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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tea Tasting with Friends – Part II

The intention of this tasting session was educational. For green tea, we tasted Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun and West Lake Long Jing, the two most famous Chinese teas. We talked about to how to judge qualities of the two teas by dry observing leaf appearance, by tasting. Some people were telling me how wonderful and different they were in comparison to ones they bought at other places.

We moved on to taste Oolong, starting with AnXi Tie Guan Yin. I chose moderately roasted AnXi Tie Guan Yin for this taste session. Moderately roasted Tie Guan Yin is a good choice for green tea drinkers to ease into hard core Oolong. It not only has the refreshing orchid aroma that lightly roasted Tie Guan Yin has to offer, but also has more complexity that attracts many heavily roasted Tie Guan Yin lovers. It has a hint of roasted aroma, but not overpowering. People praised highly about this tea. Jonathan was surprised to find out that Tie Guan Yin can be so sophisticated in taste and aroma.

I brewed up a pot of moderately roasted WuYi Da Hong Pao after the Tie Guan Yin tasting. In comparison to the moderately roasted Tie Guan Yin, this one has stronger roasted aroma. Although everyone was quite impressed by its sharp, strong, long lasting osmanthus aroma, I could tell that not everybody was used to the roasted aroma lingering at the background. Praveen, who has many years experience with Indian teas, seemed quite impressed with it. “This is definitely an acquired taste’, said Praveen.

For black tea tasting, I brewed a pot of Yunnan Black. Its strong fruity/floral aroma was very impressive. Thanks to the widely available earls grey tea bags, people were readily acceptable to this one.

Pu-erh tasting was a fun one. I prepared different grades of green and black Pu-erh for people to taste and compare. I first showed and brewed two different green Pu-erh. Although it was a little bit challenging for them to judge by smelling dry leaves, the winner was obvious after I brewed them. I was quite thrilled to see that they were able to identify the high quality one. People used the words “too plain”, “too watery” to describe the low quality one, which were exactly correct. I did the same types of comparison for two different black Pu-erh. Pu-erh is such a mystery tea, I knew that I could not cover it in such a short time. However, I am confident that when this group people go shopping for Pu-erh on their own, they are now armed with knowledge.

To thank everyone for coming, I brewed a pot of my personal collection – 20 year old Loose Old Tea Tree Pu-erh. The dry leaves have unique rose/plum aroma. Upon brewing it, the sought-after aged wood aroma raised from the cup. And the taste? Smooth, mellow, and sweet. What a great way to end this wonderful tasting session.


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