Sunday, July 19, 2009

Marathon Tie Guan Yin Cupping in a Private Tea Sanctuary

For those of you who've been invited to my private tea room in Oakland, CA, I want to let you know that if you're in Beijing and I'm around, you're invited to tea in my private tea sanctuary in my backyard here! I had a traditional ting (a pagoda-like structure in classical Chinese gardens) built during my last visit and saw it for the first time when I arrived here this month.

All thanks to Mr. Yang Wu, who oversaw the project while fighting cancer! He had the work crew clean and remove a lot of overgrown vegetation (my backyard looked like a jungle during my last visit), pave with slate tiles and plant bamboo and cherry and Chinese date trees. All was done within a couple of months after I visited him in the hospital last spring.

Yang joked that he asked the doctor if he could switch hospitals and the doctor said no, so I asked, what hospital did you want to move to? He said, a mental hospital because I'm going crazy in here! Anyway, he negotiated a treatment plan that allowed him to come home and only go to the hospital for a few hours a day. He oversaw the rebuilding of my backyard during his time at home. The man is amazing!


Today for the first time, I banished the wife and daughter from my private ting and cupped 13 samples of tie guan yin that arrived yesterday. I found several very interesting possibilities, including a fine Jade Tie Guan Yin I am leaning towards approving. I'm going back to Ma Lian Dao (Beijing's wholesale tea area) to test out every tie guan yin I can find and will let you know what I think afterwards.


Samples of tie guan yin ready to be cupped in the new tea sanctuary in my Beijing back yard.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

We English speakers would call Roy's ting a gazebo. It's interesting that the word gazebo entered our language in the mid-18th century, just the time when trade between England and China was building and the English were madly importing and copying many Chinese tea traditions. Perhaps the gazebo is yet another unacknowledged Chinese import!

Jason Witt said...

I think it'd be nice to feature some of the more traditional heavier-roasted Ti Guan Yin teas. I don't prefer only the newer lighter-oxidized ones. There are so many variations of this tea you need to find out what you're getting before you buy, and it's not always that easy.

Roy Fong said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly, high-fired Tie Guan Yin has all but disappeared. Most farmers don't know how or don't want to make it. It isn't just the firing at high temperature--you can find that easily--it is the correctly "fermented" or oxidized tea that is fired sensibly that is hard to find. A well fermented tea that is sensibly fired produces reddish liquor with a long finish and it is this kind of oolong that allows aging and continued firing. I am please to let you know that at least one person I know still offers this tea: me! You can try out our Monkey-Picked Tie Guan Yin to see if it works for you.