Tea performing arts, tea terminology and translation, promote tea studies and innovations. *Contact ,icetea8@gmail.com, Trad. and Simp. Chinese used. Blog since 6/23/2005
Name: Steven R. Jones; Link: http://teaarts.blogspot.com/
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名字:瓊斯史迪芬Steven R. Jones, 網址: http://teaarts.blogspot.com/

12/07/2006

orchids to tea?

I was looking up orchids and found this great piece of info...I can't vouche for all the info, if is a nice bit of work.
the following is from the site http://www.pineridgeorchids.com/

"""Barbara and I have become hopelessly enthralled with Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese teas over the last 10 years or so. I will attempt to give you some background information and some of our experiences with enjoying cha in the following.
All true teas as we know them (in contrast to flower and herbal infusions) are from the leaves of a Magnolia-related evergreen tree – Camellia sinensis. The tea trees are grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas, but the best leaves are from trees grown in higher elevations up to 9,000 feet (2,740 meters) where the leaves will grow more slowly and produce a richer flavor. The many different styles and tastes of tea – white, green, oolong, black, and the pu-ehrs – are the direct result of the regional variety of tea bush or tree, the local environment and substrate in which the plants are grown, how and when the leaves are picked, and how the tea is processed.
A few notes on preparing tea – water quality is critical. We suggest using Volvic (French), Crystal Geyser, Rocky Mountain, Alaskan Glacier Gold Water, or Poland Springs (all US brands), or Aquator, Bourassa Canadian, or Naya (Canadian brands) bottled water. The most important properties for good water for brewing superior tea is no hard chlorination, neutral pH (7.0), and a preferred TDS of 30 – 50 ppm. Barbara and I use our Reverse Osmosis machine which pre-treats our well water to remove the heavy calcium levels plus ozonation and gives us a TDS of 9 – 20 ppm.
When you are all done brewing your tea in your Yixing tea pot, simply rinse out the tea pot– never use any soap, just cold water. Lay the tea pot upside down to drain and air dry on a plastic drain board to prevent any chipping.
GONGFU CHA
The Chinese tea ceremony is not an elaborate formal regimented ritual like the Japanese Cha-no-yu (“The Way of Tea” perfected by Sen Rikyu in the 16th century).
The Gongfu (meaning "to do things well") method of tea became popular in China during the Ming dynasty (1250-1600). For the first time, tea was prepared in the whole leaf style and the kilns in Yixing became famous for the purple clay pots and the artist masters they produced. The Gongfu method was originally intended for brewing oolongs; today the centuries-old ritual now is used for virtually all other tea varieties.
This style of preparation and serving tea was possibly refined in the middle of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) in the town of Chaozhou in eastern Guangdong Province, close to Fujian, and almost due west of Tainan, Taiwan.
Gongfu Tea takes its name from the same term kung-fu used in the martial arts. The use of the term with tea implies similar types of concentration, practice, and spiritual benefit.
Gongfu Cha can be performed in the following manner:
Heat water to a temperature appropriate for the style of tea you are preparing.
A tea sink is used to hold the tea pot, the tea cups, the tea implements such as bamboo tweezers and picks to clean out the tea pot, and the tea presentation vessel. The sink may be simple decorated metal or bamboo or an elaborately carved piece of clay or stone, but in all cases waste water is either drained to a reservoir below the surface or to a pipe that has a drainage tube that goes into an external bucket or container.
Pour the hot water into the teapot, which is placed on the tea sink or tea boat used for the ritual. This pre-heats the tea pot.
Pour the water from the tea pot into the tea cups to warm them.
Take the tea leaves from the container and place in a tea pot using a scoop. You may want to show off the dried leaves first to your guests so place the dried leaves into a display cup which is usually glazed white inside to display the leaves. Pass the display vessel around to your guests so that they can admire and smell the leaves while they are still dry. The tea scoops may be highly decorative and carved from bamboo roots. Bamboo is used because it will not impart any flavor or smell to the leaves.
Pour the hot water over the leaves in the tea pot filling the tea pot to overflowing; pour out this first rinsing infusion into the tea sink and again pour hot water into the tea pot.
Pour hot water over the exterior of the teapot to prevent the leaves from cooling.
Empty the water from the warmed tea cups into the tea sink while the tea steeps.
There are several ways to pour the tea into the cups. I prefer pouring the contents of the tea pot into a warmed sharing vessel through a fine filter that will catch any small particles. This sharing vessel will insure that all your guests receive the same quality. You can also pour the contents of the tea pot into the cups a little at a time going back and forth to obtain the uniformity, but all the tea should be poured from the tea pot to prevent over steeping. The host may pass the emptied tea pot around to the guests so that they can appreciate the fragrance of the hot wet leaves. This can be taken to one more step by using fragrance cups. In competition, these small cylindrical cups are filled with tea and the saucer is placed on top of the cup and inverted. The cup is raised to empty the tea into the saucer and the fragrance of the tea is smelled in the cup. This, in my opinion, is getting a little extravagant, but kind of interesting to do on occasion??
Tea is served by the host and is poured into the guests’ cups in a counter-clockwise direction (bringing the circle toward your heart) to indicate that the host wants his or her guests to stay and enjoy. If the guests notice the tea being served in a clock-wise direction, I guess it is time to go.
Tea can be steeped several times – generally two times for greens, maybe 3 or 4 times for oolongs, and upwards of 7 or 10 times for exceptional aged pu-ehr.
Several types of tea can be enjoyed if the visit is long and the conversation flows. I generally like to progress from the lighter teas into the heavier more robust pu-ehrs. New and different style tea pots and cups are used for the different teas.
WHITE TEA
Chinese white teas are principally picked from the Chinese Fujian Province or from Hunan and Guangxi in south central China just as the tea bushes are starting to grow and develop their first flush of growth in early spring. The highest quality would be pre-Qing Ming just before the first leaves are unfolding from the developing bud. The developing bud is pulled or snapped off and air dried with minimal or no oxidation occurring, thus preserving the greenest of growth covered with tiny silken hairs. The leaves are not rolled during the drying heat and that stops any further oxidation. Some of the more famous of these would be White Peony, Gushan Baiyun (Drum Mountain White Cloud), and Yinzhen Bai Hao (Silver Needle). Steep about 3 grams of leaves in 6 ounces of water in water about 170 – 185 F (76 – 85 C) using a fair amount of leaves since the tea will be light and allow to steep for maybe 4 – 5 minutes. Use a glass or a glass gaiwan to enjoy the opening of the dried leaves. I’ve found the flavors will be grassy, green, and a little “vegetably” – what I would envision pure untouched tea leaves to taste like. White tea can generally be steeped twice and possibly three times with 15 to 30 seconds or so of increased steeping times. Store White Tea in a screw top glass container to protect it from air – we also store ours in the freezer to make it last longer.
GREEN TEA
I’ve always thought that China has the highest quality green teas. Japan also produces very high quality green tea, but it is processed a bit differently, and their flavors are different. The highest quality Chinese green tea is picked pre-Qing Ming, again just as the bushes begin their growth. Outside of Souzhou, Barbara and I have visited Xishan, the largest island in Lake Tai Hu. The village of Piao Miao had a snow fall one week earlier. We were climbing the short mountain and stepping all over the broken Qing and Ming Dynasty pottery shards to watch our friend, Zhou Guo-Dong (Dong dong), pick and process Bi Luo Chun tea. His five family members would pick the smallest of emerging branch tips from 6 in the morning until noon – picking maybe 500 grams of leaves that day. The leaves would be hand sorted to pick only the best leaves that would not be broken or bruised. The daily batch would then be dried and pressed by his father in a wok heated with a small wood fire stoked by his uncle. Later crops of leaves would, of course, produce much higher quantities of tea leaves as the bushes actively started to grow but the taste changes. The 2006 pre-Qing Ming Bi Luo Chun is being picked from Dong dong’s tea bushes on top of the highest point on Piao Miao which faces East and is being dried and pressed in a large steel wok by his Father and Uncle at their home on the southern base of the mountain right now – 3/28/2006.
There are many types of Chinese green teas – we have been enjoying the Bi Luo Chun, pre-Qing Ming picked Lung Ching West Lake Dragon Well, Sparrow’s Tongue, Mao Jian, Mao Feng, Lu Shan Yun Wu - there are just so many and they all have different tastes and feelings. There is also a very large difference in quality between the hand-picked competition grade tea that the farmers produce in much smaller quantities to enter into tasting competitions each spring (smallest quantity = highest price) and the same farmer’s high quality and standard quality (may be machine pruned) production teas. Tasting is the determining factor.
Barbara and I are just beginning our education in Japanese green teas. Most Japanese green teas are first steamed for about 30 seconds, sorted, and then dried over various amounts of heat.
I have read that Gyokuro (jade dew) is the highest grade of tea made in Japan and it is produced only from the first flush of leaves from plants grown under shade for 20 days or so to reduce the tannins in the leaves. It may be aged for 3 months to allow the leaves to mellow. It has a very light and delicate flavor, so brew Gyokuro for about 45 seconds with water about 140 – 160 F (670 – 70 C) – use about 4 grams (1 tsp) of the tea per 120 ml (4 ounces) water, depending upon your taste. Hojicha and Genmaicha are brewed with water closer to boiling temperature for only about 1 minute.
Shincha is the Japanese version of the Chinese “pre-Qing Ming” picked green tea in that it is the first picking of spring and is only steamed very lightly to give it a light aromatic taste – it is considered the best of the tea crop for the year. There are 5 grades of Shincha - Kiwami Shincha is the highest grade followed by Shun no Kaori Shincha.
Sencha is initially steamed, then air dried, and finally heated in a pan for the final preparation. Most Japanese tea is graded as Sencha and varies in flavor and uniformity – the later pickings being more bitter and less aromatic. Sencha is brewed at about 175 F (80 C) for about 1 to 2 minutes.
Kamairi Cha is pan-fried tea prepared in the Chinese method and its rich flavors are similar to the green Chinese teas. Two southern regions in Japan considered particularly good for this tea are Sechibaru and Ureshino.
Mecha (bud tea) is made from the rolled buds plus the tip leaves during spring growth. It is a little astringent and bitter and is sharp in flavor.
Other types of Sencha teas are Hukamushi (heavily steamed non-uniform leaves resulting in a milder tea with less green aroma), Kukicha (made from the stalks of the Gyokuro and Sencha after the bud and three leaves had been removed – light flavor and fresh green aroma), Bancha (common tea made from the later season or second flush coarser leaves with full flavor that goes well with food), Houjicha (pan-fried at higher temperatures using Kukicha and Bancha to produce reddish leaves with a clean deeply roasted flavor which is good with oily or heavier foods), and Genmaicha (roasted rice tea) which is a blend of Bancha and roasted rice.
Matcha (also spelled Maccha) is powdered tea made from hand-picked early season high grade shaded leaves similar to Gyokuro which is steamed, the leaf’s veins and stems are then removed, and the leaves are stone ground. When you drink Matcha, you are actually drinking the tea leaves themselves. It is the tea used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony (Chano-yu) – sift the bright green powder through a very fine screen called a Matcha Sifter to get rid of the lumps and produce a mellower flavor. Nishiocha from the Matcha producing region in Aichi is considered the most famous. Only the highest quality Matcha can be used to make the thick strong Koicha (leaves picked exclusively from tea bushes that are at least 30 years old). The thinner weaker style Matcha is called Usucha (the tea bushes have to be less than 30 years old). Brew Matcha at 185 – 210 F (85 – 99 C). Use about 4 grams (1 tsp) per 120 - 150 ml water (depending upon personal tastes) for a strong brew that is used in Chano-yu or about 2 grams (0.5 tsp) in 120 ml hot water for everyday Matcha. Place the talc-like powdered tea in the Matcha cup, pour in the hot water, and use a Matcha bamboo whisk vigorously to froth up the tea.
Green tea can generally be steeped twice and possibly three times with 15 to 30 seconds or so of increased steeping times. In general store, steep, and enjoy the Green Teas the same as White Teas.
Health benefits result from various health promoting flavonoids including antioxidant polyphenols, notably a catechin ECGC (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), which is especially abundant in the green teas. Catechins have been found to be more efficient free radical scavengers than Vitamins C and E and promote a wide spectrum of neuroprotective cellular mechanisms such as iron chelation and regulation of mitochondrial function. Most of the research has been based on the 3 cups of green tea per day the Asians typically drink providing about 240 – 320 mg polyphenols which includes 60 – 105 mg ECGC.


Chinese & Taiwanese Tea

Wenshan Bao Zhong oolong is produced in Pinglin in the Wen Shan area about 40 km southeast of Taipei. The village has a population of about 6,000 – 4,800 of whom are tea farmers and not only has the largest tea museum in Asia (the Pinglin Tea Industry Museum) but also produces one of the Two Sister Teas (Jie Mei Cha) of Taiwan. Bao Zhong is an extraordinary light oolong. The flavor is lighter than other oolongs because the processing calls for only about 15% oxidation compared to upwards of 60% for other oolongs. Barbara and I were looking for “big leaf” Bao Zhong and no one at the tea museum knew what we were asking until a gardener (who was also a tea farmer) there overheard us. He knew of a tea maker who was making the competition “big leaf.” A friend of Barbara’s who is in the tea importing business had once given her what looked like an entire branch of large leaves that had been lightly oxidized and dried and entered for competition. It was entirely unique – you actually had to gently crush the leaves to get them into the gaiwan so that you could steep the tea. We had never seen anything quite like that again. The competition grade Bao Zhong which was only available in very limited quantities had the same flavor as the whole branch that we had enjoyed in Homestead.
The other sister tea is Dong Ding from Wuyi Shan in the village of Luku which has an oxidation of about 35%. It is rich and medium roasted like Bao Zhong. Barbara and I found some 20 year old aged Dong Ding which has a balance of a beautifully roasted oolong and a flavor reminiscent of a light pu-ehr.
In recent years, the most expensive and highest quality oolongs were from the Alishan and Dong Ding areas mentioned above, but recently some very high quality richly roasted oolongs are from Lishan (“Pear Mountain”) where the tea is grown up to 9.000 feet (2,740 meters).
Tiekuanyin (Iron Buddha) oolong used to be exclusively from Fujian China but is now produced in Taiwan and China. It is known for its larger leaves and it’s ability to go through many steepings and still have the slightly sweet roasty flavorings.
We discovered a unique oolong from Nan Tou in Taiwan. The tea farmer takes her finest grade oolong after it has been processed and puts it through a second roasting to produce “Red Water” oolong. This tea fills the entire house up with it’s fragrance when we brew it (hot and strong) and the smoky, woodsy, sweet, and nutty flavor lasts through many steepings.
PU-EHR TEA
(my favorite)
Pu-ehr dates back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 – 220 AD) & possibly as early as the Shang Dynasty (1700 – 1027 BC). This early, members of local national minorities would just throw tea leaves from the scattered wild tea trees into boiling water and add pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and other spices. It was not until the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) that the practice of pouring hot water over tea leaves and rolling leaves into little balls became popular. By this period, specially shaped tea cakes (375 gram and larger) were shipped to the Imperial Court as tribute and the Emperor would present smaller bricks (250 gram) as rewards to his officials.
In 1570, Dao Ying-meng, an Imperial representative, divided his jurisdiction into 12 “bannas” (a Dai language word meaning government regions for Imperial tax gathering), the most famous for Pu-ehr being the Six Tea Mountains of Xishuangbanna and Simao. It is written in the book "Chronicle of the Town of Puerh" written during the reign of Emperor Daoguang of the Qing Dynasty "In distant times the Marquis Wu (Zhuge Liang) travelled criss-cross fashion through the region of the Six Tea Mountains, leaving a copper gong in Youl, a copper snake in Mangzhi, a brick of iron in Manzhuan, a wooden beater in Yibangm a yoke harness in Gedeng and a seed bag for sowing in Mansi. These places were named after all these objects. In Mangzhi and Gedeng there are tea trees planted according to legend by the Marquis Wu himself, whom the local national minorities revere to this day, and they are much bushier and higher than in the other Tea Mountains." The original Six Tea Mountains (Youle = Copper Gong, Manzhuan = Iron Brick, Mansa = Seed Sowing Bag, Mangzhi = Copper Boa, Yibang = Wooden Clapper, and Gedeng = Leather Stirrup) region of Xishuangbanna in Yunnan where a lot of wild tea trees grew was probably the legendary place where tea cultivation started in the entire world. In 1962, the “new” Famous Six Tea Mountains were founded - Yiwu, Jingmai, Menghai, Nannuo, Bulang, and Youle, because over time, the original set of mountains had been destroyed by fire, neglect, and over-picking. This set of Six Mountains are Jiang Bei (north of Mekong River). There is also a set of Famous Six Tea Mountains that include some of the “original” mountains that are Jiang Nan (south of Mekong River) – they are Mengsong, Nannuo, Menghai, Bada, Nanqiao, and Jingmai. The town of Pu-ehr was simply the administrative center of the Six Tea Mountains banna, and that was how the tea was named. All the tea that was produced in this region, except for the Black teas, were known as pu-ehr, even though they didn’t taste like what we know as Pu-ehr. The twice-fermented tea was probably an accidental discovery when tea was being transported by horse or oxen and may have gotten damp (rain and sweat?) and oxidized. The customers who purchased this tea along the caravan trail became accustomed to the particular taste of the tea.
By the 1700s, the tea was so highly taxed that it was difficult for the tea farmers and merchants to make a living, so production and supply dropped. By the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), there was a devastating fire that destroyed about half of the tea growing areas in the Six Tea Mountains and disease and neglect ruined the remaining areas.
The PRC was established in 1949, and there was a renewed interest in pu-ehr tea production resulting in new factories being built, tea research facilities being established, and new tea growing areas being planted.
There are basically two general types of Pu-her – Green / raw / uncooked / Sheng or Black / cooked / Shou using the Wuo Dui (“scientifically aged using wet stacked”) style.
All pu-ehr starts out as Mao Cha or rough tea. The unbruised tea laves are plucked by hand and laid out in woven bamboo baskets and carried back to the village to be laid out on bamboo mats to start to wilt slightly before firing, which kills off the enzymes. As the firing progresses, the leaves are kneaded and rolled to produce a uniform bruising. The dried leaves can then sorted for quality and sent to the factories for further processing.
Green Sheng Pu-ehr is made from the Mao Cha using the big leaf Yunnan leaves that have little or no oxidation before being processed into the various compressed shapes. The taste of a processed tea is directly related to the soil composition, the variety of tea plant, the climate, season of picking, the altitude that the plants are growing, the quality of the tea leaves and how they were picked and handled after picking, and then the way the leaves are processed. The tea leaves are picked by hand often from very old trees, sorted to get rid of broken or over-oxidized leaves, wilted on a concrete floor under cover, and roughly raked around to batter up the leaves somewhat. After wilting for several hours (sometimes overnight), the leaves are moved outdoors exposing them to direct sunlight. They are moved around by foot until dried and turned a reddish brown color. 90% of their original moisture content has been lost. The unsorted leaves (Mao Cha) are packed up into sacks to be taken to the factories where the leaves are steamed in a machine to re-hydrate the leaves and laid out in 40 – 50 cm thick beds covered by heavy cloths to ferment for 7 – 9 days and sometimes up to a month. Care must be taken during the re-hydration to ensure the quality of the water used and to make sure the leaves do not get exposed to the smoke of the fire. This is the most important period for determining quality and price. The longer the fermentation, the finer the taste will be. The leaves are then dried and sorted into 10 different grades. They are then steamed again and compressed into different shapes – cakes (Bing Cha), bricks, cups, mushrooms, logs, etc. These compressed shapes are then put into dry storage to slowly oxidize with age, but not allowed to ever dry out completely because the oxidation process is on going. If you brew the young tea it will be very astringent, especially if the leaves are from old wild arbor-type tea trees.
Pu-her that is processed in the traditional Green method is a living tea in that various fungi are active, either in the short time or over a long extended time to give it it’s characteristic earthy, forest floor, organic characteristics. Storing the tea in the proper way is very important for aging – you want relatively low humidity odor-free air. Keep the tea in a breathable package – never in plastic. We keep our Pu-ehr in their original paper wraps inside large terra cotta pots with a large terra cotta saucer as a lid.
Black Shou Pu-ehr was first developed at the Jin-Gu Tea Factory in Yunnan around 1950 in an attempt to speed up the fermentation oxidation process. The Black Pu-ehr is made with the same leaves as the Green Pu-ehr (Mao Cha), so the tea is processed using the same initial steps as the Green Pu-ehr through drying. Starting with good quality leaves will definitely improve both Green and Black Pu-ehr. Fermentation is speeded up with an extra step called Wuo Duei which involves wetting down the leaves in a warm environment (sometimes outside in the sun with the tea being turned every few hours for several days to a month, depending upon the tea maker’s preferences) to encourage further oxidation in an auto-thermal process. The heat generated in the Wuo Duei indicates the “cooked” nomenclature. This process should be tightly controlled so that the tea does not excessively oxidize. Loose leaf Pu-ehr is now stored in cloth bags and the leaves that are to be shaped are steamed and compressed. This type of Pu-ehr is ready for brewing immediately producing a rich deep mellow flavor, but many of the subtleties of good aged Green Pu-ehr are lost. Black Pu-ehr will age for approximately 15 years and will not improve in flavor past this time. Store loose leaf Black Shou Pu-ehr in a glass container.
Please Note – there is an artificial pu-ehr called “Wet Storage” and I have heard it called “Hong Kong Style” where the loose or compressed new Sheng or Shou pu-ehr is stored in a wet, moldy, humid room to give it a strong moldy flavor. It is not safe to drink. This counterfeit tea is being produced because of the demand for real pu-ehr.
An interesting way to tell the difference between Black and Green leaves is that after brewing Green leaves can be unrolled and Black leaves will shatter.
Chinese teas are best prepared in Yixing teapots made from the special zisha clay found in Yixing, China. This fine clay, which is becoming very limited in quantity any longer, contains mica, iron, and quartz. The porous unglazed tea pots absorbs over time the delicate flavors of the teas becoming seasoned, therefore, when preparing the various teas, you should dedicate a tea pot to a certain type of tea. For example, you would not want to prepare a fine Biluochun green tea in a pot that has been used for preparing pu-ehr or an aged oolong. Yixing teapots date back to the Sung Dynasty (960 – 1279) when the purple clay was mined around the Lake Taihu area. We like to use glass tea pots for green teas so that we can see the leaves unfold and raise and fall as they steep. It is also easy to watch the color of the green tea to determine when to decant into a sharing vessel so that does not over steep and become bitter. Some teas like Green Azure, a slightly bitter lightly medicinal tea that looks like it was picked from coppiced bushes that makes a litle forest of standing bright green leaves when brewed, literally explode with activity and put on a visual display when you add water to them. This can only be enjoyed in glass.
When purchasing Yixing tea pots, look at the clay’s color uniformity, look at the clarity, mineral content, and refined substance of the clay itself, the thinness of the tea pot, how tightly the top fits the body of the tea pot, the clarity of the chop on the bottom of the tea pot (and possibly inside the top and maybe on the handle), look to see if the spout and the handle are centered and line up straight, and lay the tea pot body upside down on a flat surface and see if the tip of the spout, the top of the pot, and the top of the handle all line up (Shui Ping Hui style). The highest artist quality tea pots made from the masters will be quite evident. Caution – collecting tea pots and tea cups can be just as addictive as collecting all the different wonderful teas.
Here is an idea of the standardized method of taste testing teas used in competition –
1) 3 grams of tea leaves + 150 ml H2O are steeped for 5 minutes.
2) Check the aroma.
3) Check the tea for brightness, luster, and richness of color.
4) When tasting the tea, look for its strength, smoothness, and natural sweetness along with all the underlying tastes and after tastes.
5) Look at the leaves – freshness and tenderness.
6) Look at the dried leaves for uniformity, quality, and luster.
"Zen and Japanese Culture" by Daisetz T. Suzuki describes drinking tea in a tea room - "Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space? The art of tea really teaches us far more than the harmony of things, or keeping them free from contamination, or just sinking down into a state of contemplative tranquility." """
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http://www.pineridgeorchids.com/