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Tasting Notes: 2018 Ding Gu Da Fang

19 August 2018

at 14:47 by Social

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Alexis, tea advisor from our Quebec City store is happy to share his tasting notes for the 2018 Ding Gu Da Fang, a green tea from the beautiful terroir of the Yellow Mountains.
Gaiwan infusion , 4g., 85C

Dry Leaves

Beginning with the dry leaves – with their trade mark flat-pressed, uniform leaf – varied tones from pale yellow to dark green proof of the local and ancestral know-how behind this tea. The Ding Gu Da Fang tea comes from a mixed harvest of buds some with one leaf and some with two leaves.

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Infused Leaves

Liquor is light green, bright and slightly opaque. Aroma of pleasant toasted and fruity notes (roasted sunflower or sesame seeds) with a sweet, vegetable broth flavour. The sweetness develops with a pleasant brisk vitality and finishes with an edge of melon.

A tea for lovers of Long Jing Zhejiang (green tea) with similar rolling style, Meng Ding Huang Ya (yellow tea) for its notes of grilled sesame/sunflower or Sencha Koshun (green tea) for the hint of melon in the finish.

Enjoy!

The competition wulongs

15 August 2018

at 10:04 by Manuel Legault-Roy

Juges at the Luku wulong competition, Taiwan

In Taiwan, in most growing areas, there are tea competitions every year. The most renowned region is definitely Luku, for the famous Dong Ding (Tung Ting). Every year, for over 35 years, thousands of teas are analyzed by a team of experienced tasters, all producers of tea.

For the spring 2018 competition, more than 6,000 teas were presented. The purpose of this competition is to preserve the style of “Dong Ding”, which is a wulong oxidized between 20% and 30% and subjected a final roasting which has become the signature of these producers. (see article Dong Ding (Cooked): traditional regional flavour)

How is the winner selected? There are numerous steps, here are a few: Initially the producer submits 22 Taiwanese pounds (22x600g) to the Luku Farmers Association. Some is used for the competition and 20 pounds are set aside to be packaged by the association with a seal of protection to ensure the authenticity of the product.

I have attended and participated in tastings at the contest several times over the years. Each time, I was amazed by the hard work of the judges at the centre. The assessment is made according to several criteria. Five groups of five judges will review the tea gradually to classify and determine a winner. They will analyze both the appearance (10% of score), colour (10%), flavors (30%), taste (40%) and infused leaves (10%).

After several tests by the judges, the winner will be selected. Only one lot will be designated Top Grade the price of which will exceed several thousand dollars a kilogram (always 600g!). An honorable mention is also given for the next 10 best lots, from a First Class 1 to First Class 10. Then come First Class (only 2% of the lots), Second Class (5%) and Third Class (9%). There is also a designation 3 Plum blossom given to 20% of the lots and 2 Plum blossom to other lots (34%). Over 30% of the teas will also be eliminated by the judges and returned to producers.

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Who buys these teas? Is the quality worth the price? The first lots are often bought by Taiwanese companies that want to treat or impress their important clients. These precious teas are vacuum packed in 5g amounts and offered as gifts. This year, we bought a first class lot (part top 2%  of lots), as well as a lot from the honorable mentions (the 5th one). These tea leaves have gone through over 5 analysis by experts at the centre So how good is it?

This is a great opportunity for lovers of wulong to improve their tasting proficiency. We have a limited amount of the Competition Dong Ding vacuum packed in 10g. I invite you to taste it alongside the Dong Ding M. Yu Nen cooked, which, every year, offers a very good Dong Ding, roasted with both passion and expertise.

Enjoy your tastings!

Tasting Notes: Dan Cong Wulong

14 August 2018

at 11:06 by Social

Jiang Mu Xiang

The Feng Huang ‘Phoenix’ Mountain range of Guangdong province, is home to some really old tea plants some claiming to be as old as 1000 years. They are part of a deep ancestral culture that spans many centuries. Old tea plants like this hail from a time, prior to industrialization, when all cultivation and manufacture was done manually: from the seed to the finished leaf.

As a plant, Camellia Sinensis has the ability to mutate quite easily resulting in single trees from the same garden having their own genetic nuances. Naturally the taste and aroma chemistry of the leaves also has its own unique make up from one individual plant to another. Over time certain tea plants exhibiting interesting flavour profiles were pampered and named by their owners. These unique, precious tea trees are highly respected and sought after by both producers and consumers. The title Dan Cong meaning “unique tea tree” is given to plants that reveal such specific character. Harvesting is done individually so that no plants yield is blended with the neighbouring plants. Teas of this style originating from this region are called Feng Huang Dan Cong. A blend of the plants genetics and the techniques used to finish the leaves results in each batch having a different signature.

This year, we have two of these single tea tree Dan Cong that both originate in Da An in Wudong village (in the Feng Huang Mountains). They were harvested in mid-April and processed by Mr. Huang, who is also our Chi Ye producer.

Mi Lan Xiang Wudong Daan

From the first seconds of steeping this wulong releases captivating fragrances and a real explosion of aromas. Scents of citruses (tangerine, grapefruit) mixed with warm traces of caramelized sugars from its light roasting over wood fire. Blended in its creamy texture are some more fruity notes (exotic, litchi, guava…) and sweet, silky finish. A tea with exceptional persistence, and lively brisk vitality.

Jiang Mu Xiang Wudong Daan

Translated as « ginger fragrance », this wulong shows rare complexity and balance even amongst other teas of this quality. No matter where you put your nose, you breathe scents of fruits (peach, melon), blooming flowers (orchids) and baked cookies. Evolution in the mouth is remarkable, with a delicious fruity attack that develops into renewed depths. An accessible rarity with its bold and enticing flavours, subtle perfumes, creamy textures and a lively hint of acidity lingering pleasantly into the aftertaste.

2018 Travels: an unforgettable trip to the Tea Studio with Kevin Gascoyne

8 August 2018

at 20:14 by Social

MR.DARJEELING

This year Kevin visited India, Nepal and Sri Lanka between late March and mid-May. He began his annual trip in Calcutta, before heading to the Himalaya, to track down the cream lots of the First Flush Darjeeling. He then crossed the border into Nepal for a few days at Jun Chiyabari, currently one of his favourite gardens, he travelled to Puttajhora to meet the producers of the base tea for our very popular Earl Grey Classic. He then headed to Southern India to spend a couple of weeks working on our very exciting new project: the Tea Studio. His annual trip rounded off with a few producers in Sri Lanka. This year, Kevin had the pleasure to be accompanied by François-Napoléon, manager of the Quartier Latin store.

Favourite gardens

During his 6 weeks long journey, Kevin had the opportunity to visit so many beautiful gardens. Some making excellent premium teas others improving continually and one or 2 struggling to keep up. Crossing the border into Sikkim for the first time in a couple of years he visited Temi which was planted with Darjeeling plants in the 1970s and 1980s. Seeyok and Singell always interesting to visit, and great examples of a tea gardens using a biodynamic style of organ cultivation. Finally, the Thurbo, with one of the best tea makers in the region (Suman, a smiling and passionate individual), making exceptional quality again this year, under the supervision of the expert J. D Rai who does wonders creating a great working environment with optimal production in such a big garden.

THURBO

Indian Tea and Gastronomy

During their travels in India, Kevin and François-Napoléon had the chance to taste so many local specialties. One notable one was Nepalese Tonga, a fermented millet in a bamboo tube to which boiling water is added and drunk through a metal straw. A rather special experience with a full body analgesic effect! In complete contrast the Tonga was accompanied by delicious home baked pizza topped with tea leaves and a locally made Austrian-style cheese. Multicultural gastronomy at its best.

BHAJI FEUILLES DE THES

The Return to Seed

Al over the tea world producers are realizing the benefits of returning to seed cultivation as opposed to clonal propagation. Seed plants are generally more hardy and provide a more sustainable alternative to deal with the unexpected future that climate change presents.

TEA STUDIO THEIERE

The Tea Studio, a dream come true.

After many years of discussing and planning an experimental tea factory. The dream became a reality earlier this year, and Kevin finally spent a few weeks making tea in the Tea Studio, our new project in the Nilgiris, India. After many years of hard work with our Indian partners, he was quite moved to finally see the factory operational ! Kevin and François-Napoléon were able to spend time with the partners and work the machines with the crew of women from neighboring villages. This project is also setting up to raise funds to allow girls in the surrounding villages to have access to education (often reserved for the boys of the family).

Learn more about the Tea Studio project by visiting the website and read the article on our blog.

TEA STUDIO VISTA

Cocktail: Wulong Martini

7 August 2018

at 18:04 by Social

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It is with great pleasure that François Marchand, tea taster at Camellia Sinensis, discovered the new Fieldstone restaurant (Montreal) a few weeks ago. He was amazed with their cuisine as it was both creative and absolutely divine. He was seduced by the originality of the menu, the presentation of the dishes, the mood, the service, … everything! The Wulong Martini was delicious and Fieldstone has agreed to share the recipe with us:

Wulong Martini (Fieldstone)

  • Gin Saint Laurent (250ml)
  • Si Ji Chun (wulong)
  • Mangosteen juice (or lychee)
  • Lemon juice

Steps

1. Stir 1 cup of gin with 8g of tea for 2 hours in a container.

2. Filter the gin.

3. In a shaker, add ice.

4. Add 2 oz. Mangosteen juice (or lychee)

5. Add 2/3 oz. of lemon juice

6. Shake.

7. Filter in the martini glass

Cheers!

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Camping : Never Without my Tea!

6 August 2018

at 13:35 by Social

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Fans of camping and the great outdoors will be pleased to learn that we offer many practical objects to make your tea wherever you are. Simple and efficient!

Here are two ways to enjoy your tea while camping:

1) Quick and practical

Very simply: put a filter in your cup, add 1-2 tsp of tea and fill the cup with hot water (75-95 depending on the tea). Infuse for 3-5 minutes, remove the filter and enjoy.

2) For a Grand Cru

Our new travel kits are perfect to enjoy a Grand Cru with friends around the campfire. With everything you need to get the best out of your favorite teas, wherever you may wander.

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Travels 2018: New Explorations for Hugo

1 August 2018

at 13:05 by Social

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For his trip to Asia this year, Hugo was accompanied by Manuel, manager of the Montreal Tearoom. During the month of March, they toured the island of Taiwan meeting various producers. They then visited South Korea a first time for Camellia Sinensis. Though for so many years we have received Korean tea samples, that didn’t fit with our collection, it is a tea region that had largely remained a mystery to us.

Taiwanese Reunion

Hugo spent most of his time this year in Lugu and Mucha. He met Mr. Gao, our Mucha Tie Guan Yin producer whose teas, produced in very small batches, are sorted manually by his daughter, his wife and his neighbour. From there they went on to visit Mr. Nen Yu, Dong Ding and Shan Li Xin producer with Leon, his son. Hugo and Manuel also shared quite a magical morning with Mr. Chang Fu Chin (our producer in Guei Fei) and his wife. It was a very special event where each participant wore an apron with the effigy of a tea and had to be “the master of that tea” serving it to the others. Surrounded by the sound of birdsong, it was a memorable experience of learning, tasting and sharing.

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Taste Discoveries

Hugo and Manuel then went to Mr. Chen’s home for some delicious … and some less delicious discoveries. After many years on travelling the island it is unusual to discover new teas. So it was a pleasant surprise to taste Mr. Chen’s Ying Xian, a passionate producer from a tradition of 5 generations. A low altitude wulong tea with high altitude qualities, opulent, yet affordable. A must to try!

After discovering this delicious teaHugo and Manuel were invited to Mr. Chen’s favourite restaurant to taste his favorite dish. Hugo describes the dish that arrived as a ‘generous portion of an unidentified brown jelly’. Even today, they are not sure what they ate, and perhaps it’s best kept that way;)

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New Explorations

For the first time Hugo explored Korea and its tea culture. An ambitious mission to visit 3 producing regions. Hugo and Manuel traveled the regions of Jeju, Hadong and Boesong producing certified organic teas for the most part. Although much of the tea industry is relatively young in Korea (40-50 years). Though we found some interesting leads that were making good quality teas we confirmed the constant tension we have always had with this region, that of the price-quality ratio. We have too many teas from other regions of superior quality for much lower prices. But having made some interesting connections it will be a region that we will continue to observe in coming years.

 
 

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