Help me to understand


For general/other topics related to tea.

Re: Help me to understand

Postby Ritva » Dec 22nd, '09, 11:39

wyardley wrote:A few of the things that I think a lot of tea drinkers look for, at least with Chinese oolongs and puers:
* aftertaste (strong, lingering)
* texture (mouthfeel, "thickness")
* complexity (the taste isn't too one-note, and changes over multiple infusions)
* fragrance
* clarity (in the brewed tea broth)
* quality of the leaves themselves, and presence of a good "tea base" (goes kind of with texture above)
* durability (how many times the tea can be brewed)


Very good points! I'd like to comment on the "complexity" issue. I've noticed that many medium quality teas have quite a strong taste typical to that tea type but maybe not so much other notes. Like the discussion about "loud" and "soft" chawans in Teaware section: medium quality teas are often loud one-note teas. The top quality teas are often more subtle with lots of discrete nyances, and some are so exceptionally good that even people without very much tea drinking background can appreciate the difference. I had this top quality Oriental Beauty oolong (Bai Hao oolong) that I served to a friend of mine who is more used to wine tasting than tea tasting, and he said that the OB had all the qualities of top class wine. He could recognize the quality right away without knowing the price of the tea. It was the first time I was brewing that OB and it tasted so good that I got an euphoric feeling from drinking it. It doesn't happen every time one drinks high-class tea but I've noticed I never get the euphoric sensation from drinking mediocre tea.

Not all expensive teas are easily approachable. Some are "acquired taste" - like pu erhs - and are usually appreciated only after drinking certain amounts of that type of tea.
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby Ritva » Dec 22nd, '09, 11:54

One more point: you need to be able to brew the tea properly. You can have expensive top class tea but not brewing it properly can end-up in not-so-special cup of tea. That's why it's good to start with cheaper teas and after practising brewing skills one can try higher grade teas if one wishes.
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby Zanaspus » Dec 22nd, '09, 17:09

FWIW, some of my favorite everyday teas are under $2.50/oz. Sure, I have and drink stuff that's more than 15 times the price, but, as the saying goes; Drink what you like, like what you drink. :)
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby Chip » Dec 22nd, '09, 18:51

Zanaspus wrote:FWIW, some of my favorite everyday teas are under $2.50/oz. Sure, I have and drink stuff that's more than 15 times the price, but, as the saying goes; Drink what you like, like what you drink. :)

+1

I use that mantra and derivatives there of constantly on the forum!!!
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby chris&amy » Dec 24th, '09, 22:18

Ritva wrote:One more point: you need to be able to brew the tea properly. You can have expensive top class tea but not brewing it properly can end-up in not-so-special cup of tea



Ritva,


I guess not brewing expensive Tea correctly is like throwing money down the drain....

Chip wrote:I was just easing Chris into it, didn't want to hurt his head. Next was states ... :wink:


I read the book (The Story Of Tea ) and with all the info that is in the book I never really comprehended just how complex Tea could be until now. And yes Chip my head is hurting!

Thanks for all the comments and info that has been posted so far. It has been a learning experience for sure.

Merry Christmas

Chris
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby Chip » Dec 25th, '09, 00:28

Still, tea can be so simple ... we choose to make it so complicated. 8)
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby mbishop » Dec 25th, '09, 14:48

Chip wrote:Still, tea can be so simple ... we choose to make it so complicated. 8)


This is why I'm starting to prefer Japanese tea more now. Chinese tea is good, and comes in so many varieties/styles, but there's something elegant about the relative simplicity of Japanese teas.
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby skilfautdire » Dec 26th, '09, 17:42

As Kakuzo Okakura wrote:

"To the latter-day Chinese tea is a delicious beverage, but not an ideal. The long woes of his country have robbed him of the zest for the meaning of life."

"He has become modern, that is to say, old and disenchanted. He has lost that sublime faith in illusions which constitutes the eternal youth and vigour of the poets and ancients."

The Book of Tea, first published in 1906.
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby TubbyCow » Dec 26th, '09, 21:07

mbishop wrote:This is why I'm starting to prefer Japanese tea more now. Chinese tea is good, and comes in so many varieties/styles, but there's something elegant about the relative simplicity of Japanese teas.


An excellent point. Though I prefer the ceremony of Chinese and Taiwanese teas to the ceremony of Japanese, which is far too complicated for me. And isn't it a crime to brew Japanese teas in a Chinese vessel or style? :wink:
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby skilfautdire » Dec 27th, '09, 11:24

TubbyCow wrote: Though I prefer the ceremony of Chinese and Taiwanese teas to the ceremony of Japanese, which is far too complicated for me.

If you're referring to Gong Fu, then it is not the same at all, as far as I see it now. Gong Fu is a casual thing, no strings attached, many orientals have a Gong Fu tea set for brewing teas amongst friends and family. There are tea shops serving tea à la Gong Fu.

On the other hand, Chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, is linked to Tao and has a meditative approach which requires participants to follow precise steps, loosely akin to Zen. As far as I perceive it, Chanoyu is an experience whereas Gong Fu is simply having tea in a fun way.

And isn't it a crime to brew Japanese teas in a Chinese vessel or style? :wink:


Then I'm a criminal as far as steeping sencha in the only teapot I have now, a yixing teapot :-)
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby oldmanteapot » Dec 28th, '09, 01:47

Chip wrote:Still, tea can be so simple ... we choose to make it so complicated. 8)


+1 :mrgreen: You can say that again.... +1 :mrgreen:

mbishop wrote:This is why I'm starting to prefer Japanese tea more now. Chinese tea is good, and comes in so many varieties/styles, but there's something elegant about the relative simplicity of Japanese teas.


There's also a more simplistic side to Chinese Tea. Basically falling back on basic philosophies of having a round of tea with friends.

Cheers!
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby TubbyCow » Dec 28th, '09, 11:37

skilfautdire wrote:If you're referring to Gong Fu, then it is not the same at all, as far as I see it now. Gong Fu is a casual thing, no strings attached, many orientals have a Gong Fu tea set for brewing teas amongst friends and family. There are tea shops serving tea à la Gong Fu.

On the other hand, Chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, is linked to Tao and has a meditative approach which requires participants to follow precise steps, loosely akin to Zen. As far as I perceive it, Chanoyu is an experience whereas Gong Fu is simply having tea in a fun way.


That's essentially what I meant. I'm a casual person, so Gong Fu fits my style. I suppose it could be a stretch to call it a ceremony when it could just be considered a brewing style, but compared to my mother's method of throwing water over bags of Orange Pekoe, it's still more complex than what I grew up with.

Chanoyu, on the other hand, feels out of my league. I'd be honoured to be at such a ceremony, but I would never, ever attempt it. I'm still a young tea-er, though, so perhaps one day I'll change my mind and wonder how I ever did without a chawan for every mood and season.
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby skilfautdire » Dec 28th, '09, 15:36

TubbyCow wrote:Chanoyu, on the other hand, feels out of my league. I'd be honoured to be at such a ceremony, but I would never, ever attempt it. I'm still a young tea-er, though, so perhaps one day I'll change my mind and wonder how I ever did without a chawan for every mood and season.


I don't think that Chanoyu has so much to do with tea even though tea is the central piece. That may seem contradictory but I think it has more to do with meditation and such. So for me it is squarely not essential to enjoy tea in any way. If I want to meditate then I'll do zazen, which has nothing to do with tea. Okakura, in his book, relates that at one point in time there's a Japanese guy (could be in the year 600, I don't remeber either the exact year nor the guy's name) who got sick of all the attention paid to tea accessories such as the bowl, the teapot, the spoon, etc.. So he devised a simpler way and used sencha.

He meant so much to make a point that the accessories meant nothing that he destroyed all of his tea material before dying. Of course, once dead, people started to pay him great attention and these people started to also pay attention to the tea accessories by ricochet. When I see a chawan for $1000 I find it very ridiculous on all aspects except perhaps the one of making an art collection. To drink matcha I use an IKEA bowl of the right size and that's it. I use a simple chasen because nothing comparable can be found in kitchen stores. If it was possible to whisk it good with a common tool (not an electric frother) then I'd do it.

On the other hand, if I'd receive such a valuable chawan as a gift I'd probably keep and use it :-)
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby TubbyCow » Dec 28th, '09, 17:28

skilfautdire wrote:I don't think that Chanoyu has so much to do with tea even though tea is the central piece.


Ah, yes, when you think of it as meditation, which I suppose it is, the whole process makes a great deal more sense. I think it would mean a lot more to me if I had a connection to the culture, but I don't naturally have one, and it hasn't appealed to me enough that I want to learn about it enough to create one.

skilfautdire wrote:To drink matcha I use an IKEA bowl of the right size and that's it. I use a simple chasen because nothing comparable can be found in kitchen stores. If it was possible to whisk it good with a common tool (not an electric frother) then I'd do it.


For the longest time I used an IKEA bowl, too! Though I switched recently after I picked up some beautiful Japanese bowls last weekend. You can't even really call them chasens, but they're the right size. I've also tried using an electric frother, and it was not a good idea. Bah.
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Re: Help me to understand

Postby brose » Dec 31st, '09, 12:17

I still can't tell a really good expensive green tea (so I am told) from the $4 tin that I get at the local Chinese grocery store. With oolong I can work with the good or not so good. However when it comes to puerh I generally don't like the cheaper stuff. It has been iterated here many times already, It's all personal preference.
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