Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sweet Dreams Tea's Mango Teaser

A bit stale mango green tea from Sweet Dreams. First, second and third infusions. Actually this picture is mostly to show off the pretty teacups sets. XD (it's a set of 6, but I broke one TT.TT )

The next picture will show the colours of each infusion better.

First Infusion:
Tea: 1 tsp
Water: 1/2 cup
Water Temperature: 75 degrees Celcius
Brew Time: 30 seconds
Review: Can taste the staleness quite obviously, overrides the mango smell. Very Slightly astringent.

Second Infusion:
Tea: 1 tsp
Water: 1/2 cup
Water Temperature: 70 degrees Celcius
Brew Time: 30 seconds
Review: Staleness smell is gone, but the mango aroma in this can be easily distinguished as artificial. If one were to not mind that too much, it's not a bad cup of tea. No astringency or bad aftertaste.

Third Infusion:
Tea: 1 tsp
Water: 1/2 cup
Water Temperature: 85 degrees Celcius
Brew Time: 25 seconds
Review: Comparable to the second brew with less of the fake mango smell. The green tea base on its own is just so-so. 

To sum it up: too stale, too fake, and nothing special

Matcha Pinnacle's Koicha Pictures

Here's some Koicha pictures for the Teaopia's matcha pinnacle.

Tea: 2 chashaku 
Water: 20ml 
Water Temperature: 70 degrees Celcius

This picture is taking right after whisking with the chasen.  The consistency is very thick and yogurt like with no bubbles.

Very viscous indeed.

And the colour is so beautiful. :)

Hehe... I licked the bowl to get more of it out. Ended up just adding a bit more water and making usucha out of the rest, which, interestingly, is the order that formal tea ceremonies are done. Koicha first, then usucha.

It was so delicious <3>

Saturday, April 25, 2009

2008 HuangShan (Yellow Mountain) MaoFeng

This post is about a 2008 Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain, which is actually my home town) Mao Feng that I have stocked at home.  My mom got it on her trip back to China last year. What can I say, my parents aren't very knowledgeable about tea, hence, this:

Can of the 2008 Huang Shan Mao Feng.

There's quite a lot of ugly stems and the leaves are slightly broken up, which makes me sad. :(
Don't take this as that Huang Shan Mao Feng is no good. It really is mostly because much of the best teas in China are exported to have more foreign currency cash flow to China, and it's really hard to find the highest grades of teas from within China. (Pretty sad though, considering my mom's brother is in the tea business)

The tea leaves gives a gentle pine-like aroma, which is common for Mao Fengs from the Huang Shan region.

The first, second, and third infusions of the 2008 Huang Shan Mao Feng, with the brewed leaves on the right. 

First infusion:
Tea: 1.5 tsp
Water: 1 cup
Temp: 85 Degrees Celcius (approx. since I have not yet gotten a thermometer)
Brew Time: 2.5 minutes
Review: A relatively good brew. 85 degrees is slightly too high for the first brew, so even though Mao Fengs are generally very light, this brew was a bit astringent. Not very pleasant aftertaste. However, it did bring out the pine-like  fresh flavour.

Second infusion:
Tea: 1.5 tsp
Water: 1 cup
Temp: 80 Degrees Celcius
Brew Time: 3.25 minutes
Review:  Much better than the first. Cannot taste much astringency. Very aromatic with a cream-like scent. Also leaves a decent aftertaste with no bitterness. This is the best brew out of all three. Even so, the quality of the tea overall does not suit my palate. Maybe the subtlety of these teas are  just very difficult for me to appreciate.

Third infusion:
Tea: 1.5 tsp
Water: 1 cup
Temp: 80 Degrees Celcius
Brew Time: 3.5 minutes
Review:  Too watered down. Much of the flavour and taste is gone, leaving little to ponder on. Again, I blame the quality. :(

Overall, this Mao Feng is not for me. My parents can drink it indescriminatorily with their terrible brewing method (boiling water, leaving it in forever) in the future.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Genmaicha from Sweet Dreams Tea

I've had this genmaicha for 6 months now and it's quite stale. Despite my best efforts to brew it well, it still seems fairly cloudy and astringent. 

Don't worry that's not liquor, just genmaicha. :)

Tea: 1 tsp
Water: 1 cup
Water Temperature: 90 Degrees Celcius
Brew Time: 45 seconds

It was a quite decent Genmaicha for its price ($6CAD for 50g) and I generally do enjoy Sweet Dreams' teas casually. I would recommend their fruit teas more than their greens though, if you happen to live in the Waterloo region, it's a guilt-free pleasure :)

Matcha Pinnacle from Teaopia

This is pretty much just a picture post, really :)

Just took a whole bunch of pictures. Hands were a little shaky, but it will have to do. 
Chasen, preheating chawan, chashaku, and chasen holder (kusenaoshi) from Teaopia

Unsifted matcha in tin. Clumping caused by static electricity and an indication of good, finely grounded matcha.

Sifted matcha in preheated and dried bowl.

After whisking, froth is very thick in this usucha... I have yet to master the skill of making the froth finer with no big bubbles.

After a few sips, the froth shifts to the side in a pretty crescent shape, letting you see the beautiful green colour. This is why they call the froth of the liquid jade .... so beautiful and so yummy~

Matcha: 2 Chashaku
Water: 2 oz (60ml)
Water Temperature: 65 degrees Celcius

Awaiting more matcha/shincha/gyokuro/others soon~

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'm a New Matcha Addict!

After my first purchase of matcha kit with pinnacle grade matcha from Teaopia two weeks ago, I am already officially hooked.

I've been a pretty avid tea fanatic before the matcha purchase and have been craving to buy the kit for the longest time. Not to mention the gracefulness and beauty in tea ceremonies and the lovely lovely super-lovelyteaware, matchas have such high potential as a super health booster. Since you are actually consuming the grounded tea leaves, you are getting hundreds of times of the good stuffs that you know brewed green teas have. 

Many people online suggested that one should start off with lower grade matcha and gradually move up the ladder in order to fully appreciate the good ones. I debated and decided to use a different method, and now I'm glad I did. I started off with the highest grade of matcha Teaopia offered, the Matcha Pinnacle, because I don't want something disgusting tasting that will turn me off it from the beginning. 
 OUCH MY WALLET!  It also gives me the option to play around with the matcha to be able to make it into either usucha (thin tea) or koicha (thick tea). Lower grades can only be consumed as thin tea because it would be too bitter otherwise. 

Now, I am absolutely and completely hooked. I'm already halfway through my 30g tin because I just absolutely must have a nice relaxing bowl of it as I get home from a long day at work. It helps me relax and actually able to focus on my studies and even helps me sleep a bit, strange as it might sound. I guess in a way I'm lucky because caffeine doesn't affect me very much, and I can barely feel the caffeines from any coffee or tea that I've drunk, so no problems there. 

I must say,  
THE TASTE  is the most heavenly and beautiful tea taste that I have ever had. It completely revolutionizes the experience of tea. As soon as you open the can, you can smell the wonderful grassy sweet smell, distinct from any other tea that I have tasted so far. (It may possibly smell like gyokuro, but I have yet to try that... actually already ordered, it's on its way  XD ) Using 2 chashakus (bamboo tea spoon) for usucha or 4 chashakus for koicha, sifting is a must (I just press it through a mesh filter), add 2-3 oz of water at 70-80 degrees celcius to an already pre-heated bowl, and whisk with the chasen (bamboo whisk which is an art in itself).

The taste of it as an usucha is unbelievably refreshing and it feels like it's cheering you up, even. It foams very easily, an indication of a great matcha. The colour is of a beautiful bright green, like grassy hills in springtime. The best words to describe this usucha is pure and bright. 

The koicha is incredibly incredibly smooth and the texture is yogurt-like. The colour is a deep dark green, with no foam. The intense sweetness in it is so unexpected from a tea that is so concentrated. It is a completely different experience than the usucha and should be called deep and sophisticated. 

Both usucha and koicha contain almost no astringency whatsoever and no bitterness either. The grassy taste is obvious, but not too overwhelming that you feel its "bleerghh" if you know what I mean. 

After this tin, I plan to try middle-lower grades to matcha as well, and eventually find one that I can use as a daily usucha. Because of the health benefits (and yumminess), I will get a pack of high food grade matcha to use in smoothies, topping icecreams and whatnot. But of course, I will also try many higher grade matchas (it will take some time... as my wallet will thin out very quickly). Eventually even trying the much acclaimed Uji Matcha Manten from O-Cha. It's apparently the best matcha ever existed and sells only through Japan's oldest teashop, Tsuen. 

Matcha Manten 

Aside from matcha.... it's also  
SHINCHA SEASON!!!! (it's the season for the first flush of green tea made into traditional japanese sencha...oh my poor poor wallet) For my first shincha season, I've already placed several pre-orders for the more famous senchas, a good gyokuro as well as my very own kyusu (japanese styled teapot)! So excited! Can't wait till they arrive one by one.... Will post up pictures :) 

I blame this sudden splurge on my discovery of  
Teachat . everyone is so PRO! I've been estimating in the past for water temperatures and brew times and tea to water ratios, but now they make me wanna get a thermometer and tea timer and measuring cups and even a weight scale specific to 0.1gs.... Call me crazy, but it really is true that after one gets used to drinking tea, even the smallest details matter. We'll see how it goes... (by which i mean, i will probably curb to my desires eventually) All in all, I encourage all of you to experience matcha at least once. It truly is an amazing (or shall I say, unMATCHAble ?) experience and lots of health benefits .