Is this even the same Pinglin Bao Zhong tea that others are writing about? I am currently too lazy to get up and reread the tea pouch. Edit—I did get up and check the tea pouch and yes, that’s all the label says. I can only guess that this newer batch, purchased July 2016, is a totally different creature than those previously written about. Completely different flavour profile.

Totally coconut, which is being lost on me today as I just had another but different coconut oolong yesterday and I had forgotten how coconut this one is. Delicious coconut which is not quite was I was in the mood for, so I will postpone proper reviewing for another time.

Yesterday, I had an early doctor’s appointment in the city, which meant that I was perfectly positioned to wander over to Chinatown and treat myself to dim sum. A large group, about seven or eight, older men were there, old as dirt, really, and it was a delight to watch them hang out, joke, read their papers, eat, torment the servers, and carry on. Although they were speaking in Cantonese, it was clear that they had great affection for each other and had known each other for a long long time. I wonder how often they have their morning breakfasts together. I suspect rituals and camaraderie like this have much to do with their longevity.

Apart from this group, was an older gentlemen having breakfast alone. He had brought his own yixing teapot, teacup, and huge thermos of boiling water for the gazillions cups he drank with his meal. I. was. dying to go over there and ask him what kind of tea he was drinking, but I didn’t: too embarrassed and concerned about the possible communication gap. After his meal, he dumped his mountain of leaves out onto an empty plate: curly, fizzly, dark. I asked one of my favourite trolley people if she knew what kind of tea that was and she suspected it was heung pin, which we later got translated as jasmine. Yeah, maybe she just felt she needed to give me some sort of answer. It doesn’t necessarily tell me anything about the leaf.

Anyway…

ashmanra

I understand why you didn’t go over to him, and I also wish so badly that you had! I would probably have chickened out unless maybe a staff member could have told you if he was a regular and if he spoke English. Maybe you can go back and see him again!

Evol Ving Ness

I was fascinated that this gentleman brought all his own paraphernalia and tea despite the endless supply of cheap restaurant tea available. Perhaps that was the point. Hard to suffer if you are a tea connoisseur. While I was watching him, I had considered many of the possible stories behind this moment. That he had spent his life as a tea importer and had his home stuffed with the favourite teas he had spent decades narrowing down. That he wasn’t drinking tea but rather a medicinal herbal concoction. That the restaurant tea was too caffeinated for his health now. That he had been seasoning his teapot for decades and refused to drink tea without his ritual. And so on.

I go to this particular restaurant for dim sum from time to time, but usually a bit later in the day. Perhaps I will see him again. Communication in this place is a real thing though, so we’ll see.

Evol Ving Ness

Few of the staff speak English and probably wouldn’t know if he did.

ashmanra

Awesome! Please post it if you get to talk to him. I bet he has some stories to share! Hopefully they will be in a language you can understand. :)

Evol Ving Ness

Will do. That dim sum outing was a glorious morning. A beautiful way to start the day. I will do it again, but that particular outing was so good, I almost don’t want to ruin the memory of it. Perhaps I will let some time pass before I return.

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ashmanra

I understand why you didn’t go over to him, and I also wish so badly that you had! I would probably have chickened out unless maybe a staff member could have told you if he was a regular and if he spoke English. Maybe you can go back and see him again!

Evol Ving Ness

I was fascinated that this gentleman brought all his own paraphernalia and tea despite the endless supply of cheap restaurant tea available. Perhaps that was the point. Hard to suffer if you are a tea connoisseur. While I was watching him, I had considered many of the possible stories behind this moment. That he had spent his life as a tea importer and had his home stuffed with the favourite teas he had spent decades narrowing down. That he wasn’t drinking tea but rather a medicinal herbal concoction. That the restaurant tea was too caffeinated for his health now. That he had been seasoning his teapot for decades and refused to drink tea without his ritual. And so on.

I go to this particular restaurant for dim sum from time to time, but usually a bit later in the day. Perhaps I will see him again. Communication in this place is a real thing though, so we’ll see.

Evol Ving Ness

Few of the staff speak English and probably wouldn’t know if he did.

ashmanra

Awesome! Please post it if you get to talk to him. I bet he has some stories to share! Hopefully they will be in a language you can understand. :)

Evol Ving Ness

Will do. That dim sum outing was a glorious morning. A beautiful way to start the day. I will do it again, but that particular outing was so good, I almost don’t want to ruin the memory of it. Perhaps I will let some time pass before I return.

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Note to self—-you do not actually need any more tea.

My real tea obsession began in February 2015.

Not, sadly, when I had been living and working in China, though I very much enjoyed sampling a variety of teas during my travels there as well. No, no, that would have been far too sensible.

I am a reformed coffee drinker. I still enjoy a long double espresso with a good quantity or milk or cream from time to time, but for now, tea is my thing. All day.

*note—this is way out of date, so if we are doing a swap and you are checking to see what I like and dislike, mostly never mind what you find below. One of these days, I will update this. In the meantime, check what I’ve been drinking and use your own judgement. I like all the teas. Well, I am open to trying all the teas.

I tend to drink black, green, or oolong tea in the morning to early afternoon. Rooibos or
Honeybush or herbal in the evening. And perhaps some sort of sleepy-type tea in the wee hours.

This year, I’ve been discovering flavoured teas, so it may look like that is all I drink although that would provide a false impression.

Not a big fan of chocolate or mint in teas, but I will try them and, from time to time, have been pleasantly surprised. Also, usually I dislike a prominent cinnamon flavour, if untempered with other things, in teas. Again, I say usually, because there are exceptions.

Also, please note that haven’t quite gotten into the habit of updating my tea cupboard on Steepster, and it is unlikely that I will do this on any kind of regular basis.

I drink my tea black and unsweetened. If there comes a rare moment that I add something to it, I will mention it.

Finally, while I thank large and successful tea companies for tantalizing and beckoning me to the world of tea, I prefer to support independent ventures with real people, real enthusiasm and commitment, and real dreams.

Currently, I am researching monthly tea subscriptions. Perhaps it will keep me out of tea shops.

And here is Shae’s rating scale— which I am using with permission, of course— which more or less describes the way I have been rating teas. I am going to make more of an effort to stay very close to these parameters now.

Rating Scale

1-20: By far, one of the worst teas I’ve tasted. I most certainly will not finish my cup and will likely “gift” the rest to my sweet husband who almost always enjoys the teas I dislike (and vice versa).

21-40: This tea is not good but if I mix it with another tea or find another steeping method I might be able to finish it.

41-60: This one is just okay. I might drink it again if someone were to give it to me, but I probably won’t be buying more for myself.

61-75: This is a consistently good tea. It’s reliable but not necessarily special.

76-90: This one is a notch above the rest and I would gladly enjoy a cup of it any day of the week. I’ll likely be keeping this in my cupboard, but it isn’t one of my all-time favorites.

91-95: One small change and this tea would be perfect. I’ll definitely have a stash of this in my kitchen if you come over for tea.

96-100: No words can describe this tea. It’s an experience, an aha moment. Closed eyes, wide smile, encompassing warmth. Absolutely incredible. Perfect.

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Mostly, but not always, Toronto, Canada.

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