July 1, 2012
by Cinnabar
Comments Off on Bai Ji Guan Yancha Tian Xin Yan, Vicony Teas

Bai Ji Guan Yancha Tian Xin Yan, Vicony Teas

Bai Ji Guan, Vicony Teas
I suspect that for most tea people in the United States, the most familiar high-end Wuyi rock oolong is Da Hong Pao (“Big Red Robe”), but it is not the only famous tea at the top end of this respectable family of teas. I recently had the opportunity to taste some Bai Ji Guan Yancha Tian Xin Yan (“White Cockscomb Rock Oolong”), a member tea of the Si Da Ming Cong (four famous Wuyi tea bushes), and very different in character from Da Hong Pao, and I found it quite wonderful.

white roosterThe tea was among four Wuyi Rock Oolongs sent to me by Vicony Teas. Each of the packages was identified only with its product number, and I thought it would be most interesting to taste the teas without finding out much about them first, so I chose the one with the lowest number to taste first (WYA05), not knowing anything at all about it, not even the Chinese name.

The first thing I noted about the Bai Ji Guan was that the tea was really beautiful in dry leaf form, with slender, twisty leaves. They did not look dramatically different from most other Wuyi oolongs I’ve had, although they were a little more reddish and less black. But as the tea infused there was much more of a marked distinction from other Wuyi oolongs, with the leaf unfurling to show yellow and light brown.

The liquor was not very aromatic, but the taste was rich, deep and flavorful, somewhat reminiscent of dried stone fruits. Another distinguishing characteristic was the color of the liquor, a golden yellow, much lighter than any other Wuyi yancha I’ve ever seen. Overall the taste and mouthfeel of this tea were very satisfying and complex, exhibiting new qualities with each of the five infusions I took the tea through.

Bai Ji Guan, Vicony TeasOne thing this tea has in common with Da Hong Pao is a fanciful story. This is the accompanying legend, as described on the Vicony Teas website:

Legend goes that one day a monk saw a rooster sacrifice its life while protecting its child from an eagle. He was moved by the rooster’s courage and then buried its dead body in the ground. However, after a few days, a tea bush grew from the spot where the rooster was buried. In the memory of the rooster, the monk gave the name of White Cockscomb to the tea bush.

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May 30, 2012
by Cinnabar
3 Comments

World Tea Expo, 2012

World Tea Expo 2011Later today I board a plane to take me to Las Vegas to attend the World Tea Expo. This will be my third year in a row attending, and I am looking forward to it. For me the Expo is a rare opportunity to focus entirely on tea, tea culture, and tea community, and it’s a refreshing break from the ordinary.

This year I will be helping Royal Tea of Kenya at their booth, and also with the Kenya segment of the Day of Origin presentations. This is the first year that Kenya is featured as a significant tea origin, although it is fourth largest in worldwide tea production. Joy Njuguna has a great deal of fantastic information to impart, about the emerging specialty tea market, and her connection to the lineage of tea production.

One of the things that has become increasingly clear to me over the past several years is that the tea industry is driven in some significant ways by personal relationships. Having so many tea people converge in one place each year allows for reminders of these connections, and in many cases allows for the opportunity to meet people in person with whom I have only had online interactions with. If you’re also going to be there and run into me, please introduce yourself or track me down through social media. I’ll be easy to find.

Up until a couple of years ago I thought I’d be able to avoid the inhospitable crucible of human misery that is Las Vegas entirely, but I found when I visited the first time that it wasn’t as horrible as I anticipated. This was in large part due to the Expo itself, which is such a great experience.

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March 23, 2012
by Cinnabar
4 Comments

Han Tea Ceremony at Seattle Chinese Garden

Tomorrow, prescription March 24th, from 1:30pm until 2:30pm, the Seattle Chinese Garden will host a Han Style Chinese Tea Ceremony, presented by Mei Collier, owner of Eight Cranes. Ms. Collier is a frequent speaker at the Asian Museum in Pasadena, and at many California universities. After she heads back to California, she will conduct a tea ceremony for the Liu Fang Garden at the Huntington Library.

In the first ten minutes of the event Ms. Collier will introduce the ceremony, followed by the 45-minute ceremony itself. She will be available afterwards to answer questions.

Cost for the event is $5 for members of the Seattle Chinese Garden, $7 for the general public. The garden is located at the north entrance of South Seattle Community College, 6000 16th Ave SW. Contact the garden, by email or phone to make a reservation, 206.934.5219.

Excerpted from the Eight Cranes website:

Mei is native Chinese, born during the Communist era under Mao. Raised during The Cultural Revolution Mei grew up in a society that did not reward independent thoughts and ideas. Fortunately, Mei was lucky enough to see the world through the eyes of her famous parents who were actors in China. Her parents taught her to be independent, razor sharp, and to experience arts and culture by embracing them fully. Mei’s father was a famous radio and stage actor, Tong Xing Jin, who was well known for his voice and performances on stage and in movies. Her mother, Guorong Chen, was also a stage actress with the national theater company in Beijing and after moving to the U.S. worked in Hollywood films such as “Joy Luck Club”, “RedCorner”and others. Mei credits her independent nature, vivid personality and focused character to her parents.

event flyer

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