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I embarked on my tea journey when I studied abroad in China in 2008 and traveled around Taiwan that summer. I'm here to share my experiences and offer my own opinion, advice, and comments on tea.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Unexpected

Whenever I came across it on the tea forums I thought, "Nonsense! This will never happen to me! I live in the desert for goodness sake!"

This morning, when wrapping some cakes in tissue paper (I'm keeping the actual wrappers separate in case they rip) I discovered some mold on a recently acquired 1995 Grand Yellow Label! Blueish-white in color, it was scattered across the inner side. I quickly checked through the rest of my cakes and was assured. I'm thinking the mold might have been the result of the cake's already wetter-storage, combined with my fairly wet storage conditions. I've brushed off all the visible mold and I've set the cake aside in a "quarantine" area to be monitored for the next few weeks, even months. I wonder at what point would it be safe to put it back into storage/consume it

Photos for those who may have comments. I've brushed off most of the visible mold, but some of it may be seen if you open the photos in a new window.

I tell myself that mold is not that big of a deal...and cakes from the 50s to 90s were probably stored very badly/casually, in far more humid conditions than my own.

*Breathing* Yes...it's no big deal...


*Shudders*


*EDIT*

I think what I might do at this point, or at least in a few days after some observation, is break up the cake and somehow that will alleviate the mold problem. Than treat it like cheap wet-stored loose leaf. I'm kind of afraid that although the surface mold may be gone, it still might be hiding out on the inner parts of the cake.

Monday, February 22, 2010

NYC Show-Off

The long-awaited recap of my Boston/NYC trip:

I had the pleasure of visiting The Gallery in the comfort of Michael and Winnie's cozy home. It was like walking into my ideal tea room, surrounded by containers full of tea and tea ware galore. Michael, Winnie, and Dae were all gracious hosts, and although I felt out of place in terms of tea experience, I felt very welcomed. Michael was feeling a bit under the weather, so he was mostly in the background. I had gotten the impression from what few photos I've seen of him on their store's website and Dae's Journal that he was a very serious/stoic person. I was surprised with how taken he was with the knock-off iPhone my mother got me in China.I tried three teas, their bi-annual Oriental Beauty, the Golden Buddha, and a Dong Ding. All were excellent, but what captured my attention most was the Oriental Beauty. It was unlike any other Oriental Beauty I have had before. What swill Oriental Beauty have I been drinking all my life! Whereas many Oriental Beauty I've had before are generally simple and straightforward, this one was supremely complex.

It was like opening up an antique wooden drawer filled with Indian spices. Thick in the mouth feel, it lingered in my mouth for what seemed like an eternity. I had prepared to completely write off Oriental Beauty, but this was definitely a game changer. I'm not ready/qualified to say that it was the best; however, it was definitely very good.


I also bought an 80s 125 ml Zi Ni pot for juvenile/adolescent sheng. The "secondary" seal on the bottom was a bit amusing...it recommends this pot for puerh. Makes the process of dedicating this pot much easier. I also bought their smallest gaiwan, an acquisition that has been delayed for too long.


I didn't visit any other tea shops in NYC, but I did visit some vintage/antique Japanese shops, Seasons International in SOHO and Things Japanese in the Upper East Side. Although they both carried mainly Japanese tea ware, there were plenty of vintage cups to satisfy a student of Chinese tea drinking. They both had an interesting selection of tetsubin, which I sadly had neither the space nor budget for.


I bought a few vintage Japanese plates for my gaiwan brewing set-up, and I also bought a 30s Japanese sake cup which I plan on using for puerh. I like rounder cups for pu-erh, and I think that an old(er) tea deserves an old cup. However, the most surprising discovery was an early 20th century gaiwan, hidden in the corner behind all the cups. It was even on sale, which made it even more irresistible. I don't really have a need for more gaiwan, but I was mostly interested in seeing how tea tastes differently in a vintage vs. contemporary piece.

It was nice to visit my friends back East, and it was even nicer to have the opportunity to score so much nice tea ware. It's unfortunate though, that because of these purchases my tea budget is shot to hell for the next month or so. Luckily I'm in a good place tea-wise. I have all my tea bases covered, I have enough pots for the teas I drink regularly, and I have a pretty nice tea set-up now. I'm playing around with a few samples from Sampan, and I'll be ordering some samples from Nada, to fill out my pu-erh collection for some slightly older stuff.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

An Unintended Hiatus

I hate writing for the sake of keeping up appearances, but since I have misplaced my camera (probably at my friend's place in NYC), I can't show-off all the awesome tea pieces I got, as well as describing my journey to The Tea Gallery. Hopefully my friend will get back to me after her Valentine's Day trip, or I find my camera somewhere here. If not, I'm running my own tea storage teas, which may have some interesting results. Until next time, Happy Chinese New Years!

*NOTE*

Epic fail...my camera was in the backpack that I had checked countless times before. Only this time did I actually reach all the way down. Show-Off post will be coming shortly...