At the risk of this blog becoming one long list of Jing products here is a review of their Wu Yi Raw Puerh. Puerh is a tea I first encountered in Yunnan, in 1997, where you can buy it in cakes known as tuocha. These are bowl-shaped blocks of compressed tea often impressed with Chinese characters. I was intrigued at the time and bought a couple to drink and to give as presents. While I enjoyed the tea I did not have the knowledge or experience to know what to make of it. Since then I had not seen it sold here in the UK and I mostly forgot all about it. Now, thanks to companies like Jing, it is relatively easy to get hold of so I decided to give it a try.
Puerh is special because it is supposed to be made with leaves from wild bushes which are then processed according to one of two different methods depending on whether it is being made into raw or cooked/fermented tea. After firing it is compressed into cakes and then left to age by properly storing it so that it will ripen and develop its distinctive flavours. There are different vintages and the older the tea the more expensive it becomes. This leads to trading and investment in puerh tea in a similar way that people invest in good quality wine. Interest in puerh, both in China and beyond, has grown massively as puerh teas are becoming increasingly well known and profitable although they must be stored properly. See Wikipedia article for a good overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pu_erh.
Puerh tea has also been championed for various health benefits, such as aiding digestion and weight loss but I am not aware of any scientific study into this.
This tea was purchased as a 10g sample, which is about enough for two pots, although it should be pointed out that the tea can be infused 6 or 7 times. This provides a lot of tea but it should be drunk in a single sitting so it is best to be prepared and to have the time to sit back and properly enjoy this tea in order to get the most from it.
As the name implies this tea was picked in 2003 and has been ripened since as a raw, rather than a cooked, or fermented, puerh. The sample came of a selection taken from a larger block and carefully packed in the standard vacuum sealed Jing bag.
The first brew produced a strong, smoky scent followed by sweet incense, like sandalwood. The flavour is very woody with a heavy, rich taste. Further sips revealed an underlying sweetness with a floral taste. Through it all is a heavy tobacco flavour, like a nice cigar, but not nearly as unpleasant as that sounds. By the fourth and fifth brewing the taste had mellowed but still full, becoming more like a very peaty whisky.
This is the first pu erh tea I have tried to review and so I have little frame of reference or preference to place it in. It is an interesting drink and brings out a complexity of flavours that the inexperienced would not expect from tea. It will certainly lead me on to try others as soon as I can.
KAN ZE ON
NA MU BUTSU
YO BUTSU U IN
YO BUTSU U EN
BUP-PO SO EN
JO RAKU GA JO
CHO NEN KAN ZE ON
BO NEN KAN ZE ON
NEN NEN JU SHIN KI
NEN NEN FU RI SHIN
Ten Verse Kannon Sutra for Prolonging Life
Veneration to the Buddha.
With Buddha I have origin;
With Buddha I have affinity;
Affinity with Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha;
Eternity, joy, self, and purity.
Mornings my thoughts are Kanzeon;
Evenings my thoughts are Kanzeon;
Thought after thought arise in the mind;
Thought after thought are not separate from mind.
This was bought for me as a present from my wife as I have had my eye on it for a while. I own a few pieces of Chinese teaware that I have picked up over the years but I have never owned a complete tea set like this before.
There are two versions of the set available, one is just the basic tea set while the more expensive Master set includes a bamboo water tray. It is the Master one that is being reviewed here.
The tea set includes a small glass teapot, two double-walled glass cups and a small jug. All these items can be used to make a perfect cup of tea with a degree of control that I was really looking for; brewing the tea in the teapot and then decanting it into the jug means that you do not have to worry about the tea becoming stewed and bitter, while the size of the tea pot is perfect for one or two people. The small cups provide a great way to taste the tea and the double wall design keeps your fingers protected from the heat. The fun thing about using this tea set is brewing Oolong teas in the gongfu chadao(工夫茶道) style. This roughly translates as The Way of Skillful Tea. See Wikipedia or Jing have a video on their site with the basics.
One thing that really surprised me about this teaset is how light and delicate it all feels. Being made of glass I expected the pieces to be heavy but instead they have hardly any weight at all and encourage the drinker to focus on a sensitivity to the tea. Unfortunately, the tea set is as fragile as it looks and, on arrival, the teapot lid was broken. Jing were very fast in replacing it and all credit to them for their customer service. Since then I have also lost one of the tea cups as it accidentally fell from the tray onto a kitchen surface and smashed. Buying a couple of spares is definitely recommended.
Despite this slight problem it is a great set and I love using it. The clarity of the glass allows an insight into enjoying the tea that a porcelain set can never really match. I am looking forward to trying out some of the speciality flowering teas with it soon.
The tea tray is a good size for the set and of a sturdy and modern design. It is great value for money when bought with the set and if you are interested in brewing in the gongfu style it is essential.
Overall I can see myself continuing to use the set for many years to come and would highly recommend it.
The first of my blurry thoughts of the morning always turn to tea, with milk. And, if a little tired, maybe a drop of sugar too. I like to think it keeps me grounded, even as I prepare for the more heady delights of a nice Oolong using my gongfu tea set later in the day, or settle down to work with a refined white tea brewed with water at a temperature checked with my thermometer.
Kwazulu tea is from Taylors of Harrogate, who are the producers of my usual, Yorkshire Tea. They also own the famous Bettys tea rooms which is where I first tried this tea. After selecting it the waitress commented, “Ah, that’s my favourite.” I felt I was on to a good thing. And it was so nice I went upstairs and bought a 50g bag of it to enjoy at home.
Described as having a “fresh, brisk flavour” on the Taylor’s website, it is a single estate black tea from Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. Tea is, apparently, very popular in South Africa but very little is exported. If there is more like this then it is definitely an area of tea growing that needs to be looked into further.
This is a crisp, lovely tea, great for waking up a sleepy mind. It has a bright flavour I can only describe as a clear summer morning sky. It does taste good when drunk black but is also strong enough to stand up to a splash of milk, which for me makes it a perfect “getting-up” tea. If you are looking for a surprisingly excellent alternative to your normal brew, then Kwazulu is worth a try.
It is rare that teas are so fantastic that they make you stop what you are doing to taste and appreciate them. I made my first cup of Mo Gan yellow tea at work with a sampler pack from Jing Tea. One sip and the flavour made me pause what I was doing so I could concentrate solely on the tea.
It has flavours that seem similar to a nice Dragon Well but without such a heavy, vegetal taste. Instead there is a sweeter, almost creamy taste to it. It stands up well to multiple infusions with a more floral taste coming through. However, it takes attention to prepare; water that is too hot or a steep too long will create quite a bitter brew.
Definitely on my list to get more, once it is back in stock.
This land is your land (Tibetan Version)- Lhasang Tsering and Friends
Yesss! Finally got my hands on this song again, after what seemed like a long frantic search everywhere online. And to think ‘somebody’ had this file all this while, ah :)
This song, albeit a Tibetan version of the famous Woody Guthrie song, holds a special place in my heart. It happens to be one of the songs that was recorded at my father’s bachelor pad at TCV about three decades ago, yes one of those I wrote about in one of my previous tumblr posts. What I love the most about this song?- The lyrics, of course. I wish Gen Namkha la wrote more songs! “From Dartsedo in the East to Tod Ngari, from Tso Ngonpo in the West to the Kongpo forests in the South, Tibet is ours. ” I would translate the entire song but I guess you get the gist by now. Tibet is your land, Tibet is my land. Neither Uncle Hu’s, nor of that mummy at Tianenman Square.
Bod Di Nge Kyi Rey (Tibet is My Land)
La thonpoe tse la Lhasang chik tang pae Dharchok shik lang ney Lha gyajin khyenpae Lha choekyong sungmae Di ngala sung jung Phayul di ngatso tsangmae rey
CHORUS: Bod di kye kyi rey Bod di nge kyi rey Shar Dartsedo ney Tod Ngari kor sum Jhang Tso Ngonpo ney Lho Kongpoe shingnak Phayul di ngatso tsangmae rey
Ta lungshok rag pa Jhangthang la shon due Lung silpoe nyam du Sang khampae drima Nam ngonpoe nang nae Jha jhewue shey jung Phayul di ngatso tsangmae rey
Lo mangpoe jey la Nga nang la dro due Ser tonkae drushing Shingpa tsoe ngadue Shey nyenpo tang jung Tam nyenpo shey jung Phayul di ngatso tsangmae rey
Yul mangpo kor nay Lhasa la lep due Changkhang la chin pae Drokpo tso jel jung Chang shinpo thunk ney Lushay di len song Phayul di ngatso tsangmae rey
"There are those who love to get dirty and fix things. They drink coffee at dawn, beer after work. And those who stay clean, just appreciate things. At breakfast they have milk and juice at night. There are those who do both, they drink tea."- Gary Snyder