Characteristics of a Fine Tea:

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klepto
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Tue Dec 08, 2020 6:26 pm

I may have some issue with GTH but their magazine is quite good, here's a quote from them on this issue:

Wu De, ‘Gongfu Tea Tips: The Characteristics of Fine Tea’, Global Tea Hut Magazine, June 2014.
Fine teas immediately splash up to the upper palate. This is a very important feature of fine tea, since even beginners are able to start discriminating it immediately. The best teas travel across the top of the mouth, moving upwards as soon as they enter our mouth. This sensation carries aromatics upwards as well.

Great teas travel to the back of the mouth naturally, without having to push them back. They glide back smoothly. Nice teas also transform through the five flavors smoothly and quickly: bitter, astringent, gan (more on this one in a moment), sour and sweet.
In fact, "smooth" is the keyword for fine tea. It should feel viscous and soft in your mouth.

A nice tea also swallows naturally. Just as you needn't push it to the back of the mouth, you also needn't push it down. It glides down naturally. This is perhaps the second most prominent feature of fine tea, especially for beginners. A pinch in the throat is a sure-fire sign of a lower quality tea (or poor preparation).

Fine tea coats the mouth. You can feel it everywhere equally. Anywhere you take your attention within your mouth, you will feel the tea.
Fine tea also coats the throat, leaving it soft and comfortable. We feel slaked when we drink a fine tea, as our throat is warm and coated.

The best teas cause salivation. The mouth begins watering in a very comfortable way.

Fine teas have a very important feature that the Chinese call "hui gan". As mentioned above, all tea has five flavors and a good tea transforms through them quickly in a balanced, even way. The third flavor is called "gan", which is actually more of a sensation that what we call a "flavor" in English. Gan is akin to the minty, cool feeling of peppermint or the air on a cold winter's day. The word "hui" means "remembrance", so this term refers to a return of the gan on the breath. If you breathe out of your mouth after swallowing a fine tea, you'll find your breath is very comfortable, cool and refreshing.

Finer teas have a lingering fragrance that slowly rises up the back of throat and into the nasal cavity. Low-quality fragrances are always in the front of the face and do not last long. Cheap perfume hits up front and disperses quickly, whereas an expensive perfume doesn't even start to come to attention until after she passes by you, and then it lingers long and deep. High-quality incense, like aloeswood, also rises slowly and subtly from the back. After drinking a fine tea, you sometimes get up and still find the aromatics in your nose - sometimes even after you eat, if the tea is great enough!

Great teas have a deep Qi that relaxes you, slowly spreading to the whole body in various ways.
Last edited by Victoria on Tue Dec 08, 2020 8:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Mod edit: added link to referenced quote
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Bok
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Tue Dec 08, 2020 7:16 pm

I agree, nice sum-up.

Arguably any water-like liquid will still slide down your throat smoothly, that is just physics – but I get what he means, and given the complexity of such sensations, I'll give him a pass on that one :lol:
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klepto
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Tue Dec 08, 2020 7:31 pm

Bok wrote:
Tue Dec 08, 2020 7:16 pm
I agree, nice sum-up.

Arguably any water-like liquid will still slide down your throat smoothly, that is just physics – but I get what he means, and given the complexity of such sensations, I'll give him a pass on that one :lol:
I had some yancha today that just slid down my throat with no effort and I have gotten that throat pinch before on some not so great puerh. There is some tea that you really need to force down so yah I'll give him a pass too though I could complain about other things..
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Bok
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Tue Dec 08, 2020 7:58 pm

klepto wrote:
Tue Dec 08, 2020 7:31 pm
I have gotten that throat pinch before on some not so great puerh.
One caveat though – some teas have a little pinch because the fire has not receded sufficiently yet. After some more rest they turn into fine and balanced teas.
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mbanu
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Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:23 am

I think the article has a poorly-chosen title; "Characteristics of properly prepared gongfu tea" would have been clearer. Fine tea suggests that there is a universal standard rather than that it is describing how best to perform a regional custom, a bit like if instead of sharing my hints on making a genuine American peanut butter & jelly sandwich for folks trying to capture the taste overseas, I wrote an essay on "The characteristics of quality food" which had basically the same content, but suggesting that the quality of food in general was in direct proportion to its resemblance to a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. :)
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Wed Dec 09, 2020 7:31 am

mbanu wrote:
Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:23 am
I think the article has a poorly-chosen title; "Characteristics of properly prepared gongfu tea" would have been clearer. Fine tea suggests that there is a universal standard rather than that it is describing how best to perform a regional custom, a bit like if instead of sharing my hints on making a genuine American peanut butter & jelly sandwich for folks trying to capture the taste overseas, I wrote an essay on "The characteristics of quality food" which had basically the same content, but suggesting that the quality of food in general was in direct proportion to its resemblance to a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. :)
IMO, with a good tea, you get those characteristic in any kind of preparation, whether gongfu, grandpa, british, or just brewed in an old pickle jar. Obviously, everybody has a bit different perspective of what makes a good tea (or a good peanut butter!). For me, the no.1 thing is that the tea doesn't make me feel unpleasant (under moderate consumption).
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Fri Oct 15, 2021 12:16 pm

I am posting here to bring back this thread which I think is useful to read again starting at the top. Hopefully what I write is at least worth a glance.

I started a packet of Shanlinxi after enjoying Dayuling daily for about 2 weeks. I found preparation for the DYL that made it very good for me, which to oversimplify was highlighting the taste of minerals in a tasty light-bodied stacking of 8 infusions at higher temperature for hardly any time.

The SLX is pleasant. I enjoy it; however, a session of it is not the event that a session of DYL had been everyday for 2 weeks.

Both of these days qualify as fine tea going by the opening post of this thread. (I agree with the guidelines therein though not dogmatically.)

Assuming that none of us want to discuss tea that is not fine for this thread, we might tempted to move on from the division of tea into the fine & not fine to thinking about fine teas' quality in a graded way. (Ratings such as good, better, & best come to mind.)

However, we know that is too simple. What we want or need from a specific tea to be part of our tea inventory & life, rules what we choose to obtain more than quality.

The SLX is better than a tea I drink called Perfect (from lower down the same mountain) which on the rating scale might be called "good" compared to the higher tea's "better". However, I could do w/o the SLX more easily if I could only have 1 of the 2 (while not making other changes to what teas I have). If I did not have my other gaoshans, SLX would be the tea that I kept & the Perfect would be rejected.

I believe we do a great service to each other when we encounter a tea is bad (not a "fine" tea) & speak up. Awful, distasteful, unpleasant, etc. should be shared. Other responses to tea are obviously subjective & not as simple though useful when shared (& interesting).

Cheers
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Sat Nov 20, 2021 10:14 am

mbanu wrote:
Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:23 am
.... suggesting that the quality of food in general was in direct proportion to its resemblance to a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. :)
Interesting
Last edited by Ethan Kurland on Sat Nov 20, 2021 10:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Sat Nov 20, 2021 10:15 am

mbanu wrote:
Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:23 am
.... suggesting that the quality of food in general was in direct proportion to its resemblance to a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. :)
Looking through drafts that were never finished & posted, I am intrigued by this. I can only guess at what you wrote in the essay; yet, I assume that the word "good" or something similar is implied when you mention p.b. & j. sandwiches. Proportions are important etc. I fail to imagine what other thoughts I had at the time I was writing the draft & got away from it. Cheers
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mbanu
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Wed Nov 24, 2021 5:49 pm

If I wrote more, I have forgotten what it could have been. :D

What I mean is that it becomes easy for a group of people who are used to looking at the same thing the same way over a long period of time to universalize what they are doing, because while schools of thought might argue over little things, there is a long-standing consensus. Like when Brits developed the principles of what counts as a fine tea (in British tea-culture), the standardized brewing methods, the desired and undesirable flavors, etc., they were participating in a kind of consensus about tea that was group-based rather than tea-based, even though all of the language used suggested otherwise. One could maybe say the same thing with the Japanese tea ceremony, or West African ataya, or Taiwanese tea-art gongfu. Both the Japanese tea ceremony and West African ataya use green tea, it is the same plant, but all the other standards, from growing to processing to preparation to service are entirely different from one another. I think being able to perfect a particular ideal of tea tends to encourage a sort of selective blindness to those things which previous generations pared away, sort of like how if someone had gone to a British tea-planter and said, "OK, hear me out- what if we let the tea bushes grow into trees, and then picked the leaves using ladders?" they would assume that person was joking with them, even though this is a practice in other parts of the Assamica tea-world. Same Assamica tea, different ideal, different methods.
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BriarOcelot
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Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:42 pm

GTH consistently reminds me of that L.R.Hubbard quote "The best way to make money is to start a religion."

I have to take an Olympic pool-sized pinch of salt to listen to WoDui (did I spell that wrong?) There are some good words hidden in the paragraphs of what is largely nonsense. At least he's enjoying good tea I guess, and not harming anybody. I just wish he'd stop painting.
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Bok
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Wed Nov 24, 2021 11:09 pm

BriarOcelot wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:42 pm
WoDui
If that was a pun, it was a brilliant one! :lol:
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BriarOcelot
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Fri Nov 26, 2021 9:49 pm

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