Saturday, December 27, 2008
The four treasures are also expounded upon, which ought to prove fruitful search terms for further research, and we even learn one term in the local dialect - 冇炭 - which means "extinguishing the charcoal." Anything with Cantonese characters gets me excited.
If anyone is interested, the translation can be read here. The link to the original article is posted at the top of the thread.
Friday, December 26, 2008
In celebration of my new seal. Nothing goes better with tea than calligraphy.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Translations of this type of work in English are very rare, and I was quite pleased to find this resource.
Friday, November 7, 2008
This is one of the most well know tea poems which I use to practice calligraphy. I translate the poem below.
"Song of Seven Cups" from the poem: "Taking Up the Pen to Thank Mèng Jiànyì for Sending New Tea"
by Lú Tóng of the Táng Dynasty
One bowl moistens the lips and throat;
Two bowls shatters loneliness and melancholy;
Three bowls, thinking hard, one produces five thousand volumes;
Four bowls, lightly sweating, the troubles of a lifetime disperse towards the pores.
Five bowls cleanses muscles and tendons;
Six bowls opens the realm of spirit;
One cannot finish the seventh bowl, but feels only a light breeze spring up under the arms.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
There are not many users or posts yet, but this blogger supports teadrunk.org wholeheartedly.
Monday, October 20, 2008
A friend just got back from Anxi where he was purchased TGY for his shop. In tea shops around the country you will see simiilar scenes; not so much the disorder as the stripping the TGY off the twigs and sorting out the huangpian. This process is not very difficult as far as I can tell, but there are a couple of things which must be kept in mind. Discard the leaves with heavy insect damage (sometimes you can find leaves that look like they are only veins) so the leaf will look better in the gaiwan. Some of the huangpian should be discarded. Huangpian are leaves which have not oxidized properly, usually the older leaves. Some huangpian in a TGY will make it more fragrant, but too many will make the tea astringent. Special care should be taken to make sure the white buds sometimes visible at the top of twigs are discarded. These young buds will make TGY very astrigent.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
We tried taking a cab, but the cab couldn't go down the road because traffic is restricted during the tourist season. We decided to walk to Xingcun instead. We made a detour through some villages with lots of tea gardens and also walked down a path to the Nine Bends Stream where I took a nice picture of an iridescent dragon fly perched on a rock. Eventually we got on a public bus and rode all the way to the end of the line. Conventional wisdom says not to buy tea from Xingcun. The farmers there sell all of their tea leaf to large factories and then buy cheap chaqing (茶青， unprocessed tea leaves) from other areas to make their Yancha. Therefore it is not real Zhengyan tea, and therefore not so good. My friend and I wandered around Xingcun to get a sense of direction, and happened upon a little shop selling firecrackers, cigarettes, incense, paper money, and of course tea. We went in and had some of the tea the wife was sorting, it wasn't so good, but the husband invited us back to his home and tea factory to have some better tea.
He led us through the winding alleys and backstreets of Xingcun to his house, up on a small rise. In the first picture of the backstreets of Xingcun the reader will see Mr. Li's back in the foreground as he leads us along the backstreets of Xingcun. The buildings in this area of town were traditional construction made from packed earth. As the earth in Wuyi shan is red, it adds a pleasing natural color to the walls. In addition to the beautiful red earth, crushed ceramic and gravel is added for texture. In the detail photo you can see where tea ware goes when it dies.
Bowl bottoms make an interesting detail in the earth walls. The earth is pounded into place, and in the center of the walls are boards and grass to add structural support. The foundations are more substantial stone or brick construction, and most earth walls are no more than one story high. A second story is constructed with hollow brick walls. Sometimes wooden garrets are made under the eaves perfect for imprisoning orphans, if you have been reading too much Dickens.
If you look closely you can see it is fertilized with spent tea leaves.
I bought some of the Laocong Shuixian and some of the Beidou #1, which he said still needed to rest (or tuihuo 退火) and then be roasted again. He said Tea should rest at least 20 days between roastings. I bought the Beidou anyway, because it was already pretty roasted, and I liked it.
In the afternoon we went to the Jinpao tea factory to try some better teas. The Jinpao tea factory is inside the scenic area, almost just over the bridge to the resort area. The Jinpao factory is run by a large family, and is a fairly large affair. There are three tasting rooms at the front of the compound. Two cousins brewed teas and fetched more from the back. We drank 3 rouguis, 3 Laocong Shuixian, Jin Suoshi, Qilan, Gold Medal Dahongpao, and maybe one or two more I can't recall. Most of the teas were brewed two or three at a time, so they could be prepared together. The people who run this place are pretty knowledgeable about tea, and have a professional setup. The tea is brewed in Gaiwans, and then poured off into a bowl with a ceramic spoon to smell the tea. Each person can serve their own tea with the spoon. Each infusion is poured into a separate bowl, or the previous infusion is dumped out. It always annoyed me when tea sellers would mix different infusions together.
On my second day At Wuyishan, I just felt rotten, had digestive issues and was dizzy and weak. I think it was the shellfish I ate at the restaurant the night before, but it could have been drinking too much tea. I got some antibiotics, and some Chinese medicine. I felt a lot better by the third day, but the second day was not productive. I did drink some tea, but not much. Especially in the morning I just swished it around in my mouth and then spit it out. In the spring, when the new tea is finished, the producers and buyers usually taste the tea this way, rinsing it around in the mouth and then spitting it out.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
During the Song Dynasty1, the people of Fenghuang mountain found the 'red fungus' tea teas, made tea and drank it. They thought the the flavour very good, and so began digging up young plants and transplanting them around their houses. From this time, the cultivation of tea by the people of Fenghuang started.
Even today on the ancient Fenghuang mountains, in areas not yet opened for agricultural productions as well as slopes and cliffs, 'red fungus' tea trees still grow.
'Red fungus' is the wild fore bearer of the cultivated 'bird's beak'2 (also called Fenghuang shuixian.3) It is because the gorgeous light red color which appears on the edges of the tender new leaves that this tea gets its name.
Over many years through the process of growth and natural propagation, there developed 'hong xin' and 'baixin' varieties of 'red fungus' (These are terms used by the locals, the actual leaves are green, and not white.4)
This variety grows at 450 Meters or more above sea level in barren hills and wild peaks, or in clifftop or amidst brushwood. Sunlight and mist are beneficial, but shade and rain are harmful. They have high resistance to insects, cold and drought, and are a very hardy variety. This variety exhibits strong growth year after year in places like Fenghuangji Mountain's Weiyan cliffs which are 1,498 Meter above sea level, below the sheer rock face of Wanfeng mountain, or the gravelly soil on the slopes of Daxinkuyundu Mountain.
The appearance of these bushes are almost exactly the same as the 'bird's mouth' tea bush, but there are some differences between them. The first difference is the new tea shoots, one is dark green, the other light, one has hairs, the other none.5 'Red fungus' young leaves not only have hairs, they have lots of them. The second difference is on the back of the 'red fungus' mature leaf, there is hair. The 'bird's beak' has very little or no hair at all.
1 Northern Song 960-1127 Southern Song 1127-1270
2 鸟嘴 niaozui
3 水仙 The same shuixian characters as one of the 4 famous bushes of Wuyishan.
4 红心, hongxin, red center: refers to the reddish color of the leaves of one variety, 白心, baixin, white center: are the plants with normal green color leaves. It seems like they are called white because of a lack of [unusual] color. The book is not why 'xin' (heart or center) is used. It seemed to suggest that the red coloring was on the edges of new leaves.
5 At this point, the text is not explicit about which has hairs and which none, but it can be inferred from the order which they are referred to and the hair of the mature leaves that the 'red fungus' or hongjun is the hairy one at all stages .
Legend has it that the Fenghuang mountains are the birthplace of the She Nationality1, and therefore it is also the origin of oolong tea. During the Sui, Tang and Song Dynasties, wherever the She people were to be found there were oolong tea bushes cultivated. The fate of the She people is one unseprable from oolong tea. They live and flourish in the same areas. During the Sui dynasty, an earthquake caused a volcanic eruption, and all of the tea bushes in the whole area of Gouwangliao in the Fengniaoji mountains2, the native home of the ancestors of the She people, were killed by the fire. The only places where gardens remained was in Wudong mountain and Daizhao mountain.3 Following the movement of some of the She people to the east, oolong cultivars were brought to Fujian. Today, most of the residents of Shiguping village in Fenghuang Town4 are She, Shiguping village's mostly produces Shiguping oolong tea which is one of the famous cultivars of Fenghuang oolong.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
壹 - 黄枝香（栀子花香）型 Gardenia fragrance type
1. 宋种黄枝香 Song variety gardenia fragrance
2. 宋种黄茶香 Song variety yellow tea fragrance
3. 大白叶 Large White Leaf
4. 黄茶香 Yellow tea fragrance
5. 老仙翁 Old fey gaffer
6. 宋种2号 Song variety No. 2
7. 佳常种 Always fine variety
8. 棕蓑挟 palm frond coir clasped under the arm
9. 特选黄枝香 Special selection gardenia fragrance
贰 - 芝兰香型 herbal fragrance type (literally, the glossy ganoderma and the fragrant thoroughwort fragrance type)
1. 八仙 Eight immortals
2. 宋种芝兰香 Song variety herbal fragrance
3. 竹叶 Bamboo leaf
4. 鸡笼刊 Chicken cage
5. 芝兰香 Herbal fragrance
叁 - 蜜兰香型 Honey orchid fragrance type
1. 蜜兰香 Honey Orchid fragrance
2. 白叶单枞 White leaf dancong
3. 香番薯 Fragrant sweet potato
肆 - 桂花香型 Osmanthus flower fragrance type
伍 - 玉兰香型 Jade Orchid fragrance type
陆 - 姜花香型 Ginger flower fragrance type
1. 柚叶 Pomelo leaf
2. 杨梅叶 Waxberry Leaf
3. 姜母香 Ginger root fragrance
4. 火辣茶 Fiery spice tea
柒 - 夜来香型 Fragrance which comes in the night type
捌 - 茉莉香型 Jasmine fragrance type
玖 - 杏仁香型 Almond fragrance type
1. 锯剁仔 Saw cut seed
2. 杏仁香 Almond fragrance
拾 - 肉桂香型 Cassia fragrance type
These photos can be searched at a site called The Memory of the Netherlands here. The keyword 'tea' will bring up 15 photos, one of which is shown here. There is one other photo of a man in a tea field, and 3 photos of tea in processing or packaging. More interesting photos are forthcoming if the Dutch word for tea(thee) is input. There are 275 results for Dutch, I tried French, but I didn't put the diacritical over the 'e', so the results weren't useful.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
When I opened the bag I smelled the leaves right away. They smelled sweet and little bit like hay.
To brew my first gaiwan I used all leaves that had fallen on the table when I was pouring a portion of the tea out of the bag for use. I used boiling water that had been cooling for a few minutes and used all of the dry leaves pictured in a very small gaiwan. probably about 100ml or less. First poured a bit of water in to smell the fragrance. It smelled like fresh tea leaf -- a little bit like wintergreen.
First Infusion -- I infused this tea for about 45 seconds to a minute because I used few leaves. It was slightly astringent, but not unpleasant. The gaiwan lid smelled vegetal, a little bit like fresh cut grass. The chaqi was light and heady, but easily felt. This tea is certainly a green tea, but unlike the Zhejiang greens that I have been drinking (mostly Longjing and Wuniuzao.) The color of the soup was a bright green, not like the blue-green I was expecting from the description on the package.
Second Infusion -- About 1 minute. Still a little bit astringent, but very refreshing. Strong sweet wintergreen smell on the gaiwan lid. The feeling of the chaqi became more powerful, very heady. I realized during the second infusion that the flavour of this tea was most akin to fresh tea leaves than any other tea I have ever had. During a trek in the mountains last week to collect mountain spring water, my friend and I had been tasting the tea buds of wild tea trees on the path. Vegetal, somewhat evergreen and wintergreen like in flavour. This is what kept coming to mind. There is also a buttery mouthfeel flavour in the background, but the fresh tea leaf dominates.
Third Infusion -- Just over a minute. Weakening, but still refreshing. This tea has a very nice chaqi, which is refreshing, and energizing, but relaxing at the same time. I felt energized, but more mentally than physically. Could definitely feel Chazui coming on sooner than most teas, but in a very pleasant way.
Fourth and Fifth Infusions -- Used boiling water. The tea became much weaker, but was still refreshing and pleasant to drink. Wintergreen on Gaiwan lid still present. The soup in the last picture is from the fourth infusion.
The leaves were very delicate, this tea is very tippy and the leaves are less robust than Zhejiang Greens. I unfolded some of the leaves, but most of the ones that got into the gaiwan were broken, because I had used the fallen pieces. Most of the tea is not so broken up. My first impression is that the flavour of this tea is not very complex, but it is unlike any other green tea I have ever tasted. The only tea that reminds me of the fresh leaf flavour is a cheap Tieguanyin that I bought last November and stored in the freezer for the past 6 months. The Tieguanyin absorbed too much moisture because it was not properly sealed, and became very vegetal, but not in the pleasant way of this tea. It is so tippy, and the chaqi is of such a quality that I feel this tea may have been somewhat expensive. Another indication of quality is the number of infusions. I don't think I have ever gotten this much tea or chaqi out of so little green tea leaf. My friends father bought two bags and kept one. I hope he didn't spend much on me, but am flattered either way. May have to give some of it away in order to finish it before it looses these great attributes. If any of my readers really want to try Yuexi Cuilan, I would consider sending a bit, I don't know if you are allowed to mail the stuff under new Olympic China Post rules, but the regulations should be relaxed by the end of next months.
Monday, September 1, 2008
After passing many beautiful sights on the road, we came upon the house of the farmer. Unfortunately the colour of the tea had turned a bit yellow. It was sweet, and still good green tea, but it is harder to sell if the colour is changed, especially when the buyer is giving it as a gift. Colour, leaf shape, entire leaves, as well as short young buds are all important.
Unfortunately, I left the house in a hurry, and neglected to change the camera batteries, so after attempting to take one picture, I had to make do with my cell phone camera.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
A basket of 茶青, or the green, unprocessed tea buds.
The tea dryers are from Hangzhou. They make 龙井 or Dragonwell tea. The younger one is a welder in the off season. Tea is highly seasonal (obviously) and even if your tea must be harvested four times a year, there is still a significant amount of time off. They are only here because Wuniuzao is harvested at least a month before Dragonwell. They have plenty of time to get back before it starts.
I am learning how to make green tea. I didn't do a very good job, but gave up early so as not to interrupt. My friend, Xiaoguang is convinced that its a great idea to have these guys making the tea by hand outside the shop as a sort of advert.
This is my wife and Xiaoguang's wife Xiaohong outside their larger teashop in Baixiang. Note the tea processors are staring at them.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
This is the picture of Camellia Sinensis from Kohler's Medicinal Plants. It is a high quality JPEG file of a decidedly beautiful piece of chromolithograpy, and one of my favorite plants. You can find it at the Wikipedia tea page.
I bought this handsome 2 volume set while in Guangzhou. I had seen it in Hong Kong, but didn't buy it due to the hefty price: $420 HK, which is more than $60US. When I saw it again on my way back through Guangzhou I knew I was fated to buy the book, so I went ahead and splurged. It is really not terribly expensive for a two volume set of over 1000 pages with notes on all the texts. All texts are in Traditional Graphs, just the way they were written.
I hope to translate and post some texts from this book soon. I have started on the "record of clarifications on water," (大明水记) but no progress recently.