štvrtok 26. júla 2012

Gyokuro Fuuki and note about Umami

For the first time ever, I decided to write about Japanese tea :-) Today I will write about Gyokuro Fuuki from teamountain.cz. It is one of more basic gyokuros from their selection, but!! it is still very high grade overall :-)

Tea leaves for Fuuki (which means "Riches and honors") were harvested near Tanabe and Ayabe in Kyoto prefecture from Gokoh and Yabukita varietal. 

I dont drink japanese teas very often- I like them very much, but there are so many teas and it is  nearly impossible to have wider overview and knowledge in all types of tea. If you are mainly interested in japanese tea I would really recommend poemtea.blogspot.com. 
These teas are always a bit special for me. When I brew Sheng, I usually brew it very spontaneously and naturaly - like breathing- and I dont think very much about it. But sencha or gyokuro? Exact temperature, brewing times etc.. It can look bonding at first look, but sometimes rules, codes and formulas are very freeing. Like mantras, they can help to clear your mind and stay focused. Its always a small ceremony when I brew japanese tea.

I used my smallest Shiboridashi made by Peter Novak. Its made of porcelain and glazed with Czech feldspar. 

I used traditional way of preparing gyokuro. Water just above the leaves, almost lukewarm temperature and steeping for 5 minutes. If you havent tried this type of brewing before I really recommend it! It is not something for thirsty drinkers, but it is worth it! Literally only few drops of the tea :-) You wont have full mouth of tea, but full mouth of flavor instead! 

Flavor of the brew is very intense- thick, buttery and with very strong mouthfeel. Main tone is Umami, but you can also find some lighter tones like fresh grass and flowers. For those unfamiliar with name Umami- it is the fifth basic taste (sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami). More scientifically, umami present the taste of amino acid L-Glutamate. Its quite hard to describe, because most languages dont have their own word for this taste. But have you ever tried to describe the taste of ripe tomato? or spinach? Well, now you can. Its umami. Another good example is japanese dashi stock (due to dried tuna and kombu seawead used). 

Another brews were made using slightly higher temperatures and shorter brewing times. Once again it was a very nice and refreshing tea session :-) Have a really nice day and see you soon.

utorok 24. júla 2012

New yixing- but not yixing

After a long while I finally decided to write again. My disappearance could be explained by my time-consuming school (I study financial math) and also my job at local tea house.
Since my last post I drank a lot of good tea and bought some new teaware. But my latest aquisition is somehow special :-) It is yixing tea pot, but not made in Yixing.

This little teapot is made of Yixing clay Zi Ni, but it was made by talented Czech potter Peter Novak. It all began, when Peter Stanik made one of the orders from yixing potter Mr. Liu Ming Zhu. But it was not only teapots. He also ordered some Zi Ni Clay, which he gave to Peter Novak. After some experiments with right temperature (temperature in Peter's kiln is higher than temperature usually used for firing Zi Ni) three teapots were finally born. One was given as gift to Peter Stanik, Peter Novak kept the second one and last one was included in Peter Novak's "Gems of the Kiln" project. Later another four were made. One of them belongs to Benki from Probuzeny slon teahouse and you can see second teapot on picture above :-) I dont know what happened with last two.

I was really happy and honored that I was able to add this beautiful teapot to my collection. Its unique in many ways. Its made from Zi Ni, but it is so much different than any Yixing that I have. Peter made it in his own unique style. It is not perfect and pure as other yixing I have- it is more rough and rustic but it is on purpose and it is part of its beauty.
There are three things that I really like to collect: Yixing, Peter's earthenware and Pu-Erh. So it was natural decision to dedicate this teapot for Sheng. And so it now embodies all these things. Tepot lid fit is really nice and tight and the teapot pours well. But what really surprised and amazed me how it interacts with tea. Tea prepared in this teapot is really sweet and clear. Its clay is a bit overfired, but it works amazingly well.

Im too tired to write about the brewed tea and I dont like post that are too long, so maybe later :) And I would like to thank to both Peter Novak and Peter Stanik for this amazing teapot :)