17 January, 2014

An Englishman in New Borneo

For an island that has actual tea plantations, the tea available for actual consumption in Borneo is baffling: the locals drink it extremely dilute, usually from low-quality teabags.  Some of them are even "Lipton", which is a dreadful company the insipid products of which I first encountered in the USA.  It's like going to Beaujolais and drinking Blue Nun.  It makes no sense.

I console myself with my notes from a session with a charming tea (a Fengqing tuocha from 2002), kindly provided by ME of South America, that I had shortly before my departure from England.

Fengqing is an old school tea company of the first order.  They have been going approximately since the beginning of time, and seem quite happy to soldier on, churning out uncompromising tuocha while the fads of modern Chinese tea production pass them by.  There is a warm place in my heart for grumpy old Fengqing.

As with all tuocha, we should not expect large-leaf gratification.  ME has kindly provided a big pile o' leaves that I assume he has personally liberated from the iron-like grip of the compacted bird's nest.  The scent of the dry leaves is an appealing sweetness, with a tinge of light humidity.

12 years is quite a long time.   In that time, the presumedly yellow soup as was has turned into the heavy orange that we can see in the above photograph.  There is a dense, smoky sweetness about the soup that is typical for basic, strong tuocha of the kind in which Fengqing excels.

This is soft around the edges, probably due to its age, and possesses a solid core of sweetness and kuwei [good bitterness].  I add a dash of extra water from the kettle to dilute its sharpness - this is an unusual step but handy if the tea is accidently overbrewed.  I always get very optimistic / foolhardy with tuocha leaves, and fail to take into account the compression, resulting in the use of far too many leaves.

The result, after dilution by around half of its volume again, is absolutely delicious.  It has the sweet strength of decent tuocha, and cools the mouth with a comprehensive, "all over" coolness.

Its age may also be seen in the manner in which it retains the colour in the centre of the cup, but which thins to a translucent meniscus, as it moves up the wall of the cup.  It is not complex, but it is plentifully strong, quite charming, and lasts for over a dozen infusions without showing the slightest sign of roughness.

Fengqing tuocha: always safe, and excellent when aged a little. Thanks again to ME for the session.


Hector Konomi said...

That blue pen looks rather fancy...

Hobbes said...

Parker: reassuringly unfancy, and every schoolboy's favourite. :)

It writes like a dream, and is entirely designed to be used for writing, rather than being designed to be a status symbol!



Maxwell2079 said...


Glad you like it.

It seems that you travel a lot...

Take care.

Maxwell2079 said...

By the way, If you happen to come to Argentina do not hesitate to contact me.

Take care!

Hobbes said...

Malbec and steak, what's not to like? :)