My Tea Break

Rediscovering Tea around the world

Aged Tie Guan Yin (Iron Buddha)

This week I tried an aged Tie Guan Yin as part of the Canton Tea Club. Tie Guan Yin is an Oolong Tea also known as Iron Buddha.

This aged Tea was harvested in Spring 2007 and is handmade on a traditional Anxi Farm in the Fujian Province in China.It is heavily roasted and then stored for 4 years away from heat, light and humidity to let the deep, toasty flavours develop.

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The initial rich sweet cocoa flavour develops into a long, lingering, dark fruit taste, with hints of toasted oats and cinnamon along the way.

For more information about Oolong Tea please check our previous post that explains all about this Tea:

Happy Tea Break.




Gonfgu cha

Gongfu in Chinese means “to do things with skill and care” and everything during the gongfu cha or kungfu cha is prepared in detail with small and delicate items, focusing on the elegance of brewing Tea. Each step is designed to get the best possible flavour, enphasising the taste and smell of each cup of Tea and how one Tea taste compares with the previous ones.

Gongfu cha originated in China but it is also very popular in Taiwan.It is mainly used to prepare Oolong and Puerh Tea but it may also be used for other kinds of Tea.

The Gongfu cha method can be put in practice for private enjoyment, to welcome guests or as a commercial show in Tea shops and markets so that the client can taste various kinds of Tea. It requires a large space, ideally a peaceful and surronding environment, with a big table to hold all the necessary equipment.

In order to perform a gonfu cha you will need: a yixing clay teapot or a gaiwan; small Tea cups for tasting;  fresh spring water and an electric kettle, and a dip Tea tray (which is very important as a lot of water is wasted during the process). Some other tools are optional such as a vessel and strainer to serve, a Tea scoop (for scooping loose tea), a Tea brush to clean and Tea pincers to handle the hot small cups.

This video shows a Gongfu chinese Tea ceremony:

Gongfu is only one of the many Chinese Tea ceremonies. In China, Tea is used as a sign of respect, to apologise, for family gatherings and even during weddings.

Happy Tea Break.



Gai is Lid, Wan is Bowl

Gaiwan, is a traditional Tea Cup from China that brews Tea in a simple, quick and elegant way. This was invented during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). The Gaiwan is composed by a bowl, a lid and the base. Gaiwans can be made from porcelain, glass, clay or jade.

All Teas can be brewed with a Gaiwan but  it’s considered to be better suited to white and green Tea, which brew in lower temperatures and have a more delicate flavour and aroma.  It is also good to brew Oolong as it’s easy to brew multiple infusions.

How to use a Gaiwan? Put the leaves directly into the cup and add hot water. You can then drink it directly from the cup without taking the leaves so that it continues to brew or alternatively you can use it as a vessel and use the lid as a strainer to pour the Tea into smaller cups. In China it’s important to rinse the gaiwan and the leaves with hot water first. The first step warms the cup and removes any impurities. The second one opens the leaves and releases its aroma and flavour.

Here is a quick video on how to pour Tea from a Gaiwan:

The Gaiwan can also be associated with the Chinese Gongfu Tea Ceremony which we will explain in detail on the next post. Stay tuned!


The perfect cup of Oolong Tea

Oolong Tea is considered the national Tea of China and its mainly produced in the

Tea Plantation in Taiwan

Fujian Province. Apart from China,  Oolong Tea is also mainly produced in Taiwan and known as Formosa Tea. The name means “Beautiful”, and it was given by the Portuguese explorers of the island.

The most popular Chinese Oolong Teas are the Iron Goddess (An Xi Tie Guan Yin) and the Big Red Robe (Wu Yi Yan Cha) both from the Fujian Province and listed on the top 10 Chinese Teas. Nowadays, the term monkey picked oolong refers to the highest quality of this tea and the name comes from the Buddist monks who trained monkeys to climb to the top of the Camellia Sinensis plant to pick the youngest buds for a premium oolong.

Perhaps the most famous of Taiwan Oolong Tea are the Shang Ling Xi and Ali Shan.

Some tips on how to brew the perfect cup of Oolong Tea:

1. You should use a yixing clay teapot which is porous and absorbs the flavours and aromas of the oolong Tea. In China, Oolong Tea is served in tiny teapots and cups and this tea can be infused up to six times. In each brew you will feel a different taste and aroma.

2. Warm the teapot first using hot water. The ideal temperature for Oolong Tea  is around 85ºc.

3. Place the leaves inside the teapot or use an infuser. Allow the leaves to open and discard the first brew.

4.  Pour hot water again and start the second brew. Infusion time should be around 3 minutes for the first brew and gradually increase with each infusion depending on your taste.

Happy Tea Break.  🙂


Oolong: The blue green Tea

Oolong Tea was first produced in the Fujian province in China during the Ming dinasty, around 400 years ago.

Oolong  process requires a big amount of hand work. The tea leaves are handpicked during the morning in units of one bud and three leaves. The leaves are then left to dry in the sun, which begins the process of fermentation and oxidation.  The fermentation stops when 30% of the leaves are red and 70% are still green.  The leaves are then pan fried to create this semi-fermented Tea. The leaves look curly and crispy at the end of the process.  At the final stage, an Honorary Tea Master grades the quality of each batch.

Oolong dried Tea leaves

It is important to note that there are several types of Oolong Tea and the fermentation period varies by region. In China, Oolong is usually prepared to achieve a 20% fermentation which results in a lighter flavour while in Taiwan the fermentation period is longer achieving almost 70% of the fermentation and resulting in a much stronger flavour.

The flavour of Oolong Tea is typically not as robust as Black or as light as Green, but has its own extremely fragrant and intriguing tones. Oolong Teas are fully bodied in flavour and the aromas and flavours can range from green and flower to black and roasted. Oolong Tea is often scented with jasmine flowers.

Oolong Tea is highly rich in polyphenolic compounds, adding value health benefits. According to scientific experiments, Oolong Tea can help the treatment of skin disorders and protects against skin cancer, promotes a good bone structure and dental health and also helps control stress levels. Oolong is also very good for digestion and weight control as it reduces triglyceride and enhances the function of fat cells in the human body.

Tomorrow we will give you a step by step on how to brew the perfect cup of Oolong.

Happy Tea Break. 🙂