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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Voice from guests of Guitian's Tea Club

Tea is changing me.  Really I'm changing me.  Tea is my helper.  Tea
is beginning to slow me down.  Tea is helping me eat healthier.  One
evening after tea class, I lay in bed and there was no pain in my legs
and feet.  None at all.  There is always pain in my legs and feet when
I lie down.  I even found after having tea with my husband--relaxing,
enjoying, I looked over at some clutter and wanted to clean it up.
Way cool!  Thank you tea for being so generous.
- Louise

The tea ceremony and tasting has expanded my experience with and love of teas. I really love the bright "green" taste of Green Teas, which I have been drinking for many years.  Through various tastings I have really expanded the range of teas I like, including Oolongs and Pu-erhs, both raw and cooked.

I find tea has a calmly invigorating effect on me, and seems to help me balance life. I like to sit and savor a tea, or when busy just drink it by the cup. Some teas are warming, some relaxing, some enlivening, and some have awesome multi-layered flavors.
- Reggie

I've really enjoyed the ceremonies. I like the different teas that it exposes me to. Normally I just drink the same old stuff all the time so this adds a refreshing change. Plus, I normally just drink tea at work so it's nice to have it as a relaxing activity and hear different peoples' opinions.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How water affects the taste of tea

Chinese see everything in the world as a manifestation of either a male or female principle. For example, water is female, which means tea must be male. A funny thing is that when a boy chases or flirts with a girl, it is called “to brew - pao ” in Chinese. Well, if water is female, this means a woman brews a man in this situation, and a man wishes to be brewed by a good woman, don’t you agree? The quality of a
woman has a strong effect on a man.
Now, you don’t need me to tell you why a good man deserves a good woman, but I would like to point out why bad water affects the taste of tea.

Why is the quality of water important?

Tea is very sensitive to the pH value and mineral components. The softness of water affects the pH value of water. ( If the consistence of Ca 2+ & Mg2+ in the water is less than 8mg/L that is soft water; more than 8mg/L is hard water.) When pH is lower than 5, it doesn’t affect the color of tea liquor, and a cup of black tea would be bright, clear and golden color. On the other hand, when the pH is higher than 7, tea pigments
automatically oxidizes and theaflavins茶黄素disappear, making the tea liquor color dark and dull. In addition, if the aluminum is 0.2mg/L, the tea will be bitter; when the calcium is 2mg/L, tea will be rotten and astringent, up to 4mg/L, the taste will be bitter; when the magnesium is 2mg/L, the taste will be mild. When the lead is lower than 0.4mg/L, tea will be light and sour, above 1mg/L tea will be astringent and

How did people choose water in ancient times?

There was no science and technology to prove any of the boring but important numbers above in ancient times. But Chinese tea drinkers have been very careful and picky choosing water for their tea since Tang Dynasty. The Chinese even reckoned that if a best tea met ordinary water, the tea would become ordinary, and when an ordinary tea met the best water, the tea would become better. Water was taken directly from nature; collecting rain, harvesting snow or ice, filling it from a spring, lake, river or stream, pulling it up from a well. According to “The Classic of Tea” from Lu Yu 陆羽(the sage of tea), the best water was mountain and
spring, river water next, followed by well water. For the spring water, the slower the water flowed, the better it was.

Why? Generally, the water from a well is alkaline, the taste astringent, river or lake water is cloudy with impure smell, from a stream is heavy, rainwater is mild, and spring water is sweet and fresh. However, even though water comes from the same source, the quality would not be the same. It depends on if the water comes from the surface of the earth or a deeper level of earth. Which means, water from the center of river is better than edge; and the depth of well affects the quality of water. Zhang Yuan in Ming Dynasty recorded that the spring on top of a hill was fresh and light, the spring on the hillside was fresh and heavy, the spring in the rock was fresh and sweet, the spring in the sand was fresh and cold, and the spring in the earth was mild. The spring out of yellow stone was the best, but the spring coming out of green or blue stones was useless.
How to choose good water in the modern days?

Today, the water flows directly into our homes and right out of a tap. Many people filter their own tap water using one of the many commercially available home water filtration systems, while others obtain their water from reverse osmosis filtration services, or from machines dispensing “pure” water outside of grocery stores.
Whether or not these water sources are suitable for tea depends on the quality of the local tap water they are filtering.

Boiling water can kill bacteria but it cannot remove chlorine, lead, rust and other pollutants. It is also a common knowledge that fish die from living in unfiltered tap water or boiled water within a few days due to chlorine and other contaminants. To choose a water to brew tea, the mineral content should be low-soft water (more mineral the water contains, the harder the water is); the taste should be fresh, crispy, clean, and avoid water with a distinctively mineral taste; there should be no other odors in the water, including the container of the water and the kettle you use to boil water.

There are two tips to use tap water:
a). turn on the tap for a little while before filling the kettle in order to get ride of rust from the pipe; 
b). after boiling, open the kettle cover for 15 seconds to volatile chlorine.

Tap water in most cities, e.g., Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA, is acidic and has a pH of 6.5 on average. Most bottled water, filtered water, mineral water, spring water and other beverages have a pH below 6.5. On the other hand, Water80 ionized micro cluster alkaline water is weak alkaline and has a pH around 8.0.

Since I live in Seattle, I typically just use the tap water, but one of my friends is very crazy about getting the best water. He would drive 3 hours each way to get spring water to brew fine teas. I have to admit that it indeed makes difference. No wonder there is another Chinese old saying that water is also the mother of tea, as well as the soul of tea.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

2nd Tea Ceremony at Guitian's Tea Club

We broke the ice by broke the table. It was my fault, and it meant to be. That's why we connected each other quickly and we lasted our ceremony until 12:30am. 

We tried 4 kinds of tea plus White cockscomb. We shared the tea poems and discussed them, we talked about the water, the steeping, the beauty, the way of drinking, the tips of choosing a good tea and eating cherries, egg cakes, cookies, France's Chocolate. And more... I know it is kind of boring to list it all. 
However, I gotta some nice photos to share. Enjoy them! And I will specifically address how water effects the taste of tea in a separate post.

At last, special thanks to Mani, Niilartey and Stephen.
With the wonderful friendly tea savors and gentle music, I was enjoy making tea.

 I was trying to use the tall porcelain pitcher, but I noticed that the pitcher got a smell of the cabinet. Sorry, guys, this was only one time use although it is pretty and holds the aroma for a long time.

We got a professional artistic and fashion designer to film our enjoyment. It will posted soon.

We were having a Puer with the first mushroom sharped clay teapot I connected. The guests complimented that it was so cute and in fact that's why I bought it. The chubby body of the teapot is good for puer tea to expend the flavor and the thickness of the wall is great to hold the heat.

The value of tea brought an awesome group of people at the ceremony:

 The respect of tea, the sincere to the people, enviroment and ritual directly from her eyes. Thanks again!

He sipped the tea though his taste buds, extended it to his mind and took it to his heart!

The attention to the tea doubled the pleasure of the tea!

 The elegance of drinking is fully displayed!

The delightful spirit of her delighted the ceremony. 

 Calmness and mindfulness of him is the purpose of savoring tea.

He was amazing! I was so impressed by his knowledge of all the fine things: wine, cooking, coffee, chocolate, tea and the life. Thank you for your generous sharing, it created great conversations!

The understanding of the Chinese culture (specially like the way he tapped his legs to say thank) and tea (Thank you for cleaning your nose first, took a deep sniff and second sniff to immerse into the aroma of the tea) from him gave me a lot of pleasure and appreciation.

Beauty, health and peace in each cup. When I see how people enjoy their tea, how beautiful the tea itself is, I feel the life is meaning and I wish I were the tea and tea were me.

Serving tea is one of my favorite habit.


I am grateful that tea brings us together and happy to watch how tea brought this sweet couple together.

I got so many photos and posted some of them on Picasa Web Albums, please feel free to click here to see more.
Soon, I will share the video as well.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Birth of Guitian's Tea Club

Finally, it happened, and yet successfully and delightfully! I have planned this since last year. Until my dear friend couldn't wait for it any longer, he came over to me, and said, here is the place for you, start it now. Yes, I didn't know what I was waiting for. He is right, if I never give myself a space, there is always a tomorrow, tomorrow.
No excuse any more.

Drinking a lot of tea with an empty stomach could upset the stomach, so the ceremony started with some fresh lychee fruit, sesame balls, red bean cakes and other snacks.

I carefully selected three types of dark tea, and each one has different character. The first one was the Ice Mountain green Puer
cake. The big fat buds and leaves were  compressed consistently with very evident layers. The aroma was surprisingly floral and
more floral than any other puer teas we all experienced. The delicate bright golden color of tea soup lifted our mind up. Here
comes the first sip of the first infusion, it was like a delicate young lady enjoy dancing with her new silk dress. It was flower, subtle, clean, bright, fresh, and delightful. It was a taste of the floating
leaves in a serene clean stream surround by mountains full of flowers. Personally, I love the aftertaste most. The refined sweet aftertaste was gently stimulating my entire mouth, from the mid of my tongue to two sides of my cheek and extended to my throat. After the 3rd infusion, my guests complimented that it was getting more and smoother. When the 4th infusion started, the dancing delicate young lady became a mature educated lady, the complexity of tea was expressing in each sip and sniff. The bitter sweet taste was like the lady went through a lot of tough times, and afterward she overcame the difficulties, the sweetness arrived. After 7 times of infusion, the tea still presented very well balanced. And yet, the beautiful fat consistent wet infused tea leaves were like a pleasant
song in my heart, it tempted me to want to touch and feel the wet leaves by my fingers. So I invited all of us to sense the softness, tenderness and elasticity of the tea leaves.

Second one was a special block of Fuzhan 茯砖-one of a the famous dark teas in China. This particular Fuzhun is in gratitude and memory from the Hunan tea industry to the author of Hunan Dark Tea. This book is the first and the only one book which specifically introduced the full content of Hunan dark tea. The author is a very well known tea master in South of China, is also my tea professor in the Hunan Agricultural University. This special tea has a very limited amount in Chinese market. The best thing to show my respect and
gratitude to my professor is to keep the tea for another 30-50 years and even pass it to my next generation. And, I am very bad about it, because I could not wait any longer. I could not wait to share it with tea lovers. Here it is! The tea was very well compressed.
Breaking the tea was a part of The fun process of making tea art which I do enjoy, like cutting the food before cooking it, it is a part of art. The tea got a unique steamed lotus leaf with a hint of ripe rice flavor. I was trying to explain that it smelled like Zongzi 粽
子 which is a Cantonese lotus leaf rice dumpling. My guests didn't know what Zongzi was and they described it is leafy and earthy. The tea is from 2008 with a mid-body and has a unique distinctive flavor, the complexity of it was hard to describe. After the fourth infusion, the tea became more pronounced, the mouth-feel was more balanced, more smooth, and the aftertaste was more refined as well. And yet, I heard more happy and satisfied gentle voices from my guests. That was a very good sign to me.

The third tea was a 1992 aged ripe puer cake. It sent me to a clean ancient rainforest with wild dry flowers and dry fruits. It started as a rich smooth mouth-feel right at the first infusion which is pretty impressive. The typical puer tea generally starts to have this character after or on the 3rd infusion. The aroma of deep earth and complete around silky mouth-feel are my biggest pleasure for this puer. I felt like as if I were lying on many inches of dry falling leaves from ancient trees on the ground in a far away forest and communicating with the mother of Earth. The mellowness of tea absorbed us, it mellowed our bodies and minds. We were melting with tea, with friendship, with nature and peace. We were drinking, we were laughing, and we were celebrating our lives, our joy, and our relationships...

I was so much enjoying seeing the relaxed joyful faces from my guests. To me, seeing people appreciate tea grants me a great pleasure and the value of tea, art and myself. I decided to share my favorite Big Red Robe with them although it wasn't the plan. I was so happy about my decision. It was a perfect ending and conclusion of this ceremony with our purified minds. The aroma was amazingly vivid and the length of bouquet was incredibly long, especially when I used my new tall pitcher. The pitcher kept the dark chocolate fruity fragrance for more than half hour. We were enjoying sniffing the joy of tea aroma therapy and sipping each drop of bliss and harmony.

I smile, of course,
And go on drinking tea.
"Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall my buried life, and Paris in the Spring.
I feel immeasurable at peace, and find the world 
To be wonderful and youthful, after all."

Drink tea and nourish life; 
with the first sip, joy;
with the second sip, satisfaction,
 with the third sip, peace.

About Me

My photo
Seattle, WA, United States
I grew up with tea, and it continues to fill my life with so much beauty and discovery, pleasure, peace and friends. It is always leading me toward a greater understanding of culture, nature, myself and others. It is my hope to use this space to share the joy of tea and tea culture with you.