Monday, January 26, 2009

Colorado COLD

I'll be in Colorado, Denver area for a week .. sitting at 10 degrees Fahrenheit, (-12 centigrade) I don't foresee any sightseeing on the schedule.That's 10 degrees F on the car dash ....
Fortunately at these low temperatures its very dry

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pu-erh .. sign of the Times

Story and pictures from: "The New York Times"

A County in China Sees Its Fortunes in Tea Leaves Until a Bubble Bursts.MENGHAI, China — Saudi Arabia has its oil. South Africa has its diamonds. And here in China’s temperate southwest, prosperity has come from the scrubby green tea trees that blanket the mountains of fabled Menghai County.
Over the past decade, as the nation went wild for the region’s brand of tea, known as Pu’er, farmers bought minivans, manufacturers became millionaires and Chinese citizens plowed their savings into black bricks of compacted Pu’er.
But that was before the collapse of the tea market turned thousands of farmers and dealers into paupers and provided the nation with a very pungent lesson about gullibility, greed and the perils of the speculative bubble. “Most of us are ruined,” said Fu Wei, 43, one of the few tea traders to survive the implosion of the Pu’er market. “A lot of people behaved like idiots.”
You can find this story in other international publications from: the Malaysian Insider to The Herald Tribune.

Monday, January 19, 2009

.. Express Ten Thousand Words. 畫意能達萬言

A Picture's Meaning Can Express Ten Thousand Words:Picture e-mailed from a friend (unknown source)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Postcards, Home and Abroad

A busy time around our small planet ...
My friend Rick sends this postcard from Taiwan: ...

"While sitting around drinking tea with my new Taiwanese friends I was thinking of you! Yepper, I'm in Taipei now. I arrived Thursday and will head back to Thailand Tuesday. Just a short emergency business trip at the last minute.

The days have been busy and long but today (Sat) I was able to play tourist a little. I went downtown and to the top of the 101. While walking around the shops I came across a nice tea shop and snapped a pic for you. Well, it's a little past midnight and I need to hit the sack. I hope all is well with you and your family.

I hope you enjoyed the Christmas and New Year holidays. I took 2 weeks off, the family and I went to the in-laws as well as our place in Surin providence. I took many pics and will update my daughter's blog soon. I'll let you know when that occurs as she being almost 3 now has an understanding of Christmas, 'Santa brings big toys!'... haha"
Heather, this for you .. view from the fire trail....
Our own backyard .. Saddle-Back Valley (orange county) just as the sun rises:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fun with Language: .. Humor in Idioms

A comment (and response) to a fellow Blogger .. brings to mind these quotes:

"England and America are two countries separated by a common language." --George Bernard Shaw.

Wilde wrote: "We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language"

NB: Bertrand Russell and Dylan Thomas have similarly opined.

And Winston Churchill said, "Our two countries were divided by a common language"

Being a Scot, English (at least spoken) is not recognized as a native language, so I'm off to a bad start plus many years of: Sing-lish, Chin-lish etc, I often make a communications faux pas

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tea and Tulips

As a Christmas present, friends gave Robbie some:
Hydroponic 增长在水中, Zeng Zhang Zai shui zhong - To grow located within water.
Tuilps 鬱金香 Yu Jin Xiang.
Two of the four have opened
The first a beautiful deep rich red:..

DSC02495 The second: a variegated, lighter red and white:...

DSC02496 Standing tall in early morning winter sun:..
Small bowl, 小碗, Xiao Wan, of; 普洱, Pu'er (pinyin variant Pu-erh)
DSC02499 Not a Tulip: ... but still Hydroponic ...

Monday, January 05, 2009

A Pu-erh kind of a day

Enjoying relatively warm weather the past couple of weeks, the thermometer snapped back to the mid 50'sF .

So when I reached the office it was a Shu Pu-erh I reached for.

Produced in 2003, by: Meng Hai Li Ming Factory in; Xishuangbanna. Kong Que Zhi Xi Ang Qi Zi Bing Cha.

357gm cake for; 175 RMB, in Dongguan, Feb 2008.Strong rich tea .. In the past year the cakes have improved over my initial encounter. A true daily tea.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Gaiwan: Drinking Cup and or Brewing Cup

Are there differences between a Gaiwan “Drinking” cup and a Gaiwan Brewing” cup ?

My personal experience and observations lead me to conclude: “Yes Virginia, there is a difference” The variations that demonstrate (to me) that distinction.

The Drinking Cup: Used as a personal: covered (with the lid) drinking vessel, that also contains a share of tea leaves.

The Brewing Cup: Used to contain a share of tea that will be infused, and decanted into either a drinking cup or a Common Pouring Jug. Serving a similar purpose as a: Tea Pot.

Both Gaiwan types are made of three parts: Base, Body, and Lid. The: Base and Body serve similar functions in both applications.

The Base provides: Aesthetics, Thermal insulation when held in the hand. Most often this is not used in commercial tea houses. Body: Contain Leaves and Water .. The subtle shape of the top third and interaction with the lid that separates the functions (Drinking vs. Brewing Gaiwan)

The Lid is where I see the first distinctive difference, a second a major functional difference is in the interplay between Lid and Body mouth.

The Drinking Cup Lid: function is to filter/ hold back the leaves when in use, and to cover the tea and maintain heat when temporally set aside. First visual difference is: a small vent hole. (see above) As the drinking cup lid will cover the hot liquid for some time, this vent purpose is self evident.

The Brewing Cup Lid: may or may not have a vent hole, by function it is not required. The interplay between the Lid and Body Opening is where I see the greater distinction of uses.When buying a Gaiwan as a Brewing Cup it is imperative you test its function in the shop. This is easy in China/HK/Taiwan .. so good luck in your particular local ..What is required in the Brewing cup is: Lid/Body combinations that provide a nice opening to dispense tea without having a large opening in the rear that can let HOT vapors caress your unsuspecting palm, when dispensing into the pouring jug.

Mrs Yang at work:

You can see in the 2nd video the large gap in back of the Gaiwan, and poses no threat to the experienced server.

In this day and age I see the use of a Gaiwan as a drinking cup, relegated to scenes in period movies, however one style can provide the services of the other

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy Hogmanay -- Taiwan Aged Oolong

1/1/09 .. "Happy New Year" 新年快樂 -- xīn nián kuài lè.
Aged Oolong .. "Old Tea" 老 茶 -- Lao Cha ..
There are many appellations for this type of tea. In both Taiwan and Mainland I mostly hear "lao cha" amongst tea drinkers ..
BUT when it comes to selling / buying .. look out, long names and longer stories abound ..
Rule of Thumb:
"The longer the story, the more expensive the tea"
Almost a year to the day, I visited Wang Tea in Taipei City ...
From this adventure I listened to many stories with a delightful host: Charmaine Wang, the eldest of 3 grandchildren.
I picked up one of each: Short - Medium and Long story tea .. I cannot overstress that you MUST taste before you buy .. The unbelievable array of sense filling aromas, tastes and "long .. long after-tastes are unique to aged Oolongs .. With major variations between Taiwan and Mainland teas ..
Starting 2009 with the "long Story / expensive tea"
The initial assault on the olfactory senses is very pronounced in a wonderful way .. distinctive, warm roasted, only surpassed by the long (surprisingly long) aftertaste ..
Third infusion, the full leaves open in the Gaiwan: 
DSC02455   Two Gaiwan infusions fill the pouring jug .. must share with; "She who must be obeyed"
A beautiful sunny day in So. Cal to usher in the new year, as the morning sun filters in.
Sitting back, it is easy to relax and enjoy....