A day in the life of a tea farmer

May 30, 2009

I use iGoogle and one of my customized feeds is from WikiHow which is filled with very random How-To type articles on any subject known to man. Today it had this link: http://www.wikihow.com/Process-Tie-Guan-Yin-(TGY)-Tea

Which takes you through the entire process of Tie Guan Yin production. Thought I’d share.

Tea and health benefits

May 21, 2009

Six months or so back I had my cholesterol checked and when the results came the nurse and doctor were discussing the results within earshot of me and in hushed tones… I figured something was wrong. They came in and asked me a bunch of questions about my diet (for those who don’t know I’m a pretty big guy about 6’3″ and 240lbs. but I’ve always been active outdoors and played sports) I’m also a “foodie” (I hate that term) and love to cook and eat adventurously and in decent quantity but for the most part I stick to reasonably healthy options (outside of the occasional Wellington, 2lb. steak, wings/pizza). I figured I was going to have to cut out all of the things I like to indulge with (triple bacon cheeseburgers)… instead they ended by telling me that my cholesterol levels were actually so low that I should probably eat some more things containing cholesterol! I was shocked. I really had no answers for them and really thought it may have been an error and came out pretty happy except for their great concern about my low numbers.

I was discussing this anomaly with my parents a couple weeks back and my mother said, “well, it’s probably all of the green tea you drink.” I am a total non-believer in miracle cure-all health claims so this never even entered my mind and I never even thought to bring it up to the doctor. It could all be coincidence, it could truly be my diet (although I highly doubt that one), genetics, it could be my love for laughter (hey, who knows), it could be Venus was aligned just so with my belt buckle that day… but it really could be the liters of tea I drink each day (almost exclusively Chinese or Japanese greens). I honestly don’t know and after her comment it sent my logical mind reeling.

I’m stumped, but after downing about 5lbs. (no lie) of meat the other night as we were out with friends at a Churrascaria (Brazilian BBQ) and a few porters I’m thinking there has to be some validity. Although I’m still overweight and balding so the magical, mystical, powers have some limitations if true.

Pi Bao Shan – Upton tea

May 20, 2009

This Chinese green tea was part of the newly re-discovered Upton Tea cache I unearthed a while back. Upon opening the sealed bag i was instantly hit with a very strong woody/smoky/oaky scent that is not normally what I prize in a green tea, but I soldiered on. The leaf itself looks a bit brown and slightly wiry and twisted, it looks as if some Bi Lo Chun snails came slightly undone but not completely.

I tossed some into my trusty gaiwan and after about 30-seconds I had to “peek” to see and smell if anything had improved because, truthfully, from the scent and look I was dreading it a bit. It was a horse of a different color! Completely different. It had no smoky/oaky notes and instead had transformed into a buttery cross between Bi Lo Chun and Long Ching (Dragonwell). The leaf had unfurled into nicely green, but ragged and torn, pieces that also were much different than the dry appearance would have suggested. After the completed steep of about 2-3 minutes I was greeted by a tea that seemed an almost perfect mix of Bi Lo Chun and Dragonwell which mirrored the scent. I am impressed at this doppleganger. After sitting a bit overtime in my gaiwan the last sips started to produce a more astringent, strong, vegetal, ¬†and smoky taste that matched more with the initial dry aroma.

I can’t say it is a favorite because I could always have a more refined BLC or Dragonwell instead, and the later qualities that shone through are less enjoyable to me personally. But all-in-all it was surprising and enjoyable so there is also nothing “wrong” with it either.

Kindle DX – Amazon

May 6, 2009

Right now in NYC, Amazon is unveiling the new, larger, Kindle DX. The Kindle is an “eBook” reader that allows you to carry a whole library as well as periodicals, magazines, and newspapers in a 1/3″ thin device. The past 2 versions were small and a bit cramped for reading but great for portability. This new revision is much larger and able to display an 8.5″ x 11″ page natively at the cost of a larger unit. The Kindle utilizes e-ink which is easy on the eyes and battery power but unfortunately black-and-white/greyscale only. The new DX is also aimed at college students with a new partnership with textbook publishers that may finally do away with 75+lbs. of textbooks needed for a day of classes. I love to read and I really wanted to love this new device, but for me the price is still prohibitive at $489 and the lack of any sort of color is also a bit of a deal-breaker. They almost had my business, but if it fits your needs and lifestyle they are available for pre-order starting now:

Kindle DX

Kindle DX

Kindle DX: Preorder

Pu-erh Loose Jia Ji – Upton Tea

May 5, 2009

I recently unearthed a box full of Upton samplers from late last year that had gone unopened. Upton’s is rarely a top choice of mine for almost anything these days simply due to the fact that there is better, fresher, tea available elsewhere for about the same price. Occasionally they have a rare gem or a good deal on some sort of teaware, but outside of that I normally point my web browser somewhere else.

I grabbed one of the sealed foil pouches containing “ZH65 Pu-erh Loose Jia Ji” as this is one of their upper-level puerhs and claims to be mellow and respectable. Out of the packet my hopes diminished a bit because it consisted of small bits of broken medium brown leaf almost entirely. It brewed up to a nice medium brown though that didn’t have any harsh notes in the aroma. A very mild earthy quality, but nothing like a dank, mushroomy, potting soil earthy… instead it was light and inviting. The first sip put a lot of my uncertainty to rest as it was quite good! It followed through with a very mellow/mild earthy tone as described on the packaging and it didn’t exhibit any of the unpleasant hallmarks of young or lower quality puerh. It wasn’t overly strong, brewing up to a super dark liquor as some do (and as some, not me, may prefer), but just right on all accounts.


This was a welcomed exception to the rule and a nice little find for a slightly chilly Tuesday morning, hopefully that box continues to produce more like this one.