Archive for Chinese tea

a journal of the plague and pestilence year [continued]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2022 by xi'an

Had a full week in Coventry for the first time in a while, thanks to my CDT masterclass on GANs and other acronyms. Arriving on a Bank Holiday in a Math Science Building only populated by a few graduate students. And stayed in an Airbnb rather than the traditional math house, which afforded me a picture of the local community as warmer and drier weather meant more people on the street in the evenings (and more lawnmowers as well). Including discovering that the traditional UK ice cream van [which I had first seen & heard in a Birmingham suburb in the mid 1970’s summers] had not gone extinct! One was touring the neighbourhood every night with the customary chime. (Also spotted what strongly looked like a home delivery of drugs, without the chimes.)

Read Half-Witch, by John Schoffstal, which I bought for no clear reason quite a while ago and only read in the past fortnight, maybe because I was somewhat put off by the unusual cover. The contents were unusual as well, a sort of modern take on a Grimm’s fairytale, with a complete lack of attention to realism, and a witty sarcastic tone for a coming of age story where a young girl manages goblins, witches, an hopeless Trinity, a similarly hopeless father, and plenty of nasty people, by outwitting them all. Also quickly went through two (Tor gifts) novellas A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, which I enjoyed tremendously as a Zen tale, following a tea monk!, and Unlocked, by John Scalzi, which is a sort of prequel to Lock In I read eons ago. Where half-a-page viewpoints follows the unraveling of a World pandemic that first looks like a super-flu, follows air routes to reach all countries, had a high fatality and high contamination rates, and is kept under control by the massive investment of governments… Reading this in 2022 is presumably much more exciting than when it appeared, as the setting sounds prescient and follows to some extent what happened with COVID, except for the US President to react much more efficiently than the Agent Orange “in charge” at the time.

Did not cook the first green asparagus I found at the market, as they are great eaten raw in a minimalist salad. Also had a great spaghetti alle vongole in a local Italian restaurant, if far from an Italian pricing!

on [not] making tea

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2021 by xi'an

By chance, when looking for information on the film that usually appears on top of tea brews (!), I came upon this highly ranked blog entry of a security expert explaining how not to make tea. Which did not seem completely right in my tea-oholic eyes..! Not that the following rambling is of any relevance whatsoever!

On the agreement side, it is indeed hard to get decent tea in most places, the primary reason being a lack of understanding that very hot water is needed. The worst being these cafés where they bring you a cup of (definitely not hot) water with a tea bag on the side! I used to travel with my own kettle to avoid this issue, but I am striving to carry as little stuff as possible and hence gave up on that habit. Instead, I often take a thermos bottle that contains an infuser: all that is needed is hot water!

On the disagreement side, the obvious resolution of most complaints about poor quality tea, “herbal teas” that are not tea, tea bags in general, &tc., is to carry your own loose tea. It is light and keeps well and cannot disappoint. And can be brewed several times, especially oolongs. The section about milk is beyond discussion as tea with milk is another beverage altogether. I certainly enjoy drinking duh-wali-chai  in India and am even making some at home from time to time, but otherwise I stopped putting milk in my tea during the first COVID lockdown. (Which also considerably simplified my tea consumption when travelling: all that is needed is hot water!) The main issue is however in using boiling water. Which is almost never recommended for brewing tea! Especially green and Darjeeling teas. Instead of using water above 90⁰, one should stay below 90⁰… Especially when running several brews. Not only this keeps the bitterness under control but it avoids loosing oxygen and CO² contained in the water.

As an aside, this film/sheen is the result of “an interfacial reaction of polyphenols and other components in the tea that bond with ions in the water”.

tea tasting at Van Cha

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2019 by xi'an

This recent trip to Vancouver gave me the opportunity of enjoying a Chinese tea tasting experience. On my last visit to the city, I had noticed a small tea shop very near the convention centre but could not find the time to stop there. This round I took advantage of the AABI lunch break to get back to the shop, which was open (on a Sunday), and sat for a ripe Pu-Ehr tasting. A fatal if minor mistake in ordering, namely that this was Pu-Ehr withing a dried yuzu shell, which gave the tea a mixed taste of fruit and tea, as least for the first brews. And remaining very far from the very earthy tastes I was expecting. (But it reminded me of a tangerine based Pu-Ehr Yulia gave me last time we went to Banff. And I missed an ice climbing opportunity!)
This was nonetheless a very pleasant tasting experience, with the tea hostess brewing one tiny tea pot after another, including a first one to wet and clean the tea, with very short infusion times, and tea rounds keeping their strong flavour even after several passes. In a very quiet atmosphere altogether, with a well-used piece of wood (as shown on top) in lieu of a sink to get rid of the water used to warm and clean pots and mugs (and a clay frog which role remained mysterious throughout!).
At some point in the degustation, another customer came in, obviously from a quite different league as he was carrying his own tea pancake, from which the hostess extracted a few grams and processed most carefully. This must have been an exceptional tea as she was rewarded by a small cup of the first brew, which she seemed to appreciate a lot (albeit in Chinese so I could not say).
As I was about to leave, having spent more time than expected and drank five brews of my tea, plus extra cups of a delicate Oolong, hence missing a talk by Matt Hoffman to which I was looking forward!, I discussed for a little while with this connoisseur, who told me of the importance of using porous clay pots and not mix them for different teas. Incidentally he was also quite dismissive of Japanese teas, (iron) teapots, and tea ceremony, which I found in petto a rather amusing attitude (if expected from some aficionados).

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