Puerh Education: Grade of Leaf January 15 2015When a system is too complex it is hard to fully understand the underlying pieces. Why does Dayi, or other companies, use the recipe they use for their classic puerh cakes? Why do they add more lower leaf grades to some recipes and more higher leaf grades to other recipes? To answer these questions and begin to understand puerh we need to remove extraneous variables. Tasting different blended puerhs will only cause more confusion unless you can remove variables and focus on small changes. With the CPTR research cakes I saw a unique opportunity. I could remove many variables and focus solely on how leaf grade changed the tea. With these cakes the variables of region, farm, production method, tree age, processing methods, and post processing storage methods were all identical and therefore cancelled each other out. Focus can be given to the grade of leaf.
What is Huang Pian? September 05 2014She pauses her diligent hunt for just a moment to lift the entire mat up into the air in one swift motion that momentarily suspends each leaf in front of her face. As the leaves fall back into place she begins a rhythmic circular motion that spreads the leaf across the woven surface. The mat back on the ground she begins the hunt again. She is looking for broken leaves, yellow leaves, leaves that didn’t roll tightly, and leaves that are too big. These she sets aside in a special pile. These aren’t pretty leaves; they’re runts. The market doesn’t want these leaves. They have ‘standards’. These leaves are called ‘lao huang pian’, or just ‘huang pian’.
Tea pets are the perfect companions on your tea journey! August 26 2014
Quietly I sat in the dark back corner of Hidden Peak Teahouse in downtown Santa Cruz. I was in deep appreciation of the thick black brew at my fingertips and was inwardly reflecting on how I had arrived at this place and time. My only companion a fat frog made out of clay who persistently stared up at me. What did he want? Those soulful eyes unsuccessful in hiding deep desire. Whatever words he would have spoken were obscured by the large coin held tightly in his mouth. It was obvious what he wanted though. Tea. This frog was a tea pet, and he was thirsty. Pouring it over his head I shared some of my puerh; momentarily sating his never ending thirst.
What is Gushu? July 25 2014It is no easy task for a tree to grow into the triple digits of age. It takes patience, care, and more than a little luck. Trees that can be considered gushu have the subtle grace of battle hardened warriors of old. Salty old seadogs with stories to tell and scars to prove them. They’ve withstood the tests of time. Their roots run deep and that foundation gives strength. They’ve seen seasons of drought, and seasons of plenty. They have survived wars, fires, and famine that often took the lives of their human tenders. Through a process of Darwinian natural selection they have emerged the genetic victor. They are of a hearty stock, well adjusted to their soil, and naturally more resilient to insect invaders. This means less of a temptation for farmers to use pesticides or fertilizers. When you drink gushu you’re drinking history. You’re drinking from tea trees planted during the glory days of Imperial China; or earlier.
What does puerh tea have to do with marriage? July 13 2014This is our simple wish: A long, happy marriage filled with delicious tea!
Bulang Mountain Puerh April 29 2014As our dust cloud pulled up and we emerged covered in dirt and sweating from the afternoon heat, we must have been an interesting spectacle. Nevertheless Yan invited us in for tea. The factory buzzed with youthful social activity. Workers arrived with backs bearing fresh picked tea. Many kilos of this green gold was delivered, weighed, bought, and recorded. We sat, drank tea, and chatted about how our journey had brought us here. Yan broke the news that our car would never make it to Laoman'e...
Longtan Village March 21 2014To find the puerh we were looking for we would need to travel much further south. The road wound through the mountains with all the predictability of a bowl of noodles. The ribbon of black tarmac we rode was cut with random, nearly impassable sections of dirt and rock. It was as if the road couldn't make up its mind which century it was in. Our valiant, but aging, Mitsubishi Space Wagon stayed true to the course and brought us safely to Jiangcheng.
Jian Shui Zi Tao Pottery March 11 2014A half an hour of walking westerly from the city center will bring you to Wan Yao Village. This is the traditional home to Jian Shui Zi Tao pottery. The narrow, winding streets are hot and dusty. Swallows dipping down for attention ride the hot wind that carries the smell of clay to your nose. It's welcoming and intrusive at the same time. Each shop carries both amazing pottery and cool shade. We availed ourselves of both. Still in the learning, exploring, and investigatory phase we chose to stop in each shop and ask all the questions we had. With only a quick honk of the horn as warning we dodged industrial trucks and motorcycles all moving too fast for the enclosed space as we went door to door.
Investigating a Mystery Puerh March 03 2014We investigate this mystery puerh, explore its essence, and come to a conclusion on its origin.
Sampling Aged Puerh with Chang Tai February 24 2014We spend a long afternoon with Chang Tai sampling identical cakes of puerh (2006 ChangTai Nannuo Shan Cha Hu Chen Sheng Puerh) one aged in hot, humid Menghai, and the other aged in cool, dry Kunming. The difference is striking.
Lijiang February 15 2014Lijiang Old Town is an amazing place with a rich culture and deep heritage woven intricately with the history of the puerh tea trade on the Ancient Tea Horse Road. We visit Lijiang, experience the culture, and sample some truly amazing sheng puerh.
Exploring Chengdu February 03 2014Our first blog from China! We explore Chengdu tea culture, Tibetan stores, and a remaining section of the Ancient Tea Horse Road.
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