This week, I am excited to sample 3 of our finest top 10 Chinese Green Teas.

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I will be sampling Liu An Gua Pian, Meng Ding Yu Lu, and Xin Yang Mao Jian.  This blog post is a quick way for me to tell you my experience with these three teas.  The photo above is a demonstration of the beauty of green tea.  When green tea leaves are added to hot water they gently float from the top to the bottom, creating a beautiful dance of leaves.  This is a classic way to brew chinese green tea.  All you need is leaves and hot water. 

For this tea tasting, I picked 3 unique green teas, each with something special to offer.

The Meng Ding is a personal favorite, and one that all green tea drinkers can appreciate.  I find that it has a little bit of everything – slightly grassy, sweet finish, a little nutty, can get a tiny bit bitter.  It is complex and subtle.

The Liu An Gua Pian is one that I don’t drink as often, but is just as beautiful as the Meng Ding.  Liu An is sweet and fruity with a smooth and nutty aftertaste.

The Xin Yang Mao Jian is something pretty unique in green tea.  It has a smokey, almost meaty quality to it while still maintaining some of the refreshing quality that good green teas have.

Join me this saturday to sample these awesome teas.

-Matt

Ku Cha House of Tea, 1141 Pearl Street, Boulder CO 80302 – 303-443-3612

 

Tea Tasting

A photo from one of our weekly tea tasting events. Come by Ku Cha House of Tea in Boulder on any Saturday after 11am to see what we are pouring!

My home town, ShanXi, is located on a dry and high land, just north of the Yellow River. It was one of the origins of Chinese Culture, dating back to over 4000 years ago.  Merchants from this area were famous in the history and once dominated Chinese market.  They maintained a critical trading route from Southen China to Northen regions, all the way up to Russia.  In the old days, horses were the major transportation means. Even today, the horse shoe marks are still visible on the historical trading route. They are still telling the stories of hardwork and long distance trip quietly, as if you can still hear the horse bell ringing in the wind.

It was one of ShanXi merchants started making one of important Dark Tea, An Hua Black Tea, in Hunan province and traded them to Northen China and eventually made Dark Tea famous.  Although there other members of Dark Tea, An Hua Black Tea is almost always the firt come to mind when people refer to Dark Tea.

What is the dark tea anyway? First of all, the term of “Dark tea” may not be an accurate translation. We named them ‘Dark Tea” just so we can differentiate them from traditional black teas.  The popular term of “Black Teas” used in most of the western countries is referring to the heavily oxidized teas, which brew red infusions, although the color of the leaves is black.  Chinese name teas base on the color of infusions, instead of the leaf color.  Therefore, the traditional black teas are called Red teas in China, referring to the red color infusions.  Making things even more confusing, in China, there is a category of tea, called Black Teas.  As you can image, these teas brew black or dark red infusions and their leaves are black too.  If you can come up with a term that better describes this type of tea, please feel free to let us know.

 A unique feature of dark tea is that these teas are fermented, instead of oxidized.  Dark teas include An Cha (AnHui), Liu Bao Cha (GuangXi), Shou Puerh (YunNan), Tibetan Tea (SiChuan) and An Hua Black Cha (HuNan). Dark Teas have a long history, except of some of the new inventions, such as An Cha and Shou Puerh. Traditionally, Puerh is not fermented by manufacturers; but rather ages by itself.  We call them Post-Fermenting teas.

 Comparing to other type of teas, Dark Teas have lots of unique health benefits. Traditionally, they were sold mostly to areas where fewer vegetables were readily available. Dark teas are used to help digest meat. In some areas, such as Tibet, dark teas are necessities.  Other benefits include lowering blood fat and cholesterol, reducing the chances of high blood pressure and other heart diseases, providing vitamins and antioxidants, preventing diabetes, reducing inflammation and preventing flu.

过年好! 恭喜发财!

Yesterday was the Chinese New Year, marking the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. Though I’m a day late in posting, the celebration extends beyond the first day for nearly two weeks. This is the most important holiday celebrated in China. Based on my limited understanding, there are several traditions including great food, time spent with loved ones, monetary gifts, and fireworks–all great makings of a perfect holiday. Unfortunately, there are certain restrictions on how we can celebrate here at Ku Cha. I’m sure the city would not tolerate a dead fish hanging outside our door (which is among the new year customs, according to Rong), and I’m sure there would be fines to pay if we lit fireworks outside the shop.

Even so, there are some activities we can take part in. For instance, it’s common to wear new clothes to symbolize a fresh start to the new year. Also wearing red, a lucky color in China, is typical. Most of the customs revolve around the hopes for good fortune and happiness in the new year. Part of that entails clearing out the old to make room for the new. This can be done physically, through a sort of “spring cleaning” (admittedly one of my personal favorite activities of this time of year). But it’s also the time of year to reconcile and forget old grudges. During this time, we can appreciate our family and close friends while sharing a good meal or cup of tea.

Another aspect of the new year involves the Chinese zodiac. As a rabbit, it is my year. Though I don’t put any stock in horoscopes, it is fun to read about the possibilities this year may bring. After doing a little research online, this site seems to be the most comprehensive, in case you were curious enough to read about your own sign.

Although I have no idea what this new year may bring, my hope is that tea continues to be an important pastime and source of enjoyment. Having renewed our commitment to this blog, we hope to share more of our personal tea-related experiences with you. If this is to be a lucky, happy, and healthy year, of course there must be more tea! I hope you’ll enjoy some with us. And if you are wondering what to drink in honor of the new year, we recommend Ba Bao Cha.

Happy New Year! May it be full of peace, prosperity, and joy!

 

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful 2011 so far. Thanks for reading and I promise we’ll do our best best to bring you more posts this year.

I feel that I must apologize to all you loyal readers of this Ku Cha blog; our last post was November 2nd and that just isn’t fair to you. Holy smokes, though, November 2nd! Feels like ages ago, doesn’t it? Anyhow, all of us here at Ku Cha apologize for our lack of posts on this here blog, and (as I’ve previously said) will try to keep this blog updated more frequently this year.

With that out of the way, I feel I must apologize for one more thing. I lied to all of you. You probably don’t remember, but back on October 26th I wrote that my tea tastes were changing as the seasons were changing. This was an outright lie; while re-reading it myself, I couldn’t believe that I could even write such things.

I have been drinking black and puerh teas (in fact I’m drinking a large pot of Keemun Ho Ya right now, but that’s besides the point). The truth is that I have been drinking Green teas like a man possessed. Green teas, especially Chinese Green teas, have been my go-to teas this winter. So, I’m sorry for lying to you  and I hope you’ll all forgive me.

Now, I still think that Meng Ding Yu Lu is one of the best green teas ever. I wrote about this tea back on June 3rd, and I my opinions of Meng Ding are still true (at least that’s one thing I didn’t lie about). On a side note, I thought that post was more recent than June 3rd, but the fact that I still love that tea almost a year later has to say something, right? Almost a year ago!? That sort of blows my mind; time sure does fly by. Anyhow, for this blog I wanted to write about another of my favorite green teas: Liu An Gua Pian.

Instead of boring you all with facts and history about this tea (to be completely honest, the only things I really know about this tea are that is comes from Anhui Province, that the name translates to Lu An Melon Seed, and that it tastes delicious). Well, there you go, I told you some facts (and one opinion) about the tea anyway.

For this blog I made Liu An Gua Pian Gong Fu style (you can about Gong Fu here, expertly written by one of our own I might add). I used 3 grams of tea and brewed it using a lidded cup called a Gai Wan. “Water Down the Ganges” by Prem Joshua and Manish Vyas was playing in the store, creating the perfect tea-brewing atmosphere. On a side, I feel like I’ve heard that song thousands of times just working in the store, but it’s actually a decent song so I don’t mind too much. After you’ve heard any song that many times it starts to get old, but if you have around 10 minutes (yes, it is a 10 minute long song) to spare you should check it out on youtube. If you hadn’t already noticed I get distracted with all these side thoughts, but that’s not important right now. What is important is the Liu An Gua Pian.

I thought it’d be cool to take you through my impressions of Liu An Gua Pian through 3 infusions. Before starting I first warmed up my Gai Wan, my pitcher, and my cup. Now, I’m not exactly sure of the water temperature for each infusion, but I can tell you that my water was not boiling and that each infusion was timed for one minute. I can also tell you that I brewed this tea with the lid off of the Gai Wan, so that the water could cool faster.

 

Here is a picture of the set up I used

The first infusion brewed a color that made me think of a bright straw or hay grass. It had an aroma reminiscent of sweet asparagus and tasted really good. I find that the first infusion is lighter and sweeter than those that follow, and Liu An is no exception. The first infusion was light and sweet with a slightly nutty and pleasant aftertaste that sticks with you for a little while.

The second infusion had almost the same color as the first. My eyes might have been playing tricks on me, but I thought it looked slightly more vibrant than the first. The aroma had very subtle smokiness and slightly astringent undertones to it, but other than that was consistent with the first infusion. This time around the tea was not as sweet, instead it was more grassy with a sharper and brighter feel on the palate. It was not bitter, just more vibrant. It also made my mouth water when I was finished.

The third and final infusion was the lightest of the three, which is to be expected from a green tea. The color and aroma of the tea remained consistent with the other brews but much of the flavor was gone from the tea. It was very light, with an ever-so-subtle finish that was bright and leafy.  Overall this is a very good tea that I’d be happy to drink on a daily basis. It is a silky and smooth tea that has a rich, sweet, and clean. Dare I say it could overtake Meng Ding Yu Lu as my favorite tea? Nah, probably not, but it does come very close.

 

The dry tea leaves

The leaves after 3 infusions

 

The Chinese New Year is rapidly approaching; the year of the Tiger comes to a close and the year of the Rabbit begins on February  3rd. Stay tuned for a post about that.

If any of you are like me, then you really like the title of this post. I wish I could take credit for coming up with it, but alas, I did not. If you need help coming up with clever titles for papers or blogs, look no further than Hannah.

– Jordan

After longing for this year’s Fall Tie Guan Yin for a while, I was very excited to receive it yesterday finally!  Not waste a second, I broke the bag and had my first taste of this tea.  What a fine tea! That very first sip is so … speechless.  The anxiety and exciteness accumulated up until that moment has gone, so fast, that only word can be uttered is a long “ah…” and my mind has returned to calmness all the sudden.

 

Ku Cha's fall harvest Tie Guan Yin

 

The longing for Tie Guan Yin has grown on me lately.  It might be the season.  After all, Fall is the season for Oolong tea.  I heard a lot about people arguing which one is better: Spring teas or Fall teas.  The conclusions are far from conclusive.  Teas from both seasons are highly regarded.  I guess teas in many ways are choosen to fit one’s mood, not the other way around.

I haven’t heard any other teas are so widely received than Tie Guan Yin.  My mom is not so particular about any kind of teas; but she is particularly fond of Tie Guan Yin.  Back to home in China, two teas are always around: Dragon Well and Tie Guan Yin.  The tea market is also full of different small tea shops selling Tie Guan Yin, with young grils sitting in the middle of the room and separating rolled tea balls from the stems.  The scene is so interesting and so profound, as it is so easy to forget how much labor has gone into this small cup of tea!

-Qin

 

It seems that Fall is finally here; the leaves are changing and falling, Halloween decorations are going up, and the crisp air lets us know that Winter is just around the corner. The changing of the seasons also brings about another change in my life: my taste for different teas. During the summer I drank lots of green and oolong teas, but as the weather cools I find myself drawn towards darker teas.

Without consciously thinking about it, I have found that I have slowly gravitated towards black and puerh teas (especially Yunnan Gold and Nilgiri Frost). During the summer, while deciding which tea to drink I almost always chose green or oolong teas, Black tea never even really entered my mind. However, now it is somewhat the opposite. I am thinking more about black tea and less about green tea. Don’t get me wrong, I still very much enjoy drinking green teas and will drink them occasionally during the winter, just not as frequently as I have been up until now.

For me, cold weather just means that it is time to drink teas that will warm the body and I’m looking forward to getting back into the world of black tea.

– Jordan

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