Moaning about "Moning": a thread for translating old tea trade-names into modern teas

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mbanu
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Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:39 pm

Sueykut is supposedly a way to say Shuiji (水吉), a town located in Jianyang in Fujian. It is mentioned as being either a heavier roasted oolong or black tea, but I can't find much info that goes into detail on the tea... No idea what a modern equivalent might be. :) Did the Baimudan varietal come from Shuiji? Maybe Sueykut is tea using the Dabaihao varietal...

Here is Walsh again from "Tea: Its History and Mystery" in 1892:
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wave_code
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Thu Mar 04, 2021 10:12 am

One I always wondered about was Typhoo and if that was an Anglo-butchering of a real word or tea varietal. I just remember my grandmother insisting on drinking it when she felt she was getting a cold and as a little kid thinking it sounded funny.

According to the company: "The name Typhoo comes from the Chinese word for "doctor" (traditional Chinese: 大夫, hanyu pinyin: dàifū)."
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debunix
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Thu Mar 04, 2021 10:35 am

A slight tangent on this topic: early in my tea journey I decided I wanted to try each of the Ten Famous Teas. But which version of the list to use? Wikipedia's current article just mentions 12 'commonly included on lists of Ten Famous Teas'. I found so many different lists in different sources, and even trying to figure out which teas were the same but differently named versus similarly named but different teas.

I also tried to track down specific teas included in tasting discussions in several books on teas. And this was based on reading books published within 10 years of when I was trying to find the teas.

Trying to track down teas described decades or centuries ago, with all the transliteration changes as well as changes in tea planting, growing, harvesting, processing, as well as human impacts on environment and climate and natural variations from harvest to harvest, and it's not an undertaking for the faint of heart.

Fortunately, along the way I discovered many teas that make my own 'famous' list.
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mbanu
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Thu Mar 04, 2021 10:47 am

wave_code wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 10:12 am
One I always wondered about was Typhoo and if that was an Anglo-butchering of a real word or tea varietal. I just remember my grandmother insisting on drinking it when she felt she was getting a cold and as a little kid thinking it sounded funny.

According to the company: "The name Typhoo comes from the Chinese word for "doctor" (traditional Chinese: 大夫, hanyu pinyin: dàifū)."
There is an interesting book on Typhoo -- The Story of Ty-Phoo and the Birmingham Tea Industry by Kenneth Williams. In the early 1900s, part of the way that Chinese tea was being advertised was as being easier on the digestion than Indian and Sri Lankan teas. As this was also a part of Typhoo's early advertising for its Ceylon teas, it used a Chinese-style name. The full name was "Sumner's Delicious Tannin-Less 'Ty-phoo' Tipps Tea" (the extra p in Tips being a printing error).

The advertising pitched that tea-fannings, when made accidentally as a byproduct of orthodox tea manufacture, are normally a mixture of broken off edges of the orthodox leaves and broken tips, and thus contained less tannins -- making them as easy on the digestion as Chinese teas. They then paid doctors to promote the product using this logic. No clue if this was true, although Williams mentions a minor scandal in 1930 when a university tested Typhoo and found it contained tannins, then looking into it found their suppliers were including cut-leaf fannings in their blends rather than orthodox fannings. (This does sound a bit like an advertising just-so story, though.)
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mbanu
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Thu Mar 04, 2021 2:56 pm

debunix wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 10:35 am
A slight tangent on this topic: early in my tea journey I decided I wanted to try each of the Ten Famous Teas. But which version of the list to use? Wikipedia's current article just mentions 12 'commonly included on lists of Ten Famous Teas'. I found so many different lists in different sources, and even trying to figure out which teas were the same but differently named versus similarly named but different teas.
It is a very appealing approach; I read those lists too. :) It was only later that I started to wonder who decided which teas would be famous, as the fame of a tea was not necessarily related to its popularity (gunpowder being a great example).
debunix wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 10:35 am
Trying to track down teas described decades or centuries ago, with all the transliteration changes as well as changes in tea planting, growing, harvesting, processing, as well as human impacts on environment and climate and natural variations from harvest to harvest, and it's not an undertaking for the faint of heart.
Some of these teas of course will have gone extinct. I mean, all black tea except for Keemun was banned from marketing itself under any name except "China Black Tea" in the years right after the PRC was founded. Or, been revived in a self-conscious way -- a good example of this might be liu'an basket tea, which halted production before World War II, survived in a counterfeit form until the 1970s, and then was self-consciously re-created in the 1980s based on old examples. These are sort of the India Pale Ales of tea, I think, in that people are inspired by the image and general idea, but are not combing 19th century books to ensure accuracy. This also happens sometimes with non-Chinese teas. Darjeeling as it exists today is not the same as 19th century Darjeeling, for instance, being much greener. There are also commercial pressures -- if the tea wasn't that popular to begin with, people try to copy what is in style. Sometimes this leads to a breakthrough, such as Keemun black tea vs Keemun green tea. :)
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mbanu
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Thu Mar 04, 2021 3:53 pm

Sinchune seems to be tea from Shunchang (顺昌县). Walsh was not a fan. However, there are other suggestions that it is Xingcun (星村) or Tongmu, the "Lapsang" (supposedly) of Lapsang Souchong! Walsh is pretty good about mentioning smoky notes, however. Maybe "sin-chune" was their attempt to make a standard congou tea?

Description by Walsh in "Tea: Its History and Mystery", table from a very interesting consular report, "Tea, 1888" trying to explain why Chinese tea was losing sales to Indian tea.

(Also, seeing that I seem to keep referring back to his book, Joseph M. Walsh was a tea-dealer in Philadelphia, who had a shop on 117 South Front Street, now home to the I-95 park.)

*Edit: I seem to have gotten my Chinese geography a bit mixed-up. :) Even though Xingcun is a town, it contains within it villages, I guess sort of like how in the U.S. you might have a city made up of boroughs. Xingcun the town is made up of 15 villages, of which Tongmu is one. So, Sinchune might reasonably be tea from one of the other 14 villages: Caodun, Chaoyang, Chengdun, Fenglin, Hongxing, Huangcun, Jingshui, Jukou, Liqian, Lixin, Liyuan, Qianlan, Zhoutou, or Xingcun proper, the name of a village within the town. Things can never be easy, can they? :lol:
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mbanu
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Fri Mar 05, 2021 10:24 am

Ankois are teas from Anxi (安溪), while Amoys are teas from Xiamen (廈門), so clarifying the distinction here has been a bit tricky as Xiamen was (and still is) a popular place to sell Anxi teas. :)

"Tea & Tea Blending" only had one more thing to say about Ankois:
Ankoi (similar to Padrae, but not so desirable, as they often taste "bakey")
That these are placed under Kaisow by some authors highlights a challenge at the time, which was determining whether a tea was a black tea or an oolong with heavy roasting and higher oxidation, especially for tea-buyers who were going solely off the appearance of the dry leaf and brewed tea.

Part of this was that scientific understanding of tea was still in its infancy for most of the 19th century; one reason teas were called "fermented" is because it was assumed that all non-green teas (rather than just post-fermented dark teas) really were products of fermentation. In Fujian, the actual production process of oolong and black tea sometimes looked very similar, simply allowing the leaf to become more red.

Walsh was in the "Ankois and Amoys are oolongs" camp, although he did not think much of Ankois especially, which sound like Anxi oolongs made from wild tea. His complaints actually seem similar to those the Tibetans had with using wild tea in pu'er during the early 1970s before wild tea became desirable, in that it was seen as a type of cheating at their expense.

There was an interesting article on trying to understand 18th century oolongs through using paintings of teasets a few years ago: https://qmhistoryoftea.wordpress.com/20 ... ng-at-tea/ They included a close-up that shows the color of the brewed tea. I think it would be fair to guess that for many years, if the tea was lighter in color but not a green tea, they said, "Ah, an oolong-" while if it was more roasted, they thought, "...black tea?"
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mbanu
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Fri Mar 05, 2021 4:14 pm

Kokew was a way of saying Gaoqiao (高橋), but what that means Anxi oolong-wise is a bit of a mystery. Confusing matters is that in Japanese this is the surname Takahashi, so it is hard to search for. :)
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mbanu
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Fri Mar 05, 2021 9:18 pm

Mohea is another puzzler, as it almost sounds like it is another way to say Wuyi, except that a few authors will include both Bohea and Mohea teas in their lists. A Wuyi-style knock-off from Anxi? Last-season Wuyi tea?
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Fri Mar 05, 2021 9:42 pm

Ningyong is a little easier, it is a way of saying Ningyang (寧洋) which was an old way to refer to southern Yong'an (永安) near Longyan (龙岩). Apparently this region was split apart into its neighbors several times over the years. Perhaps this could have been genuine Anxi Tieguanyin?

Also, how it was seen at home, in this case, as the favorite tea of a New Englander bride-to-be in Hannah Bradbury Goodwin's Sherbrooke from 1866. :D
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Sun Mar 07, 2021 11:07 am

OK, so what about Moning? Moning was a way to say Wuning (武宁), a county in Jiangxi on the border of Hubei. However, like Kaisow, this was used to refer to a category of teas, "North China congou" or "black-leaf congou", as described in John Henry Blake's 1903 Tea Hints for Retailers.
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Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:08 pm

Even though it has multiple English spellings, I think a good Moning to start with is Oonfa (or Oanfa, Oonfaa, Oon faa, etc.) because in that so-useful consular report "Tea, 1888", it was mentioned that this is a term for Anhua (安化), a place in Hunan famous for its dark teas. Also some descriptions of the tea from Tea and Tea Blending and Walsh's Tea: Its History and Mystery. The thing that struck me is that the tea they seem to be describing does not seem to be a black tea made in Anhua, but true Anhua dark tea! I think this highlights another difficulty back then, determining which black teas were red and which black teas were black. I think this distinction between Kaisow and Moning teas (red-leaf and black-leaf) was the 19th century tea-trade's first attempt to pinpoint the difference without quite understanding it. In particular I am thinking Qian Liang tea (千两茶), because of a report on adulteration of teas that mixed legitimate adulteration (adding iron filings to a batch of Kaisow to increase the weight) with what may have been accidental adulterations (bits of matting and non-tealeaves in an Oonfa). Qian Liang tea is traditionally wrapped in a lining of leaves before packaging, and is known for its smoky aroma.
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Mon Mar 08, 2021 2:53 pm

Some 19th century moaning about "Moning". This is from the satirical magazine Judy, a competitor to Punch (sort of the 19th century Cracked to Mad Magazine). Due to its source, it may be a joke (the buyer who can't understand that these are different teas), but still an interesting glimpse of the frustrations of the average London tea-buyer at the time. :lol: Reminds me a bit about the joke when Starbucks was new, where someone came in and was stumped by how to order a "large coffee". :)
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Tue Mar 09, 2021 11:49 am

While this 1870 article by James McPherson in the Journal of the Society of Arts is on the 19th century brick tea trade in Russia, it also mentions in passing how "Moning" tea was introduced as an export item -- it was a byproduct of the Taiping Rebellion of 1850-1864, where the fighting around Fujian disrupted tea production and export. South China teas were adulterated with North China teas before sale because of supply difficulties. However, it was discovered that Russia preferred the flavor of North China teas, leading to their open sale. In this way, it mirrors the development of Formosa oolong, which originally started as a way of adulterating the more popular Fujian oolong, and was then sold directly after it was realized Americans preferred the flavor of Taiwanese oolong.

Also, a quote from an 1857 letter by Gideon Nye, an American tea-trader living in China, which seems to verify the supply difficulties.
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mbanu
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Thu Mar 11, 2021 11:46 am

Next, maybe Kutoan or "Kut Oan". This meant Gutan (古坦), a place in Wuyuan (婺源) on the border of Jiangxi where it meets Anhui and Zhejiang. Walsh in Tea: Its History and Mystery describes it as a new experiment at the time to turn an established green tea (Moyune?) into a black tea. While I have had some trouble finding Gutan mentioned tea-wise (they seem to grow tea to make tea-seed oil now), Wuyuan black tea is produced presently. This is a bit of a revival, as until the 1990s Wuyuan teas were still sold under the "China Black Tea" and "China Green Tea" classification developed in the 1950s. Walsh noted that it tasted like a Kaisow tea, even though geographically it was located in North China, making it likely this was indeed a black tea and not a dark tea. (Because of this, and as it was new, he put it under its own category, "New-Makes").

Tea and Tea Blending was not quite so impressed with Kutoan due to its tendency to develop a minty taste.

*Edit: Time for some moaning -- there is also a "Kut On" which is apparently 吉安 or Ji'an, according to an 1878 consular report, on the other side of Jiangxi near Hunan. Is Kut On the same as Kut Oan, or is this a Paklin/Paklum situation? I guess we will have to go forward with Kutoan as meaning Ji'an, although I struggle to see how one was gotten from the other. :) For those wondering how I arrived at Gutan in the first place, it was from "Scientific Research on Tea" (茶葉的科學硏究), a 1983 manuscript held at the University of Michigan, which suspected that Kutoan was 古潭. Assuming that there was some OCR error (as this is in Guangxi), I looked for similarly named towns within Jiangxi that might fit. Maybe a good reason why this is in the "General Discussion" category rather than the "Research" category. :lol:
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