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Chinese tea -- 中国茶


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No need to apologise :) I thought it wouldn't matter too much how tea was stored, but I agree I don't think plastic is a good idea. I have lots of tins and clay jars, I will keep mine in those, I find the flimsy packets are difficult to keep tidy.

 

Thanks again.

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I think you have grasped the true essence of this business, Shelley. No need to get all worried and rigid about it and launch a big search for absolute perfection. This should probably be the main take-away message.

 

If you have lots of tins and ceramic vessele you are all set. Lids don't need to fit terribly tight. Keep your stored tea where it's not too hot and not too wet. For example if it's stored in the Kitchen, don't put it right above or beside he stove. Don't put it in the fridge.

 

 I would add another humble suggestion: Buy some labels; available in China and in the West. Write the name of the tea (Eng and Chinese) plus where it's from and what it cost and when you bought it. It's so easy to think you will remember, and then other things come up and you forget.

 

I've seen complex software programs purpose built for this. They are slick. Makes sense if you are keeping up with lot of tea, such as in a shop. It can help you rotate your stock on time and such. Overkill for the ordinary home consumer.

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Yes, i think the important thing is the drinking of the tea :) everything else is just needed to get to a good cup of tea.

 

Labels are a good plan, I have a label making machine I use for stuff in the shop, it will be easy and look nice :D

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I have another tea related question, I was given this tea brick many years ago and i was never sure if it was actually usable as tea.

Mainly because I assumed it was a tourist item and they didn't expect it to get used, but now I wonder if it is actually drinkable.

 

Here is a picture of the front, the back and the information that came with it.

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# 64 -- Shelley --

 

Am unable to open the third photo which shows the brochure or label (slow internet this morning.)

 

But I think that is decorative tea based on the other two photos. Ornamental; not really intended to be drunk. It's typically made from leaves that are not prime quality and is very tightly compressed under high pressure during the stamping process. The large stamping says: "中国茶业公司“ in Traditional characters, read from right to left. (I can't read the small ones.) Such decorative cakes often have symbolic characters as well, such as 福, but I don't see any here.

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Edited: Now I’m able to open the printed information, and I see that it is Keemun tea, 祁门茶。 This is an excellent fully-oxidized red/black tea from 安徽 Anhui, near 黄山 Yellow Mountain. I went there a few years back and bought some. Delicious stuff; strong toasty flavor.

 

Still, I would suggest keeping this pretty display cake intact instead of breaking it apart and drinking it. (Despite the advice given on the label.) It's extremely difficult to get this kind of pressure-stamped tea to brew up well. Usually need to actually boil it, low simmer, instead of just steeping it.

 

You can consider it your "survival tea" -- to be consumed in only case of dire need in some Post-Appocalyptic, Mad Max/Road Warrior world after all other tea has vanished. (Joking.)

 

Here's a link to an eminently drinkable modern Keemun, with description: http://www.adagio.com/masters/anhui_keemun.html

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Some of these decorative stamped cakes are quite large and elaborate. I've seen them used as standing screens and hung on walls, framed like mural pictures. They are popular in Yunnan, most often encountered in upscale offices and in the display rooms of large, swanky tea stores.

 

Yours is a real nice one; don't destroy it. I wonder if the gate depicted is an actual gate on Mount Qi -- "Vast Gate." (I don't really know the history.)

 

Will try to dig out one or two photos which I remember of similar pieces. (They are on an external hard drive.) Here are a couple I found on-line just now.

 

post-20301-0-97044500-1434159185_thumb.jpg  post-20301-0-80249400-1434159197_thumb.jpg 

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Once again thank you for your help and advice.

 

I am kind of glad that its better to keep intact as a display than to drink it, if it was going to be a wow tea I would have been torn between enjoying it as tea or as a wonderful thing to look at.

 

It will go back on display with all my other tea things.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well finally made it to the chinese shops and bought some tea. It has been very hot here recently, 28c -30c, is there a tea that is good for drinking in hot weather?

 

I also found in my cupboard this mug with strainer built in, but when you put hot liquids in it a picture is revealed, I would say that this makes it quite modern but based on an old design.

 

 

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Glad you made it!

 

I'd probably try the green tea first. But the Oolong and the Pu'er are also good in hot weather. We drink hot tea all year round here (in China.)

 

Sheng Pu'er is more popular in Summer than Shou Pu'er in Yunnan. (I can't tell which one yours is from the package -- possible that it's a blend. Just need to brew some and see. Sheng will brew up more light green in color; shou will brew up darker in color, closer in looks to a hong cha. 

 

That looks like a very practical tea mug, as well as being pretty. Hope that it works well. (I probably would not fill it all the way up. It looks too big for that. Try just half a cup at a time, or even less. That way you get the benefit of multiple steeps; multiple brews; like with a gaiwan.)

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Remember the principles of making good green tea. (Please excuse my pedagogical bent.)

 

1. Use plenty of tea leaves. More than you think you need. Amount will depend on the type of leaves. Can't tell from the package. Once you open it, let us see the leaves.

2. Water not too hot. Boil it, then let it stand a half minute or so. Pour in a high stream so it cools on the way down.

3. Short steeping time. Remove the inner steeping cup after half a minute or so. Set it on a plate or in a shallow bowl so you can use it again several times.

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Please don't apologise for helping :)

 

I will show you the leaves when I open the packet of the green tea.

 

The description on the Pu'er is "clear deep reddish colour with earthy aroma taste" so I think it might be shou Pu'er.

 

What sort of flavour should I expect from Oolong tea?

 

Looking forward to the green tea. Seems like it will be refreshing.

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Haha! You're welcome.

 

Not sure what to say about the Fujian Oolong. They come in a wide range of styles. Package doesn't have much information that I can see. It will just have to be a surprise. Think 惊喜 as you brew it. I would use a method similar to green tea, at least the first time.

 

I hope all three of these teas turn out to be winners!

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As a rule of thumb, green tea, 青乌龙 (green oolong like 铁观音) and 生普洱 have cooling effect, so in late spring and summer you should drink these two types. When the weather is cold, drinking 烤乌龙 (roasted oolong like 大红袍), red tea and 熟普洱 warm you, so this is what people usually drink late autumn and winter.

You can drink shu puerh during summer as well if your body tolerates it. A good shu is like a good wine, it usually goes up to your head very quickly, and you feel the effect in a blink time if the weather is hot. You will feel quite tipsy :)

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You're right about feeling tipsy. Odd the first few times that happens. Sort of sneaks up on one. Sipping tea from small cups with friends around a tea table and enjoying lively conversation. They call it 茶醉。

 

I remember one night in Menghai this Spring, staying as a guest in a tea factory, we had enjoyed an outdoor feast of grilled Dai-style fish and assorted hearty Burmese spicy salads, eaten on folded raw cabbage leaves, roast bite-size pieces of stinky tofu. Moved indoors for tea and conversation afterwards.

 

The guy sitting to my left at the long carved log of a tea table was an anesthesiologist from Jianshui. Didn't take long for silly pun-type jokes involving 麻醉 and 茶醉 to start making the rounds. Everybody was kind of loose. Slightly embarrassing in retrospect.

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This effect of Pu'er is slightly worrying, I don't drink alcohol or take any other things that alter your state of mind. Is this effect really that noticeable, as some who is not used to this sort of thing should I actually not try it or can I just have a sip or 2 and see how I feel? How long does the effect last?

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This "pseudo-intoxicating" effect only happens when you drink a lot of Pu'er and drink it rather fast. More likely to happen on an empty stomach. It lasts at most 10 or 15 minutes after ingesting the tea, then it just goes away.

 

It's not entirely a biochemical phenomenon due to properties of the tea itself. Coffee can produce a similar state of mind. It's partly due to the setting; chatting with friends and having a jolly time. Don't think I've ever had it happen when sipping solo in my living room at home.

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@Shelley: I haven't tried anything from Sea Dyke myself, but it's an interesting and quite familiar brand that I imagine will be a good introduction..

 

 


Sea Dyke (海堤), the Supermarket Veteran

The most likely culprit to be found in a supermarket in the western world. Sea Dyke is a long-established brand created by Xiamen Tea Import & Export Ltd (est. 1954). Reliable and drinkable, the Sea Dyke brand also produces other types of teas but is predominantly known for Fujian-grown oolongs (Yancha, Anxi Tieguanyin). Sea Dyke’s primary consumers are based outside of China either in Southeast Asia or the West. This audience particularly SE Asian consumers prefers higher-fired Yancha and Sea Dyke caters towards this trend and their selection is dominated by high-fired Da Hong Pao (blended) and Shui Xian of varying grades. Sea Dyke’s highest priced Yancha offerings are their Lao Cong Shui Xian and Tie Luo Han.

Sea Dyke Yancha can be acquired for $1.50-4/125g ($0.34-0.91/oz) for their lower-end stuff (boxed tea) and $10-20/125g ($2.27-4.50/oz) for their higher-grade Yancha (tinned tea). This makes it far cheaper than nearly all of the offerings by online vendors. One advantage to shopping for Sea Dyke is it is very easy to tell if people are excessively marking up their prices. Simply put in the product ID (i.e. AT115) paired with the tea character (茶) into Taobao and you’ll immediately see the Chinese price. Similar to the labels of commercially available Pu’erh (Menghai/Xiaguan) this allows for a more transparent transaction that makes it difficult for vendors to excessively mark up their tea.

 

Purchasing Sea Dyke online is only recommended if you cannot find it locally. While it is possible to find importers straight from China, shipping often complicates matters. Samples of aged/higher-grade Sea Dyke can be purchased from Sample Tea and Chinese Tea Shop.

Note: Factories will usually blend their products to taste, mixing in different cultivars and grades of tea (i.e. Rou Gui + Shui Xian = Da Hong Pao).
Note #2: Interestingly, there has been speculation that some Sea Dyke tea is created by blending blending aged tea leaves in with newer ones. The fact that this is possible is a testament to Sea Dyke’s longevity (est. 1954) and size.
Note #3: Much like Menghai, Xiaguan and labeled pu’erh tea, fake Sea Dyke tea does exist, despite its low price point.
Note #4: It might actually be possible to find cheaper Sea Dyke outside of China than in China.

 

Source

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Zhang Kai Rong -- What advice do you have for Shelley about not wanting to get high on her Pu'er?

 

This is an effect that isn't often discussed. Probably because it doesn't happen very often. I think any tea can somewhat improve one's mood and nobody considers that harmful. The only time I've personally experienced the "pseudo-intoxicating" effect has been as part of a group when everyone was having a great time.

 

Balthazar -- Any thoughts?

 

Anyone else who drinks lots of Pu'er?

 

-------------------------------------

 

And BTW Balthazar, I had not heard of Sea Dyke brand. Thanks for that information.

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