Saturday, February 28, 2009


Blast you, Chip! You got me hooked.

I cut back a lot in an effort to make my kiri-no-mori last until the replacement Yame and Yuuki Konjo arrived. As the stash dwindled to a whisper, I did a little photojournalism and will await the stream of awards.

Krap... running out.
From matcha

Starting to look pretty grim. :/
From matcha

Ruh roh. If I lick out the tin, I'll cut my tongue...
From matcha

Fortunately, I got the call a few hours after emptying the tin that a box had arrived today from Japan.
Suite Sister Mary! YES!!!
From matcha

Now I see a glimpse of The Way.

Empty tin = bad.

Open tin + reserve tin = good. :D

And now for a little history to view while enjoying some tea, compliments of Seven Cups:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

matcha fever

Chip over at TeaChat sent me a serving of Organic Yame Matcha to try, and I used this as a thin excuse to do something I've wanted to do for a while, buy a set of matcha prep tools (which are really just plain cool).

Chip's reaction to this?
LOL, free 2 grams of matcha cost you a bundle.

As I'd window-shopped for matcha ware before, I knew I wanted an O-Cha Matcha Starter Kit, in which I bundled a tea bowl, whisk, whisk holder, bamboo spoon, and tin of Kiri-no-Mori. I use a tea ball to strain any clumps out of the matcha powder.

From Fight Club

A number of other reputable vendors offer similar starter kits and/or the components, such as (links to the actual kits or components) Den's Tea, Yuuki-Cha, and IPPODO.

Several days later (yeah, I know, shipping) I found myself at the office making a bowl of the Yame. Ooohhhhh it was sooo goood. Seriously, matcha so far is just delicious.

So I cracked open the Kiri, which was good in a totally different way! I feel I've been employing considerable restraint by making only two or three bowls per day since then.

I made a YouTube vid of the basic process I use when making matcha at the office. It's really not tricky at all, and I honestly find it far more suited to getting my tea/caffeine fix on the go at work than other methods. I whip it up and slurp it down.

Just as tea provides a different caffeine buzz than that of coffee, matcha gives me a different high entirely. And unlike a good sencha session, late-day matcha doesn't interfere with my sleep. It just makes me feel GREAT for a few hours and then mellows back down to normal in a gradual, easy way.

Curious to read more?
Another Tea Blog: Matcha, Part 1
Another Tea Blog: Matcha, Part 2
Another Tea Blog: Matcha, Part 3

Tea Nerd: Matcha Madness, Part I
Tea Nerd: Matcha Madness, Part II
Tea Nerd: Matcha Madness, Part III

Cheap matcha tips from Matcha Man Savage

Saturday, October 4, 2008

An Ji Bai Cha from TeaSpring

An Ji Bai Cha

I've been making infusions of this one on and off since early this morning, never quite topping 180° F and varying the times from "vaguely over a minute" to "just over a minute and a half" with good, consistent results in a preheated kyusu.

A few random notes:

Very light aroma.

Clear liquid with the insinuation of yellow.

Not nearly as heavy on the palate as a lot of the good chinese green I've had this year. Lacks the buttery taste of many of those same teas.

This is a good tea to loudly slurp (OK, maybe not in the office during normal hours) to get a fuller sense of it.

According to the vendor, "Research found that the tea plant has low chlorophyll and polyphenols content (which explains the whitish-green tea leaves) but is very rich in amino acids. It has almost twice the amount comparing to other green teas. Amino acid helps suppress cortisol and reduces stress."

I can't confirm the scientific content, but I have found this to be a relaxing tea on a stressful day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

En Shi Yu Lu steamed Chinese green from TeaSpring

The en shi yu lu leaf appearance is similar to sencha (presumably from the steaming process), but definitely not quite the same. But I couldn't quite put my finger on the difference until I placed them side by side.

Whereas sencha leaf tends to have a needle-like appearance, this tea's needles are a little gnarly and bent in a subtle way. A heavy, delicious aroma like a first class dragonwell wafted up from the bag during the pour.

preheated kyusu
1 minute
2 grams of leaf
150 ml of water

Color and initial flavor remind me immediately of a high quality long jing. The first sip, however, left me with an impression of warm butter (real butter, not the fake, flavorless stuff).

The color of the brew is bright yellow, with no discernible dust or hint of darkness.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Huang Jin Gui oolong from Teaspring

For the first time since I got this latest batch in from TeaSpring, I had a challenge dialing in a tea today: Huang Jin Gui oolong.

I started off with 4.8 grams of leaf in a preheated yixing, boiling water, 1 minute, like most other teas I've had this week.

The scent was moderately thick and floral. The color was sort of a tinted amber with a hint of green. And there was more tea dust in the cup than other teas I've had lately.

The flavor was subtle and crept up on me over a few sips. A cool, refreshing mouth feel was immediately evident. There was a perfume-like quality to it, but not to outrageous excess.

It reminded me of a jade oolong. If I'd had to guess blind, I'd have tagged it as straight from Taiwan (and would've been mistaken, as it's from An Xi, Fujian Province).

After several infusions, I finally tried just reducing the steep time by about half in a cool pot, producing a more agreeable brew. Next time, I may try a more gong fu influenced approach with ultra-short steeps.

There's honestly nothing wrong with this tea. It's just not my personal style.

However, I think it may prove quite worthy with some tinkering, and is certainly a candidate for blending to lend some of its enjoyable qualities to some other tea.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ya Bao from Teaspring

This morning's Ya Bao turned out to be an unusually pleasant surprise.

I've had a good bit of pu-erh, and this was unlike any I've tried to date. In fact, it reminded me more of a really flavorful white tea.

I used 5 grams in a preheated yixing pot with boiling water for 1 minute. After several infusions I ramped it up to a minute and a half with no negative impact.

The color was light, and the taste was sweet & pleasant.

The dry leaf looked nothing like other loose tea leaves I've seen, but my phone cam took a really inadequate picture. The vendor has some pretty good pics, which may be found via the link above.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Feng Huang Dan Cong from Teaspring

This morning I tore into the Feng Huang Dan Cong that came in my big Teaspring order.

Contrasting it with yesterday's Bi Luo Chun Hong Cha is easy enough at a glance.

From Fight Club

In this picture, the BLCHC is on the left, and the FHDC is on the right.

The BLCHC is twisted up into tight little nuggets, whereas the FHDC is on the verge of being impractical to handle with a spoon.

I weighed out 3.1 grams and steeped about half a minute in a yixing slightly less preheated than normal in water just below boiling.

It came out amber, unlike the deep brown of most of yesterday's BLCHC infusions. I found the taste bright and complex, with a cool sensation that may have been astringency. In comparison with this, the Bi Luo Chun Hong Cha eats like a meal.

Subsequent infusions over the next several hours continued to produce satisfying cups of tea. I changed up the temp and steep time semi-randomly and was just couldn't make a bad cup.

At the end of the work day, I took the following pic of one of the wet leaves.

From Fight Club