Sunday, September 15, 2013

Teafarm: Canadian Tea Garden, Sochi Russian Tea Plants

Before leaving Vancouver Island there had to be a visit to Canada's only tea garden, Teafarm. This tea farm is one of the Northern most in the world and one of the first in Canada (wonder what ever happened to this one?). Located in Vancouver Island's Cowichan Valley it is at the center of the Cittaslow movement in Canada. Cowichan Valley is a location that combines the slow pace of island life and the Islanders value of food and tea culture- it feels like the perfect place for a tea shop and garden.

Tea Farm's owners, Margrit and Victor, decided in 2010 to devote their time entirely to tea. They primarily offer herbal teas and blends many of which contain ingredients from their farm. One first met them at the 2011 Victoria Tea Festival. It was there where the first spoke of their challenges to find a tea plant hardy enough to withstand the Winter conditions. After much research they decided on a variety of Camellia sinensis found around Sochi Russia. This variety famously known in Russia for the Krasnodar Tea which is produced from its leaves has proven to be the right balance of taste and hardiness. It turned out that deer (that are a daily sight even in Victoria) turned out to be more dangerous than the elements. This year they nearly wiped out the small, unprotected tea garden in one night.

Even though Teafarm is most famous for these Camellia sinensis tea plants, the garden is more of just a marketing gimmick or research project right now. All of the Camellia sinensis tea you see in the store for sale is actually imported. The amount of tea plants are so few that the plants would only produce about 300g of tea in total for the year. Even this, the tea plants have not even been used to make tea yet because they had not had their 3-5 years of initial growth. The whole topic is an interesting topic of conversation anyways.

People come for the laid back tea drinking atmosphere, Margrit's unique tea pottery, and Victors charm. It was a very enjoyable and scenic morning that day. Being engulfed with good friends surrounded in nature is what sharing tea is all about. This is most definitely a place for that.


Friday, September 6, 2013

The Most Famous Tea House in Canada Right Now

On August 17 there was an opening of an extraordinary Chinese tea house in Toronto.  It is most definitely not your normal everyday tea house.  Some call it a puerh tea house.  It quite literally is!

It's the world's most influential contemporary artists, Ai Weiwei's art installation Teahouse (2009) showing at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

See here:

The piece consists of a house constructed of four hundred 20cm cubes of puerh tea!  Then it is all surrounded by loose leaf tea (mao cha?).  A friend who experienced the exhibition said the smell was maybe the best part.



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Yunnan Sourcing Event: Theta (2012 Yunnan Sourcing Xiang Ming)

For the month of July one fell off the tea blogging world and into the world of moving a life to a different region of the country. During this time no tea blogs were read. This happens to work out quite nicely because the blind tea tastings called "the Yunnan Sourcing Event" put on by Hobbes of The Half-Dipper was not spoiled. Over the next month expect an onslaught of blind puerh tastings from this event.

The dry leaves smell of very deep rich forest. There are creamy-sweet and salty odours that emit from the leaves they are piercing enough to leave a pleasant tickle in the nose. The smells are deep, fresh, and very foresty.

The first infusion is light with a very soft frosty-sugary initial taste and a light nutty-grain forest base resting underneath. The aftertaste drifts into sweeter, white sugar with delicate very light florals. The mouthfeel is thin and is felt mainly on the tongue.

The second is a much more balanced affair with surgry-creamy sweet notes mixing with deeper forest notes in the initial taste. The flavour is light and ends is a candy sweetness that tastes like rock candy but is teathered down by deeper but still light forest tastes. These tastes fill the tongue and mouth only touching a bit in the upper throat but leaving a light sweetness there. The qi is also fine and light. It pools in the stomach slightly making it somewhat heavy and distended.

The third infusion delivers a grainy slightly flat tasting initial taste. It finishes with a soapy-foresty, slightly rubbery sweetness. It is actually like a light edge of sweetness surrounded by these deeper tastes. The feeling is still mainly residing in the mouth. The mind explodes with jittery energy now and the distended stomach feeling disappears- the qi feels nice here.

In the fourth infusion is a thicker, soupier, slightly grassy-grainy, more bound together taste. Most of its sweetness is gone and just shows very light edges in the aftertaste. Its taste is simple, somewhat bland, deeper, gainy-grassy. There is a soapy-deep flowery notes that passes quickly between the initial- and aftertastes. A slight grainy-soapy-flat floral taste lingers a minute later.

The fifth infusion is a slightly heavy, slightly flat bitter sweetness. It has a woody-forest base which is strong, a slight bitter as well. Lighter notes drowned under the heavy taste and only share a small, unnoticeable edge in the aftertaste.

The sixth infusion delivers a mix of muted-sugary-bitter sweetness over a bland wood-forest base. The mainly bitter and barely sweet edge stays in the mouth minutes later.

The seventh is much of the same but carries a subtle smooth pear fruit taste in there as well. It is predominantly this bitter, foresty, barely sweet taste though.

Guess: 2013 Yunnan Sourcing Ai Lao- because of its lack of bitterness, slight floral nose and mainly Si Mao/ Jinggu base taste.
Actual: 2013 Yunnan Sourcing Xiang Ming


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013 Kim Jong Yeol (Butea) Saejak Hwagae Valley Green Tea‏

This tea comes from good ol' Pedro from O5tea this Kim Jung Yeol (Butea) saejak has become a seasonal favorite throughout the years.  The dark and pale mix of green leaves smell of evergreen and minty sweet freshness. The leaves have a frosty sweet smell to them.

The first infusion delivers a creamy-smooth foresty evergreen taste. The mouthfeel and throat feel are expansive and spread a cool slightly menthol-mint taste across a light foresty-green base. A sugary taste is hung up in the teeth.

The second is a touch more foresty but brisk and fresh tasting. More of a greeny edge appears now, the slight cool aftertaste remains. It has a subtle forest depth with some frosty sweet notes pinned between. The mouthfeel is full and paints the mouth in a soft fuzzy coating.

The third has a rich, deep, velvety-forest-green taste. It is crisp and frosty sweet taste which coats the mouth. It has a deep long, forest taste.

The fourth contains deep foresty tastes with a slight woody edge now. The depth of the forest is noticeable the frosty sweetness is pushed to the edges of the taste profile. The mouthfeel remains full.

This tea leaves the mind alert and vibrant. Certainly enough vigor for this late in the afternoon. So the session ends there although it could easily go a few more infusions.