štvrtok 4. augusta 2011

Holiday tea session - Sheng from Ba Da Shan

As I mentioned before, Im enjoying holiday at Casta Papiernicka- a place where I go every summer since I was one year old :-) Last year I took some teaware and teas and discovered it was a brilliant idea! Preparing the tea in such a beautiful enviroment took the tea into different dimension. Of course I had to repeat such pleasant experience this year :-)

I found a nice spot on the side of forest creek. Surrounded by trees and with the sound of running water in my ears I unpacked the tea utensils and prepared my mind for simple, yet extraordinary tea session.

It was rather rainy recently, so I wasnt shure if the water from the creek was safe for drinking. Never mind, tap water is very clean and soft here anyway :-) It is very good idea to take your tea with you on travels. Since every water has different composition the tea will taste different too :-) Not necessarily worse or better- just different. Like when you use different clay yixings for the same tea.

 In my oppinion, simplicity is the key for succesful tea session in nature- if you take too many pieces of teaware you will be troubled if it doesnt break, if you take something too heavy you will be tired and stop at first suitable place and maybe miss something really special.. So as you can see I took only one teacup, pot, thermos of hot water and of course tea.

I decided to brew one of the samples of fresh shengs kindly given by Peter Stanik (I also have most of my teapots from his shop) and namely- Ba Da Shan 2011.
Ba Da Shan (巴达山) is region in the north of Menghai county. Definitely not famous as Yiwu or Ban Zhang, but when I tried Sheng from this locality for the very first time it immediately became one of my favourites.
I havent seen this years cake yet, but last years batch was stone-pressed into 200g cakes, that can be divided very easily- no fight to death like when trying to break hardly pressed Tuo Cha :-)  Mao Cha was harvested from old trees.
    Dry leaves release sweet fruity aroma. When steamed - the aroma gets stronger and you can recognise fragrances of cane sugar and peaches, compared to last years "BaDa" I have, theres a fresh orange accentInfusions are very clear and the tea tastes really fruity, but not that kind of fruityness that is typical for Lincang shengs- way more fresh and less rought, very good tea for drink it now, but Im going to make some stocks for some longer storage. 

This was a really pleasant session thanks both to the "Genius loci" of the place and the tea itself.  One of the main reasons I took these samples with me was to taste them and decide which cakes to buy and in what quantities. And Ba Da is definitely a "Tong candidate" .

The weather is getting worse now, but I hope I can make some nice photos outside and present you another tea session in nature. :-) Thank you for reading and have a nice day.

piatok 29. júla 2011

Dragon from Bulang and two teacups from kiln

Yesterday I visited Daniel Kurek from Nomad and after that I brought home the second of two cups by Petr Novak I have bought few days ago. Also I got two samples which were kindly given by Daniel. They were: Tie Guan Yin 1998 and Long Feng Exclusive Production- Dragon from Bulang 2010.

Weather is rather cold and windy these days in Bratislava, but again this morning was surprisingly sunny and calm. Perfect opportunity to test new cups and tea.

When filled to the top cups are about 100ml in volume. They are made from rought, very porous clay glazed with creamy white glaze. Combination of  clay and glaze used created really interesting surface and texture with lot of pores in the glaze.
Each cup has a bit different size and both of them are little irregular, but it makes them unique and perfect in their imperfection.

As I mentioned in another post, wood fired pottery shows its real beauty after some while when you use it for tea. I was positively surprised today when I saw these cracks in the glaze that just began to fill with tea! I havent noticed them before! I knew it was a good idea to use them for a Shu Pu erh yesterday :-)

Thats why I like to use wood fired pottery and yixing. It evolves right before your eyes! Porcelain teaware is beautiful for its purity and simplicity, but sometimes I miss the spirit and warmth that is hidden in yixing and wood fired pottery.

This morning I enjoyed tea with two of my friends, so it was good opportunity  to use my teatray made by Mirka Randova (Petr Novaks partner). I rarely take it outside my flat because it is very heavy but this was different when someone helped me with tea accessories :-) I used my Modern Duan Ni teapot.

Bulang Dragon comes from a pair of cakes pressed for a occassion of Mr. Zdenek Prachars marriage in Peking. As he mentioned on his site -"Exceptional occasion needs exceptional tea." I couldnt agree more. Mao Cha for this 100g cake comes from the area of Bu Lang Shan in Zheng Jia San Dui village just 15km away from famous Lao Ban Zhang. It was harvested from wild trees of age up to 250 years. Tea was hand-pressed using traditional stone forms.

Leaf releases heavy and sweet aroma when both dry and when put into prewarmed teapot. Aroma is a bit smoky, but not that kind of smoky aroma that is typical for lower grades of young sheng. It is noble and it reminds me a bit of good cigar.
Leaves produce a very strong liquor with a pleasant (at least for me :-D ) a bit raw taste. I am used to drink very young shengs so I really enjoy this tea, but for some people it could be too strong. In that case, you wont hurt anything if you store it for 2-3 years and then try it again. Long term storage would be very hard in my case, because I wouldnt be able not to drink it now :-D
I dont drink teas from area surrounding Lao Ban Zhang very often due to thier high price, but when I do, I really enjoy their complexity and their woody and dry taste, which reminds me of a good scotch- also case of this particular tea.

In my opinion this tea is very similar to Hai Lang Hao "Lao Ban Zhang Gu Shu" or Douji "Veteran Edition Lao Ban Zhang" .
If you like typical Ban Zhang taste, definitely also try this one.

P.S. Next week Im going to a holiday to a place with beautiful nature so you can look forward to some nice pictures :-)

štvrtok 28. júla 2011

New teacup and Mao Feng

Yesterday I met with Nomad owner Daniel Kurek who just got some new wood fired pottery from Petr Novak and also from another Czech potter- Jiri Duchek. We had a nice tea session in the teahouse I work at and he showed me some of the new pieces. Of course I had to buy some of them :-D I bought one bigger cup made by Duchek and two smaller ones by Petr Novak (I will present them in next post)

Once again I set up a simple setting outside my flat (I wanted to make tea inside today, but its very cloudy and light was bad). I decided to brew Huang Shan Mao Feng- inexpensive but very nice tea from Long Feng which I bought at Teahouse Zamocka .

The tea cup by Jiri Duchek is a bit bigger than most cups I use, but I really like it and I think I will get used to its bigger volume.  Cup is made from a rought clay with a beautiful white crackled glaze and a simple  decoration- just a few brushstrokes with deep blue cobalt color. As I mentioned before, it was fired in a wood kiln and you may notice darker spots on glaze- I think they were created by fallen pieces of ash. One of the many things I love on this kind of pottery is that when you use it, it gets more and more beautiful. I just cant wait for the moment when the tea fills those cracks in the glaze :-)


Im more of a Pu Erh and Roasted oolong drinker, so I dont drink green teas very often, but I like this tea very much. It comes from a private tea garden and its made from semi-wild tea treas. Dry leaves have a bit smoky scent but after you put them into prewarmed gaiwan its gone and leaves release sweet fresh floral aroma. Flavor of infusion is very sweet and harmonic. Aftertaste is flowery, with a hint of peaches and almonds. I used water of about 80-90 degrees Celzius and shorter infusions. Warmer water suits this tea very well.

I really needed this small calm teasession today and the tea chosen helped me with my melancholic mood. I like green teas for such ocassions- it clears your mind but you wont get teadrunk like from Sheng Pu Erh.
Finally I just cant help myself - I have to put just one more photo of my new teacup :-) These little things that I dont really need makes me strangely happy every time :-D

nedeľa 24. júla 2011

Morning tea at work- Sheng Pu Erh from Nannuo

This day is really rainy, windy and cold in Bratislava. Except for the morning which was unbelievably beautiful. Since I work in a local tea house, which is located outside - in a really nice park called "Medicka zahrada" (Medic garden) and for few hours there wasnt a sign of any customer, it was a perfect chance for a tea session.
I used a very simple setting, just a small table from our tea house, small mat and a piece of bark from Platan trees growing in the park.

I brewed some young sheng from my collection, namely Long Feng Exclusive Production Red Label 2010 Autumnal Flush.
The cake consist entirely of Mao Cha from Nan Nuo Shan (part of the Menghai county) which was harvested in autumn from old wild arbor trees (up to 300 years old!!). Cake was stone-pressed, so leaves can be separated very easily. As you can see, leaves are of very good quality and just look at those beautiful tips!
I used a small 150ml Modern Duan Ni teapot. I really like this kind of clay. It looks nice and in my oppinion it suits young sheng pu erhs very well! Tea is somehow milder and sweeter from it.

I dont like to use a strainer, small pieces of tea at the bottom of teacup is a part of the tea itself for me. And also if you brew high quality teas, the strainer isnt usually very necessary (or maybe I am too lazy to buy one? )
Tea cup is made from porcelain with a nice shino glaze. It was made by a talented Czech potter Petr Novak (I would like to recommend his blog) I just love his pottery and you will probably see some other his pieces from my collection later.
Back to the tea itself. After being put into prewarmed teapot leaves began to release their aroma. Aroma of those leaves reminds me of a meadow in a summer- full of flowers and different herbs, its very sweet without any sign of smokiness. The taste is surprisingly balanced for tea of this age, very clear, tea feels a bit dry in the mouth. Decente and pleasant bitterness is quickly replaced with sweetness and flowery and very slightly woody aftertaste.
Ive tried some other teas from Nan Nuo and I thing they lack the complexity of Bangwei or Bulang teas, but I like their purity. But I have no idea how will they taste aged (if you had some aged Nan Nuo please let me know).
Overall impresion of LF Red label is very pleasing. I really like the feel of old trees (if you doupt that you can get teadrunk, try some tea from old wild arbor trees, it will change your mind) Once again- a very good tea from Zdenek Prachar  .

My tea journey

This is my first entry on this blog, so little introduction would be appropriate.
I am young tea lover from Slovakia which is located in the central Europe so Im not a native english speaker. My tea journey began probably when I was about 13 years old and I repeated nearly every habit and hobby after my older brother. Thus I picked up some beautiful hobbies and tea was among them.

The journey continued as I began to buy my own teas. The first ones were flavoured ones (very low grade tea mixed with various ingredients and flavoured with alcohol dissolved aroma). The first big moment came when I bought Long Jing- my first real tea. Now I know it was a low grade, but it totaly got me back then.

Another big moment was when I bought my first Tie Guan Yin from Spolem milcu caje. From that moment I was totaly addicted :-) But probably the greatest moment was when I discovered Tealand.sk - a local shop with really high quality teas. And of course its owner- Karol Maco, really educated person in the tea knowledge and also a very good and kind person who really helped me with my countless questions. Its really sad but that shop doesnt exist anymore :-(

Last important moment in my tea journey was when I found www.tea-earth.net - a really good site and forum dedicated to tea, teaware and culture. There I have read about Sheng Pu Erh (the site maker is a big pu erh lover) so I had to try it in one of the local teahouses. And when I did, my obsession instantly began. From that day, Shengs are my favourite teas and "biggest eaters" of my money :-D