Thursday, April 19, 2007

Miscellaneous Catching Up

My prayer and thoughts go out to the families and friends of those who were senselessly slain at Virginia Tech. I am particularly moved by the braveness of Professor Liviu Librescu who went towards and blocked the deadly threat in order to save many and sacrificed his own life. May they rest in peace and be remembered lovingly forever.

Though my blog has been static lately, I have actually been quite active within the tea and wine blogospheres. I enjoy visiting other blogs to leave some thoughtlessly written comments just because. The collective online knowledge and wisdom of those who are passionate about tea and wine are immense! I've learned so much from consuming their writings and personal opinions. They never fail to freshen my perspectives.

Some of the interesting happenings lately within the tea and wine blogospheres:
1. Bearsbearsbears
made his own pu'er tea cakes (35kg of them!)...
2. And
he wrote an article for the 2nd issue of The Art of Tea magazine, too!
3. Brent, a
Tea Nerd (like me!), made me realize that, unlike in wine, tannins is not what makes tea feels puckery. Mr. Sanwar M. Changoiwala's excellent article on Chadao about tea and polyphenols confirmed this as well. So I guess it will be "polyphenolic" instead of "tannic" from now on when I describe tea.
4. Imen of
Tea Obsession is opening a tea lounge!
5. Houde Asian Art
raised their pu'er prices...again.
6. Various discussions about the current state of pu'er price inflation (
MarshalN, LJ, Tea Drunk).
7. Eric Asimov, the chief wine critic for the NY Times, contemplates on the topic of how
technology changed the art of winemaking (is it still natural?)

As a result of my blogger's block (as in writer's block and nothing to do with China's overzealous censorship), this piece of news had likely become stale. But here it is anyway.

Two Saturdays ago I met three new tea friends: "Estif", who came down from San Francisco for the Easter weekend, Imen, who I have communicated with many times before, and T, who is a friend of Danica. The gracious host was Danica, again.

I think we managed to come across as quite fanatical to T in how we discussed, slurped and comment about the teas we drank that day. Fortunately, she was very open to the new experiences, and all of us could tell that she has got a taste for fancy teas! Another convert?

[Photo (L-R): T, Estif, Danica and Imen holding a 3kg Xi Zhi Hao Lao Banzhang pu'er tea disc]
Teas we tasted:
  • '07 Ming Qian (pre-Ching Ming) Shi Feng Long Jing from Jing Tea Shop
    Lovely. Nutty and buttery with a long sweet and buttery aftertaste. 4 stars.

  • ’07 Early Spring Biluochun from Jing Tea Shop
    Good. Nutty and floral, but seemingly short on the aftertaste. I can’t say that I’m a big biluochun fan yet. 3.5 stars.

  • ’07 Spring wood-fired Nantou oolong, Taiwan from Houde
    Light, thin and not expressive enough. Floral, grassy with a soft roasted taste. Came rather short of our expectations. 2 stars.

  • '06 Highly roasted Dong Ting oolong, Taiwan from Teamasters
    Delicious, complex and balanced. One of the better roasted Taiwanese oolongs I have ever tasted. 4 stars.

  • '06 Lincang Sheng Pu’er from Teamasters
    Expressive and charming. Brewed with little leaves and long steeping time in the silver teapot. Best tea of the day for me. Alas, its very pricey for a young 2006 tea. 4.5 stars.

  • Banzhang Pu’er (tightly compressed squares), source unknown
    Strong tasting. Don't remember much else. 3 stars.

  • ’06 Hai Lang Hao Banzhang Sheng Pu’er from YSLLC
    Strong and kicked everyone's head pretty quickly. 3 stars.

  • Reverse Osmosis Water Is Not That Bad

    We used three types of water that day: Fiji (artesian), Trader Joe's New Zealand (artesian), and reverse osmosis. Danica added about six drops of some
    ionic mineral supplement into the RO water in the 1.5 liter tetsubin to an excellent result! The supplemented reverse osmosis water was actually as good as or better than the expensive Fiji and New Zealand artesian water. More testing and comparing still need to be done, however.

    Lastly, please meet my new ceramic tea friend. It's made by a miniature specialist company called Hagen-Renaker.


    Nikhil said...

    I'm very impressed with Bearsbearsbears tea! Love the miniatures - how did you find these guys? I'm guessing your daughter is going to have a lot of fun playing with them!

    ~ Phyll said...

    My sort-of-has-become trademark clay frog is from Guangzhou, and this mousey is from a toy store in Orange County.

    She likes them...and I'm always worried that she may break them one day. The clay frog is already covered with nice tea patina and it is quite a special memory piece for me.

    nick said...

    I agree with Nikhil, BBB's pu-erh is pretty amazing!

    And, thanks for the roundup. It seems you have a great talent for connecting people and building communities.

    Sina said...

    Hi Phyll! I am have been looking and reading your blog for the few weeks. I was wondering if you can help a newbie find her way. I know you buy a lot from Yunnan Sourcing LLC, but have you bought from Black Dragon Tea House on Ebay too? If so, how is their service? shipping?

    ~ Phyll said...

    Hello Sina,

    I have never heard of Black Dragon Tea House on Ebay, unfortunately. However, if you meant Dragon Tea House (, then I've heard only good things about their service an reliability. I have never bought anything from DTH, though.

    I hope this helps. Perhaps others can give a more constructive opinion.

    Brent said...

    "Polyphenolic" just doesn't have the same ring to it... oh well.

    I ordered a gaiwan from Dragon Tea House and it was packed very well-- lots of bubble wrap. :) They ship from China so your package won't arrive quickly, but the service was very good. Like Phyll, I have only heard good things about them. Hope this helps!