Sunday, July 20, 2008

5 Oolong Teas (2): Dahongpao

As Bill mentioned in his comment on my last post, there was a confusion whether the container marked by him as "1980's Dahongpao" is indeed a Dahongpao, or not?! "When I had placed the tea in the container, I was abrubtly taken away to attend to another matter. As a consquence, I forgot what I had given you!" Uh uh...

But, is this a problem? Not for me. My strategy is to test this tea with a benchmark, a real Dahongpao that I bought at Malian-dao, the biggest Tea shopping center in Beijing, last summer!


(1980's dry leaves)

(2007's dry leaves)

Yes, it is very important to smell the dry leaves -- this will reveal a lot of information: How the tea is processed and stored; where it came from; and together with the shape of the leaves it often tells what the tea IS! My Dahongpao releases a rather strong tosted and pleasant aroma; Bill's is much lighter, which made me think that it must have gone through a long period of dry storage; but my nose still tells me that this is not a Dancong or a Oolong from any other region. It is of Wuyi. The leaves of these two tea also bear quite a lot of similiarities.


(1980's infusions 1 to 5)

(2007's infusions 1 to 5)

The 1980'S
There is a saying "天下茶喝膩了還有武夷巖茶" or "if one is sated with teas he can still resort to Wuyi Rock Tea"! The beginning of the 1980's infusion was pleasant, though I could sense a slight oxidization taste in the liquor. It is a kind of stopping-ness on the tongue, especially on the upper part and two sides. Also, the color of the liquor went out gradually but noticeable. Upto the 5th infusion, the color became much lighter than the first three infusions. [Comments] A good and aged Wuyi Rock Tea. It won't last many infusions, before the drinker is getting satiated with his tea!

The 2007's
I wasn't as much paying attention to the tea as in the test of the 1980's. At the 3rd round, I was distracted by something else and when I returned, the liquor already became quite dark! And as a consequence, I guess, the 2007's got exhausted quickly after that as well... The tea tasted no sign of oxidization, just its spent leaves could tell below. [Comments] A good beginner's Wuyi Rock Tea.


(The spent leaves of the 1980's from Bill)

(The spent leaves of my 2007 Dahong Pao)

Many leaves are still greenish in the 2007's; in contrast with the 1980's complety aged look ---

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

5 Oolong teas (1): Feng-huang Dan-cong

A Chinese version is posted on 覺香山居.

Bill, the author of Ancient Tea Horse Road, sent me five Oolong tea samples. They are
  • 1980's [Wuyi Cliff] Da-hong-pao

  • 1983 Anxi [? not appeared to be Tie-guan-yin]

  • 1986 Feng-huang Dan-cong

  • 1994 Feng-huang Dan-cong

  • 1980's Taiwan Paochoung

There are two things noticeble here. First, these five teas have included representatives of all 4 oolong tea producing regions, namely, North Min, South Min, Guangdong, and Taiwan; secondarily, they are all aged oolong teas dated back to 15 or 20 years. Having realized these, I was very impressed by Bill, as an American tea drinker, for the depth of his tea knowledge and experiences.

regionsNorth MinSouth MinGuangdongTaiwan
representativesWuyi Da-hong-paoAnxi Tie-guan-yinFeng-huang Dan-congPaochoung

Also based on these understanding, I decided to start the reviewing process by first grouping them into pairs. The first round would be, of course, for the two aged Feng-huang Dan-cong! This was done in last weekend.

[Method] Gai-wan
  • White porcelain gai-wan, thin-walled, 100cc

  • Glass pitcher (to decant the infusion in whole)

  • White porcelain cups paired w/ wen-xiang cup

  • Stainless kattle and electric single burner

  • Amount of dry leaves used: 3.6g

  • Water: when boiling, move away from burner and stand alone for a few seconds

  • Pouring the water in a slow circling motion along the inside rim of the gai-wan; at the last second, raising the kettle a bit higher and pouring straight to one side of the wall so that the leaves can be rolled in water (for better infusion)

  • Awaking the tea leaves at the beginning by pouring boiling water into gai-wan, then immediately empty it.


Dry leaves: Impressive, entire and long twist (3-4cm); dark purple-brown with white frost-like appearance. Some still has a tint of green.

1st infusion: Decant after 1.5 minutes. Red-brown with tint of orange.

2nd infusion: Color darkened. Taste slightly astringent. The astringency was felt especially at the back of tongue and its touch with the back teeth.

3rd - 4th infusions: The tea behaved quite ordinary... but

In the 5th infusion it started to taste better. There can be two reasons: (1) I waited longer for this infusion; (2) the tea might require a longer period to awake, and it was just about the time at the 5th infusion. This pleasant moment, however, went on to only one more infusion, and after that, the leaves seemed exhausted...

[Comments] This Dancong has a subtle floral aroma, though I could not identify which category it belongs to. It is said that there are at least 8 types of Dancong according to different fragrances, but obviously I'm too less experienced to distinguish! --- I need more Dan-cong. Did you all hear me? ;-)

(1994 Dancong, 1st infusion)

(3rd infusion)

(spent leaves)


Dry leaves: Long and thinner twist (3 cm), a little broken. Dark purple-chocolate color with some brown leaves.

Infusions: When the hot water just poured in, the leaves immediately released a kind of dark orange to red color. The taste of the first infusion reiminded me with heavy-fried Tie guanyin or Dong Ding. So, for a moment, I doubted that a mistake was made on the label. However, the coming infusions proved the tea not a member of either Anxi (Southern Min) or Taiwan groups.

This well aged tea went on for quite a few infusions -- I kept pouring and decanting and forgot how many infusions I actually went through. The color of liquor lasted as well as the taste of the tea. These were mostly done with rather quick decantations, though. I did extend the infusion time once, and interestingly, the tea tasted a little bitter at that time, I remembered. In general, the taste is much more smooth or subdued than that of the 1994's.

The review on the 1994s was done indoor at my tea table. For the 1986's, I moved out to the patio to enjoy the evening breeze...

(1986 Dancong, 2nd infusion)

(at about the 6th infusion)

Having poured down so many cups of aged oolongs, I felt a little dizzy and seriously hungery! So, I went to look for some snacks and found out this chocolate cookies the best match with a cup of aged oolong tea (considering both color and taste)!

(spent leaves of 1986 Dancong)

[Final comparison]
Though the color and liquor of the 1986's surpassed the 1994's, I personally prefer the 1994 one. I just liked the light astringency in the latter, but felt the 1986's a bit too smooth. Both no doubt are good aged Dan-cong. -- I feel lucky because (don't know why) Bill doubled the amount of the 1994 Feng-huang Dan-cong in his samples, so there is still quite a bit of it left! I will certainly bottom them up later ;-)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

洛杉磯-安那翰短訪(3): 吃與逛

公曆6月28日這一天是個吉祥的日子, 因為是農曆五月廿五日, 月下半弦, 所以晚上我與L君一同在她家的佛堂裡修習了《上師供養法》(藏文: lama mchod pa'i cho ga; 梵文: gurupujasya kalpa) -- 把這件正事放在下面這些吃與逛的閑事之前 -- 這樣, 我就稍微心安理得了!

Now, action! ----【吃】
6月29日 -- 在家吃L君燒的菜

(除了最近側的的兩盤是接風那晚飯店帶回的以外, 都是L的廚藝)

(注: L吃素, 所以這盤是給俺特炒的, 也是由俺獨吞地...)

此前一日(6月28), L君大姐帶俺去了帕薩迪那(Pasadena)老城. 本來要請我去吃那裡一家有名的意大利餐館叫IL FORNAIO, 但因我說喜歡日本料理, 於是去了「壽司六」(Sushi Roku)--這家餐館據說是美國電影明星尼古拉凱其與日本人合作開的. 我們吃了
  • 昆布沙拉(Seaweed Salad)

  • 炸豆腐排(Tofu Steak)

  • 柚汁煎蘑(Sorted Mushroom in Ponzu Juice)

  • 味噌鱈魚(Chilian Sea Bass in miso sauce)

  • 味噌茄子(Eggplant Dengaku: 將茄子在Miso和Mirin調的汁裡泡一天)

  • 壽司: 海膽(Uni)、甜海老(Ame Ebi)、素食壽司卷

[...... 沒有照片 ......]

6月30日, 小東京的千羽鶴:



Now, action! --- 【逛】
比華利山莊(Beverly Hills)名店街(Rodeo Drive):

!!! 下面的圖片8-16歲青少年建議由父母或其他授權成年人陪同觀看! ~~~ (其他年齡段者看後若出現任何不適、反感、興奮等等狀況, 本人概不負責!)



右邊這個很詭異 -- 它是在地面上的, 透過矇矓的彩色玻璃, 你能隱約看到一個模特兒 -- 放大看一下吧:

一輛明黃色法拉利(Ferrari)赫現街頭, 成為一道亮景. 吸引了一些過路人的目光:

這段俺看上去覺得並不很起眼的飯店區竟然就是當年李察‧吉爾和朱莉亞‧羅伯拍《風月俏佳人》(《麻雀變鳳凰》, Pretty Woman)的地方!

這一部分名之為"逛"是完全符合實際情況地! 因為俺在此地一個銅子兒也沒花 -- 當然了, 就是把俺口袋裡所有銅子兒都掏出來, 也買不起這裡任何名牌店裡的東東 -- 所以俺也就沒掏! 這就叫大飽眼福

其他去的地方和見聞由於時間與篇幅的關係, 不能在此一一描述了...

--- 感謝L君大姐的全面招待和安排 使俺的洛杉磯-安那翰之行豐富多彩!


Friday, July 4, 2008

洛杉磯-安那翰短訪(2): 參觀西來寺

A Short Visit to Anaheim - Los Angeles (2): Visiting Hsi Lai Temple

洛杉磯可玩的地方很多, 且不說在安那翰會議中心(Anaheim Convention Center)的對面就是迪斯尼樂園(迪士尼樂園, Disneyland), 還有海濱公園、好萊塢、環球影業(Universal Studios).... 就是那些走不完看不盡吃不掉的美街美景美食也夠你消受的了. 但是這些地方我都沒去. 一方面時間太緊, 另一方面我也不大愛湊熱鬧的(類似的地方看過了, 也就那麼回事兒). 不過當我和L姐商量後決定抽出一個上午去參觀西來寺時, 我倒是很歡喜雀躍.

西來寺為佛光山創建者星雲大師在美國加州洛杉磯東南的哈森達崗興建, 1988年落成, 佔地90餘畝(15英畝). 寺宇宏偉, 道場莊嚴. 我們去的那天是週一, 恰逢寺院職員休息日, 雖然寺院本身照常開放, 但本想參觀該寺圖書館和會見那裡的圖書館員的想法無法實現了. 在大雄寶殿和值日的師傅問訊、禮佛後, 我們就去看旁邊的寶藏殿, 然後繞寺觀賞殿宇及周邊景致. 聽到齋堂的敲板, 但卻沒有在寺裡參加過堂, 因為下午還有其他活動...







Wednesday, July 2, 2008

洛杉磯-安那翰短訪(1): 比賽茶的殊勝表現

A Short Visit to Los Angeles - Anaheim (1): Tea Appreciation at Friend's Home

今年的全美圖書館協會年會在南加州安那翰(Anaheim)舉辦, 借此機會, 山人於六月底拜訪了多年法友(現在加上茶友的)L君大姐(事實上是借住在L姐家). 承蒙L的全面照顧, 山人得以在短短的四天時間和忙碌的會議日程空隙做了很多值得記憶的事 -- 按照時間/博文先後順序:
  • 與L君大姐一起品茶

  • 吃L君親自燒的菜, 觀賞L君的花園

  • 游帕薩迪那老城, 吃了有名的壽司六

  • 參訪西來寺

  • 逛小東京並在千羽鶴進午餐

  • 逛比華利山莊名店街

  • 逛小台北

等等... 這幾日將陸續寫成日志並與大家共享. 今天就先從在家中品茶開始吧!

我這次雖然為L帶去一些普洱茶, 但她卻更熱衷於讓我試品她最近新買到的本年度幾款特級台灣茗茶, 包括大禹嶺春茶、梨山福壽春茶和沙里仙比賽茶. 我們分別於28和29日晚試品了這些茶. 其中特別值得一提的就是沙里仙比賽茶的不一般的表現.

記述之前, 有必要透露一下的是, 前此五月時L君曾托台灣茶葉直銷店的好友購到小批量大禹嶺、梨山及沙里仙金萱, 寄到後發現是冬茶(春茶五月採摘, 六月底才會有貨). 當時曾寄贈山人一些分享. 山人試品後(見相關博文)覺得這幾款茶已經很不錯, 況且如大禹一類優質高山茶因產地海拔高於2500公尺以上, 每年只有春冬兩次採摘, 因此所謂冬茶並不像台地茶園那樣被視為遜色, 有時反會有更佳表現. 但L君因為堅持要春茶, 竟將餘下未開封茶如數退還 -- 這令那位好友在向不做零售的茶場老板退貨時頗感尷尬 -- 於是這次再寄來的茶, 不僅保證為春茶, 而且質量有加, 自不待言... 而這款比賽茶呢, 據L說是她硬從好友那裡"索要"來的, 因為只有這一罐了!

書歸正傳. 我選用了L君藏壺中的一把鼎足平蓋鳳流朱泥壺(不記得何款)試泡此款比賽茶. 約150毫升壺中投茶7克. 開水略置數秒即沿壺沿低沖而入. 茶湯黃綠色, 微苦澀, 對舌的刺激並不十分明顯, 但其最大特點乃是強有力的茶氣氣感! 嚥下後頓覺茶氣在體中有上下運行的動勢, 片刻能感茶氣上行至眉間. 這在一般台灣高山烏龍茶類中是不多見的. 第四泡後茶湯轉甘甜.

洛杉磯到底是物流中心的大城市, L在超市買到微核荔枝, 非常新鮮, 內皮粉紅色, 果肉如潤澤的白玉, 其味甘甜多汁 -- 用以佐茶, 實乃一大享受!


葉與梗均較冬茶為柔嫩, 但很飽滿, 可見頂芽.