Tea Mail – June 2005

Seven CupsComing Home

As spring increases into summer, the entire Seven Cups team comes home from its travels to share a few weeks of strategic planning and outstanding tea together. Our travels have taken us from the Gulf Coast States of Kuwait, Syria and the United Arab Emirates to China’s Yunnan Province with short visits to YiXing, Hong Zhou, Huang Shan and Qi Men. ZhuPing enriched her astute knowledge as tea master with her teachers in Guangzhou and Chong Qing. In the United Arab Emirates, Austin has been invited to become a consultant to the government of Dubai. Together, he and ZhuPing worked diligently to establish a new Seven Cups office in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province.

Seven CupsExciting Events

We are very excited to announce that we have created an exclusive contract with Tai Lian Company to export their Puercha from China. Tai Lian Company is the largest family-owned puer producer in Yunnan. Tai Lian Company helped to establish the standard for puer by which all producers in Yunnan Province operate. These guidelines are soon to be accepted as national standards throughout China. We are honored to be able to associate with these fabulous tea producers.

The Seven Cups Chinese Tea Culture Class will start up again this Tuesday, June 7th. If you are in the Tucson area, this six week series is a superb way to discover the lore, cultivation, processing, health benefits and true appreciation of China’s legendary teas. Each class focuses on one of six kinds of tea: white, green, scented, wulong, black and puer. The classes are from 7:00PM to 8:45PM, continuing for a total of six Tuesday evening sessions at the Seven Cups Teahouse in Tucson, Arizona. The cost of the series is $150. Only a few spaces are left so contact us soon!

If you are far from our teahouse you can still socialize and discuss fine Chinese tea and tea culture with us via our new weblog. Visit the Seven Cups website and click on the link for Seven Cups News. There you can to read the latest health research which we’ve mined and linked to with comments through the Seven Cups blog. Please feel invited to participate in discussions with the Seven Cups staff, true tea enthusiasts, international tea scholars and just about anybody with a love for Chinese tea and culture.

Seven CupsLate Breaking Arrivals

Holding up the release of our monthly tea newsletter has been the exciting arrival of our newest teas!

TaiPing HouKui

Seven Cups TaiPing HouKui’s characteristic shape is that of two long broad leaves clasping one downy bud. The pluckings are approximately 6 cm long. The careful processing of this tea results in very flat, straight dry leaves with finely consistent size and shape. The uppermost buds have the white downy hairs intact. The deep pine green color and red veining on the underside of the leaf are unique characteristics for TaiPing HouKui. From the vibrant, juicy green liquor comes a light, slightly foetid orchid fragrance which lingers in the tea’s flavor. The infused leaves are soft, almost silky, and glistening. Enjoying TaiPing HouKui, one will discover the first cup delivers a full and high fragrance. The second cup, a full-bodied taste, the third and fourth cups retain the light orchid fragrance. Seven Cups TaiPing HouKui is very rare with only small, select harvests made each year.

The raw material for TaiPing HouKui begins with ‘one bud, two leaves’ picked during the two weeks spanning GuYu – the grain rains – going into earliest summer. The particular variety of Camellia sinensis from which TaiPing HouKui’s raw material comes has remarkably large characteristics –stout stems, enormous buds and thicker, longer leaves. Three days after the beginning of these grain rains, the trees have developed the oversized ‘one bud, two leaves’ necessary for this special grade plucking. These pluckings are big and heavy. One kilogram of dried tea leaves has 20,000 buds. For comparison, LongJing has 80-70,000 buds per kilogram.

HuangShan MaoFeng

Teas cultivated in the HuangShan range became very famous during the Ming Dynasty. Among the Yellow Mountains of Anhui Province there exist the highest mountain peaks in eastern China. These mountains are renowned for their gnarled pine trees, deep boreal forests and whimsical geologic formations such as towering spires, pinnacles and ancient stones. The HuangShan mountain range is perennially shrouded in a beautiful sea of clouds. With clouds, come relentless rains. Fortunately, the rich soils of this area have both ideal pH and excellent drainage. The growing conditions for the true tea species – Camillia sinensis – are optimal. These mountains are so phenomenally breathtaking that students of the Chinese mountain-and-river painting tradition regularly risk life and limb to closely study HuangShan’s towers and gorges.

It was in 1875 that a tea producer began investigating the ideal process for making outstanding Mao Feng from the fresh tea leaves gathered in the HuangShan range. His research and experimentation is evident in Seven Cups Special Grade Yellow Mountain MaoFeng – the penultimate MaoFeng in all of China. Seven Cups HuangShan MaoFeng buds and leaves come from the time known as Qingming – the most choice plucking of spring. One bud, one leaf are plucked from the tea bushes immediately preceding and through the first spring rains (Qingming) occurring after the Spring Equinox. Other Mao Feng grades are picked after the heavier GuYu – grain rains.

HuangShan MaoFeng breathes an enduring high fragrance from a crystal-clear, chartreuse liquor. The robust little buds plump up even more when steeped. One characteristic of this exceptionally clean tea, noted in the modern ChaJing, is that when infused with HuangShan’s water or other outstanding mountain spring water, no tea residue is left behind on the porcelain of the drinking vessel.

Silver Fish Hook Eyebrow

From HuangShan in Anhui Province, Seven Cups Silver Fish Hook MeiCha is an even single grove plucking of delicate, petite little tea bud & leaf pairs mixed with the occasional solitary whole tea leaf bearing a silvery bloom. Seven Cups Silver Fish Hook MeiCha (eyebrow tea) presents a full, nutty green tea taste, remarkably devoid of bitterness, arising from a deep, dusky jade liquor. The standard for picking the leaves for this tea is ‘one bud, one leaf’ during the first plucking of spring. Only whole, tender leaves and buds with attached sprig are taken. This sprig lends the finished product a strengthened flavor.

Organic Premium Keemun & Organic Keemun Breakfast

Sometime before 1875 (Qing Dynasty) Fujian officer, Yu Gan Chen, left service to dedicate himself exclusively to tea cultivation in the pristine forested, rural town of Keemun in Anhui Province. His tea growing and processing skills were essentially borrowed from the masters of Fujian Province. His innovations however resulted in a unique tea variety that – during the late Qing Dynasty and then once introduced to the world – would be regarded as a ‘Champagne of Teas’. Others in the region quickly caught on and we now have a variety of quality Keemun (pinyin: Qimen) on the market thanks to the dedicated research and experimentation of these tea growers. The quality of these particular tea trees is higher.

Seven Cups Organic Premium Keemun is made up of dark, iridescent buds and leaves with a grey sheen to them. The picking for this tea is actually one bud, two to three leaves. Keemun tea leaves are small, tight and yet still full, intact little spring leaves. Dusty, crumbling findings are not the authentic Keemun Gong Fu Black. The overall quality of the tea trees selected for Keemun Gong Fu Black is extremely high. The finished Seven Cups Organic Premium Keemun fragrance is a strong, high honey tone with an elusive tangy orchid-like scent. Unblended Keemun has an unparalleled fragrance. A bright amber, autumnal golden liquor arises from leaves soft, small, and fresh after infusion. For those who actually taint exquisite Chinese tea with milk, you may be impressed to discover this tea liquor color will turn pink with cream! As always, our authentic Keemun comes from the countryside where this tea was originally developed and presented to the world.

Seven CupsRare Meng Ding Cha

We are excited to find out that so many Seven Cups customers strongly approve of the new additions to our selection. The rare Meng Shan green teas that came in last month have been a hit in the teahouse as well as with our long-distance customers.

Meng Ding Mao Feng has proven to be an economical and remarkable fine tea. The dark, withered tendrils of the dry tea unfurl into slender, tender, whole leaves which give birth to sweet, savory and sophisticated tones which set Mao Feng apart from other green teas. If you enjoyed this variety of Mao Feng, keep an eye peeled for an even more exquisite Mao Feng that should be arriving soon.

The most remarkable things about Meng Ding Shi Hua (Stone Flower) are its bodacious tea buds and its outrageously delicious taste. Stone Flower has a firm, succulent, 4-layered bud bearing an intense pale jade luster. These ‘juicy’ multiple buds are produced by a full winter’s worth of slow, timely growth. The fragrance is sharp, refreshing and prepares the palate for a mellow but robust, nourishing flavor.

Meng Ding Snow Drop Jasmine is an alchemical expression of fine green tea blended with the fragrance and beauty of jasmine flowers. To be honest, a jasmine tea with many flowers left behind with the tea leaves can be suspect. Too often, a tea blender will pull some relict green tea and practically rancid jasmine flowers out of a backstreet warehouse and throw the two together into some fancy boxes calling it ‘jasmine green tea’ or worse. For this very reason, Seven Cups approaches most scented teas with significant amounts of flower or flower parts remaining in the tea with caution.

However, Meng Ding Snow Drop Jasmine – whose Chinese name translates to something closer to, ‘snow flakes falling into deep mountain pools’ – outshines even the slightest shadow of a doubt with the mind-boggling clarity of its fragrance and flavor. The balance between fine green tea aroma and the scent of the jasmine flowers is a mark of true craftsmanship as is the remarkable preservation of these lovely jasmine flowers. Only expert hands could control temperature, air circulation and moisture to gently dry these flowers down while retaining the tender bouquet that these flowers lend to this pleasure brew.

Keep an eye on our site for new arrivals of the best puer tea on Earth as well as Austin’s article demystifying puer.

Seven CupsJune’s Sale Teas

If you been checking the Seven Cups website, you’ve no doubt noticed this month’s sale teas.

Misty New Top Green, Misty Cloud Jasmine, Monkey Picked Oolong, Preferred Meizhan Oolong and Lapsang Longan Black.

All of these fine teas are discounted up to 25%!

Seven CupsDid You Know . . . ?

Baozhong ( b’ow jong ) is a class of wulong teas inspired by the tea culture which emigrated to Taiwan before and during China’s Cultural Revolution. Sometimes called Formosa oolongs, these teas are grown in the high mountain tea gardens at the apex of Taiwan’s steep, fertile agricultural valleys. The high altitudes at which these teas are grown provide cool temperatures, diffuse sunlight and high humidity producing the soft, tender leaves which, in processing, are barely oxidized – the lightest of the oolongs. Many varieties grown in these Taiwanese regions began as transplants from WuYi Shan in Fujian Province or Meng Shan in Sichuan Province where China’s most famous rare green teas and rock oolongs originate.

Puercha ( poo er cha ) comes in a wide variety of compressed shapes. When it isn’t presented as a loose, whole leaf tea, puer can be punched into top-shaped cakes called tuocha or pressed into a round or rectangular cake of tea referred to as bingcha as well as numerous other compressed forms including the pieces of a Occidental chess set! It is important to keep in mind that just because a tea is pressed into a brick does not necessarily make it puer.

One of the things that makes puer (sometimes spelled pu-erh) remarkable is that it is one of the few truly fermented teas. This means that cooked puer – often referred to as black puer – is actually laid into great heaps for a quick hot, moist fermentation much like what happens in compost piles but with more controlled humidity, temperature and specific introduction of microbial inoculant. Compare this with green puer which quietly ages beautifully for years once it’s been dried down just enough to prevent decomposition but not enough to totally lock down the enzymatic activity of the tea. For green puer, these years spent quietly aging are when a host of naturally-occurring, provincial microbes gradually refine and transform the MaoCha (starting material for all Yunnan tea) into the exquisite brew the world knows as Puer.

Seven CupsTea’s Latest Hits

Pot of gold for a pot of winning tea
Taiwan Headlines – Taipei, Taiwan
… The winners in the Rexiang oolong and paochong tea categories saw sales prices of NT$500,000 per jin, prices paid by winning bidders the Weitalu Group and the …

Still steeping in time
China Business Weekly – Beijing, China
… For instance, the people in North China prefer green tea and jasmine tea to oolong tea, which is consumed by the people in South China,” Liu says. …

living:room by Neal Schindler
Seattle Weekly – Seattle,WA,USA
… verging on bitterness.) Besides stocking an impressive assortment of teas–from comfy chamomile to exotic Kashmiri chai, orchid oolong , white Persian melon …

Green tea research may help battle cancer
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle – Rochester,NY,USA
… Discovering how green tea quiets down HSP90 could become a “unifying mechanism” for future research in cancer prevention, said Gasiewicz. …

Int’l Pottery Art Works Show to be staged
EastDay.com – Shanghai, China
An International Pottery Show will be held from June 2 to 4, in Yixing , in east China’s Jiangsu Province, displaying the best craftsmanship from around China …

Diverse cultures (and sales) at Asian art event
International Herald Tribune – France
… At the E&J Frankel Gallery on Madison Avenue, the brown glazed vessels of Yixing porcelain from a Taiwan collection, with no decoration other than discreetly …

Leave the bag behind
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle – Rochester,NY,USA
… For instance, there’s little common ground between devotees of pungent, smoky Lapsang Souchong from China and suave, velvety Darjeeling from India. …

Shaped by culture
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle – Rochester,NY,USA
… An inveterate tea drinker, she tests her own products. “My passion is Lapsang Souchong,” she says, describing a strong, smoky-flavored brew. …

[Along Ancient Tea Horse Path]Xishuangbanna
Beijing, China
… Tea Horse Path in Yunnan starts from Xishuangbanna, Xishuangbanna has a long history of tea producing and gained the reputation the homeland of Puer tea in the …

Suntory to sell ZEN green tea liqueur in US market
Japan Today – Tokyo, Japan
NEW YORK — Suntory International Corp said Thursday it will market ZEN, a green tea liqueur specifically tailored for the American market, from next month. …

Hot commodity
China Business Weekly, China – May 29, 2005
The atmosphere nearly boils over in the auction room as buyers frantically outbid each other for Zhuyeqing, a green tea from Mount E’mei. The price steeps. …

Green Tea May Prevent Prostate Cancer
PR Leap (press release) – Chula Vista,CA,USA
(PRLEAP.COM) Compounds found in green tea may prevent the development of prostate cancer in men. The compounds known as green tea …

It’s nutrients vs. disease; UA aims to pick a winner
Arizona Daily Star – Tucson, AZ, USA
… cancers – lung cancer. But just maybe you also can drink plenty of green tea to delay or even prevent this hideous disease. What if your …

Protesters demand fair trade tea
BBC News – UK
Fair trade campaigners have held a demo to demand tea companies end a “crisis” engulfing the industry in India. ActionAid launched …

Green tea is good for you, and it tastes good, too
Victorville Daily Press – Victorville, CA, USA
If you haven’t heard the story of how tea got its start as a beverage, today is your lucky day. Legend has it that Chinese Emperor …