Cup of Tea and a Blog

Welcome to my spot for musing about all things tea. Here you'll read reviews of quality teas, click through comments on tea rooms and shops I've visited, and see photos of leaves and cups. You’ll also find things I might talk about over a cup of tea, like philosophy, literature, current events, or fun ways to pass the time.

Location: Pacific Northwest, United States

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13 June 2005

Cleaning out the Cupboards

This morning I realized that there’s a reason all of my envelopes and canisters of wonderful tea are overflowing my kitchen countertops. It is because above those countertops are two cupboards full of tea I never use. Most of it is tea that was given to me (tons of little sample packets), some is tea I ordered but didn’t like, some can be attributed to changing tastes, and all of it is really too old to enjoy. However, among all the odds-and-ends were a few fun surprises, including a couple of puerhs (see below) and a sealed tin of a breakfast blend I love from a company that no longer exists.

Two quick asides: (1) My tastes in tea seem to have shifted this year, and now I almost always drink Chinese/Taiwanese teas instead of Indian assams. This is an interesting development to be pondered over my next cup of oolong. (2) Does anyone else get tired of tea companies including sample packets of tea that you would never drink? It always surprises me, for instance, when my box of pricey loose leaf comes with sample tea bags, or if the latest rooibos-cardamom-ginger-peppermint-ginseng-lemongrass-chamomile blend is included when all I have ever ordered from the company is unscented and non-herbal.

Back to the surprises in my tea cupboards. . .

Rose Pu Erh, Ten Lee brand tea with a Ten Ren price sticker (quarter used to indicate size of rose bud)

This must have been given to me because I haven’t ever purchased anything from Ten Ren. Perhaps it came with a batch of teas handed off to me by a friend? I’ve checked the Ten Ren Tea web site, but they don’t seem to carry this puerh any longer. The tea itself looks to be a fairly standard loose puerh with full rose buds mixed in. I brewed it to see how it tastes – it’s okay, but nothing remarkable in this first try. The puerh is lighter in taste than I’d assumed from the color of the liquor. I don’t really taste the rose, although with the third brewing there’s just a hint in the aroma. Perhaps rose buds need to steep longer than tea leaves? The leaves themselves don’t seem to have taken on any rose characteristics.

Also Found: tucked way in the back corner of a cupboard were three round boxes of 100g Yunnan Pu-erh Tuo Cha (bird’s nest shape). I vaguely remember purchasing these at an Asian grocery or mall, either in Colorado or Alberta. It’s been at least 5 years (probably more like 8 or 9), and they’ve moved with me a few times, getting stuck in some back nook and eventually forgotten. My taste in tea back then was primarily Indian assams, but somewhere I’d read about buying aged yunnan tea and saving it for many years.

I have no idea if the puerh tuo cha is any good, or if it’s worth keeping around. Certainly these boxes were cheap when purchased (probably just $2-3 each), since that was back in starving graduate student days. Anyone have suggestions about whether I should continue to store them? They are at least 5 years old, probably more, and they’ve sat in a dark and dry cupboard the entire time. Are they ready for me to try now? I’ll post a question to Teamail and continue to browse the web to see what I find, but any readers of this blog should feel free to post a suggestion.


Blogger Knitty Cat said...

Lucky! There aren't many little treasures like those tuchas around here. Of course, I haven't ventured into many asian grocery stores. I just feel so conspicuously white.
Anywho, I'd certainly give them a go. I'd also get them out of those cardboard boxes and into a unbleached muslin bag or basket. Who knows what chemicals were used in the manufacture of that cardboard? It may kill off the microbes in you tea!
(if you don't like the tu cha, you can always send it to me...:)

12:54 PM  
Blogger Cindy W. said...

Good idea -- I think I'll get them into something else, and then just tuck them back in my cupboard for a few more years (at least until the next time I move or clean my cupboards out!).

10:45 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

I can so completely relate! I try to filter through my tea cabinet on a regular basis to keep everything "fresh", but I just can't drink the tea fast enough! Also, I just visited Ten Ren (aks Ten Lee) in Vanvouver, BC this Spring. The store is a visual delight. I came home with an Oolong, that is still sitting unopened in my cabinet, waiting for its debut!

5:34 AM  
Blogger Knitty Cat said...

So, have you tried your aged tu cha yet? how's it tasting?

11:49 AM  
Blogger Cindy W. said...

You know, I haven't yet, but I did take your suggestion and got some clean muslim bags. I'm keeping the box labels (stored elsewhere).

Hmmmmmm, maybe this gray and rainy afternoon I'll gently break some bits off the edge of one of those puerhs. . .

11:58 AM  

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