, and it sort of resembles a piece of industrial machinery. The inside, except the heating implemen,t seems to be coated with a teflon-like material.

I've been making tea with this thing, desperately trying to figure out if it changes the taste of the tea. The last few times, the tea tasted fine, except I was left with a strange feeling on my tongue, not unlike the feeling of sticking a nine volt battery on it. The water from the kettle also eminates a metalic odor. I'm hoping these things will go away after a bit more use.

Friday, September 09, 2005

What I Mean by "Underappreciated"

When I write that Chinese tea is underappreciated, I mean that many people who like tea don't seem to be fully aware of the range, both in kind and in quality, of teas from China.
There are some obvious reasons for this. China has only recently emerged from the rubble of the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward, and into the international marketplace. In the time before then, English tea culture had cemented itself in the western psyche, to the extent where English style teaware is still the what most people think of when they think of tea.
Ever convenience-minded Americans invented the tea bag, and something as relatively labor intensive as traditional Chinese tea preparation must be fairly daunting. The wonderful intertwining of practicality and aesthetics in Chinese tea preparation remains essentially foreign.
China is the origin or tea and tea culture, and yet in the west it is the outsider. One reason for starting this blog is to depict Chinese tea as something everyday and accessible, yet also sublimely complex, and worthy of the same reverence as fine wines.
I should state I am not Chinese nor of Chinese descent. The west, to the extent that it adopts Chinese tea, will inevitably make it its own on its terms. Yet we can still explore what this unique and rich culture has to offer, and learn new ways to enjoy life. That's what it's about for me.

My Present Stash

To give you sense of what sort of tea person I am, here is an inventory of my current tea stash and tea paraphernalia:


An assortment of Puerh (raw/uncooked unless otherwise stated) :
2003 Dadugang 50th Aniversary Brick, 4x250g
1999 Menghai Beeng (forget the number right now) 350g
1998 Feng Qing Tuo 100g
1995 Menghai Feng Cha (small square brick) 100g
2004 Menghai Silver Bud Beeng 350g
2004 Bamboo Premium Wild Dai Tribe 500g
2004 Bamboo Puerh 100g
2005 Ke Yi Xing GREEN Beeng 350g
2004 Just Puer Beeng 350g
Several Xia Guan 1st Grade Tuo, including 2 cooked
Equivalent of 1 cake of cooked beeng, CNNP red label
misc samples

Eve's Oolong, Ceylon, year unknown
Assam Kopili, year unknown
Tie Kwan Yin, year unknown

Ceylon Blue Needles (niftly looking and tasty leaves woven into a needle shape)
Misc other stuff that just kinda sits there

Tisanes etc:
Puerh Flowers cake 350g
Dried Chrysanthemum Flowers aprox 300g

2005 Fujian Yin Zhen


1 glass gaiwan
1 el cheapo zisha pitcher, aka "justice cup"
1 8oz Yixing pot, for raw puehr
1 6oz Yixing pot, for bamboo puerh
1 Tetsubin Iron Teapot/kettle
1 Ceramic Kettle
1 Zisha tea tray
misc cups and stuff I don't use

You may have noticed that my collection is a bit skewed toward puerh right now. You also may think I'm full of it to say I'm poor. I got a bit of money for my college graduation and decided to spend it to educate myself about puerh. I'm sure this isn't the most prudent use of my limited funds, but I've been enjoying it a lot, and young puerh is significantly cheaper per gram than other premium teas and gets better with age. Plus it helped me quite smoking (really!).

My Lack of a Camera

I've been envious of you tea bloggers with your pretty pictures. I'm really poor and can't afford a camera. Maybe I'll borrow my mom's camera for a bit to take some pics of tea etc. For the time being the imagery of my powerful prose will have to do.

Getting Started

Hello All
This is my first post on my first blog. Bare with me, I'm new at this.
This blog, as the title suggests, will follow my quest to learn everything I can about Chinese tea. I have found Chinese tea to be my favorite, largely because of the incredible diversity to be found within that category, but also because the culture surrounding tea in China is so ancient and rich.
I also find Chinese tea to still be underappreciated in the west, although its popularity seems to be growing rapidly. I hope to help make Chinese tea accessible to more people.
I should state clearly that I am not an expert, but rather an enthusiastic student of the subject. I hope I'm able to provide some helpful and entertaining insights.