Monday, July 1, 2019

Banzhang Chun Qing - 10 years old - Revisited

Hi Tea Friends!

For nearly 15 years I've been a puer tea collector. But I have to admit, while I love all types of great tea, and can enjoy any tea in the right mood or setting, I'm just not crazy about puer the way I used to be. It is more of a social beverage to me now and I never crave it the way I do oolongs or blacks.

My puer collection lives behind this curtain in the corner of my bedroom where it stays dark, dry and shielded from kitchen smells.


Peek-a-boo!

10 years ago I purchased one of Yunnan Sourcing's Banzhang Chun Qing Puer Tea Cakes (班章純情普洱茶餅) This tea was pretty hot on the 2009 tea blogger scene for good reason. It is delicious. For a little background on the cake and my original impression you can check out this old post.

On June 15th, I randomly grabbed this Banzhang Chun Qing cake when I had some friends over for a party. When I looked at the production date I smiled! The tea I had chosen to brew was very close to being exactly 10 years old!


♪♫♪♫ Happy Birthday to You ♪♫♪♫

I've enjoyed three sessions with this cake over the last couple weeks. When I posted a pic on my Instagram (brett_uke), the venerable Geoffrey Norman, suggested I write a follow up comparing the ten year old cake with it's younger self. Today I did just that! 

I used my white ceramic gaiwan and a 5 gram chunk of tea cake. This tea is sweet and fruity with peach aroma in some early infusions transforming into a musky ripe papaya. It has nice cinnamon, cedar and camphor notes in the back of my throat.

~5 gram chunk

The color is a few shades darker orange than it was 10 years ago. The liquor pours thick and brothy. I can't remember if it had this level of saponic thickness 10 years ago but it sure is satisfying today.

Earthier flavors and some sweet raisiny notes come to me after infusion #4. Mostly, the tea is all about the stone fruits and totally not smoky. Sometimes it reminds me of first flush Darjeeling.

Looking back on my decade old post I'd say this tea is aging just fine. It is a bit smoother, mellower and older tasting. I'm lucky to still have about half the cake left so I can brew it again in another decade!

3rd infusion

Any of you other old school tea bloggers out there still have any of this cake left? If you do, let me know! I'd love to hear how yours is aging! This tea has slightly renewed my enthusiasm for puer tea! 

Monday, June 10, 2019

You Should Read My Wife's Amazing First Novel


I want you to know that my brilliant wife Alanna has been hard at work for over 5 years writing an incredible, thrilling, young adult fiction Quartet! (that's 4 amazing books ya'll !). This series has something for everyone. I've read them all (at least 4 times now :), I love them beyond reason, and I can't wait to talk with other people about them.

Alanna is releasing book one, "When We Vanished" on June 15th in online serial novel format. The easiest way to enjoy the ride is to give her your email address on her website. It's totally free and it's legit and it would make Alanna's heart soar to know that you're interested in reading her work. It's YA but I strongly believe most adults will love these books. And if it's not for it's easy to unsubscribe.

And please share the link to her website with anyone you know who loves fresh, tight glorious well plotted fiction with amazing, deep, real, characters!

Here is her Website: alannapeterson.com
Enter your email where it says "subscribe for updates."

Thank you So SO Much!
Brett Boynton, Oolong Lover, Uke Player and Alanna Peterson Fanboy

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Sri Lankan Tea Tasting Event at Redwing Cafe!


Hi Tea Friends! It's your old tea geek pal Brett. I've been cooking at Redwing Cafe in southeast Seattle for 4 great years now. Although I'm no longer in the tea industry, I still drink high quality loose-leaf tea everyday.

Recently I met Simon, an owner of Amba organic tea estate in Sri Lanka, who asked to present a Sri Lankan tea tasting event entitled "Teaology" at Redwing Cafe to promote his tea garden and to benefit the Suriya Women’s Development Centre, a grass-roots charity working with conflict-affected communities in eastern Sri Lanka

The tasting is Thursday, June 13th starting at 5:00 PM. It is $25 per guest, which is a great deal considering you get a flight of 6 delicious unique teas, paired with light vegetarian treats and snacks (let me know in advance if you have any specific food allergies). Plus you're helping to support a great organization.

A flyer about this event is pictured below. This Tea Tasting event will fill up quickly so please RSVP asap.

Please email me if you have any questions or to RSVP and I hope to see you there!


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Cupping Two Winter Wenshan Baozhong Teas

Hi Tea Friends! Happy New Year! Long time no see!

I've been doing well. These days I stay busy taking care of my home and family, playing ukulele and guitar, cooking at a busy neighborhood vegetarian cafe, and drinking lots of great tea. I mostly drink oolongs and black/reds, but I'll happily drink some green tea or puer in social settings.

My tea blogging goal for 2019 is a minimum 300% increase in posts compared to 2018. That should not be too hard because I only had one post in 2018! Hashtag "setting the bar low" am I right ?!

Today I cupped up a couple of fresh, high quality, Winter Wenshan Baozhong teas (文山包種茶) from my friend's farm in Pinglin, Taiwan! (Check out my previous post for a photo of my daughter looking out at the very tea bushes these teas were picked from!)

-I'll call them Tea #1 and Tea #2.
-Tea #2 is about 25% more expensive than tea #1.
-Both teas were made by @Pinglin54 in November 2018.
-For each tea I used 4 grams of dry leaf in identical ceramic bowls.
-Water at about 200° F.

Ah! I love that sweet Baozhong fragrance!!! 

Tea #1

... and Tea #2
(I realize they both look pretty much exactly the same :)

Let me just start by singing ♪♫♬♪♫♬ I LOVE WINTER BAOZHONG! ♪♫♬♪♫♬

Both of these teas are superb but they did cup up very differently for me today.

Tea #1 had a grassier, thinner liquor. It was refreshing and crisp with a pleasant honeydew melon aroma, and pine-forest flavor notes. The body was good compared with most Baozhong teas, especially most Spring Baozhong, but it lacked mouthfeel and body compared with #1. It did win for throat-feel though. It left a really wonderful, peppery, sparkly aftertaste in the back of my throat that I didn't get much from #2.

Tea #2, as I just mentioned, was tops for mouthfeel! It was very thick and buttery and much more floral than its less expensive sibling. #2 was also more fragrant off the spoon too. I enjoyed its alluring flavor notes of lilac and mock orange.

In my happy place!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Taiwan Travel Gallery 2018

大家好! Last week my family and I returned home after 8 awesome days in Taiwan. This was my sixth time visiting my favorite island. We had fun eating, shopping, swimming, hiking, drinking tea and exploring in Taipei (台北), Yeliu (野柳), Pinglin (坪林), Jiufen (九份), and Guguan (谷關). Here are a few photos from our trip!

Produce shopping in Taipei

Walking the lanes near our apartment

A visit to Taipei 101

Looking down from up high!

A view of the Danshui River from the window of friend's apartment

Awesome pool that we had all to ourselves

Walking the streets of Taipei

Tea with Amin in Pinglin!

The Guanyin in Pinglin

On the trail with our buddy "Golden"

Dez finds a friend

Cora at the Tea Farm

Cool suspension bridge near Pinglin

A stormy and fun day at Yeliu

A pretty cafe in Jiufen

Walking the alleys of Guguan

Cora chillin' with her ocarina

7-11 selfie in Guguan

Lunch Time!

Massive grasshopper on the Shao Lai Trail (捎來步道)

Guguan post office

Dez plays his ocarina in Guguan

Dinner at the hotel

Kiss Fish! Eating the dry skin cells on our feet.

A view of our Hotspring Pool

Mango Jelly, Boba, & Passionfruit Shaved Ice!

Busy Old Street of Jiufen

Ready for some Lishan High Mountain Oolong!

Walking to the elementary school in Guguan

Monday, October 9, 2017

Northwest Tea Festival 2017 and Colombian Black Tea Cupping

On September 30th and October 1st I attended the Northwest Tea Festival at Seattle Center. Both days, I presented a session in the tea tasting booths called Oolongs with Brett. As the name suggests my sessions featured me serving and discussing oolong tea (along with a bit of ukulele strumming). It felt great to get behind a bamboo serving tray once again!

After my tasting sessions I spent my time sampling tea and connecting with friends on the expo floor. I picked up some fantastic Alishan from Floating Leaves and miscellaneous other goodies from some of my favorite stores (like Phoenix Tea, Smacha, and Young Mountain). My tea cupboard is now ready for Autumn!

At one point my old boss Brian Keating wanted to introduce me to a Colombian tea producer called Bitaco. I had never tried Colombian tea so I was excited to give it a shot. After chatting with Brian and the Bitaco representatives, I had faith that Bitaco cares about the people in their community and the lush mountain environment at which their tea is grown. Also, their tea looked and smelled super fresh and the price was great.

I picked up these 3 Colombian black teas:

Tippy 2

Wiry 2

Black Wiry 1

During the past week I enjoyed mugs of each tea, but today I decided to cup all three side by side to see how they really compared. I used 3 grams of leaf in three identical 6 ounce glass mugs. Each tea was steeped 3 minutes with boiling water.  

Wiry 2 (top left) 
Tippy 2 (top right)
 Wiry 1 (bottom middle)

The teas cupped up nicely. Here are my tasting notes:
Wiry 2 had the lightest body, but not by much. It was brisk, sweet and clean tasting. Compared to the others it was mellow, but the delicate notes of fruit, honey, and wood made it the most complex. It's a black tea that drinks more like a dark oolong.

Wiry 1 was the most peppery. It reminded me of a mid-grade Yunnan hongcha. It is a great cup of tea but it slightly lacked complexity when sipped alongside the other two.

Tippy 2 was very nice. It had the most body and mouthfeel. It was malty with a sweet stone-fruit aftertaste. If you like high quality Assam tea this would be one to try.

Sunday, June 18, 2017