A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

Tea-Village of Thailand Jin Xuan #12 Oolong also known by the prettier name, Oolong Golden Lily

Tea-Village's Oolong number twelve brews up a soft yet bright golden and is very floral and full bodied from the get-go. I used 5 grams in a 180 ml gaiwan with the water at 203f and the scent of the leaves filled the room. Apparently in the 1950's some local ethic Chinese people's moved to Thailand and began to produce this tea in the northern mountains of Thailand where they settled. (Don't quote me on this, just something I heard or read, what do I know?) In any case, this is a good #12! As strong as it is I would venture a guess that I could have used far less grams, perhaps as little as three grams per 160-180ml of water and seen and tasted even more pleasant steeps. This was not an unpleasant session at all, I just think I can stretch the small amount of this tea I have into lasting longer by decreasing my grammage! And I know I am going to want to have at least a few more sessions with this tea before I find the bottom of the bag empty.

A rare treat of a Darjeeling white tea, an Arya Pearl.

From Teca Tea, a wonderful Arya white! Precious tiny little leaves and bud, light as a feather, brews up sweet and transcendent, everything you would hope for in a first flush white Darjeeling. Used three grams in a 160 ml gaiwan with water at 180f, no rinse as there was no need, so utterly clear and pure tasting.
Like flowers after a rain has washed them clean, light scent of greens and hay, a wonderful tea for Fall!

I now pronounce you Tea and Cup! Mazel Tov!

(The happy couple.)
Found a dynamite Japanese green tea, special yet easy to access and gets lots of, and introduced it to my Ringware Yunomi ala' Octopus last night and let's just say they were made for each-other. The proud parents of the tea are Buddha Teas and the proud parent of the cup is Ringware Pottery.
This will not be an open-marriage. This tea has so many strongly pronounced flavors that I promise the cup it will never share its capabilities to hold tea with any other green. Nope! Not even something similar, not even a basic ryokucha, or a matcha, nothing! This tea with this cup, wedded and bedded and all for the best, (and as we Jews say) 'Dayenu!'

The tea of which I speak will get its own blog write-up since it deserves it and is so totally kick-ass, so this is just a short preview.
( First brew after the nup's!)
I am talking here of Buddha Teas 'Matcha Yuzu Ryokucha'. Got it? So go get some if you like a vibrant green tea, matcha mixed with lovely verdant green pieces of ryokucha and are interested in a little dash of something rather citrus-y from the Japanese fruit called Yuzu.

The marriage was done with the help of my Takaname Kyusu of course, and was sealed with many steeps which left this human wedding guest having to pee every ten minutes for the next three hours. Worth it! (Even if it did interrupt  Dr. Who to my families constant consternation.)

Viking Moxie Tea helps this 'old lady' out big-time on a rather tough day!

Damn. I am wiped out, my dudes!
A day of doctors visits, poked, prodded and plied with questions.
I need something (mainly) herbal.
And today was just the beginning of a journey to find out what the hell is wrong with my sweetly aging, zaftig bod. That being said, I will add the novelty factor of getting old really is very high. Who knows how much longer that will last but for now it is awesome that I still think I am 'playing' at getting old. Like its dress-up time. I can wear really ugly socks I bought at Rite-Aid AND wear them with knock-off (and used thrift-store) 'Birkenstocks?' Really? That's frigging awesome! Goodbye forever to garter belts and heels, this is the new and improved version of me, just fatter and way more achy.
Anyhow, perfect timing to try a sample of Mox Tea that came my way yesterday. Where is that herbal infuser I use for messy rooibos? Now, which cup to use? Oh yes, that HUGE whimsical creation from RingWare. And I am off to try it out...

(These two are a perfect match! The infuser sits on top of this gorgeous Yunomi type cup just right. UPDATE! This Yunomi cup got married last night to some Japanese green so will no longer be dating this tea or any others! Have to just use a nice big mug for my Moxie!)

It's a pretty brew, and tasty too but far too hot and I need it now so I do the usually unthinkable and add some Trader Joe's Vanilla Almond milk. The Moxi website says I can add sugar but then I would have to kill myself.
But the almond milk I'm OK with. I may live on.

The blend is nice, a little more cinnamon than I really need but at least its real cinnamon and not a flavoring which I cannot 'abide'.
Let's see exactly what's in it for I am feeling a helluva lot spunkier after my big mug and am now on muggo numero two-o!

9 Traditional herbs: Rhodiola Rosea; Gotu Kola; Gingko Biloba; Icelandic Moss, Green & Black Tea leaves; Rose Petals; Cinnamon; Cloves

I feel as if I could find something that tasted almost as good in a tea bag, but it would be all fannings and shake but I am not that person. Also no way would there be those first four listed ingredients, I don't even know what a couple of those are. Moss? And I am a visual tea-drinker, I want to see a good looking brew, in fact I would go so far as to tell Mox that I would be delighted to see even more large pieces than I am seeing in this sample and hope with my first order it will be even prettier in the vessel than this session is, and seriously, take a  look at those leaves and buds and what-not, they already are looking very attractive.
I think we have a winner, herbal and some caffeine? This tea is abiding right by this old dude.

(Yeah, I want it to look like this!)

David Holden Ceramics, and the most beautiful Yunomi I have seen in my life.

Searching for a way to start writing about and collecting pottery, especially tea cups from artists began with an Etsy search. While contacting a handful of artists in the states, I stumbled upon David Holden Ceramics and lost myself for some time looking at the images of his work. I dropped him a note to say 'hi' and ask about how many millimeters certain cups held, and he went and read my blog and we found we both loved Japanese teas, hence my search for the perfect Yunomi. We then chatted a little more about teas and I told him about my very rare in quality Tencha and he said he hoped one day to try Tencha which is very difficult to find so we decided it would be nice to trade. And also if I loved his cup he would get some good publicity on my blog, in case anyone else aside from me even reads my blog!
The cup is even more than I had hoped for, it has a thick, warm glaze that is super smooth, and its size is as if it were made just for my hand.
I truly don't know what else to say so here in photos is my journey today with this cup!

( Enjoying a rousing session of Bulang Shu while spending some time with the new cup seeing how it feels about varying water temperatures. I do so love to make a mess of my tea table, such fun.)

Dong Fang Mei Ren from Tea-Side of Thailand is AAA-plus!

Thai company Tea-side sent me a Dong Fang Mei Ren which is marked #AAA. I don't know what that means, but if I were to get to grade it, like a school paper AAA sounds about right! This Dong Fang Mei Ren, or as I have more often known it to be called, 'Oriental Beauty' is my favorite kind of Oolong tea. My favorite kind of tea period. I would have no problem, once my huge supply of teas to taste come to an end, in focusing and drinking nothing but different kinds of Oriental Beauty for the rest of my days. I have had some amazing ones, and some disappointing ones, and for me to be disappointed is a rare thing since my tea drinking is so relatively new. However, I have had a lot of OB's, and was happy enough to realize when tasting a poor one, that I could recognize it as a bad example! You, of course haven't heard about that tea, or others I disliked because I am here to write about things that I liked. And this Dong Fang Mei Ren is in the top three best I have had.
It is different in some pretty neat and subtle ways compared to other OB's I have had. My first thought when smelling the leaves in the hot gaiwan before first rinse were not the usual floral notes but buttered vegetables and bread! That was new and different!
Love this tea and now I want to try even more of this sort of Oolong offering from Tea-Side! I decided to brew the first few steeps in a less than gongfu fashion. I used less leaf at 3.5 grams in a larger amount of water, a 160ml gaiwan and I let it steep 1 minute at 205f. I will go back and try my usual parameters but I have enjoyed this brewing style the last few days and thought this tea would brew well under those parameters, which it most certainly did.
Gorgeous leaves, carefully packed and pretty as you would expect a good Oriental Beauty to be, this is my kind of session. Pure and perfect with each consecutive steep!

For my tea friends living and thriving in sobriety.

As tea has become so important to me and I have 'switched' (as I like to call it) from any type of booze to every type of tea with the same passion I once had for sake and vodka gimlets, a very wise person said something to me I want to share..... hope this person doesn't mind, s/he will remain anonymous but deeply appreciated by me for taking time to write me, a veritable stranger some thoughts..... it goes like this:

"I know we don't know each other well yet, but I want to lay something on you directly, and I hope you take it with an open mind. When we are getting clean (I quit partying about 13 years ago, it was a mess), we have to understand that the nature of addiction is not only about our substance of choice, but is also tied to the way we think. Tea is a very good and healthy beverage, but if you take it too far, it does have detrimental effects on the health. Tea can cause kidney stones if you drink too much, and can also be long term bad for your kidneys. As someone who has been clean for a long time, I want to suggest that one of the best ways to deal with cleaning up is diversifying behaviour. Tea was a great start, but you also have to go even further. I originally cleaned up by doing tai chi, later got into the tea thing as a result. It has been an amazing journey, but there are so many areas of life outside of those hobbies, and a lot of them were really hard to face. Remember that caffeine and L-theanine are drugs, and that over indulgence in them isn't a viable way to cure the problem of addiction, which starts and ends in ourselves. Keep drinking tea, keep blogging, but also, I want to really encourage you to open up other doors too, have a good hard look inside, and enjoy your newer, cleaner, better, and happier life!!!!!!"

A living Tea Pet!

Readers! This could be the start of a whole new tea-table look! This is just the first! Bonsai are great, but mine needs to be outside more and this little guy is perfect!

I don't often drink tea using a tea-bag and a giant mug but when I do...


I drink Buddha Tea's Turmeric/Ginger.

Why choose Buddha Teas?

Buddha Teas Logo
What sets us apart from other tea companies? We start with a philosophy of living in harmony with nature, not using it for profit. Buddha Teas uses only fresh, pure organic or sustainably wild harvested ingredients and maintains their natural purity in every tea we sell. We have also created the "Teas for Trees" campaign, planting 5000 trees a year to offset the paper use in our tea bags. Each of our tea bags is bleach-free to eliminate the risk of chemicals, and our boxes are made from 100% recycled material. When you buy Buddha Teas, you'll enjoy the fresh, full flavor of a truly natural tea in every sip.

A new favorite emerges. 'Sun Moon Lake' or as I just called it upon first sip, 'Oh. My. God.'

This is the first time since my first sip of Oriental Beauty that I have been this blown away by a tea. And that is saying something for the sip of OB that blew me away back in August when I first started this gongfu tea journey, was my first sip ever of good loose-leaf tea. I have tried over 100 teas since then, some of them totally wonderful, but this tea today hearkens me back to that first sip ever of something really exquisite.
I don't know a thing about this tea, I tell you laughingly, but I still have to write about while it lingers on my palate! I drank first and researched second.
After a great piece of advice from a tea friend about yesterdays Dian Hong to brew 2.5 grams in a 6 ounce gaiwan, I did the same thing with the Sun, Moon, Lake.
Sipped first rinse, nothing much, but pow!!! The first steep the scent coming out of the gaiwan was amazing, and from the first steep to the fourth, (which is where I paused to write this,) it was miraculous.
This was a gift from Golden Leaf Tea and I bow so deeply to them for this experience that my forward smacks the floor. (The proverbial, non-literal floor. I am old, I do it in my mind while I write from my rocker.)
I'm off now to play around with this some more, and to ask my tea-expert friends their suggestions on how to brew it properly, for if I got it to be so good this first, fumbling attempt, I almost cannot imagine what it will be like brewed to perfect parameters.

Here is what I learned...

"Nearly 80 years ago, the first Assam cultivar was brought to the hills around Sun Moon Lake in Nantou, Taiwan. 80 years of cultivation and research later, #18 Red Jade is born. We are proud to introduce the Sun Moon Lake Tea – a black tea that brews to a deep earthy red color, with hints of cinnamon, camphor, roasted chestnut and malt. It is a robust tea but the tannins are well controlled and balanced, resulting in a creamy and smooth mouthful. Never bitter or astringent. A rare and truly outstanding tea."
(Treat yourselves nice, and go get some of this tea!)

Buddha Teas open my eyes to a Japanese black tea with cherry blossoms!

Buddha Tea is an interesting company with lots to offer! They knew I was interested in exploring Japanese black teas and sent me their 'Sakura and Japanese Black Tea' blend. When I say 'blend' all I mean is a black tea with cherry blossom pieces, that's it. I didn't quite 'get it' the first time I brewed it. I didn't follow instructions, I just gongfu'ed the heck out of it and it was not the eye-opener I have since found it to be! tonight I tried it again and I finally just did what I was told on the package and the website although to my mind it was an insanely small amount of tea at only two grams for a very big amount of water, my 250 ml gaiwan! I mean, it looked silly in that big gaiwan! I was tempted to add another gram.....so I did. Aside from that I followed the instructions perfectly though, water temperature was around 175f, and I steeped it for a full two minutes. I never steep anything that long, ever! I was a bit nerve-wracking. Prior to that first two minute steep I did do a ten second rinse though I am not at all sure that is the way of Japanese black teas. I didn't not drink the rinse, but that first and second steep were crazy delicious!

( Not the prettiest steeps with the small pieces in the large vessel but the taste? Lovely!)

This 100% organic black tea is not the easiest thing to use in a gaiwan and I clogged my strainer more than once with my less than nimble hands being unused to using the huge 250ml gaiwan, but pretty or not, this was a wonderful brew. So nice to have that cherry blossom taste just so subtly on the roof of my mouth!
(I wish I could describe the heavenly scent coming out of the gaiwan as I take this photo!)

Buddha Tea tells us..."If you’ve ever stood underneath a Japanese cherry blossom tree, you’ll understand the almost magical quality that has made these delicate blooms a subject of fascination in Japanese culture for centuries. Known in the Japanese language as “sakura”, the cherry blossoms are revered in art, poetry and song. Now, you can enjoy these mystical flowers yourself in the floral blend of sakura Japanese black tea.
This blend combines crisp leaves of Japanese black tea with fragrant sakura petals. The result is a tea with a deep, earthy base, accented with sweet floral notes to capture your senses from the first sip to the last. Elegant and inviting, this Japanese tea blend is a luxurious delight to even the most seasoned tea drinkers."
Check them out at www.BuddhaTeas.com and tell them Buddha-Mom sent you!

Second post in as many days regarding the Feng Qing Diang Hong Golden Buds black tea, brewed under totally new parameters.

It was suggested to me to use 2.5 grams of this tea in a 180ml gaiwan! Yes, it was! I was under the impression that really four grams was the minimum you would use in a gaiwan, and in a 180 ml with a black tea, even a light colored one like this I might have gone to 5 grams if left to my own devices.
So I brewed this tea at 203f, using those parameters and it was gorgeous and smooth. Not all that light either, intense amber colors. rinse was far darker than a five second rinse was expected to be, the first steep was forty seconds, (this is an approximate as I count in my noggin) was terrific and the second steep, at approximately one minute was toasty and divine. Something I could easily drink all day long. In fact, I am heading over to Zen Tea to get some of this right now. Not that I need to buy ANY tea, not for a long time, but this is a winner, and so many things I have in my vault I have no clue as to what they will like. With the personal guidance of the man who suggested these parameters, I am off at a run t make sure I can recreate this for myself time and time again.
The photo below is of the first steep, the 40 second steep at under three grams!
(Seriously, look at the tiny amount of tea and what it produced! And the flavor was as rich and lovely as the color!)

The Tuesday after a long three-day holiday weekend requires something meditative in its deliciousness.

So I went with the Fengqing Golden Buds. I 'drank heavily' all weekend long, lots of new stuff, lots of puerh, everything brewed with a rather heavy hand as having the family around kept me from 'meditating' too much on my timing steeps!
I'd pour the water into the gaiwan, and get called in to my kids room to look at something apparently 'vitally important' on her computer screen or some fascinating position one of the dogs had fallen asleep in, and then wander back to my tea wondering how long I had been gone. Always less than two minutes, but still! When you are brewing a sheng or a shou or a duck-shit or really anything Gongfu style you can't be wandering off like that. Needless to say there were a few steeps I ruined, but this morning, the house quiet and peaceful I went right for the Dian Hong. This tea from Zen Tea has a lovely light color to the leaves, a nutty fragrance and is full of flavor. I was able to quietly brew this in my new 160ml gaiwan, using 5 grams of leaves with the water at 205f. Very deep-colored rinse, which I then proceeded to drink. Sometimes the rinse is just too good to dump. I believe I will ask my expert friends if perhaps there is a better temp to steep this tea, I don't want to risk running into bitter brews. Goodness knows the flash-stepped rinse was perfect but truly I don't think I would have wanted it any richer in body. Next steeps I will lower my temp's to 190f I think and see how it goes!

My Gongfu brewing of teas from Thailand continues with this aged Oolong, Lao Chin Shin from 1995!

Wow, is this a different tea experience from any other. This is not a simple tea session, I am tasting a lot of things and my mouth is being put through some trials and tribulations of change, all of which are proving to be interesting! I taste a little honey, some fruit notes like figs perhaps, hay and that taste of 'age' that is hard to explain. In later steeps it seems I am tasting even more warm hay, and a slight earthiness as well. By steep seven it has faded to a great degree, though the color remains a gorgeous lush amber. Here is what the Thai company Tea-Side has to say...

'Lao Chin Shin, Aged Oolong Tea from harvest of 1995.
Growing Region: Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. 1500 metres.
Appearance: Semispherical, slightly roasted, lightly fermented, hand-picked from the high mountains (1500 meters) of the northen Thailand.
Taste: A thick, deep taste with rich aroma of cherry, chocolate, sweet red apple. Velvety aftertaste of aged tea with cinnamon and bark notes. It is not like any of the Chin Shin Oolongs that I ever tasted.
Lao Chin Shin Oolong - it is very unusual tea. It's pretty picky about the water, It can be brewed up to 6-7 times and stronger oolong I've never met.
In addition to amazing taste and flavor, it gives a very powerful state. By the third-fourth brew different metamorphosis of consciousness begin to happen. The tea has a calming effect, it always brings relaxation to my mind and body and fills me with tranquility and light euphoria. I would gladly recommend you to drink it at night. (It helps to sleep and brings sweet dreams.)
Tea is a very delicate thing. It can show itself from different angles, depending on people around, the level of your care and attention, experience and native sensitivity.
Moreover, this Lao Chin Shin is really unique. If you look at the photo you can see a memorial plate confirming the age. There are numbers: 2538, witch mean the year of the harvest of this oolong. Don't be scared, Buddhist 2538 is only 1995 for the Christians. It was the first harvest on the plantation and the owners decided to memorize this event in such way. To my great regret, this plantation of Chin Shin have been totally cut down long time ago, so we can't try any fresh tea from there. But this old Chin Shin also remained just in a few amount on the farmers' vaults, so it's trully threatened spice! Hurry up to order!

(I agree, you best hurry on this one if you want to try it!)

Aged Green Heart Oolong, 2003 from Mountain Tea

Note to self....... GET MORE OF THIS!

I like the aged taste of this Oolong, a little yeasty, a little more intense than most of the other aged Oolongs I have tried so far, which is certainly not that many, not enough to compare or god forbid, judge! I did not find it to be overly sweet, but very warming with a good-tasting roastiness and a long-lingering mouthfeel. I could easily drink this tea all day long!

From Mountain Teas site:
The nose exudes enticing herbal fragrance, including thyme and dried basil, finishing with a hint of something malty.  Once steeped, the aroma shifts into pleasant memories of buttered toast, promising rich and full flavors.  The notes include raisins and crackers lightly flavored with honey.  The aftertaste is smooth, milky sweet and can be savored for minutes.
Aged oolong is fast gaining fans in the east; enthusiasts cite smoother mouthfeel and bolder yet more complex notes as superior features compared to the non-aged variant, and after a long experiment we must agree! Aged oolong is stored under strict conditions, minimizing heat and humidity, and re-roasted every two or three years to remove naturally accumulated moisture.

Floating Leaves Tea's Nantou Four Seasons Oolong from Spring 2015

Wonderful Oolong for a Sunday morning after a night of Shou Puerh experiments!
I am always really happy with teas that Shiuwen from FLT recommends, she knows I started my adventures in tea by falling in love with Oriental Beauty so when she has an Oolong sale, (and she really does have major sales sometimes!) I buy everything I can get my grubby-newbie hands on and slowly am moving through about seven bags of different Oolongs to try.
This morning I finally opened the package of this Nantou Four Seasons and just love it.
Smooth mouth-feel, floral, slightly vegetal, all in what feels to me like a prefect combination to touch my sense in just the right way.
I am loving this tea in a big way! 

Golden Fleece

Great color, wonderful aroma coming out of the bag. A generous sample, more than the 5 grams noted on the sample bag, which I put into my glass gaiwan. Both came from Verdant and what a fine treat it is to get to use a glass gaiwan for the first time(glass gets hot, ouch!) as well as try a brand new sort of tea at the same time.
The tea is fun, rapidly changing from one brew to the next, first three steeps at 205f, and the fourth steep lowered down to 190 as that third steep had a little too much 'tang' to it. Steeps four through six were really lovely, this tea has a profusion of flavors, none of them anything other than easy to enjoy. Fruits, citrus maybe, vegetal a wee bit, a full mouth-feel, very warming with no astringency at all, though as I said a bit 'tart' with the hotter steeps.
Visually this tea is a total winner and I am enjoying looking at my own photographs here more than I usually do! Delicious and worth ordering more of for certain! A nice break from my usual daily drinkers, I can see this one being a tea I enjoy in the evenings over games of backgammon making cup after cup in my sweet little glass gaiwan, happily burning my fingers all night long...