Friday, September 21, 2012

Chop Chop

Hello again, tea folk.  I've been neglectful of this little blog.  Late summer brought on a spate of busyness and work travel.  Tea has been on the back burner, as it were.  Hurried slurps here and distracted gulps there.  I've simply been tossing leaves in water (hot or cold, whatever), letting them steep and then drinking the resulting substance.  It is mostly pleasant to shed some of the fussiness and effort I have tended to bring to the tea table in recent years.  

That said, it is good to sit down for a cup and to write about tea again.

In my long-standing quest to find good aged oolong, I came across this tieguanyin from the Chinese Teashop in Vancouver.  (Led there after reading a post on Jakub's blog about a 90s Hong Yin, which I have also enjoyed.) The website states that the tea hails from 1990.  The 50 grams I bought is comprised of a few whole leaves, but is mostly crushed down to fragments and powder.  Not surprising if the tea has really been kicking around for 20 + years.

What this tea demonstrated to me is that substantially fragmented tea is not necessarily bad-harsh and astringent.  It may gum up your tea pot, but it won't necessarily murder your tastebuds and throat.  This tea is decent, soothing.  One of those smooth, raisiny affairs.  It is a bit faint and it helps to use a lot of leaves (or dust).  

It also appears to be a blend since some of the leaves are still relatively green in appearance and open easily while others are quite dark and remain furled.  No carbonization here, thankfully.

 While I'm aesthetically drawn to full, luscious tea leaves, I'm not sure they are of primary importance when it comes to brewing an enjoyable cup.  Good aged oolong is tough to scare up on the web.  There's no assurance you're going to find it on a trip to Taiwan, either.  I brought back some wonderfully crappy "aged" oolong from Taiwan.  Buy a plane ticket, add some abominable language skills and there you have it-some shiny, vacuum-packed bags of crap, all torched or soured to perfection.  I drank it all, every last humble pellet.  It was good for me.  I'm glad to bumble across this little TGY, though.  A bit tame, nothing to rocket one to rapture.  But I've gotten over trying to shelve tea with that burden.  Sometimes it works to take aim with that mouse and just click away.

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