Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker


One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby jayinhk » Sep 12th, '12, 14:02

apache wrote:
jayinhk wrote:Being non-Chinese (yet HK-born), I cannot get a Home Return Permit, so I have to shell out the same amount of money for a visa as any British Citizen. I think they go for around $230 US at this time.

I do qualify for a three-year visa as a permanent resident, however, which makes it well worth it if I'm making regular trips north of the border.


This to me is discrimination :evil:
Do they treat half Chinese like this as well?


As long as you have blood links back to your ancestral village(s) in China, then you are eligible for a HRP. Makes sense I guess. Non-ethnically Chinese people like myself also don't get three stars on our ID cards. That means I am not considered a Chinese citizen here or north of the border, which is a good and bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

I am of course eligible for a HK passport, but I'd rather not give up my British passport for it, which would be a requirement.

The same goes for Indian citizenship: thanks India, but I'll hold onto my EU citizenship for now. ;)

It's nice to have options, though, and I'm not really losing all that much freedom in HK, China or India by sticking with my UK citizenship. India now allows us special people to get a card that gives us all of the rights of an Indian citizen aside from voting rights and working for the government, neither of which I'm particularly interested in anyway at this time!
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby MarshalN » Sep 12th, '12, 20:59

At least you didn't end up stateless like some South Asians in Hong Kong
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby jayinhk » Sep 12th, '12, 21:30

True, theoretically I have my choice of three citizenships!

Whoa, a longstanding member on this board just messaged me and apparently knows me from a decade ago. They are definitely originally from HK. Small world--I wonder who it is. :)
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby jayinhk » Sep 13th, '12, 08:29

One thing I've noticed this week (other than that I am amassing tea at an incredible rate, even though I am now drinking a good 15-20g a day) is that I can detect hui gan much, much better than I could when I started. Maybe I just know to look for it, but it seems like all the HK shu I drink has great hui gan, as does the fancy light TGY I picked up . Alternatively, maybe my oral chemistry has changed due to the constant battering by alkaline tea. Either way, it's added another dimension to my tea tasting!

Can't wait for that sheng cake to arrive. The 2010 CNNP-wrapped sheng I had last week was really very bitter and not all that pleasant. Hopefully the '02 will be a little less bitter with more flavor to it. I'm thinking about breaking up a quarter of the cake to traditionally age loose for comparison to the rest of the cake, before and after aging in the HK humidity.
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby MarshalN » Sep 13th, '12, 09:23

You can't traditionally age teas yourself, it's not possible unless you've got a warehouse full of tea
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby jayinhk » Sep 13th, '12, 09:48

Give me a few months :lol:

Ok, 'home age' in HK humidity. Should be an interesting experiment!
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby jayinhk » Sep 14th, '12, 08:28

Appreciating pu erh the way much of HK gets its fix during the work week:

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Surprisingly, it's not half bad. Very 'standard.'
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby jayinhk » Sep 16th, '12, 06:42

Had to go to the hardware store on the corner for some masking tape. On my way back, I decided to cross the street and visit a tea store I often walk past. I never went in because it looks like they've had the same furniture and sign up since the 1950s (a good possibility, actually).

It really was like a time warp. They had a glass counter with piles of 3-4 beengs of different kinds of pu. Lots of CNNP and Menghai Dayi stuff (if my logo/wrapper identification is getting better). They looked like they all had a good amount of age, but it may just be the Hong Kong humidity. They were organized by price.

I noticed one of the women working there was looking my way so I smiled and she came over. I asked her if she spoke English (in Cantonese) and she said a little (in Cantonese), so I just spoke to her in Canto anyway. I told her I wanted some of her best pu erh, but just a little, and asked her if that was ok. They looked set up for wholesale with massive paper bags at the ready, and I've seen pretty serious quantities of tea going in and out of there.

She said that was fine and we walked over to the jars of loose pu. She showed me a jar and said that was it. Lots of chunks of cake. I asked her if it was cooked and she said it was a mix of cakes and pointed to the counter. Some shu, some sheng. I asked her if I could get 75g, and she said the minimum was 150g for this jar. I decided to go for it anyway and we quartered the price mentally (tea, and many other commodities, is sold by catty (600g) here in HK).

A couple walked in, and the guy asked for $100 of bo lei: no discussion of grade or weight, which I found interesting. She told me to take a seat, but I stayed standing and waited. She got their $100 worth and then weighed mine.

She was very surprised I spoke Canto and asked me about my background. I got the standard compliments, and did the HK thing and said "no" to them. She was actually a pretty nice lady. Interestingly the vendors I've dealt with over the last few weeks have been a fairly even split of men and women.

This is what I picked up.

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It had an interesting, spicy smell I've never smelled in pu before. I decided to pick out pieces that looked, and smelled, like each other. I guessed these were sheng. Quite a lot of bubbles during the wash.

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I only wash once: this was the first infusion.

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The leaves after infusion one.

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Infusion one was a lot more bitter than I expected, but with some interesting flavor. I think I did pick out sheng bits. I only got seven good infusions from my new gaiwan, so maybe it's younger than I thought, or just not very good sheng? It was, however, more enjoyable and sweeter in the later infusions.

It does appear to be a grab bag of different cakes with very little loose leaf. She said it was supposed to be pretty smooth drinking. All I know is I sure got a lot of work done this afternoon! :mrgreen:

Just got done picking out some of the darker, spicier bits. Definitely shu, and quite pleasant: sweet, salty and sour, and it tasted like a Chinese salted prune. :) I think I'll take a shot of Chinese prune wine while I'm at it!
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby MarshalN » Sep 16th, '12, 09:35

Looks sheng. Give me some to try.
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby jayinhk » Sep 16th, '12, 09:38

MarshalN wrote:Looks sheng. Give me some to try.


It's a mix of sheng and shu, but these bits were sheng. Batch two of my pickings was all shu and was very nice too. :)
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby apache » Sep 16th, '12, 11:13

.... prune. Yes, prune is one of the tastes in an aged sheng. Very few of my collection has this taste.
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby jayinhk » Sep 16th, '12, 12:40

Apache, I'm getting that flavor from shu, and I like it a lot. I think I may be more HK than I thought because I seem to enjoy the aged shu more than the sheng. lol

Tried dealer 1's 'best' shu again. A lot of the storage/mustiness aroma has dissipated over the last few weeks now that the tea is breathing, but none of the other dealers' bo lei had that aroma. Of course, that may be because the pu from dealer 1 was sealed airtight in bags. She also has vacuum sealed 250g cakes. I told her I'd take one, but now I think I'll hold off. I don't think HK-stored pu erh does well when vacuum sealed since it still has a lot of residual moisture. Not good. I'll try some of her best loose shu from a jar next time, and ask her if sealing pu is a good idea. I still have one more dealer near me (that M recommended) that I want to check out first.
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby jayinhk » Sep 17th, '12, 09:32

Dipped into the mixed bag of beeng fragments I picked up yesterday and picked out four of the less spicy and more aged-looking fragments. Put a little more in than yesterday. The resulting brew had honey-like consistency, and some nice sourness and saltiness without any unpleasantness whatsoever. AMAZING.

Fueled off the pu (good pu always makes me hungry), I ran down to get some dinner. Decided to visit a Cantonese BBQ place I always walk by. One of my friends was a regular there once upon a time. It was around 9 pm, and the rough-looking staff were on their third or fourth large bottles of Blue Girl, which is what HK's blue collar guys love. Order Blue Girl at a HK restaurant packed with the working class and you'll get some respect here.

They hopped right up and chopped up some char siu (roast pork) for me. I asked for $10 HKD of extra cha siu with my meal. I usually find the ratio of meat / rice a little low for me in Asia, especially in China (excluding HK), but that is definitely the beef jerky, pork rinds and Budweiser side of me taking over.

The guys were pretty darn hammered, and joking around with me. I tried to take my lunchbox and the guy wouldn't let me: he forced me to take a soup too, which I didn't know they offered with their meals. It was a little more expensive than my usual BBQ place up the street, but the quality of this new place's BBQ is much, much better: even the geung yung (ginger and scallion oil) was better. Char siu is very much comfort food for me, and something I missed terribly when I lived in the US. Tried it a few times in NYC and was very, very, very disappointed. I could've very well shed a tear right in Chinatown over the lack of good char siu. This, on the other hand, is without a doubt some of the best I've ever had.

I think I'm starting to get the hang of this neighborhood. It seems the rougher looking the cooks are, the better the meal. lol. I think I'll buy my next meal there before they start drinking though. The guys stumble home every night, but they're up and at it every morning without fail.

Still getting solid infusions from the shu in the gaiwan at infusion 7-8, so it's Yunnan treacle and some GOOD cha siu tonight. I had two amazing bowls of noodles earlier too (one for breakfast near home and one for lunch on the other side of town) at places that have rock solid reputations for good food. Also had lots of choi sum with oyster sauce. HK's not so bad after all. :D
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby jayinhk » Sep 18th, '12, 06:30

Picked up Marshal's recommended Yixing today, as well as 150g of deeply roasted, chocolate brown TGY. Got to try two levels of TGY (a lighter roast for the 'kids' and the darker kind I bought, as well as a different type with straighter leaves that I believe is called sui sin (EDIT: aka Shui Hsien). Very interesting for sure, and a heck of an experience visiting, and drinking tea at, one of HK's older tea businesses. Funny, I've walked past the store perhaps a hundred times without ever really paying attention to it.

I'll post pics and my thoughts on the pot once I season it and give it a few weeks of use. Looking forward to it!

One benefit of my current tea obsession and location in one of the older parts of town is I'm learning a lot more about Chinese geography and cultural differences. I never knew Chaozhou, Chiuchow and Teochow were exactly the same thing, or that Fukien and Fujian were different names for the same province. Fascinating that the Chiuchow are sandwiched between Guangdong and Fujian, but manage to be relatively culturally and linguistically independent.
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Re: Thoughts from a new Hong Kong bo lei drinker

Postby wyardley » Sep 18th, '12, 14:36

jayinhk wrote:Fascinating that the Chiuchow are sandwiched between Guangdong and Fujian, but manage to be relatively culturally and linguistically independent.

Chaozhou is in Guangdong, and quite near Fujian. The Chaozhou language is in the Min language family, the language family of Fujian, rather than in the Yue language family. It is not completely mutually intelligible with other Min dialects, but neither are those from differing parts of Fujian. As you can see in the chart here, it's very closely connected to Hokkien / Taiwanese http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Min_Chinese

I think many Chaozhou people can also speak Cantonese.

The Hakka (Kejia) people are a better example of a group that's ethnic Han Chinese, but is a bit more culturally and linguistically independent.
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