Tea Giving: Day 24 (1980 Aged Oolong)

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“The world is full of magic things,
patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” 

― W.B. Yeats

 

Every year since 1980, the tea master who grew this has taken this Oolong out of storage and lightly roasted it. He then put it back into storage and waited for another 2 years or so before taking it out of his tea vault to roast it again in order to remove moisture. Since 1980! 38 years of tea roasting certainly validates the Keats quote above.

And this is one of the many reasons to love tea and the people who are dedicated to this kind of craftsmanship.

What were you doing in 1980? Were you even on the planet yet? To say this is rare is an understatement. Especially since tea making in Taiwan changed around the Mid-1980s. Prior to that tea was hand-rolled in canvas bags. This kind of processing created a tea that was not as tightly rolled as it is currently with the use of machines. Firing at the right temperature (often higher) was also key for this original kind of processing. The end result being a tea with a very thick and unique taste that is very different from any other teas you might have tried before. Notes of roasted chestnuts, stone fruit, baked bread, passionfruit, butter and whispers of cocoa are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s rich with divine depth of character.

Oolong tea in wooden spoon on a background of old vintage books. Menu, recipe
1980 Aged Oolong

This is clearly not a mainstream tea. And, it’s not an everyday cuppa. It’s an experience reserved for special occasion. We often joke that teas like this should only be shared with those who are truly worthy and to choose wisely.

This is only sold in 1 ounce amounts because of how little there is and because there is no more left of this particular lot on the planet being roasted by this tea maker for that particular year. Should you decide to secure some of this magic, you will not be disappointed – especially if you are roasted oolong lover.

Please enjoy this extremely RARE DISCOUNT of 25% OFF this extremely RARE 1980 AGED OOLONG on day 24 of our 25 Days of Tea Giving. Use Code TEAGIVING24 at checkout on the Pearl Fine Teas website.

Think of this discount like the Rare Christmas Comet that only shows up every 11 years. Perhaps you can watch the comet while sipping this 1980 Aged Oolong…?

Happy Sipping!

~The Chief Leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tea Giving: Day 24 (1980 Aged Oolong)

Tea Giving: Day 10 (Bao Zhong)

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Gong Fu Style of serving tea

Welcome to Taiwan.

Home to some our most favorite Oolong teas which most definitely includes Baozhong.

Pouchong or Baozhong in Mandarin, means “wrapped in paper” referring to an original older and unique processing style from the past when the tea was literally wrapped in paper during the drying process.

For Oolong lovers and TeaNerds reading this: Our Baozhong is oxidized at around 12% which is considered light oxidation and creates an end tea product that falls somewhere between green and oolong. It lacks the sharpness of some greens and is much more mild than other oolongs. It’s sweet, fresh, fruity, floral and buttery. It requires no sweeteners. In fact, adding any sugars would be almost down right sacrilegious and would ruin the complexity this tea has to offer.

Tea grown within Pinglin county in Northern Taiwan and processed in a specific style is considered the best quality of Pouchong – which is where ours is from.

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Wen Shan Bao Zhong

The leaves of Baozhong are large, twisty and dark green. For brewing, its similar to other greener oolongs in terms of water temperature (175°F) and time. This tea can handle multiple infusions. I’ve gotten up to seven!

High in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals it has wonderful health benefits. There is research that suggests the following:

Increased Heart Health

  • May improve your cardiovascular health and lower risk of heart disease
  • May help lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Rich in Quercetin which may help dilate the blood vessels

Dual Effect: Relaxing / Stimulating

  • Contains the amino acid L-theanine known to calm and relax the nervous system
  • Combined with caffeine it increases alertness without the jitters

Skin, Bones, Teeth

  • May keep your skin looking youthful and prevent signs of aging from antioxidants
  • Fluorine and calcium in tea may strengthen bones and prevent tooth decay

That makes for a pretty strong case for drinking tea daily and trying Baozhong specifically. If you are a lover of Oolongs or are intrigued to try it for the first time, please enjoy 25% OFF our Baozhong at checkout by using code TEAGIVING10 on the website. You won’t regret welcoming this tea into your life.

Happy Sipping! (Kuàilè de chuài yǐn)
~The Chief Leaf

Tea Giving: Day 10 (Bao Zhong)

Taipei Day 2: Temple of Love, Noodles, and Oolong Tea

Burning incense with monks in the Temple of Love

It’s Sunday. A day of rest. But not for tea people. (It’s actually November now and forgot to upload this post!)

I kicked started my second full day here in Taipei with a beautiful Asian breakfast (rice, bok choy, eggs)  good conversation and some Oolong tea. It gets better. I decided not to join the group that was going to a eco-garden and instead continue to wander around Taipei. Karen Hartwick joined me. We left the Dong Wu and walked over to where they sell dried herbs, teas, flowers, fruits, Chinese medicine etc… On route we ran into David, the nephew of Jackson Huang and Thomas Shu (2 of our leaders for my 2nd Taiwanese Oolong Study Tour.) David was on his way to find a temple where one of his friends visited last year and told us the story of how only  1 month later his friend met a woman and they were married. Evidently, people go to the temple to pray for love. So, we’ll call it the Temple of Love. We followed him to see what it was like.

With David Huang, Karen Hartwick and our love charms

So many people in and out of the temple, burning incense and praying. Karen and I were snapping tons of photos. David asked us if wanted to participate in a ceremony. We were game. David was our translater to our guide, who walks you through this elaborate process which involved chatting with 5 different Gods, introducing yourself (ie: Hi. My name is… and Im looking for…) burning some incense and then eating some candy to seal the deal. We were given these special amulets to keep with us so that the “energy of the Gods” could work its magic. We shall see. Of the 3 of us, one is seeing someone, one is seeing someone but may want someone new, and one has no interest at the moment in seeing anyone.  I’ll let you figure out who is who. One of the nicest parts of the experience was being in the temple at the right time while monks chanting with their melodic voices. Incense burning. People praying. It was really quite magical. I felt I was in the right place at the right time.

One of the oldest street in Taipei

Once we left the temple, we meandered the streets, peeking into windows taking in all visual and aromatic sensations that is Asia. We stumbled upon what David said was one of the oldest roads in Taipei. Simply charming! David happened to be standing in front of a building with an open door that turned out to be an art gallery. We decided to go in. Quite spectacular to see the modern art just inside the oldest part of Taipei. Afterward, he takes us to the oldest and apparently Best Noodle Shop in Taiwan. We enjoy a local lunch in a hot spot for a mere USD$1.

Noodles for lunch. For $1.00

Karen and I then hopped in a taxi and headed over to Wisteria Tea House to sit, relax and talk tea. Wisteria is where director Ang Lee shot “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” and I could see why. It’s gorgeous. We enjoyed the spectacular entrance into this private little world of tea and then found some of our own teapeeps sitting on mats in the back room dining and sipping. Karen and I enjoyed 2 oolongs that were on the menu. One was an aged oolong. Tasty, but admittedly my 1980 Aged Oolong that I purchased last year trumped theirs. We also shared a pot of milk oolong.

A page in the menu at Wisteria

I noticed on my way out of the tea house that there was the teapot and burner set that Ive been searching for all year! Tempted, I almost broke down and purchased it retail.  Im glad I held my fire because I would end up finding a much better, higher quality version later in the trip.

I look back at these last 2 days prior to beginning TOST and realize what a good idea it was to come a few days early. We officially kickstart the tour this evening with a welcome ceremony at TTMA. That means that tomorrow all systems are GO! and we’ll be moving at the speed of light as we wind our way through the Alishan Mountains and make Classic Tung Ting Tea. Tung Ting is also known as Jade Oolong and is one of my favorites.

I’m sipping tea in Taiwan. I’m happy!

Taipei Day 2: Temple of Love, Noodles, and Oolong Tea

NEWS: Making Tea History in Taiwan

D.C.’s Chief Leaf  was 1 of 10 Tea Professionals from the United States and Canada to have completed a week-long intensive study of oolong teas from withering to final product in Taiwan from June 20-28, 2009. Ms. Scott was part of this exclusive first group of foreigners to produce tea at the prestigious East Coast Taitung Branch, Tea Research and Extension Station – an unusual and rare opportunity for anyone other than Taiwanese tea growers.

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Indoor withering process of Wen Shan Baozhong

The group was lead and organized by Thomas Shu, ABC Teas & 3rd generation Tea Master, Josephine Pan, Organic Teas Only, and the Taiwan Tea Manufacturers Association (TTMA).

Notable Tea Masters Norman Shu, current Chairman of TTMA; Jackson Huang, Senior Advisor to TTMA; Ted Fan, Secretary General of TTMA and on-sight instructor David Liao worked side-by-side guiding the group during processing, cupping sessions and tea tastings. On average, their days were 12-15 hours of intensive study of 6 cultivars:

1. Tai Cha #12/Chin Sin Oolong
2. Da-Yeh Oolong
3. Wuyi
4. Tai Cha #18
5. Tai Cha #8
6. Taiwan’s Wild Tea Tree

The week kicked-off the with hands-on processing of Baozhong Tea (Wen Shan Tea District) which took approximately 13 hours to complete.

Their second day was highlighted by a visit to the Shan-Ben Tea Garden, producer of the 1st Place Winner for Green Oolong Tea at the World Tea Championship in Las Vegas earlier this year. Winner Ken Rudee, incoming Chairman of STI and Board Member of the Tea Association of the US, returned to Taiwan to present 82-year-old Mr. Wu with the prestigious award.

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Making pressed oolong tea (with some help from a Master)

By day three, they had processed Pressed Oolong (Hua-Tung Tea District) and completed the “bootcamp” with the hand processing of Formosa White Tip Oolong Tea/Oriental Beauty (Ta-Chiang-Wu/Long Tan, Touyan)-Taiwan’s most precious tea.

“This was the most intense and rewarding tea experience I’ve had to date. To be able to actually hand-make tea was a rare opportunity, said Ms. Scott. “I have an even greater appreciation of the work and craftsmanship that goes into a single cup of tea. It’s not easy and is truly an art.”

By weeks end, the group had cupped and tasted over 60+ teas from Bai Mu Dan to Aged Oolong along with some that have not been sampled outside of Taiwan. A Master Cupping session was held at the ABC Teas Factory and was led by Norman Shu.

Mid-way through the week they were able to take a short break at the Luminous Mountain Spring Resort & Spa and enjoy the natural hot springs. Their week culminated with a Grand Tea Tasting at TTMA, a 10-course farewell dinner and closing ceremony on Saturday, June 27th. Certificates of completion were given.

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The totally wonderful Thomas Shu and Elise on the slopes of a tea garden in Yilan, Taiwan

Taiwan Public Television (the equivalent of PBS) was there to interview and film events earlier in the week and was scheduled to cover the closing ceremony to gather more footage for a 15 minute television special on their oolong study tour. Ms. Scott granted an interview to the TV Station.

“I was thrilled to offer my thoughts and opinions on the value of Taiwanese oolongs in the US Tea Market. We are big fans and huge supporters. Their teas are outstanding,” she said. “I used this week to not only learn from revered tea masters, but to also connect with the growers, develop relationships and purchase teas directly from the gardens, said Ms. Scott. “Our fall collection of Taiwanese oolong tea is really quite special.

Many of the teas purchased will be available this fall in time for the Holidays.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please consider sharing with a friend. We look forward to your comments! Happy Sipping!

NEWS: Making Tea History in Taiwan

Plucking Tea Leaves in Taiwan (Step #1)

Greetings, TeaPeeps. As many of you know I just spent the last 10 days in Taiwan on what was called a Oolong Tea Study Tour, sponsored by TTMA (Taiwan Tea Manufacturers Association). Quite frankly it was more a bootcamp than a tour – which was fabulous! It was an intense learning experience along with some time to purchase new teas for our 2009 collection.

Studying with Thomas Shu, Norman Shu, Jackson Huang and other notable Tea Masters was more than just a treat. It was the opportunity of a lifetime!

I’m still gathering my thoughts, going through hundreds of photos and video and will write and share in the days to come.

In the meantime, I thought it would be nice to share a bit of video of a woman plucking leaves for us to prepare Oriental Beauty (White Tip Oolong). This is STEP #1 in the tea making process. Have a look…

Plucking Tea Leaves in Taiwan (Step #1)

The Chief Leaf Gets Another Title (or vice versa)

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Our Ad in the July Issue of Yoga Magazine

First of all, I have to find more time to blog. This is crazy.

Between writing articles, (Fresh Cup), writing press releases, writing ads (see above), writing the blurbs on our website, updating Facebook, Tweeting… I can barely write my own name anymore. Which by the way, seems to compel people to ask the question,“Is that really your title? Chief Leaf?”

Yep. It is. And I had no idea so many people would respond to it the way they have:  a great big smile and, “I LOVE THAT!” BTW… guess who asked me that question? Go on.. Guess?!!! Carla Hall Lyons! The fabulous TOP CHEF, who we ALL know should have won! (I’m getting ahead of myself.)

So… when I was making up my business cards I went through the typical list of titles: President, Owner, CEO, Tea Specialist etc etc etc. Nothing seemed to fit. I kinda liked the “Chief” in Chief Executive Officer but it just sounded way too serious, and ominous. Not me. So I kept Chief (which I am since I own the company) and Leaf just made sense. I’m the Chief of all Leafs for Pearl Fine Teas.

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Ariane Duarte, Carla Hall Lyons, David and me

2 weekends ago at the Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor (which I hope many of you visited – the food was out of control delish, and the Beer Garden was even better. AND, Carla and Adriane were there). Tangent. Sorry. Anyway, I’m at the FWFest and Jon Arundel, editor from Local Kicks stops by my booth along with  Kirsten Marie Obadal, a wine writer. (Who wouldn’t want that job?)

They seemed to like what they saw and hopefully tasted (free tea to the press) and decided we were worthy of a write up, especially since I’ve been awarded the title of Certified Tea Specialist — The 1st in DC and 1 of 23 Nationally.

Local Kicks ran a story, and then NBC Washington and Washington Home and Garden picked it up. Yippee!

So now I hold 2 interesting titles: Chief Leaf and Certified Tea Specialist (isn’t that more fun than CEO?) and hope to one day call myself a “Tea Master” – maybe even “Tea Sommelier” as  they referenced in the article, but honestly, there are others who deserve that title more than I do.  I’m fine with the 2 I have now. For now. I hope in this lifetime I will have the honor of being called “Master.”  And I don’t mean by my staff or loved ones. 🙂

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Jade Oolong

My quest for the “Tea Master” title begins on Friday, June 19th as I take an extraordinary long flight to Taiwan to spend a week processing, cupping, discussing and learning about Oolong Teas. from a 3rd Generation Tea Master! You know I’m crazy for Oolongs so this is like… a dream come true!

I’ll be bringing back some limited-edition oolongs processed by yours truly. I may even be persuaded to sell some.

I wonder how much weight I’ll from sheer dehydration? It is Taiwan in June. They better make me an iced tea.

Happy Sipping!

The Chief Leaf Gets Another Title (or vice versa)