The idea for Tea Journey Magazine came about the way most great ideas do . . . at a party.
I wasn’t at this party, but I wish I’d been a fly on that wall.
I needed a vacation.
And I needed it as soon as possible.
That was probably why—when I planned it—I decided to leave for Las Vegas four days earlier than I really needed to. The original intent was to go down just for the days of World Tea Expo. Well, I decided to tack on a few additional vacation days to that. And Naomi “Joy’s Teaspoon” Rosen was to put me up (and put up with me) for those extra days.
What occurred could best (and simply) be described as “tea-fueled tourism”.
In 1939, the United Kingdom officially declared war against Nazi Germany. Punctually early, as was the British way. In order to keep public morale high, the Ministry of Information designed and distributed posters to strengthen British resolve in advance of wartime peril. One of which was this:
It was a very British slogan.
In late 2013, I thought I tried the rarest, weirdest, most unheard-of tea unicorn out there—a heicha (dark tea) from Taiwan.
After three years of palatial growth, though, I’m now convinced that it was a Yunnan grown puerh that was merely stored in Taiwan. Still unique, but not quite the unicorn I thought it was. However, I learned of a group who might have created one.
I’ve gone on record as saying that Mizuba Tea‘s matcha line is one of my favorites.
Both for their quality . . . and convenience. Convenient, how? Well, “they” are located in my neck of the woods. That’s right, I have a local matcha (read: crack) dealer. If I need a fix, I know who to call/text/e-mail/smoke signal.
Back in 2009, I didn’t like oolongs. In general, anyway. There were some specific ones I liked, but most of them were off limits. I even explained this to Tony Tellin, lead blender extraordinaire at Smith Teamaker, when he was working the tea bar one day.
He said, “You’re probably not brewing them right.”
He escaped into the back and brought out a gaiwan (lidded Chinese teacup), and then he gave me a quick primer on how to do gongfu cha (literally, “brew tea with skill”). I had seen it done before, but it always intimidated me—multiple steeps, multiple pours, and the equipment required. He assured me that all I would need was a gaiwan, and to remember, “Short, successive steeps”.
Then he gave me his gaiwan.
It’s . . . seen a lot of use. By me.
Seven Days of Seven Cups, Day 7 – “Da Hong Pao: My Old Nemesis”
Da Hong Pao (“Big Red Robe”) . . . my old nemesis . . . we meet again.
Now, I’ve gone on record several times over the years as saying that Da Hong Pao was one of my least favorite oolongs. Sure, I had a few I liked, but the amount I disliked far outweighed that. That all changed in November of last year when I had an original “mother bush” Qi Dan Da Hong Pao. And for some reason—as I stated in earlier entries—it forever changed my palate. Wuyi oolongs were now welcomed to my tea tray.
However, I still remained hesitant toward commodity Da Hong Pao. What’s the difference? Allow me to explain.
Seven Days of Seven Cups, Day 6 – “Lao Cong Shui Xian Oolong . . . or Wulong”
A thought occurred to me while I was doing this Wuyi oolong-fueled, seven-blog stretch. I haven’t once referred to “oolong” as “wulong”. Granted, I never do, but it’s a particular sticking point here . . . because Seven Cups refers to them as wulongs. And, technically, they’re right? It is “wulong”, or rather . . . this, in Traditional Chinese (Mandarin) . . .
Basically “woolong cha” or “black dragon tea”, which is the coolest name, ever.
Seven Days of Seven Cups, Day 5 – “Searching for the Cinnamon in Rou Gui”
Rou Gui holds the distinction of being the first—and a long time ago, only— Wuyi oolong I liked when I first got started. Of course, in the last year or so, my palate has since Stockholmed its way into acceptance of most Wuyi oolongs, but Rou Gui will always be the first that opened the floodgates. Part of that might be in the name; Rou Gui literally means “cassia” in Chinese, which is a type of local cinnamon—Cinnamomum cassia.
This is the first Wuyi oolong I’ve sipped this week that didn’t have a name that sounded like a call-back to a piece of Hong Kong cinema. Curious that a bunch of folks in the Qing Dynasty would want to name a plant for . . . another plant, instead of tea drunk, kung fu monks or Taoist wizards. I wonder why that is? Let’s dig into the tea itself to find out.
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