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Excerpt:

The fourth tea was a 1990's Aged Tiguanyin from Taiwan.  Traditionally, this tea would be stored in ceramic containers and removed occasionally for roasting.  The taste shifted from smoky caramel to nutty caramel over three infusions.

World of Tea Series: A Flight of Aged Teas


A FLIGHT OF AGED TEAS
Hosted by Cinnabar Wright (Phoenix Tea)

While most of the finest teas are at peak value shortly after their harvest and production dates, there are some teas that are produced and stored for years, utilizing traditional practices that enhance the depth and character of the tea. Aging is typically associated with the teas that are referred to as "post-fermented" in English. These are the teas from Yunnan, Hunan, and Anhui, China, which employ microbial agents as catalysts of change in the tea over time. These teas are most often formed into bricks, cakes, and other compressed forms, and they have a great deal of variation within those parameters, but all increase in quality as they become older. Producing a very different style, there is also a tradition in Taiwan of aging oolongs, which are taken out and re-roasted every so often, as they become richer, darker, and more complex.    

It is not difficult to find and taste unremarkable aged teas from Taiwan and China in the 2-5 year old range, so in this August 15th tasting we concentrated on teas that have been aged for at least 15 years, including some teas from the '80s and '90s. Teas of these older vintages are considerably more of a challenge to source, which is generally reflected in their price, but they are well worth the cost to the people who really understand and appreciate them. Some tea people attribute qualities above and beyond sensory experience to these aged teas, including high levels of "chi," the energy defined by Chinese medicine and martial arts, and many people experience a state of euphoria while drinking these venerable teas, known in the West by the term "tea drunk."    

We couldn't promise that attendees would experience an exalted mental state when you tasted these aged teas, but we can assure you that this was an enjoyable adventure with a flight of exceptional teas that you are unlikely to encounter anywhere else.
 


TRADITIONAL TEAS & SWEETS
Hosted by Phoenix Tea

This was a really enjoyable and educational tasting on October 17th of 5 different pairings of traditional teas with traditional sweets, giving guests the opportunity to indulge in exquisite and unusual treats along with high caliber single origin teas. Guests experienced an array of aromas and flavors, including flowery, sugary, savory, and the teas and sweets were served in and on tea wares and accessories typical of the culture of each pairing.

Representative pairings came from Egypt, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, and Turkey.

 


Excerpt:

Tatsuo explained how the behavior of steam in the yuzamashi (water cooling pitcher) can indicate temperature. Steam billows upward with near-boiling water temperatures, ideal for hojicha or bancha. Water at temperatures around 140°F will have little or no steam, ideal for gyokuro. Steam moving to the side at an approximate 45° angle indicates temperatures around 175°F - 185°F, ideal for sencha.

Red the rest of the post: World of Tea Series: New Harvest of Teas from Japan


NEW HARVEST OF TEAS FROM JAPAN
Hosted by Tatsuo Tomeoka (Charaku Fine Japanese Tea)

Tatsuo Tomeoka, owner of Charaku Fine Japanese Tea, lead a tea tasting class on July 18th that explored the variety, history, and culture of Japanese green tea.  We tasted a wide variety of teas from various appellations around Japan from the 2015 new harvest (shincha) tea. Besides regional variations of Sencha, we also experienced the various processing styles that lead to Fukamushicha (Deep-Steamed Tea,) Tamaryokucha ("Coiled, or Ball-rolled" Tea,) Houjicha (Roasted GreenTea,) Genmaicha (Sencha plus Roasted Brown Rice,) and Kukicha (Stem Tea.) We concluded the tasting with Charaku's Premium Organic Matcha, which was accompanied by seasonal, hand-made wagashi sweets from Seattle-based Tokara, one of the few professional Japanese confectioneries in the U.S.
 


Excerpt:

The presentation opened with Christopher Ezzell who shared with us his inspiration from and appreciation of the simplicity and thoughtful aesthetic of the Japanese tea room and how he has incorporated this into his own work.  

World of Tea Series: Contemporary Aesthetics & Traditional Tea Culture


CONTEMPORARY AESTHETICS & TRADITIONAL TEA CULTURE
Hosted by Christopher Ezzell and Christopher Shaw

On June 13th, artist/designers Christopher Ezzell (Architect, East West Chanoyu and Tankokai) and Christopher Shaw (Artist, Northwest Tea Collective) each provided guests with a tea experience inspired from their personal tea practice. Both hosts initiated a discussion of art, design and aesthetics. Guests experienced a journey through the hosts’ unique intersection of tea and art. This event provided a special opportunity to experience two contemporary tea practices inspired by different traditions.
 


TEA AID: A FUNDRAISE FOR NEPAL RELIEF EFFORTS

On May 23rd, Northwest Tea Festival sponsored a benefit for Nepal Earthquake relief efforts as part of the World of Tea series. Since Nepal is nestled in the Himalayas among many world-renowned tea growing regions, and is itself a producer of fine teas, it seemed particularly appropriate that the tea community step up to provide some aid in Nepal’s time of suffering.

There was a tasting of teas from that general region, principally Darjeeling and Nepal. There were also tea items for sale contributed by local tea companies. 100% of the proceeds went to the relief efforts. 
 


THE INTRIGUING WORLD OF POST-FERMENTED TEAS
Hosted by Cinnabar Wright (Phoenix Tea)

Thank you for joining us for the April 18th installment in the World of Tea Series for an exploration of the intriguing world of post-fermented teas. Although the teas under this classification range greatly in appearance and taste, they all have in common a stage of production where true fermentation is induced in the tea, which continues to impact the tea as it ages and matures.

The most well-known sub-group of this category of teas is Puer, in both its raw (sheng) and “cooked” (shou) forms. Puer is always from Yunnan, China, and can be produced in several common forms, including loose, cakes, bricks, and tuocha, which is a bowl or nest shape.

Since Puer is more widely known and is fairly easy to find and experience, we focused the tasting part of this event on post-fermented teas that are not Puer, which means they are made in areas outside of Yunnan, China, and are very different in character from Puer and from each other.

The tasting included at least six different teas, and included examples from Hunan Province in China, Japan, Korea, Anhui Province in China, and Malawi. We also had a wide range of teas on display during the event to give attendees a look at how much variation there is in appearance, shape, and aroma.
 


A TASTE OF SPRING!
Hosted by Cinnabar Wright (Phoenix Tea)

On March 21st, we celebrated the first day of Spring with a fun and festive tasting of flower infusions! Infusions of flowers are a tradition in several countries, including China and Japan, which are of course known more widely for the production/consumption of true tea (Camellia sinensis). The flowers in the tasting ranged from pure and delicate dried flowers, to true teas scented or combined with flowers, to a cake of aged flowers of the true tea plant. We were surrounded by bright and delicate flavors, and infusions that ranged from pale and delicate to a riot of magenta. If you have never had the opportunity to taste any pure flower infusions this was a fun adventure. if you have already experienced a taste of some of these beverages you probably discovered something new that you were not already familiar with. Either way, this was a great way to launch into Spring!
 


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