A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

You'll want an 'aroma cup' for this one. What-Cha's Vietnamese Red Buffalo Oolong.

God, I must look the fool. I've got my nose so deep into this little Lin's 'aroma cup' if my schnoz were any bigger the damn thing would get stuck. This tea is so goddamned delicious, it is, in fact the best example of a Vietnamese Oolong I've had so far in my tea journey.

Four grams of the tightly rolled, dark little nuggets into my Lin's pot with very quick steeps, water temp approx 206f. I could tell from the scent coming off the still dry tea, while sitting in the pre-heated pot that I was in for a treat. And of course sometimes the scent of the leaves doesn't quite tell the truth of the taste of the tea. Often one is awed by the scent, and less than wowed by the taste. Not so in this case. MAN. Eight steeps so far! Very full bodied soup, very rich in color, and the aroma continues to fill the room. Or maybe it's just because I still am huffing the empty aroma cup like a dumbass with a pot of glue but in my case, I AM actually getting something out of it. Happiness.
Check out What-Cha Tea!

How about another fruit stuffed tea? How about Bitter-melon stuffed with roasted Tie Guan Yin Oolong? Um..... YES!

I don't even know what 'bitter-melon' is, and I don't care.
I don't like melon but I had the feeling when I ordered this, that that small fact wasn't going to get in the way of my experience. How melon-y can it be, right?
And indeed, I AM right. The little ring of melon rind itself is simply gorgeous to me, looks like something hand crafted, something a little unreal, a tiny crown a fairy-king might where. In fact once all the tea had made its way out of the ring of melon, ( and there was a LOT of tea, maybe I should not have used my new 60 ml/2 ounce gaiwan!) I slipped it onto my finger, now a rubbery, but solid little disc of weirdness, and finding it too big for even my fattest digits sadly handed it over to the parrot to nibble on. Yikes! Went right over her head like a collar, that's not good! Get over here, Toriel! ( Yes, 'Toriel' as in the goat-mom figure in 'Undertale' named thus so I could keep the bird. My teen hates birds but loves Undertale, hence the name. Smart, right?)
So anyway readers, the tea itself is a nicely roasted August 2015 Tie Guan Yin, nothing insanely exciting, but quite pleasant nonetheless. If there is a melon flavor accompanying the brews, I did not pick up on it, but in my defense, (or prosecution; I had just eaten Domino's pizza so who knows what the hell subtleties I missed in the tea. Again, brilliant me!)

This came in fabulous little individual packets of green, and once the green packets were opened each little round rind was again wrapped nice and tight in clear wrapping. Love the care. Yunnan Sourcing again is the go-to place for trying odd and fun creations. Want to try some before committing to a whole bags worth? Write me and I'll send the first 4 respondents a sample of it on me!

A delicious high quality puerh leaf that has been stuffed into the rind of a whole tangerine!

Mid-July and the boredoms start kicking in. Need to order some teas that are different from anything I have ever had. I am leaning so heavily this month on my new favorite tea, but I, and the tea itself needs a break, the whole 400 gram cake is a third gone! So hence the arrival today of Yunnan Sourcing's Gong Ting Puerh Golden Horse 8685 ripe stuffed into tangerines!
The leaves are stuffed in wet, and then allowed to dry in the sun for a week. some may say the orange flavor is too strong, but I would not be one of those people, I am totally digging it. I am putting rather largish chunks of the tangerine rind into the vessel and am, I must admit, manically and utterly enjoying myself.

This is a fun tea for a 100f degree California day, and I am happy to report it is a major deal at $5.00 for three whole tangerines, individually packaged. Not to mention that YS is now sending out items from the U.S. so no more long waits, at least on some items. My second cake of 2005 Mengku Wild Arbor does seem to be coming from China, but most other items are being sent out from Oregon which is great news for people like me with an almost physical ache to find packages at my doorstep on a daily basis.
Off to enjoy my tea. Abiding as usual in whatever natural state my hormones and brain chemistry has got planned for me, I remain, your faithful,

My first teas from Hawaii. Who knew?

With perfect timing my tea sample from Mauna Kea Tea arrived today. I say 'perfect timing' because they sent me a green tea with ginger and turmeric, (which I do not see on their site right at this moment) and I am just now learning about the benefits of both, hitting Sprout's Market and buying capsules of turmeric with black pepper and always have on hand, of course, plenty of fresh ginger. This new to me company also sent a sample of a green tea with coconut, which is flavored only with real coconut or I wouldn't even taste it. And although my inclination is always unflavored teas, there have been exceptions. I am trying to decide right now if this is one of them. I will let you know. Visually I am not used to seeing teas this chopped.

Going to steep in my 8 ounce infuser mug 4 minutes and see what I see. In the meantime, enjoy learning about this committed to totally organic company by clicking here! More to come.

Camellia-Sinensis.com's Tan Huang Green from Vietnam. Enjoying my tea. Finishing my tea. Abiding in the Now.

Tan Huang from Camellia-Sinensis is like a medication for the soul. Stop with the listening and the reading of the news. OM, mother-fucker, (talking to myself here). Enjoying my tea. Finishing my tea.
This is one of my favorite green teas, period. From anywhere. It's way heartier than one would expect with a flash-brew of 4 grams in a 250 ml pot, but even the first brew is full of flavors, and mainly it has a well, a perky, zesty feeling to it as one sips it. (That 'one', being me of course.)
I tend to overheat the water for my green teas and today was no different. I had a first steep at 208f, far too hot, but immediately followed by a second steep at 185, and then a third down at 175, all of which were perfectly palpable. However, I am certain if I had not initially 'burnt' the tea with that way too hot water the following steeps might have shown me a sweeter side?
I would write more, and more glowingly, as my steeps are progressing as I write this, (the body is still nice and lushly mineral) but as Camellia Sinensis is out of stock on this tea, so will end here with a wish for all my tea friends and few readers to keep-on keepin' on! Abide where you can! Don't let the bastards get you down! Turn off the TV's, put on some Stanley Turrentine jazz ballads or something and enjoy what we have together, at this moment.
(Keep the personal dramas to a minimum. All this jack-ass is going to accomplish is  a broken ankle and a reputation for being a drama queen.)

A delicate but robust black tea with hints of lychee fruits. Verdant Tea's Fei Zi Xiao.

Verdant Tea's Fei Zi Xiao, which apparently loosely translated means 'Concubine's Smile' is a mild but very robust, quick-steeping black tea with a maltiness and fruitiness that is perfect for a morning or afternoon session. 5 grams in a 5 ounce hohin with water temperature of 208f was perfectly sufficient though if I had had more tea than 4.90 grams to play with I might have tried a few different parameters.
Affordable and well worth the effort to get your hands on, this is one of those Verdant Tea offerings that is simply good enough to drink everyday. Lu Yu agrees. He just joined me from an ebay online auction, where I was able to snag him for under $40 and we are toasting his arrival today with this tea. His choice! I had never heard of this tea before now, so thanks, Lu-Yu-Dude and welcome to my world!

Tea-Side out of Thailand offers such lovely and rare things. This morning 1995 Lao Chin Shin Oolong.

This is a lovely aged Oolong from 1995, a Lao Chin Shin that initially I didn't know what to do with. The smell from the bag was plummy and like cherries, but the brew I steeped was pale and almost flavorless. I knew it couldn't be the tea, it had to be me! I had sleepily assumed it was a loose sheng and put a small amount to check it out in my dragon Yixing pot, and I got very little out of it. Asked a couple tea friends on the Facebook Page, 'Beginner's Mind Gongfu Tea' and they steered me in the right direction. I had gone to the Tea-Side site and did not see it in puerh-style teas and so figured it was no longer available. Blaming the lack of sleep on that Sunday morning I admit to not even looking into their list of Oolongs. So sue me. I'm new.
Found it, (after being given a link by said tea-buds on the Facebook page) and this morning set about to treat this tea with a more awake and present, attentive condition on my part and the results were totally different. A lovely tang, cherries indeed, and chocolate, but just a hint and just one of those teas that benefits from taking time to play around with.

From the Tea-Side website:
Lao Chin Shin, Aged Oolong Tea from harvest of 1995.
Growing Region: Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. 1500 metres.
Appearance: Semispherical, slightly roasted, lightly fermented, hand-picked from the high mountains (1500 meters) of the northen Thailand.
Taste: A thick, deep taste with rich aroma of cherry, chocolate, sweet red apple. Velvety aftertaste of aged tea with cinnamon and bark notes. It is not like any of the Chin Shin Oolongs that I ever tasted.
Lao Chin Shin Oolong - it is very unusual tea. It's pretty picky about the water, It can be brewed up to 6-7 times and stronger oolong I've never met.
In addition to amazing taste and flavor, it gives a very powerful state. By the third-fourth brew different metamorphosis of consciousness begin to happen. The tea has a calming effect, it always brings relaxation to my mind and body and fills me with tranquility and light euphoria. I would gladly recommend you to drink it at night. (It helps to sleep and brings sweet dreams.)
Tea is a very delicate thing. It can show itself from different angles, depending on people around, the level of your care and attention, experience and native sensitivity.
Moreover, this Lao Chin Shin is really unique. If you look at the photo you can see a memorial plate confirming the age. There are numbers: 2538, witch mean the year of the harvest of this oolong. Don't be scared, Buddhist 2538 is only 1995 for the Christians. It was the first harvest on the plantation and the owners decided to memorize this event in such way. To my great regret, this plantation of Chin Shin have been totally cut down long time ago, so we can't try any fresh tea from there. But this old Chin Shin also remained just in a few amount on the farmers' vaults, so it's trully threatened spice! Hurry up to order!

From What-Cha Tea! Japanese Bancha Goishicha Dark Tea. Very, very unusual. VERY.

Teas with odd shapes, interesting origins and locales fascinate me so I bought 100 grams of this very odd tea!
I actually thought it was going to a sheng-like tasting tea from Japan but it is way different than I expected. It is full of the taste of dried plums, and really, very pleasant. Plums, prunes, figs, dates....not sure what it tastes like, but it is not sour and not lemony. I did not steep as suggested but did a 30 second-brew of a 'pillow' of it in my Petr Novak shibo. Dark, rich amber from the first steep. Leaves staying compact, but odd looking, and truly a feeling of experimentation abounds!  For some reason I cannot recall I bought 100 grams of it, and it's good and fun but far too much for me to go through. So! Dear Readers! I am willing to share! I will happily send a pillow of tea to any of my readers who contact me at buddhamom@outlook.com and this includes my vendor friends who would like to check it out!
Let's explore it together!

The name? Totem Tea. The Tea? Gui Fei Oolong. The Verdict? Guilty of being the one thing that could rouse me from my stupor today. Accomplices? Fresh figs!

I don't go to bed when I am tired, for as a Lebowski-ist, a Dude who wears a robe all day long and goes nowhere aside from the occasional burger, acid flash-back, and visit to an artists loft to mooch free booze, (wait, that's not me, that's The (actual) Dude, sorry. I get the two of us confused sometimes. I am the one with the saggy boobs, a child and mortgage.) I do wear a robe all day, even out of the house(or a muu-muu) and call everyone, 'Man'.
In any case, I don't go to bed when I am tired, I go to bed when I am so bored and tired of myself that I can't take it any longer, its a part of my 'mania'. Much like Luis C.K. said to his doctor when his doctor asked him how long before he feels full when he stops eating and C.K., incredulous at the stupidity of the question says, "I don't stop eating when I'm full, I stop eating when I hate myself." See it here. I am like this, but with consciousness. I drink tea until I have become too bored with living in my head to continue, then I take a Melatonin/5-HTTP, put on a sleep mask that says 'Offline' grab the dog, my favorite stinky blanket my granny made a thousand years ago and pass out for a few hours. Then I get up and start again. This morning I wanted to break that pattern. I eyed the purple Xiying pot still packed with last night's seemingly inexhaustible sheng session of Zheng Shan De Ye Raw from 2005 Mengku Wild Arbor but wisely decided to back away from that. Try to wake up in a meaningful way and do something of some value with my mouth. Totem Tea! Yes! Yesterday Totem Tea sent me a few small samples. This would be an opportunity to focus on something new, new tea, new company. I can clear my head on a moments notice, thanks, no doubt to tea making me so frigging' brilliant that I can access my prowess of words even in a Melatonin haze, and I choose a pairing which turns out to be fabulous. Fresh chilled figs and 5 grams of Gui Fei Oolong.
The five grams went into my smallest gaiwan, with the water just under boiling and from the first rinse the tight little balls started to unfurl with a rather incredible enthusiasm for the work, watch them grow! Wow! The scent made me realize, FIGS! GET FIGS NOW! And damned if I weren't right on target. Four steeps now, interspersed with bites from almost overly-ripe fresh chilled California figs, and the result is a new appreciation for life. Christ, I might even get dressed today. Seriously, it doesn't take much to get me excited and this surpasses most of those easily accessible states of joy. The intense tart and sweet depth of this Gui Fei oolong is a total treat. Yesterday was the Yunnan Sourcing Puerh, over and over until I had reached a zenith of intensity that wiped me out, and today will be this oolong, and a few other oolongs, and lots more figs. I am rejuvenating, and this is a combo that will allow me to reach new levels of slack and stillness, and that mellow and total pleasure that I've been lacking in my thrill-seeking tea-drunks of late. Sweet. Big thanks to Totem Tea out of Portland for the opportunity to be 'dude' once again. Abiding from here, dear readers!

Traditional, totally handmade Bai Ji Guan.

Four Seasons traditional handmade Bai Ji Guan is made without the use of any machines. It has a soft delicate feel to the leaves once they are wet, so soft one could use it to rest one's head upon! The colors, as you can see, are super lovely, greens and browns and shades in-between. Very much like an Eastern Beauty meets a rock tea. Floral but with a rock mineral bite that lingers. A great tea for when I want something floral but don't have the patience to wait for tightly rolled leaves to open. A gorgeous, worthwhile tea in a myriad of ways.

A great tea to try a small amount of at a super affordable price, and still available!

The Jade Leaf's Qi Lai Shan Oolong.

Grown at 2050 meters this Oolong is a treat. It is a spring tea and prior to picking there was a rare event of snow on the  Qi Lai Mountain, which I am told makes the tea taste quite a bit differently than it would have otherwise.
I steeped four grams in my small Lin's teapot of approximately 90 ml with the water just under boiling. There is a sweetness as well as a mineral tang, very faint, to be found farther back in the throat. Sweet without being floral, a mineral quality that does not reach into bitterness, just a very alive aroma and a full-bodied, pure mouth-feel. Lovely!
Four grams of Qi Lai Oolong waiting for the pot to boil.

One rinse.

Third steep

The leaves rest.

The buzz is in the roast. 'Medium Roast Fancy Grade Ben Shan Oolong of Anxi' from Yunnan Sourcing.

I've had some really good Ben Shan Oolongs, but nothing this roasted and it has to account for the flushing in my cheeks, the buzzing in my head, the all over warmth and feeling of contentment that settles over me when I drink this tea. Yunnan Sourcing has some amazing things to offer us and this is one of them. If they are out of this particular tea( I checked for you, they are) you will still love their lightly roasted Ben Shan which is still available.
'Ben-Shan' is a trigger word for me for a tea is going to be worth paying attention to. Along with the words 'Anxi' and 'Fujian' I am most certainly clearing my palate, my tea table and my mind while prepping some fresh boiling water. This tea goes through all kinds of delightful changes. The tea in the bag smells woodsy and nutty. Steaming in the warmed dry cup it is heavily floral and the steeps themselves are both of those with deep roasted notes to boot. It's goddamned beautiful is what it is.
See for yourselves! Steep two and just getting started!