I couldn’t resist visiting Ten Li the other day. And so I couldn’t resist getting these tea cups. Aren’t they beautiful? These pictures don’t do them justice since I can’t quite get my camera to focus. But I wanted to take a couple of shots before they start to “crack”, in other words turn into a different color. Since these cups have very faint lines that darkens as you use it.
Here’s a side view. Aren’t the indentation so elegant.
Here’s a bit of an angled shot. It’s a little difficult to see, but the lip of the cup also has slight indentation like flower petals.
And finally, a top view. When the color has changed, I’ll take another picture for all to see.
Nokcha, according to Postcard Tea, “is a lovely green tea grown on In the Middle of a Dream Mountain in Bosong.” That has got to be best named mountain ever. And the tea itself has a dreamy scent – a smooth, toasty fragrance made more pronounce when you put the tea leaves in a warmed teapot/gaiwan. Today marks the day that I finished my stash of Nokcha. It was a lovely tea. But sadly, I fail at brewing it. I could never get the taste quite right. Either I put too much leaves or not enough or the water is too hot or I brew it too long. Sigh, I guess its just too high level for me. Maybe next time. If the shipping charges weren’t so steep…
This Sunday I had the pleasure of visiting Ten Li with Lorenzo, Lorraine, and Lorraine’s family. It was one of the most enjoyable tea sessions I’ve experienced, so far. There’s just something heartwarming about six people sitting around a tea table in a corner of Betty’s store chatting about tea and related subjects.
The following are the tea stuff that I acquired today. Sorry in advance for the mediocre quality of the pictures.
First up is the 2007 Green Pu Erh Tea 357:
And the knife I got to break up the Pu Erh:
Next is a tea kettle for home use. Now, my tea corner is pretty much complete.
Best of all is the clay teapot I got for my Pu Erh tea. If I understand it correctly, this is made out of zhuni, which is really hard to believe since that clay is nearly extinct. But even if it is not zhuni, the cover fits so well:
Update: After some searching, I think my tea lady called this a zhuni pot because of the color, not necessarily because it is made out of zhuni clay.
And finally, gifts from the wonderful Lorraine. The kitchen cloth is so cute. But I love the bento set. I definitely have to pack a picnic lunch for everyone one of these days. The candy bag is from our Tea Lady. Its homemade yummy, gooey, matcha flavor candies. She gives bags of them to her favorite customers ^_^
So I’ve been saving up for these set of tea toys for a little bit over a month. But if you think that was a lot, well, you should have seen the other guys ^_~
It’s funny reading about tea prices and how much tea aficionados are willing to pay for tea. Talking to Tim from Postcard Tea has given me a perspective on how high tea can go – over $10, 000 for about 100g. Then reading up on the Puerh Tea bubble, and the market’s subsequent meltdown, tea bricks were being sold for over $10, 000 before the bubble popped.
The question is: are tea worth that much? I have to agree with Wu De’s comment in the article “Quality; Understanding Leaves“. It all comes down to how much you enjoy the tea. Definitely, the higher quality tea will cost more. But buying something expensive will not necessarily mean you will get a better experience.
This has given me better appreciation for how our tea lady at Ten Li prices her tea. In particular, her various kinds of green oolongs. Her best and favorite tea is Alisan, and she has two kinds: regular and competition grade. However, the price difference between the normal ($160) and competition grade ($200) for about the same amount is around $40. I guess we’re ingrained with the idea that better should cost a lot more, especially when it is “competition grade”. But I think our tea lady understands that even though one is higher quality tea, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it taste two times better than normal. And, she has adjusted the price accordingly. I do appreciate this un-stated fairness and demonstration of her love of sharing tea over making a lots of profit. Though I still want her to make a profit so that her shop stays alive, especially during this economic downturn.
Though some tea sites describes Jade Rings as a sweet tea, it actually is quite bitter, especially if brewed too long. Just smelling the dry tea leaves, which is very aromatic, you can detect hints of that bitterness buried in its flowery scent. The tea leaves do look beautiful in its delicate ring-like shape. But taste-wise, it isn’t my favorite. No matter how you brew it, you just can’t get away from the hints of bitterness. Not that I dislike it completely since it is still enjoyable and gives me variety. It is one of those rare teas that actually taste the way the tea leaves smell. As opposed to Jasmine tea that smell sweet but taste kind of woody, especially if brewed in boiling water. Finally, Jade Ring tea’s liquor is one of the prettiest shade I have seen. It is such a warm, golden-brown color.
Recommended Brewing Instruction
The steps below are based on TeaCuppa’s brewing guide.
- Boil water and let cool for a couple of minutes. Desired temperature: 170-180 F
- Use 1-2 teaspoon of Jade Rings per 5fl. oz
- Rinse Jade Ring with hot water.
- Then brew for 1 minutes
- Can brew a second time for 1 – 1 1/2 minutes.
Not really tea related, but I’m thinking of modifying the purpose of this blog to include both tea experiences and pictures of bento boxes that I make. Tea and bento are two of my main extracurricular activities. One of my on-going goals is to make Lorenzo a bento meal at least once a month. I started making them when I moved to my first apartment, but I stopped for a while after I moved to my current apartment. Making bento is quite time consuming and requires some planning. But it is fun to do especially when trying to figure out how to make the food look pretty.
The bento below was made a couple of weeks ago. But because of timing issue I wasn’t able to make it in the morning for Lorenzo to take to work and show off to his co-workers – who I hear get really jealous. So I improvised and made it for dinner instead.
The bento consisted of boiled green beans, eggs in inarizushi pouches, and onigiri – some of them contain unagi. Recipe and inspiration came from JustBento – a wonderful site bento-specific recipes. The egg in treasure bags recipe may look simple but it was quite painful tying the green onions around each pouch. It probably took me half and hour to do all four bags. But I guess it didn’t help I used extra large eggs and the pouches weren’t that long. I was quite surprised that the broth I made using dashi stock and soy seasoning turned out pretty good. I could taste the flavor in the green beans.
We actually shared the above bento. It may not look much but it actually stuffed both of us, plus I had enough left overs for lunch the next day.