Saturday, October 30, 2010

Call for Participants- An In Depth Study of Famous Ming Poet Zhang Yuan's Zhang Poyuan Chalu (aka Zhang Yuan's Tea Notes, Zhang Yuan's Tea Record)


With the online study of Hanjae Yi Mok's work Cha Bu- Rhapsody To Tea concluding, it is time to shift to the next classic for which we will discuss. This tea classic is referred to in Korean as Cha Sin Jeon- A Chronicle of the Spirit of Tea. After Lu Yu's Cha Jing (Classic of Tea), this text is perhaps the most influential of the tea classics. It has been passed on through different scroll copies recorded by different tea masters from different areas. The original word for word text is attributed to Zhang Yuan although he also attributes it to an earlier Buddhist Way of Tea which he states in an amended section at the end of his Tea Record.

As the translator's introduction in Korean Tea Classics states:

"The Zhang Poyuan Chalu, ca. 1595, is a late Ming Dynasty work on tea usually ascribed to Zhang Yuan (dates unknown, active ca. 16th century)... All the information on Zhang Yuan is contained in a preface to the Chalu by Gu Dadian (js. 1568 AD)... It seems this text was then simply integrated as section 14 , Caichalun (Picking Tea) in the Zeng-pu Wan-pao ch'uan-shu (The Supplemented Encyclopaedia of a Myriad of Wonders) compiled on imperial court command in 1595 by the Ming scholar Mao Huan-wen. This seems to have been the source that Cho'ui made a copy during his visit to Chilbul-sa Temple." (Page 66 of Korean Tea Classics)

In today's age of connectedness via the world wide web this trend continues. Those who do not have a copy of Korean Tea Classics do please follow along and participate by referencing a different English translation dirived from a Chinese source available here from The Leaf.

This tea classic will be covered one section a week which will go on for 24 weeks. Feel free to jump in with comments at anytime.

The first section will be covered next week.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Autumnal Teacup by Kim Dae Woong

This cup was a gift by the artist. It is the gift of the wood fired kiln, of Earth, of Fire. How appropriate is it to sip tea from its gritty, uncut innards on an cool autumn day?
Its shape is slightly oblong, warped, imperfect, so too is the coming of fall- it never comes smoothly but rather unevenly until it gives in to the cold of winter. This cup embodies the struggle of warm and cool, its colour splotches of warm reds, oranges, earthy notes- colours of fall. There are large swaths of black and browns also- the cold of winter when trees are bare.
The texture of the cup is cold like a rock- with eyes closed you'd swear it was. Its toughness is only confirmed by its scars from the kiln- a scratch here, a blotch there. Despite these crude features, the cup is extraordinarily lightweight and its walls excessively thin. Done to balance these harder features, it seems a bit too obvious.
Sipping Korean yellow tea from it on a cool autumn afternoon seems about right.
Wind rustles,
Leaves fall,
one drinks tea.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dao Tea Tasting Event: 2009/2010 Kim Jong Yeol Hwagae Valley Balhyocha

This is the first tea featured by Tea Master Kim Jong Yeol in this tasting event. One also enjoyed this tea during the March Equinox this year- see this post for the notes on this light, harmonizing tea.

Link to Adam's (The Sip Tip) Tasting Notes

Link to Bret's (Tea Goober) Tasting Notes


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Korean Tea Classics Book Club- Cha Bu- Rhapsody To Tea by Hanjae Yi Mok - Final Comments/ Discussion

If anyone has anything else they would like to say about Cha Bu or perhaps some overall thoughts, please post them here. Late comers, feel free to add to any of the commentary in any of the previous sections.

In a week or two we will start to cover Cha Sin Jeon section by section.

Feel free to join the online book club at anytime by simply purchasing Korean Tea Classics. The classics will be covered one section a week which will go on for about a year.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

2010 Essence of Tea Ban Pen

This tea is from an area just a few kilometres outside of Lao Ban Zhang and is composed of old growth leaves. Lets boil the kettle, get out the yixing, and have some tea.
As the water boils, one examines the dry leaf. It is the usual mix of green tinged leaves most of which still have the little white hairs covering them. The leaf is mediumish in size and smells of oh so fresh malty, tangy, sweet notes in a fresh newly picked depth.
The first infusion is prepared and bears light, dirty, cereal notes that attempt to turn creamy then retreat to a distinct flat sweetness. There is a subtle smokiness to it. It leaves a chalky, bland aftertaste in the mouth. The mouthfeel is a bit grainy then turns more chalky in feel. It numbs the lips.
The second infusion pours a pale, almost greeny, dirty -yellow soup. It's initial flavour is dirty earth. It finishes just a bit smoother with a slight creamy sweetness. These tastes flatten out into a turbid, dry, bland, chalky aftertaste. The mouthfeel is very full and pulls away the saliva making the tongue feel gritty like sand paper.
The chaqi is of the very relaxing type that puts one at ease on this lazy Saturday. One feels like floating on a cloud, it is a very peaceful chaqi that doesn't attack.

In the third and fourth infusions the gritty taste hints at something deeper in the flavour profile but doesn't quite get there. There is a slight rubbery creaminess that has a gamey milk taste. This taste turns into gritty and ends a flat sweet with a subtle earthy aftertaste that is a bit buttery. There is not that much of an aftertaste as the moutfeel evolves into a chalkiness.
The fifth infusion starts as a flat creaminess, turns to bitter, then dry, a leaves a gritty, gamey aftertaste in the mouth. Although there is more flavour in the aftertaste than in the initial taste, either way there still isn't much there.
In the sixth and seventh infusions, a sweet graininess develops with a long bitter finish. The aftertaste is dry and is almost fruity. The bitter, graininess, and slight fruit works simply and nicely.
The tea is taken for a few more infusions before it slips away into something like bitter, thin water. A few very soft floral notes add some interest before this teas flavour is all but taped.
Link to Hobbes' (The Half-Dipper) Tasting Notes
Link to Sebastian (Vacuithe) Tasting Notes

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

2010 Essence of Tea Bu Lang

This tea is another from Essence of Tea. This tea from the Bu Lang producing area.

As the kettle boils, the dry leaf is admired. Its very bitter and pungent notes fill the nose with each deep breath- the dry leaves show a mix of about half dark leaves and half lighter leaves. The dark ones are a green-brown or dark-brown and the lighter ones are straw coloured or hairy with darker tones underneath. Beautiful leaves. These dry leaves smell tough.

The first infusion is bitter, strong, smoky, and rubbery. The feeling is bridging overwhelmingly harsh the first time it was made, so much less leaf is now used. No matter, it still swings hard into the guts. It's qi wild, strong, and untamed. Under the strength is a buttery almost salty flavour that is mostly crowed out. The flavour is almost meaty with the slightest hints of coco underneath. The mouth and lips dry and pucker under the bitter of this Bu Lang.

The second infusion's thick liquor is even stronger and harsher. It is sour and has a muted sweetness start that leads into a sweet bitter coco/ tobacco aftertaste. The aftertaste also sours and bitters in the mouth. The mouth feel continues to dry and pucker the lips. On a cool, rainy, and terribly humid autumn day these sensations are whole heartedly embraced. It seems redundant to mention that this tea's qi is very alerting.

The third infusion reveals more of the rich nature of this tea. A savoury slathering of camphor and bitter coco are quite noticeable in its depth. Their is an nice earthiness to this infusion. The strong nature of this tea has not subsided.

The fourth and fifth infusions are still strong but have lots of room for more subtleties. Earthy camphor and woody coco flavours now standout above the other elements of this tea. A slight sour composition is noticeable. The mouthfeel is still very dry but also feels a bit sandy.

The sixth and seventh infusions are more of the above but on a much more manageable scale. There is a bitter-sweet, dry finish that lasts long with the flavours on the breath. The chaqi darts around the body charging it, changing it, with very little relaxing euphoria. It presses hard on the digestive organs. Ones goes for a walk to burn some of this excess energy off and to move the stagnating sensation aggregating in the stomach.

The infusions that follow become creamier. The harsh, raw, bitter edge of this tea fades enough for the flavours to be unimpeded. When the above mentioned flavours have all but vanished the spent leaves are spilt out and thanks is given.

Link to Hobbes' (The Half-Dipper) Tasting Notes

Link to Sebastien's (Vacuithe) Tasting Notes


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Korean Tea Classics Book Club- Cha Bu- Rhapsody To Tea by Hanjae Yi Mok 8. Epilogue

"I cherish you, frequent you, drink you, you keep me company, on mornings when flowers bloom, on moonlit evenings, I am happy, no complaints."

from Cha-Bu Rhapsody To Tea by Hanjae Yi Mok translated in Korean Tea Classics

Feel free to join the online book club at anytime by simply purchasing Korean Tea Classics. The classics will be covered one section a week which will go on for about a year.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Korean Tea Classics Book Club- Cha Bu- Rhapsody To Tea by Hanjae Yi Mok 7. The Six Virtues Of Tea

"Yuchuan celebrated it, Lu Yu praised it, Shengyu fulfilled his life with it, Cao Ye forgot to go home because of it."

from Cha-Bu Rhapsody To Tea by Hanjae Yi Mok translated in Korean Tea Classics

Feel free to join the online book club at anytime by simply purchasing Korean Tea Classics. The classics will be covered one section a week which will go on for about a year.

Additional Readings: Warren Peltier's notes on the historical figures mentioned in this section may be especially helpful: Korean Tea Texts, Classical and Modern [ii]: The Cha Bu of Hanjae Yi Mok


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dao Tea Tasting Event: 2009 Kim Shin Ho Hwagae Valley Seajak Green Tea

This tea was included in the tasting package for comparative purposes only as it is no longer available from Dao Tea.

Here is a link to a post that one did on this tea in March when it was a lot more fresh.

Link to Bret's (Tea Goober) Tasting Notes

Link to Adam's (The Sip Tip) Tasting Notes


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dao Tea Tasting Event: 2010 Kim Shin Ho Hwagae Valley Saejak Green Tea

This is the first of a series of posts that feature the Hwagae Valley teas sent out to participants of the Dao Tea tasting event. Those who participated or others who have joined in, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section. Let us start with this fresh green by teamaster Kim Shin Ho.

The dry leaves smell rubbery, salty, with a very faint odour of pine. These leaves are added to a preheated pot.

Warm water that has spent much time cooling embraces the dry leaves to signal the start of the first infusion. The first sips that are taken from the yellowish soup are thick and oily with light syrupy honey notes, a very light salty-bitter middle, and a slightly sweet faint floral aftertaste.

The second infusion displays some interesting grainy-salty notes in a thick, full, goopy mouthfeel. There is a slight sweet-grainy aftertaste which lingers for a while showing signs of slight fruitiness. The chaqi disperses lightly in the chest, with the slightest warmth being generated or released in the chest. The stomach embraces this green tea with no resistance.

The third infusion reveals a thick honey-grain flavour that is barely sweet. It really coats the mouth. Most of the sweetness of this tea is in the heavy honey-grain aftertaste. Subtle pine, floral, and salty flavours peek through especially in the aftertaste. Ones forehead gets soft and slightly clammy under this teas influence.

During the fourth infusion the mouthfeel seems to come together pulling the thick, goopy floral feeling into the throat. These floral notes start becoming more apparent.

In the fifth infusion, lighter top notes reconcile with heavier grainy bottom notes. Sweet, lighter cool flavours are more noticeable here. The aftertaste contains heavier notes with lighter florals mixed in.

The sixth infusion has lighter florals continuing to overtake the thicker, heavier flavours. There is a flowery sweet taste that sticks to the corners of ones mouth. The depth of the fresh green-floral taste is starting to flatten out but light notes still ride atop a thick mouthfeel with the grainy flavour barely hanging on. The chaqi has a slight harmonizing nature to it as it quenches the body and focuses the mind.

In the seventh infusion the tea starts to develop sharper corners along with fruity, harsher notes. It also develops a bitter-bland feeling to it which is amplified in the eight infusion. Muted floral notes stay awhile on the breath as this session comes to a close.

Link to Nate's (Subtle Experience Tea Leaves And Rising Steam) Tasting Notes

Link to Adam's (Subtle Experience) Tasting Notes

Link to Ian's (Monkey Teas) Tasting Notes


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Korean Tea Classics Book Club- Cha Bu- Rhapsody To Tea by Hanjae Yi Mok 6. The Five Merits Of Tea

"If the taste of tea is long-lasting and deep, how can we avoid talking of its merits?"

from Cha-Bu Rhapsody To Tea by Hanjae Yi Mok translated in Korean Tea Classics

Feel free to join the online book club at anytime by simply purchasing Korean Tea Classics. The classics will be covered one section a week which will go on for about a year.