Friday, August 31, 2007

Matt: tea source, correct country .. wrong coast

Our family friend Matt, recently returned home to Brisbane, after 4+ years in Japan and China.
So Matt, here is a potential source for tea and tea stuff in Australia.
Located in: Perth-Northbridge. (thinking about it, Dongguan might be closer )
Dragon Tea House
3/369 William Street, Perth, WA 6003
(next to the William shopping centre)

Tel: 618 - 9228 3305
Mob: 61- 405 591 778
Fax: 618 - 9228 3306

Also a nice review in the; cafe-grendel blog.
Great review makes you want to visit the tea house.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tea Samples arrive

Great timing, three tea samples arrive to day from: Dragon Tea House. My friend Shawn arrives Sunday.. after lunch .. we'll head over to a local favorite tea house, in near by Da Lang .. (across from: 兩岸, Liang an/C straits Cafe) and see what we can do with the three samples ... thinking about it .. my hotel is kind of crazy on Sunday lunch time .. so probably have lunch in Liang an.

Where to buy ?

Beijing 2008 Olympics Commemorative Cake, 2000 grams.
Last February they had a display of these packages at the:
Taiwan Tea Museum in Ping Lin. (only place I've seen them)
About 30/40 min drive from Taipei city. Can't recall the cost.
Hope this information is useful.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Beijing 2008 Stuff

I try to avoid Olympic collecting, but in February I picked up some commemorative Pu-erh.
Now its drink coasters from Garden Café, don’t let Sherry know.
Athletics, Cycling and Shooting: ..

Side trip to Shenzhen, BaoAn district

Can't believe I almost forgot about last Saturday. Dave, Paulo and I met with: Long Time No See friend, Li Shuling (Jane Li) .. Almost 1 1/2 years since we last worked together now she is getting married in November.
After lunch with Jane, we met up with Niden and it was off to taste some tea at:
Riyuxuan Cha Wen Hua Chuan Bo Co. Ltd.
We sampled about 5/6 Pu-erh teas .. unfortunately, none were good enough to buy. Even tried to cook/brew one tea to pull more flavour out .. didn't work. We made arrangements to return next week .. bring samples of what we like and lets see if they have a match.

Fabulous table: one of 5 set-ups on ground floor of this shop .. mostly wholesale customers. No shortage of pots .. Paolo looks excited :)
Also a new shipment of tables are due in this weekend .. from factory in Fujian !!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Long Feng 龍鳳 Dragon and Phoenix

Andrew and Heather, heading out:....Robin enjoys some flower tea in the back yard ....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday in Hong Kong

Between torrential rain storms, I managed to nip into Hong Kong on Sunday. Tucked away in a non tourist part of town there are few tea shops.. wholesalers and retail shops .. some unfortunately closed on Sunday, some only open in afternoon.

This small shop carried a number of Taiwanese tea wares and the obligatory high priced Pu-erh.
As much as I like Hong Kong, when it comes to BUYING tea give me Dongguan every time. The people in HK are great, but you get a lot of tall tails and I just don't feel comfortable buying there.

Great place to eat .. in Kowloon's Harbour City shopping center, 3rd. floor: Rice Paper. (near Page One bookstore) Vietnamese inspired food .. excellent, food was fresh and well prepared.


Hi Eve here are a couple of Pics for you: Sean made it home .. also managed a haircut and sporting a Watch Cap knitted by Heather.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tea-house killers launch appeals

This headline caught my attention .. page 3 of South China Morning Post
story by: Fox Yi Hu Aug 22, 2007
NOT a story about tea .. only the location of a crime ..
Five men convicted of an execution-style killing at the Luk Yu Tea House in Central are expected to face court again early next year after they appealed to a higher mainland court.
The hitman, Yang Wen, is seeking to have his death sentence overturned, although he had pleaded guilty and asked the court for the penalty last year.

Former Hong Kong actor Yeung Ka-on, who was jailed for life by the Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court last month, has lodged an appeal against his conviction to the Guangdong Higher People's Court.
Also appealing either their sentences or convictions are Hong Kong triad boss Lau Yat-yin, former Macau casino manager Tse Bing and former PLA soldier Zhang Zhixin.
Judges from the Guangdong Higher People's Court will go to Shenzhen to hear the appeals as transferring the felons to Guangzhou would be risky and costly, according to sources.
Hong Kong businessman Harry Lam Hon-lit, 54, was shot at point-blank range as he was taking breakfast in the tea house in Stanley Street on November 30, 2002.
A bloodstained jacket and a handgun found in Sheung Wan that day eventually led police to the culprits in a three-year investigation.
Yeung, popular among those who grew up in the golden era of Hong Kong television in the late 1970s and early 1980s, was found to be the mastermind.
The court found that Yeung instructed Lau to plan the killing. Lau offered to pay Tse HK$2 million for the job, although Tse ended up collecting only HK$1.1 million in Macau.
Tse then hired Zhang and Yang, both Hunan natives, for HK$400,000 and arranged for them to come to Hong Kong, the court found. Yang was paid HK$160,000 for executing the plan.
Both Lau and Tse were jailed for life, while Zhang was given 13 years' imprisonment for planning the murder with Yang.
All journalists were barred from the murder trial in Shenzhen last month.
Wu Weiwu, 31, also a Hunan native, received a jail term of three years for arranging a hideout for Zhang and Yang, but was released last month after having already spent that time in custody.
Lam was a director of Digger Holdings and an investor in the Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More from Eric Blair .. aka Geroge Orwell ..

Down and Out in Paris and London: First published:January 9, 1933
excerpt: (yes its about tea)
.... The prayers lasted half an hour, and then, after a handshake at the door, we made off.

‘Well,’ said somebody as soon as we were out of hearing, ‘the trouble’s over. I thought them—prayers was never goin’ to end.’
‘You ‘ad your bun,’ said another; ‘you got to pay for it.’
‘Pray for it, you mean. Ah, you don’t get much for nothing.

They can’t even give you a twopenny cup of tea without you go down on you—knees for it.’There were murmurs of agreement.

Evidently the tramps were not grateful for their tea. And yet it was excellent tea, as different from coffee-shop tea as good Bordeaux is from the muck called colonial claret, and we were all glad of it.

I am sure too that it was given in a good spirit, without any intention of humiliating us; so in fairness we ought to have been grateful—still, we were not .....

My own copy is a moderately priced edition from Penguin Books .. a great read, I'm comforted in that we share the experiences through the protection of a turned page ....

Family - and travel plans

What's what with old what's his name ....???

Sean, is home from collage and making plans to visit Yellowstone Nat. Park. (road trip)
Robin (wife) and Heather, are back from Hawaii, and beaching it in So. Cal.
Robin, (friend) just completed his transition to US citizenship.
Matt, is settling back into the Aussie life style in Brisbane.
I've extend my trip, and plan to return on Sep. 12th.
Dave's wife and son came up from Singapore and joined him for a couple of weeks.Saturday, Dave, Paulo and I will have dinner with Jane Li .. almost two years since we last met. Sunday it's into Hong Kong for the day..

Inspired to improve

TeaMasters, just posted an aesthetically pleasing Gong Fu Cha presentation set-up. I admit to being inspired to better my lot when travelling...
The reality of life on the move: .. you have to multi-task with what is at hand. This might actually be the tidiest my office has been.
It's frustrating having a tidy mind, coupled with the well practiced art of procrastination.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Question via comment

Anonymous said...
"I recently(about a month ago) heard that aged pu erh that's more that 20 years are not good for consumption. Apparently, the news was shown live on national TV in China. It was a professor from the university making that statement. He added that even though the tea may taste better but it is not good for our health. Have you heard anything about that? I have heard from few different people about this. Also heard that the price of pu erh then drop because of that.. But i have not read anything online yet. I wonder if it is true.."

Reply: ..
There are probably more opinions on the above subject(s), than people offering them. In fact, around the tea tables I frequent, discussion about Pu-erh out numbers other teas 8:1 (subjective estimate).
Up front, my family and I; drink, enjoy, and collect/store Pu-erh. My opinions might be a tad biased. I’d prefer to see them as well informed (over many years) opinions (that are my reality hence “true”)
I did not see the TV broadcast first hand. However, it was much discussed and quickly discounted. It made a Chinese edition newspaper sold in Southern California. One of my friends (HK native), brought in the article (read/translated for me) There were additional articles about “Fake” Pu-erh being sold in HK hotels!!
Why it was quickly discounted?
Long held beliefs are not easily dispelled. Empirical tea knowledge far out weighs any scientific based opinion. (Here in China). Its seem the TV spot was a flash in the pan / storm in a teacup .. soon over - easily forgotten.
Pu-erh prices; I think “Greedy merchants got caught with over priced inventory that the buying public refused to buy. Hence a market price adjustment."
I buy Pu-erh from five sources in Dongguan, and two in the Shanghai area. I like to think my sources are reputable and fair. None of them asked "crazy" prices.
I have seen a steady rise in tea prices. One of my suppliers has offered to buy back tea I purchased last year, at a fair profit. (I still have the tea).
Recently extreme weather conditions and natural disasters have hit Yunnan province. So we have a tri-fecta, reduced/delayed production, infrastructure/transportation cost increases, increased demand for Pu-erh.
FACT, older tea is more expensive than young tea.
Personal experience: Pu-erh is extremely easy to drink.
Any time / all day, any weather conditions hot-cold etc.
Only tea I can drink on an empty stomach.
I enjoy it hot, as brewed or cold, left to sit for some time.
There are tangible benefits of Pu-erh, no details!

I spend a lot of time in Dongguan area and HK .. These seem to be the hot bed of Pu-erh consumption. From personal experience, once a Hong Konger has a traditional set of beliefs nothing short of a personal visit by a long passed ancestor will change that dogma.
That is provided the ancestral ghost has a valid HK ID Card, Drivers License and library card.

One story I got back, The university professor was jealous of his friends 20 yr old tea and could not afford to buy some, he thought to degrade his friends tea.

The real trick in all of this is to acquire genuine 20 or 20+ year old tea.
Then you hope the storage did not adversely affect the teas potential.

My approach: buy what tastes good and avoid paying too much, both are 100% your own criteria.

I believe that 20/30 year old tea holds its intrinsic medicinal values and with moderate care the taste will improve over time .. Jump to 80/100 yr old tea .. its anybodies guess

Sunday, August 19, 2007

40% tea found to be substandard

In the News: (Shenzhen Daily) In-Flight English edition. (Shenzhen airlines en route to WuXi)
Much is published of late on the efforts in China to improve “food” quality.
On Wed. Aug 8th. This article was published in the:
Shenzhen Daily

MORE than two out of five of 80 batches of tea inspected by the city’s industrial and commercial administration were found to contain excessive amounts of fluoride, yesterday’s Shenzhen Evening News reported.
The result came after a survey of 32 wholesale markets, companies, supermarkets and shopping malls in Shenzhen between April and June, the News reported. Among the 80 batches inspected, 47 were found to be up to standard while the remaining 33 were found to contain potentially harmful levels of fluoride.
Experts say the ecological environment of tea gardens, use of fertilizers, breed of tea trees and the amount of old leaves in the tea all play a part in determining the levels of fluoride accumulated in the leaves. Long-term intake of fluoride-contaminated tea could lead to dental fluorosis (mottled teeth), the first visible sign of fluoride poisoning, and bone disorders, according to experts.
Impurities were also found in the tea inspected, the News report said.
Tea labeled without specifying the guarantee period, date of manufacture, product type and list of ingredients was the other conspicuous problem found during the survey, the report said. Up to 68 out of the 80 batches inspected bore labels which were not up to standard.
Officials with the municipal administration for industry and commerce have vowed a crackdown to remove substandard tea from the market and penalize traders found selling it. They also warned consumers against believing that the longer tea leaves are kept, the better they will taste, as claimed by tea traders. (Eunice Kang)

On a lighter note, this article in same paper .. apologies to those Oxford supporters.2007年08月08日 00:44 Shenzhen Daily
Cambridge has beat its historic rival* Oxford to become Britain’s top university, according to a guide published last week.
The Good University Guide graded a total of 113 academic* institutions on the basis of nine factors*, including exam results, research strength and student satisfaction.
Cambridge squeezed* Oxford into second place for the first time since 2001, followed by Imperial College, London and the London School of Economics (LSE) in third and fourth places. St Andrews in Scotland came fifth.
The guide’s author Bernard Kingston defended himself against critics who say such rankings are too simple, arguing that students need help in making life-determining choices about where to study.
The argument focused on the ability of the compiler* to decide what the criteria* should be for judging the strength of universities, Kingston said.
The factors taken into account were: exam results, student satisfaction, research record, student-staff ratio*, entry standards, graduate prospects, dropout rates, spending on academic services and funding for other facilities.
Cambridge and Oxford, Britain’s oldest universities and among the world’s most prestigious* academic institutions, have long been friendly rivals over which is the top place to study.
Oxford is slightly older than Cambridge, but they share a traditional college structure and both have a reputation for producing the country’s political, economic and cultural leaders.
While “Oxbridge” remains on top, at the bottom end of the list are many of the former polytechnics* which were allowed to change their name and transform themselves into universities during the 1990s.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Oriental Beauty Tea - 101 Tea Plantation

Note to Self: "Bring a camera, don't rely on a cell phone !!!
A recent business contact dropped off a package of Oriental Beauty at my hotel in Taipei, (next to Taipei 101.)
With minimal effort, the WEB provided basic data on; 101 Tea Plantation, previously unknown to me. and
Poor picture (cell phone) a "Zip Pak" resealable Package .. great for travellers. I sense the Californian influence on this package ???

Dry leaves, visually impressive, with a purposeful resemblance to a "Darjeeling Back Tea" only with more colour, a fully oxidized tea.. mostly back, some white and a few light brown leaves in the mix.The olfactory senses are less impressed, at first exposure I pick up strong burnt odor, (I did not expect this) this quickly dissipates and a variety of subtle odors were revealed.

Proof of the pudding:

After initial rinse infusion, I yielded only 4 infusions .. should have stopped at 3.

Initial infusion was best, smooth mouth taste, after taste and lingering aftertaste were satisfying, no single influence. Tea colour was a pleasing warm gold. The negative was the strong burnt odor came through and overpowered the drinking pleasure.

In progressive infusions the tea proved to be a bit of a Chameleon: Colour deepened to a hard reddish gold, burnt odor made way to a gambit of fleeting, but pleasant olfactory triggers. The taste changed, less smooth with less satisfying lingering after taste.

Wet leaves: Extremely well formed, easily separated, all the indicators of a quality product.

Synopsis: despite the obvious leaf quality, the short infusion life and heavy oxidation odor, I'll take a pass on this Oriental Beauty .. On the plus side I will try their other teas.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Taipei - Kunshan - Da Lang .. stuff to send home

I acquired too much stuff to hand carry back, and I'm less than half way through my trip.
So Fed-Ex here I come ... some of the stuff:
A Small tea pot and matching cup .. Innocent start .. Note: they are sitting on a new serving tray siting on a new tea table .....
Some well crafted tools in a carry case, always a good idea.A nice collection of Taiwan High Mountain Oolong teas ...
This source is new to me .. 101 plantation ??
I suspect a retailer capitalizing on Taipei 101, The tea is accompanied by a letter, in Chinese, so I'll need help to translate.
What's in the big Bag ????
Three items ? maybe more to this...
My fabulous new pot from: Tao Fun Yingko town, Taipei county.
The pot sits on top of a pouring jug, tea passes out the bottom of the pot. (image from their site)
What's in the Red Bag ???
Its a travel Gong Fu Cha set .. the workmanship is unreal .. a true joy ..

I can see this in Hawaii at Christmas ....

Made by: Bamboola Taiwan
(Set of images from their site.)

Song Shan Lake .. "Cha Ting" found

A very warm, humid morning around the lake .. back in; mid May, I posted some pics on the developing hard-scape .. progress is being made .. I have my spot for Gong Fu Cha marked out. Now I need a portable heat source and kettle .. Oh more stuff to acquire...
A "Stop", 停 (ting) the same word as: "To Stop" is used to describe a small building/place to stop.
Here in the middle of the partially completed walkway is my "Ting". I hope to brew some tea here soon .. might just have to set up and brew some for the workers. They all speak their home dialect .. lets see if tea can help the 外人 wei ren (foreigner) bridge the gap.
The bridge is looking good as the Ladies work on plantings

My favorite work boat is still in service.

A friend: lost and found

A few weeks back I nip over to Dongguan city to see Mrs. Yang and the (two) girls at my favorite tea store .. Sunday afternoon place is busy, Mrs Yang’s son and daughter are helping (don’t usually see them working) .. its takes a few minutes, then its hits .. Da Xia is not around.
Long story short, Da Xia is from Fujian, her dad had called her back to work in the family business, tea business!!! Find out she has moved to WuXi (about 2 hr drive from Shanghai) .. I’m scheduled to fly into WuXi in two days, life moves in mysterious ways ....

I get directions to where she is working .. Located in a "locals only" area of WuXi, is a multi level shopping plaza .. ground floor is all tea shops -- approx 20 stores -- all are a combination of wholesale and retail. Focus is on tea ..not so much Pots and paraphernalia.
Da Xia and her little sister:...
The family own a tea garden/plantation in Fujian, the dad is returning to full time tea production, so Da Xia will run the store .. We spend about 2 hrs getting first hand instruction on tea picking and processing, what a fascinating morning. We sample a variety of tieguanyin, all hand processed by the Dad, he describes the subtle process changes he made, and the affects on the final tea. Da Xia tells us stories how as a young girl she picked tea and learned the business, literally, from the ground up .. what a great family, I only hope you get a chance to meet them.
Business name: ..Shan Yuan Cha Ye ... Mountain Original Tea Leaf; +86 137 7100 6815
A small shop .. generating a warm atmosphere.
Inside a couple of the adjacent shops:.....