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Updated: 53 min 50 sec ago
(The photo is from Pan's Tea Travel webpage, explaining the green tea processing.)
Here are of Tea Nazi that I wrote two years ago.
Ok... I admit I was really blunt to call him "tea nazi", as he is by far not as harsh as the "soup nazi", and he is really a nice guy!
This spring I got "official" announcement from Pan that he is back to tea business - on part-time basis, but in some sense, more devoted than a lot of full-timers in tea world. I know a bunch of "amateur" tea people, part-timers, moonlighters, or "hobby sellers(?)". In fact, among my favorite tea friends, tea suppliers and tea "colleagues (?)", there are probably more part-timers than full-timers. Thinking of that just surprised me! I haven't had any business relation with Pan yet. But I sort of like it that he has come back to tea business on part-time basis!
Now I know it's easier than ever for foreigners to shop on taobao. So here is Pan's taobao store:
His store name is the same as the name of his store before he "retired" from tea business last time. It literally means "Here's a Tea Store". I think it's a lovely name!
There aren't many items yet there. And I've already asked him "would you please add more stuff in the store and make it more business-like?!"
Pan told me that he will add more items to the taobao store, but probably not a lot and not very fast. So far, he would visit every of the production site or collection source of his teas, and he would only carry teas that don't use any pesticide. He will not do a lot of business in a short time. But he will maintain very high standards for quality and health of the teas, as always!
I think it's not hard to tell that one can hardly make a living selling tea in this way, especially in China, where there are about a few million tea sellers doing business more efficiently on lower budgets. But it may work out just fine as Pan keeps his day job, which is an interesting job anyway.
If you look for more things to see, his "tea travel" page is very cool:
And I'm sure he will add more photos and writing to this page to document his tea journey and his teas. I've already suggested him to put his writings in text format on the webpage so that non-Chinese readers could use google translate to read them. But so far photos dominate and photos tell most of the stories already!
Besides, anybody who are Chinese-English bilingual, if you are interested, please feel free to translate his writings, publish the English version online and link back to his webpage.
Before the start, I would like to salute to Malaysian friends with these 2006 shu and sheng cakes made per special order of Malaysian Puerh Association.
I've been living in my small world and didn't know much about what was going on in Malaysia. But I have a facebook friend who is Chinese Malaysian American and updated me a lot about the recent Election in Malaysia. It was quite amazing!
These are two Huang Shan Mao Feng that I have every year since 2010. Huang Shan Mao Feng is one of my favorite green teas (probably top 3, and Long Jing is not even in the top 3...) It's hard for me to pick just a few of "favorite green tea". Similarly, it's hard to pick up just a few of "favorite" Huang Shan Mao Feng producers. There are actually many that I like. But these two, I think, are most unique in style and from quite unique places. I've explained about them here and here.
This is pretty much a casual tasting rather than "evaluation" tasting. I love them both and hence can't really evaluate them objectively.
The one on the left is the semi-wild Huang Shan Mao Feng (which I happened to take from the very bottom of a pack so there are more broken leaves than usual), and the one on the right is the 1400m Huang Shan Mao Feng.
Overall, the semi-wild Mao Feng has higher bud/leaf ratio than the 1400m Mao Feng, while there are are fewer broken leaves in the 1400m Mao Feng. The amount of broken leaves is partially due to that I reached the bottom of a pack for the semi-wild. Besides, the semi-wild Mao Feng must be carried from its remote site back to the factory for processing, unlike the 1400m Mao Feng, which is carried from a site near the village (the near distance is still by the standards of locals who have very strong legs) back to the village for processing.
In terms of taste and aroma, I feel the 1400m Mao Feng is more "typical" Mao Feng taste, with a subtle floral aroma to begin with, and with very smooth tea liqour. The semi-wild Mao Feng has a quite "interesting" taste, with some edemame flavor and more prominent sweet aftertaste than most green teas.
I didn't take dry leaf photos this year - but they are quite consistent from year to year. If comparing the dry leaf photos from the above-mentioned earlier blog posts, we could see the semi-wild Mao Feng has more bud, and the pan-frying is not as heavy as the 1400m Mao Feng. It's still traditional heavy kill-green process. But naturally they shouldn't be pan-fried as hard as larger leaves.
In contrast, the pan-frying of the 1400m Mao Feng is quite heavy that we could easily see the "blisters" on the rim of the leaves.
Semi-wild Mao Feng (it has some blisters too)
1400m Huang Shan Mao Feng (a lot of "blisters")
"Blister" is something quite interesting, and I plan to create a blog post with a series of photos of tea leaf "blisters". It's commonly seen on traditional green tea genres and sometimes is used to judge if a tea is manually made. But the "blisters" on some teas (such as Long Jing) are much more subtle than some heavily "blistered" green teas (such as Huang Shan Mao Feng and Lu Shan Yun Wu). Between these two Huang Shan Mao Feng, I think the "blister" is an interesting contrast and somewhat reflect the different styles of these two teas.
Some updates: Mr. Wang's village finally got the road built. My feelings about it are complicated. But I know it's good for them. Mr. Wang is thrilled about driving a car to visit his parents instead of walking for 8km in the mountain.
By the way if you like the guessing game, here are some of the earlier ones - and make sure to take the guess before seeing the final answer or other people's answers :-D
* reunion of "3 brothers"
* price of a oolong
And a couple of *really* old ones on teachat - they make me feel old! :-p
* a oolong (and by the time of the posted game, I hadn't seen this specific style in American market yet, so it was harder to guess then than now!)
* which oolong is different from the other three
Now here is another one... The tea is 2004 Chang Tai Heng Feng Yuan sheng. Heng Feng Yuan is one of the numerous (as I complained before) trademarks of Chang Tai. There are mostly shu products under this trademark, but there are some shengs. This one from 2004 is relatively well known for two reasons. One is that many people think the leaf materials are pretty good. A second reason is that on the wrapper, the trademark "Heng Feng Yuan" is mis-spelt. The first character "heng" is put as "ji", which could be interpreted as "ultimate or supreme". It's not officially confirmed, but rumors are the misspelling was done purposely. I think that was plausible. Back in 2004, Chang Tai was in extremely good shape, their tea was indeed good, and the company had probably got already quite arrogant (which might be the root of the arrogance that caused them trouble in 2007, I think). But there is no official story about whether the misspelling was done in purpose. And one obvious effect of the misspelling is that the tea can be more easily recognized among all other early 2000s Chang Tai teas.
So I got these two versions of exactly the same tea. With a purpose similar to the that of these "tuition tea", I got these twins of Heng Feng Yuan for study and comparison purposes. This time, I think, it's an excellent comparison opportunity that rarely comes up. The two tea cakes here are from two different storage environment. One is purely dry storage, as most of my puerh. The other one is Hong Kong humid storage - if you are a drinker of purely dry storage only, you might think how brave I am to get this bunch of tea... But in fact, it wasn't a hard decision, and I will explain why later.
Now the question for you is, which is purely dry storage, and which is Hong Kong humid storage?
Don't be shy of taking a guess. It's 50%, 50% chance :-)
On the other hand, don't be surprised if your guess is wrong :-p This guessing game is indeed a little tricky - and I usually pick tricky ones to post anyway ;-) It's never hard to tell between a dry storage and Hong Kong humid storage, if you hold them in hands. But from the photos (and I don't know if the blog page would allow the largest resolution of the photos but you can try clicking them), it's not that easy to tell, especially when the dry storage is not the stereotypically "forever green" tea and the Hong Kong humid storage is not the stereotypical "rotten" tea.
There are indeed "keys" to recognize if the photos can be enlarged. Meantime, photos could be deceiving in various ways and they might show some "false keys". Last month I posted these photos on a Chinese tea forum and let people guess. Most people got it wrong - although there is 50% chance to choose each answer, somehow most people chose the wrong answer!
Now here are the photos. All the photos have the same tea on the left and the same tea on the right.
Although they are "twin brothers", their wrappers aren't exactly the same to begin with. One has thicker paper texture. Printing should be the same.
Below is the cake on the right.
Below is the cake on the left.
At the end, I also want to point out that I can't say for sure the Hong Kong humid storage is the typical product of its type. I do somewhat believe that's what Hong Kong humid storage is "supposed" to be. Many other things between these two teas are a lot more different than what's showed by the photos of these two teas. To me, that's the huge difference between dry storage and humid storage (but not necessarily difference between a theoretical "good" and theoretical "bad"). But I'm a dry storage drinker in general, so the "typical" Hong Kong humid storage in my mind is not necessarily the same as the "typical" in everybody's mind. Even though I got the humid storage tea for study purpose, I would like a "tuition tea" to be more or less drinkable to me too. In this sense, I can't say for sure how typical a humid storage is, if it's drinkable to a dry storage drinker.