How do you keep track of your teas?


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How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby Kongaloosh » Feb 27th, '14, 18:18

Hey everyone,

I'm thinking about what's the best way to aggregate my drinking experiences to recall later. Anyone have suggestions on how to go about it, or what's best to keep track of?

Cheers,
KGL
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby wyardley » Feb 27th, '14, 19:40

I keep track of what teas I have in a couple different ways..

For compressed pu'er, I have a Google Docs spreadsheet where I keep track of what I have, where I got it, how much it cost, and so on. For most other stuff, I just use a labeler and indicate the tea (year / season, name of the tea, and source) on the canister, bag, or whatever, and then I have some plastic bins for general categories of tea (samples / small bags of oolong in one, etc. etc.)

In terms of actual tasting notes, sometimes I keep notes in a computer text file. This is usually when I'm drinking tea in the office... the rest of the time, I rarely keep notes, but I do find the notes that I do take handy to refer back to at times.
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby sherubtse » Feb 27th, '14, 21:53

wyardley wrote:In terms of actual tasting notes, sometimes I keep notes in a computer text file.


How do you organise those notes? Do you use headings / categories? I have been thinking of creating better system than what I have at present, so any info on how you keep notes would be appreciated.
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby sherubtse » Feb 27th, '14, 21:53

wyardley wrote:In terms of actual tasting notes, sometimes I keep notes in a computer text file.


How do you organise those notes? Do you use headings / categories? I have been thinking of creating a better system than what I have at present, so any info on how you keep notes would be appreciated.

Best wishes,
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby Teaism » Feb 27th, '14, 22:14

I have a few hundred kilos of tea and find that the best way to organize them is the label every tea that I have. Most of the time I indicate who I bought from, when, and how much and of course the year and mountain of the tea. For tasting notes, I used to slip a note and store together with the tea and update the note every time I try that piece.But now I don't record any tasting note physically. I am sort of have a profile memory of tasting notes after over 2 decades of tasting.

So when I grab any piece, I know the general info and the historical tasting note is there and I can proceed with the tasting without too much administration. It is quite practical that way IMHO.

If you like to do stock take, perhaps an additional list of the all the tea in spreadsheet is good.

Cheers!
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby 茶藝-TeaArt08 » Feb 27th, '14, 23:55

Next to the tea table I keep a journal my tea teacher gave me in Taiwan last year. It's a large format paper journal/calendar/organizer. Each month has a two-page spread "month view." Then each page after the month view has two calendar days per page (this allows quite a bit of room to write). With the beginning of the new year (2014) I have started a new journal recently.

In the journal I write what teaware I'm using (pot, cups, setting, flower arrangement, etc.), the tea I brew, the water I use (and the temp. brewed at if using the Bonavita), the grams of dry leaf (if measured), what kettle I use to heat my water (Bonavita, silver, tetsubin, etc.), my times for each steep (again..if measured), and tasting notes from the session for each round, and usually a summarization of the pour...and sometimes any thoughts or poems that come up during the pour.

When I am trying to discern a new tea these notes are really helpful in my discovery process for optimal settings. In the "month view" I write the teas brewed on a given date so that I can go straight to that date to find my tea experience on a given day. I find that the journal is always helpful. I don't always write these things down before or during the pour; sometimes I wait until after the pour to record the occurrence. I find that, at this point, the information, perhaps from the practice of recording it, mostly stays in my memory cleanly whether I write it or not; however, it's nice to have the journal and I'm consistent in using it.

For organizing teas in my tea collection, I keep them in the tea closet in their original tea tins (or a supplementary tea tin if the tea came lightly packaged), with opened teas kept separate from unopened teas. I have never really needed any labeling besides what comes on the tea itself to remember what teas I have. Though, I have used labels a few times when needed (for instance, when I have two or three different types of the same tea...ex. three Si Ji Chun teas, etc.).

I have thought about using computerized methods but like the feel and portability, without need for power, of using a paper notebook. For instance, when I leave to Taiwan this Spring, I'll bring last year's tea journal and the present one along with me. In this way I can easily compare notes and experience with my teacher when we pour.

Blessings!
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby wyardley » Feb 28th, '14, 00:43

sherubtse wrote:How do you organise those notes? Do you use headings / categories? I have been thinking of creating a better system than what I have at present, so any info on how you keep notes would be appreciated.


Pretty low tech; the heading is just year / harvest (if known) / type of the tea, and then the vendor, and then just freeform text (a paragraph or two) after it. Names aren't normalized or anything, but generally, I can find things if I need to.
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby William » Feb 28th, '14, 02:03

Teaism wrote: [..] and find that the best way to organize them is the label every tea that I have. Most of the time I indicate who I bought from, when, and how much and of course the year and mountain of the tea.


I do this too. I use labels, upon which I write all the essential informations, on every possible tea, whether it is destined to age or not.
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby Kongaloosh » Feb 28th, '14, 13:43

茶藝-TeaArt08 wrote:In the journal I write what teaware I'm using (pot, cups, setting, flower arrangement, etc.), the tea I brew, the water I use (and the temp. brewed at if using the Bonavita), the grams of dry leaf (if measured), what kettle I use to heat my water (Bonavita, silver, tetsubin, etc.), my times for each steep (again..if measured), and tasting notes from the session for each round, and usually a summarization of the pour...and sometimes any thoughts or poems that come up during the pour.


Interesting. When you say flower arrangement, what do you mean? When you refer to kettles, what characteristics do the kettles imbue?

茶藝-TeaArt08 wrote:When I am trying to discern a new tea these notes are really helpful in my discovery process for optimal settings. In the "month view" I write the teas brewed on a given date so that I can go straight to that date to find my tea experience on a given
day.


Is there ever anything that you look for in your teas. Are there specific traits which are universal?

茶藝-TeaArt08 wrote:I have thought about using computerized methods but like the feel and portability, without need for power, of using a paper notebook.


I thoroughly agree with you here. There's a distinct feeling to writing things down. It's as if the framing of the act changes how you perceive things. I intend to keep a journal, however--being the computer scientist I am--I want to keep a digital record such that I can analyse my thoughts quickly over time and sort my entries with ease.

Thank-you. This has been very helpful.

I don't know if people are interested, but I've started a spreadsheet to aggregate the information that's been suggested by people. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjxEStTA9O-SdGFudnROMEtTU2JydmE1RkptRU9lN2c&usp=drive_web#gid=0
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby Kongaloosh » Feb 28th, '14, 13:45

Teaism wrote:I have a few hundred kilos of tea and find that the best way to organize them is the label every tea that I have. Most of the time I indicate who I bought from, when, and how much and of course the year and mountain of the tea. For tasting notes, I used to slip a note and store together with the tea and update the note every time I try that piece.

That's a brilliant idea!

Teaism wrote:But now I don't record any tasting note physically. I am sort of have a profile memory of tasting notes after over 2 decades of tasting!


Someday I'll get there!
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby kikula » Feb 28th, '14, 14:12

Pretty simple. I keep small spiral notebooks and enter name of tea, harvest, vendor (and any relevant vendor remarks), appearance, water and tea quantity, brew temps and times and my comments. I leave a space for subsequent brewings and changes. I also star rate for ease in reordering.
I've just started to dedicate notebooks to different sorts of tea - oolongs, japanese green, etc. Works for me.
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How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby mcrdotcom » Mar 3rd, '14, 09:45

I've started a simple tea journal in a spiral A5 pad. Inventory at the back, notes at the front! When notes are recorded on a tea I then add the page number of the notes to the inventory beside the tea! It's like a contents page and an inventory! I try to mimick it like a laboratory notebook as that is what I'm used to recording, and I like approaching brewing in an experimental fashion, recording methods and results with the aim of reproducing and altering these experiments to perfect my technique :)
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby 茶藝-TeaArt08 » Mar 3rd, '14, 13:56

Interesting. When you say flower arrangement, what do you mean? When you refer to kettles, what characteristics do the kettles imbue?


I have plants in the tea room, but I find that the addition of a simple flower arrangement to the tea table greatly enhances the beauty of the setting for myself and for a guest when pouring for another. Most Taiwanese chayi settings include a plant for its aesthetically enriching presence and for the presence of nature a simple arrangement brings to the table. For the tea table, I keep them generally smaller than 6 inches tall, this is also in line with my teacher's guidelines for the height and placement of a flower arrangement in a tea setting. Mainly, one doesn't want the flower arrangement to dominate the setting but to work harmoniously with the elements of the tea setting. Thus I keep the arrangements small. They are often created from our backyard garden and representative of the season or a mood and similar to many Japanese Ikebana presentations.

On kettles, kettles and water, combined with temp., as you know, have great influence on the outcome of tea. Some people prefer the effects of different kettles. Some people don't like the taste of any water that's been brewed in metal and use earthen, Chaozhou, Purion, or Yixing kettles to brew their water. Others prefer the effect of metal on water and will pay large sums of money to procure a well-seasoned tetsubin to influence their water. In the house I have two clay kettles, stove-safe glass kettles, tetsubin, copper, stainless steel, and silver kettles. Each has its effect on water. Pairing these kettles with the other elements of the pour (teapot, cups, etc.) and with a certain tea is its own process collaboration and yields many different outcomes, especially when combined with waters from different sources, of differing pH and minerality.

Here is one example from Hojo on the varying effects of certain tetsubin on water: http://hojotea.com/en/posts-61/

Image

Is there ever anything that you look for in your teas. Are there specific traits which are universal?


This is a large question :) . Simply said, yes there are elements I look for in my tea due to personal preference and expectation. I also remain open to where a tea can take me and view the practice of tea as a celebration of the gifts of change and impermanence. Thus, when a tea does not deliver something I am looking for, it still is occurring in that moment as it is...I find I am rather surprised, often, where a tea takes me. For instance, the other day I was preparing to brew a White Peony tea and my Bonavita kettle was set to 95 deg.C (from an wulong pour the day before). Many people brew this tea much cooler but I decided to see where the tea took me when I brewed it at 95 deg.C. It came out wonderful, with different elements than if brewed at 80 or 85 deg.C.

However, after study and drinking enough tea one begins to develop an awareness of what a specific tea "should" be able to deliver and I do return to specific teas hoping to reencounter what I've previously experienced with those teas (for example...the creamy butteriness of a Jin Xuan cultivar, etc.). Certain teas do often have "universal" elements that tend occur in a specific cultivar, of a specific tea, from a specific region. However, I remain aware that each season, each harvest, each tea is its own reality and feel excited every time I open a new bag of unopened tea. Sometimes the most interesting part of a tea is in how it delivers a well-known trait or quality commonly associated with it. Tea is a living entity, affected greatly by the whole succession of rich events from seedling to weather, to harvest and picking method, to processing method, to the hand of tea maker, etc. Some of the best moments for me are when a tea offers a surprise different than my expectation while still meeting and satiating a hoped for expectation with a given tea.

Blessings!
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Re: How do you keep track of your teas?

Postby Tead Off » Mar 13th, '14, 02:11

sherubtse wrote:
wyardley wrote:In terms of actual tasting notes, sometimes I keep notes in a computer text file.


How do you organise those notes? Do you use headings / categories? I have been thinking of creating better system than what I have at present, so any info on how you keep notes would be appreciated.

I organize my notes by vendor. Sometimes, I will sub-categorize the teas from a vendor into type, ie., puerh, oolong, etc. I do this first on my mobile phone, then transfer it to my computer. Paper doesn't work for me. Too time consuming to search through a notebook. The problem with notes is they only refer to a specific tea, year, time of year. Teas will often change from year to year. What this usually tells me is that some vendors will have consistently good teas and I can usually buy with confidence. And, notes, aside from Puerh, teach me to focus on important elements in a tea. With Puerh, this is important too, but more importantly, how the tea ages over time. Other than that, most notes can go in the garbage after the season because the chances of getting the tea again after the seller has sold out is almost nil. Not so with Puerh.
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