Do you drink tea at work?: I like to drink green tea or black tea at work, as proper gong fu brewing is not as essential to the experience. Xi Hu Long Jing (西湖龙井) green tea as well as a nice Qimen Hong (祁门红) black tea are making it into my mug these days. For a change of pace, I will brew some Dian Hong (滇红), a delicious black tea from Yunnan with a fragrant smell, orange and cinnamon notes.
Interests: Tea tasting, gong fu tea, tea tourism, cycling, hiking, Chinese study
Favorite Tea Variety: I have a soft spot for Oolongs, especially from Taiwan. Pu-Er is also fascinating due to sheer number of varieties available.
Favorite tea: One of my favorite teas recently is a deliciously light high mountain Taiwan Oolong, called Shan Lin Xi Cha (杉林溪茶), grown above 1500 meters in the highlands of Taiwan’s Nantou Province. The name, reportedly coined by former Taiwanese President Chiang Ching-Kuo, references the pine and cypress trees which grow in Jhushan, Nantou, where the tea is picked. Necessitating a gaiwan or nice Yixing pot to brew, the leaves produce a light golden infusion and medium bodied liquor with a sweet, long lasting finish, without having an overpowering fragrance (like some other oolongs). Like most high quality Taiwan Oolongs, this one is expensive, but one to bring out for your special guests.
How long have you been into tea?: I was introduced to high quality Chinese tea back in 2005 while studying Chinese and working in Taiwan. I moved to Beijing in 2009 and have been studying tea appreciation and gong fu tea preparation with a mentor at Beijing’s Maliandao International Tea Market, one of China’s largest tea distribution centers.
What got you started with tea?: Taking a tea preparation class at Chinese Culture University in Taipei, touring Taiwan’s tea-producing Nantou province, and tea tasting with numerous vendors at Beijing’s Maliandao market.
How do you store your tea?: I store green tea and light-roasted oolongs in my freezer in airtight containers. If possible, I store oolong teas in vacuum-sealed single serving pouches (you can ask for this at most tea shops in China). Black and Pu-er teas need to be kept in a cool dry place away from your kitchen, so they don’t absorb food odors.
Flavored Tea?: I grew up with this, but I seldom drink now. I’m part English, so Earl Grey with milk provides a bit of nostalgia. I’ll get bubble tea if I’m on the street and craving something.
Do you also drink coffee?: I like it if I really need to wake up. Black, with sugar.
What is the perfect setting for drinking tea?: At my mentor’s shop, with lots of strangers around and everyone chatting loudly, seeing how a guest’s Pu-er will hold up against the house Menghai Raw Pu-Er on the 15th brew.
How many cups of tea do you drink a day?: If I’m doing a serious tasting session, I’ll drink constantly for up to four hours. No idea how many cups that is.
Twitter Name: @gubokai
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/coreyhcooper