What Black Are You Drinking

Oxidized tea
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StoneLadle
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Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:21 am

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:10 am
Thanks for the post, StoneLadle. New references for taste are a welcome challenge.

Rarely do we read about "late" garlic nor the taste of betel nut. (Chewing betel nut dulls one's taste buds for drinking tea, I've heard; so, I never tried it.)
The betel nut reference was to the tea itself.. it's an official descriptor of the nature of Liu Bao, and it's a bitter sweet sort of sensation maybe close to licorice... if you're ever in Taiwan or indeed anywhere in SE Asia it's easily sampled... Too much tea can dull the palates too!

And as for food, wow, a lot of things are good to eat with Liu Bao... Especially strong earthy foods, better if fermented like soy sauce braised pork belly... Cantonese dim sum is also good... All these things have strong flavours and are oily, and the tea just smoothes things over and gets you ready for the next mouthful... After a meal, the tea does its other job, as a digestif if you will...

Been eating with tea since I was a kid, like most people of Chinese descent
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wave_code
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Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:58 am

Wow, I wish I could get a box of Duoteli for 25 bucks here! I had some of an '06 box recently and while I really liked it, for the prices that goes for in Europe I'm not sure I'll be having much more of it. I wish there were more vendors in Malaysia that were accessible to western buyers (I can't think of any in fact). I do like some HK storage and have had some nice liu bao stored other places, but the conditions you have there are so unique. Also for the price point I imagine its probably still the best place for finding especially older liu bao.

Speaking of which... having some Malaysian storage liu bao this afternoon I was told is from late 80s/early 90s. Very clean, nice and nutty, pretty light overall but it feels really nice on such a hot and humid day.
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Balthazar
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Fri Aug 14, 2020 8:09 am

wave_code wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:35 am
I really loved both of these teas. If I remember correctly the Farmer Leaf was maybe a little more refined all around, but the simplicity of the Boashan was a big part of its charm to me. Both were super forgiving and really good brewed any way. The Baoshan was my daily drink for a while there. I should get some more of that... hmm... If you do find other nice big leaf sun dried style blacks like this (at daily drinking prices) I'd be keen to hear about it.
Yeah, they're both nice. I'd put the Baoshan slightly above in terms of overall "refinement", but the Jingmai sun-dried above in terms of body/mouth feel. The latter matters quite a bit more to me, especially for "working hour teas", and I'm sad to say I haven't found anything of a similar quality in this price range. The search continues...
StoneLadle wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:03 am
It's a 2014 commercially packed Liu Bao by the China Tea (Wuzhou) Co. Ltd. I think the expiry says sometime in 2020 but seeing as I can't read characters it could also mean prime drinking date, who knows? It retails for USD23/500g and is outstanding value based on aroma, cleanliness, good muskiness and upfront betel nutness. Managed to take it for a spin properly after a lunch of cheeseburgers today and I'm a happy camper.
Hey-hey-hey! This ain't the What HeiCha are you drinking thread ;)

Sounds like a good one, though. Can't go wrong with a decent liu bao after a heavy meal.
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Bok
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Mon Aug 24, 2020 12:22 am

Interesting discussion I had with a tea shop owner, specialising in Hongcha from Sri Lanka. He used to be a buyer/sourcer for another tea brand in Taiwan before, buying tea in the Sun Moon Lake area for 10 years. One day the neighbour of the tea farm asks him why he keeps buying his Hongcha there, "that tea you've been buying is all from Vietnam... " :shock:

Well, this is not news in itself, as we already know that about 80% of tea in Taiwan is imported – but not even the tea shop buyers are immune to fall victim to this mis-labeling scam.

In the end this guy went elsewhere to find good quality Hongcha and apparently found it in Sri Lanka. He insists that this tea is in many cases a lot cleaner than local tea, as it has to pass strict regulations to be able to be imported. Especially the low-lying Hongcha farms need a lot of pesticides to cope with the insects in summer, if they want high yields. I had a sample and it is more palatable than most Hongyu/Ruby/N.18 I had before. Lesson learned, not all Assam from "lesser" tea destinations is inferior to the supposed Tea Kingdom Taiwan :lol:
Ethan Kurland
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Mon Aug 24, 2020 2:18 pm

Bok wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 12:22 am
. Lesson learned, not all Assam from "lesser" tea destinations is inferior to the supposed Tea Kingdom Taiwan :lol:
(
Good post, Bok.

The lowest quality tea from Sri Lanka costs so little that no country that pays farm labor decent wages can compete for value
(If one feels he has a use for the lowest quality.)

I imagine that Assam that one can buy for 10 or 20 or 30 cents a gram in Sri Lanka could easily be better than what one could buy at those prices in Taiwan. However, the highest quality teas don't come from every country that sells a type of tea (Assam or whatever). I don't know that much about Assam (nor enjoy it as I did years back) but I think that for black tea in general, consumers don't invest enough of themselves in the development of their palates & finding ideal parameters for themselves for specific black teas. (And, as Bok demonstrates, there are so many obstacles.)

Staying at home so much due to the threat of Covid 19, I have worked to get the most pleasure from teas that I already know that I like. I have loved my Championship Black from high altitude tea grower/producers in Taiwan. Not everyone feels as strongly about its being special as I do; so, I have wondered why (beyond the subjectivity explanation). Now I think I have the best parameters which should please everyone.

Measuring exactly 1 gram per 50 grams of 98C water steeped for 45 seconds, there are notes of fruit, light notes of spice, & smooth black tea flavor for a first infusion. The same parameters for a second infusion yields a cup that gives heavier feel & almost only deep black tea flavor. My siblings love this "Champion" prepared in what I deem as ideal manner. (None of them will get it right in their own places. When my younger sister forgets that it was steeping, she mixes the strong brew with milk and/or sugar & loves that.)

Sorry, getting away from your thread, Bok. A consumer needs to benefit from searching and/or luck to get what he pays for at a fair price. And, for better teas to be worth their price (showing their very best flavors in proper proportion) they might need ideal preparation. A much lazier approach is to just think Taiwan's Assam is best & deal with an overly optimistic vendor who does not scare people with talk of parameters etc. Vendors are guilty of preying on consumers who will take easy ways to decisions.
mbanu
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 9:40 am

Sri Lanka has a bit of an advantage because the fixed costs of building the plantations are already paid for, and because the tea-making process is industrialized so there is an economy of scale. In 2019 they produced 273,907,000 kilograms of orthodox tea; Sri Lanka has a population similar in size to that of Taiwan. The volume of tea being made is really hard to visualize at times...

For tea I've had recently, a nice Mangalam Estate orthodox Assam from this year. Decent fragrance for an Assam that still handles milk well. With this style of tea's popularity fading compared to CTC and Chinese whole-leaf, I'm glad that it's still possible to find good examples of single-estate orthodox Assam.
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Bok
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 10:54 am

@mbanu the guy I talked to regularly samples dozens for his business. They used to test him quite a bit with sneaked in worse and better quality samples until they gave away their better stuff. Kind of the same way it happens in Taiwan as well... there seem to be some proud tea makers in Sri Lanka who won’t sell their tea to just anyone who comes knocking :)
Ethan Kurland
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:46 pm

A visitor to Sri Lanka is not allowed to leave with more than 50 kg. of tea.

When I read that about 20 years ago, I wondered whether that law was created to make tourists think that they would be crazy not to take home a lot of tea that is so good that there is a limit to how much they can buy. :roll:

Back then a fair amount of sapphires were still being found in Sri Lanka. For a few hundred dollars, one could buy the right to dig in areas where gems were being found with a couple of hired men (who get some of gems if there is good luck besides their wages. I was ready to hop over from Thailand with a friend thinking we would recoup some of our losses in the risky venture (If not lucky which was likely) by buying tea. I backed out when I learned that the weight limit for baggage within Asia was 25 kg. My friend went on the adventure without & promised to bring me back a few kg. of tea for my own use. He returned to Thailand with a handful of sapphires which after being cut & polished yielded him $23,000. (He did not bring the tea. After his good luck, he was sure he would be robbed so zoomed to the airport.):D

Discussion here focuses on Assam while so much of the tea from Sri Lanka going into teabags is not Assamica. The "Darjeeling) bags of some upscale companies are honest in that they list the origin of the tea as Sri Lanka.









































Discussion here focuses on Assam. What I have seen more often is not Assam. Getting up in price from Lipton & the other big names for cheap teabags;, one often sees "Darjeeling" sold by pricier teabag labels in big print (to draw purchases); in small print one often finds Sri Lanka as the source.
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Dresden
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Sun Aug 30, 2020 10:55 pm

Started the day with some Wu Liang mountain Yunnan black. Sweet and malty with an underlying floral/fruity flavor that I just can't put my finger on.
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Bok
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Mon Aug 31, 2020 12:06 am

One of the best Taiwanese Hongcha I have ever had, Meizhan Varietal. Delicious! Sad- or luckily, out of stock. My friend could only secure a little batch one year, since then the vendor refuse to sell him :o
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TeaTotaling
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Wed Sep 02, 2020 3:10 pm

Bok wrote:
Mon Aug 31, 2020 12:06 am
One of the best Taiwanese Hongcha I have ever had, Meizhan Varietal. Delicious! Sad- or luckily, out of stock. My friend could only secure a little batch one year, since then the vendor refuse to sell him :o
I love Red Tea. Sounds special, and you know it’s something special when a vendor refuses to sell what he or she might have. Good times!
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TeaTotaling
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Wed Sep 02, 2020 3:31 pm

2020 Taiwanese Red Tea from Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) in Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan. Made from the Hong Yu Cultivar 18. Brewed in Duanni.

Normally I prefer Chinese Red Tea, but this was a nice, sweet treat.

Dry leaves smell fruity, some citrus 🍊 is coming into play.

Mouthfeel is full and silky. Can’t get enough of this Duanni/Hong Cha pairing.

Taste is malty, with notes of cooked black currants, and a very pleasant wintergreen spiciness. A complementing herbal note is present as well.

Wet leaves permeate the room with dried fruits, and strong cooling wintergreen. I could feel the cooling vapors in my lungs on this one.

Cheery, warming, long lasting energy. Not really noticeable up front. A definite creeper.

Sláinte 🍻
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joelbct
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Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:13 pm

2020 Halmari "Orthodox" (Assam) from their site.

It's a bit more broken than their pricier Whole Leaf "award-winning" tea, but tastes about as good. Excellent morning tea and my favorite Assam, perhaps since Meleng and Mangalam estates were still Independent in the Aughts.
Ethan Kurland
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Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:58 pm

Teatotaling, is Hong Yu 18 the same as Ruby Jade 18?
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Bok
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Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:54 pm

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:58 pm
Teatotaling, is Hong Yu 18 the same as Ruby Jade 18?
Hong Yu means Ruby Jade. All these names depict the same tea essentially, Hong Yu, Ruby 18, or whatever 18, Sun Moon Lake 18, anything 18. It's just names. Maybe some vendors want to differentiate the same kind of tea from different sources.
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