History, One Cup at a Time

Another blessing shared by tea lovers is the rich history that has been handed down to us by our predecessors. It is transmitted in the form of rituals, writings, and treasured objects that have been preserved for our present enrichment, and to be passed down yet again. In some circles, the highest form of tangible tea history is said to be the Ido chawan. The Ido story begins in Korea, where potters made these rustic bowls for everyday use. »

Brandon

Experiencing Tea, Part Two

In the last post, we discussed some traits tea drinkers focus on when evaluating or comparing teas. In the second installment - we’ll call it the lab section - we can put these concepts to use in describing the relative merits of two puer. Visual Inspection left: 90s menghai grade 2 loose right: 80s menghai white needle golden lotus The White Needle Golden Lotus, a legend of the Menghai Tea Factory, has tiny buds coated in a delicate white frost. »

Brandon

Experiencing Tea, Part One

For those of us who keep coming back to tea year after year, there is a much greater reward than a hot beverage or a familiar taste. More than the uplifting properties of caffeine or the calming effects of l-theanine alone. You could substitute most of these qualities in a dozen other ways. So why would someone focus as heavily on tea - and tea alone - as those reading here are known to do? »

Brandon

Silver Lining

For a few years now, I’ve been watching the patina grow on my favorite teapot. In the Western market, tea drinkers often end up buying a few pots in the beginning that don’t quite “fit.” Maybe the size is wrong, the clay is poor, or is simply not a match to any of our desired teas. Perhaps the shape and craftsmanship are just not pleasing to us. Owning bad teapots, experienced collectors will remind you, is “tuition” that helps you start to recognize better teapots from the others. »

Brandon

Expectations

After drinking a certain number of puerh samples, we start to develop a certain set of expectations about storage and different recipes. Two of the most popular -7532 and 7542 - are today’s focus. This blog has usually eschewed discussing a single specimen of tea. These teas are exceptional in this regard not because they are unique or have any particularly outstanding quality, but because they challenged my expectations. When Pamela arrived at the house for tea, we started with something that was a known quantity for me. »

Brandon

The Beauty of Yixing

“The old teapot is different from the newer teapot because‚Ķ the craftsmanship is very obvious.” Kingston teaches us about a pair of late Qing dynasty Shui Ping style Yixing teapots - made of Duan Ni clay - for King Rama V of Thailand. “It’s ability‚Ķ when it’s perfect, but not mechanic. When it’s mechanic - it’s like you are printing a straight line with a computer, using a printer. »

Brandon

Green Puerh Q&A

The Green Puerh class hosted by Timothy and Michael provides an opportunity for something a bit different from our usual fare. Michael began with a young, unblended single estate tea, 2008 Bing Dou. Timothy contrasted this with a semi-fermented, classic Menghai recipe, 2002 7352. The duo did their best to explain the differences between the small batch and factory teas, but having a full house of new and old tea lovers alike, a number of insightful questions arose. »

That Tea Place in New York that Brandon Likes

There have been wild accusations around the ‘net of me being one to spill the beans. To live up to this unsavory reputation, I offer you all a tour of the as-yet unnamed collaboration between The Tea Gallery and The Mandarin’s Tea Room. Somewhere along the way, we noticed that the phrase “The Tea Gallery slash Mandarin’s Tea Room” is a “mouthful.” There are still mountains of boxes to be unpacked, but I was invited to visit the new tea room on the twenty-sixth anniversary of my birth. »

NYC Tea Meetup - One Year Reunion

One year after our first meeting, inaugural members of the NYC Tea Club gathered once again at The Tea Gallery. When all the guests finally arrived, Winnie suggested a matcha to lift everyone’s spirits. She prefers to use a new tin of matcha fairly quickly to enjoy its freshness, and fearlessly ladled several large scoops of bright powder into her chawan. The initial result was some of the strongest Usucha style matcha I have experienced. »

Brandon

Evaluating Yixing Teapots - Part Two

This is Part Two in a two part series about evaluating Yixing pots. It is inspired in part by Michael Wong of The Tea Gallery. And Now the Conclusion… After testing the pot with water, the logical next step is to add tea to the equation. The most obvious thing to do might be to add some leaves, hot water, and taste some tea. Instead, this test allows you to diminish the differences in thermal properties or pour times that might add variables in such an experiment, and focus for the moment on the effect of the clay on the tea liquor. »