Monday, December 26, 2016

A Cambodian Holiday

Merry Christmas! Hope you are enjoying your Boxing day shopping today. I was in Canada last year and witnessed the shoppers in Montreal having a wonderful time buying stuff at discounted prices offered by most stores there. 

I was in Cambodia last week and I had a wonderful time there. The city of Phnom Penh appeared to me more like a city catered for the expats or the richer rung of the Cambodian society. Everything there was priced in US$. Yes, even the tuk tuk (motorized trishaws) was charging US$3 per trip. Supermarkets and most eateries had their products priced in US$. The only Chinese tea shop, aptly named China Brand Tea (address 735, Monivong Blvd) sells their tea in US$ as well. This is quite a large tea shop selling oolongs, tea ware and pu erh tea. They even collaborated with a Yunnan distributor in having their own pressed Yiwu tea cake (US$50). The owners had been in the tea business for about 3 years and they tell me that the locals are starting to be interested in their Chinese tea products. I wished them the very best.

My main purpose of this trip was visiting a couple who runs a mission in rural Cambodia. They mainly focused on providing basic education to the young kids there. The rural villages in Cambodia provided a totally different picture when compared to the city of Phnom Penh. Here the people are poorer and their livelihood was mainly rice production. Unfortunately, due to the system of the country, the farmers only get a price for their grain that is near subsistence level and as a result, the standard of living is relatively low. Basic hygiene like soap, shampoo and toothbrushing is not at the top of the list of these villagers. I was involved in teaching a village of children basic toothbrushing. It was unintentionally comical watching the children wincing to their first taste of toothpaste. I was quietly humbled and thankful for the rest of that day.

On my last day in the city before I returned to Singapore, I found an interesting tea product in a supermarket. Its a 'tea' that blends the local lemongrass and pepper grown in the Kampot province in Cambodia. It looks intriguing and I will devote a blog entry to this 'tea' next month.

To all my readers, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Malaysia Tea Expo - Dec 2016

It was a surprise that there was a 2nd tea expo in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia In December.  I was told there was only one expo this year that was held earlier in May this year.

I would like to apologize to my readers for this blog entry as this will be very brief - more pictures than words.  I had just returned home from this trip and will be flying off again tomorrow to Cambodia.  I know a family that runs a mission in rural Cambodia and I am visiting them tomorrow.  I have never been to Cambodia and it should be an interesting trip.  Yes, I had packed a teapot and tea to last me a week.

Back to the tea expo. 

Taetea and Xiaguan dealers had the usual bigger booths at this tea expo.  The tea dealers, which I had an opportunity to have quick chats with, tell me that 2017 will be a very challenging year in terms of the recent economic developments around the world.  However, these tea dealers felt that tea prices would remain firm and 2017 new tea offerings might be more pricey as well.

Picture 5 is a very pretty white tea cake produced by Xiaguan tea factory.  The gentleman you see on the left in Picture 6 is the famous Mr Deng Shi Hai who had created a range of pu erh tea.  He is sitting next to Long Bean who is the Malaysia distributor of the tea.  I sampled the 07 raw tea and Mr Deng commented during the tea sampling session that the tea was very strong and recommend not to drink too often.  I interpret as 'daily'.  The tea is indeed very strong and pricey as well.

There were no  major new tea products in this tea fair but I enjoyed visiting this fair to meet up with my tea drinking buddies.  Yes, we adjourned to visit more tea shops to drink more tea in the late afternoon.

The last 2 pix was a teapot purchase I made at the fair. I was told made in 2004, a special order by Macau Sands Casino to commemorate the opening of the casino resort in Macau. The teapot is very pretty…the dark green clay simply captivating.    

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sea Dyke Shui Jin Gui

Oolong Tea is the most popular Chinese tea that is drank around the world. The aroma and taste is much appreciated by tea drinkers around the world. There are many types of oolong produced in China and Taiwan and exotic names are also given to the many variety of oolong available in the tea markets. The 4 most popular Chinese oolong drank by the Chinese community (aka Xi Da Ming Chong) are Da Hong Pao, Shui Jin Gui, Bai Ji Guan and Tie Lo Han.

Sea Dyke Brand had recently produced a premium range of oolong tea that were harvested from the Wuyi mountain region (the most famous oolong producing region in Fujian China) and this Shui Jin Gui is one such example. This 125g tea(mine is a 2014 production) is packed in 10 small boxes (12.5g per box). I like this packing as it allows me to carry a small box to a tea drinking session knowing the box will protect the tea leaves from being crushed during the trip. It is however, a pain as it does up a considerable luggage space (storage space as well) when you buy this tea in quantities from overseas.

This Shui Jin Gui is nicely packed in foil packs of 12.5g. I used a 'thrifty' style of brewing, only using half a packet for a tea session. I used a 70ml teapot and brew 'one infusion per cup', using 5 cups in total. I had been experimenting with a style of brewing oolong. I use a small teapot (60-80ml), use about 6-8g of tea and brew one infusion per cup. I will use 4-5 cups and drink up the tea within 10-15 min. It is rather strong and the aroma stays in the mouth for a while after the tea session. The tea is nice, especially when you drink it hot, exhibiting a very nice sweet characteristic aftertaste that is found in Shui Jin Gui oolong.