Site-Wide Activity Forums Tea News and Information “Tea Blending as a Fine Art ” Published in 1896

27 replies, 6 voices Last updated by  Xavier 4 years, 10 months ago
  • Author
    Posts
  • #6405

    Jackie
    Keymaster
    @jackie

    This is a fascinating book @xavier linked to in a comment on the forum. Published in 1896, it was written by Joseph M. Walsh a tea importer in Philadelphia, and is very much worth a read, both for its historical and contemporary value!
    Its chapters include:
    Introduction
    Classification and Description of Teas
    Art of Testing and Selecting Teas
    Adulteration and Detection V.   
    Art of Blending Teas
    Art of Keeping, Selling and Preparing Tea

    Enjoy. But take your time, it does have over 126 pages:
    http://www.archive.org/download/teablendingasfin00wals/teablendingasfin00wals.pdf

  • #6407

    peter
    Keymaster
    @peter

    Oh yes, I’m going to read this entire thing. This is fascinating, in fact, I would love to have some input on it from an experienced tea blender too. Chances are good that the ideas and concepts written about back in the 1800s when this was published are very much the same today. However, today tea blenders deal more with flavouring oils because of the large demand for flavored tea. 

    Either way, this looks to be a fascinating read.
  • #6958

    VCC Tea @

    Alex – I agree with you absolutely about the interest of subtly bringing together two flavors, like a first flush darjeeling for its smooth elegance with a CTC Assam for it’s bitterness and caffeine kick. I also prefer a bit of grated, dried ginger or citrus zest to a chemical — though less shelf-stable, of course!

  • #7440

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    Those old blending books are great fun. The biggest challenge is translating archaic English tea names (Oonfa Congou?) into modern teas. 🙂

  • #7486

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    I have a few theories, but verifying is a bit of a challenge…

    CHINA OOLONGS

    Ankoi Oolongs don’t sound like anything made today… maybe low-grade wild-grown Anxi Oolong?
    Amoy Oolongs are Oolongs traded in Xiamen, in Fujian Province. Xiamen is still a major Oolong center, but I’m not sure if this tells us anything about the style… High-grade Anxi Oolongs, maybe?
    Foochow Oolongs are Oolongs from Fuzhou in Fujian Province. Given its location, this makes me think that Foochow Oolongs are Wuyi Oolongs.
    Formosa Oolongs are the heavily-oxidized oolongs from Taiwan.

    CHINA BLACK TEAS

    Under “Kaisow”:

    “Chingwo” is Zheng He, a black tea produced in Zheng He county in northern Fujian Province. Still produced today as one of the “three famous congous of Fujian”

    Under “Moning”:

    “Ning Chow” is a black tea from Ningzhou in Jiangxi Province. (Something like modern Ning Hong Jing Hao, maybe?)
    “Kee-Mun” is Keemun black tea from Qimen in Anhui Province.
    “Panyong” is Tan Yang Congou black tea from the region around Tan Yang in Fujian Province, to the soutwest of “Chingwo”

    Under “Souchong Teas”:

    “Lapsing” is Lapsang Souchong. I don’t know of any other teas still made by the Souchong method today.

    Under “Scented Teas”:

    “Pouchong” is a term for a very lightly oxidized Oolong.In this case it refers to one scented with Chloranthus… not sure if Chloranthus Pouchong is still made today…

    CHINA GREEN TEAS

    “Moyune” is a green tea from Wuyuan in Jiangxi Province.
    “Hychow” is a green tea from Huzhou in Zhejiang Province.
    “Fychow” is a green tea from Fuzhou in Fujian Province.
    “Pingsuey” is Gunpowder-style green tea from Pingshui in Zhejiang Province. In this case I guess they’re describing lowest-grade. 🙂

    JAPAN TEAS

    “Panfired Japan” may refer to Kamairicha. I think the other varieties listed are no longer made.

    INDIA TEAS

    Assams are Assams. 🙂

    Cachar is a tea-growing region south of Assam. I’m not sure why, but tea rarely seems to be exported from there, even though it is still made.

    Darjeeling is Darjeeling. However, the Darjeeling mentioned here is processed differently than modern Darjeeling. The extra long wither that gives modern Darjeeling its unique flavor was not invented until the 1960s. I’m not entirely sure what this older type of Darjeeling would have tasted like.

    Dooars is black tea from Dooars. Still grown today, occasionally exported.

    Derradoon is Dehra Dun in Uttarakhand. There is apparently a “Dehra Dun Tea Planters Association”, so I imagine tea is still grown there.

    Kumaon is a region in Uttarkhand. I don’t know if tea is still grown there.

    Chittagong refers to the Chittagong Hills, today a part of Bangladesh. Tea is still grown there, although I have never seen it for export.

    No clue with the Ceylon or Java teas, although I will say that African teas (especially from Kenya) have improved in quality dramatically since this was written.

  • #7489

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    “Oonfa Congou”: Black tea from Anhua in Hunan Province.

  • #7520

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    Under “Moning” Black Tea:

    “Paklin” or “Paklum” Congou – I have a strong suspicion that one or both of these teas may be referring to Bailin Gongfu, as “Paklam” Congou is an old term for Bailin (白琳工夫).

    *Edit:
    When Mary Lou Hess interviewed Liu Shi Bao of Fujian Fu’An Agricultural Tea for her book in 2007, she was told that Paklum is no longer produced… if that is true, then perhaps Bailin is another term for Paklin?

  • #7521

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    I’m not so sure about Paklum though… listed here is a side by side of English and Chinese that suggests that Paklum is indeed Bailin. Related to this, can anyone recognize what it says under “Saryune”? My Chinese is not very good, and I am having trouble identifying it…

    I was able to track down a few more, though…

    Oonam is black tea from Hunan Province
    Oopack is black tea from Hubei Province (but possibly distinct from Ichang, which meant Yihong tea in particular.)
    Kintuck is a black tea grown in Anhui Province, distinct from Keemun. I’m not sure where in Anhui, although it looks like it is still grown in at least limited quantities.
    Kiukang is black tea from Jiujiang in Jiangxi Province. Jiujiang was not a tea growing area, but a tea-trading area, so I’m not entirely sure what sort of tea this was/is… it’s distinct from Ningchow, though.

  • #7528

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    On “Pan-fired Japan”, I think I was mistaken. Other historical sources suggest that “pan-fired”, “basket-fired”, etc. referred to different methods of roasting aracha teas that were developed by American wholesalers… I wonder if that makes “Pan-fired Japan” more similar to the roasted bancha that is sometimes produced?

  • #7530

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    Honestly, the state of Japanese tea back then is a little confusing… I’ve found a reference from 1889 that suggests that “pan-fired” did indeed refer to kamairicha, rather than a way of processing aracha. It also suggests that “sun-dried” referred to a particular sub-variety of bancha known as “hiboshi” (listed here as “Yoshino-no-hoji-nikkan”) , and that the standard “sencha”, “bancha”, “gyokuro” varieties were well-known and distinct from these “pan-fired” and “sun-dried” varieties…

    Can anyone help clear this all up?

  • #7534

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    “Hychow” is a green tea from Huzhou in Zhejiang Province.

    I’m not certain, but I suspect that in particular this refers to “Zisun” green tea.

  • #7536

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    Dooars is black tea from Dooars. Still grown today, occasionally exported.

    Another area where things are more complicated than they seem… I had a tea from Putharjhora Estate recently, and I was surprised to see it was made in the Darjeeling style… traditionally Dooars was (in)famous for its “no wither” tea processing, which gave it a unique “brassy” flavor. Looking into it, it seems as though Putharjhora switched to CTC manufacture some time in the past and has only recently returned to orthodox tea manufacture… to be fair, I’m not really familiar with Putharjhora, so perhaps the climate conditions there were always appropriate for withering… “No wither” was still being practiced in the 1970s… as a process has it gone extinct?

  • #7537

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    “Hychow” is a green tea from Huzhou in Zhejiang Province.
    “Fychow” is a green tea from Fuzhou in Fujian Province.

    I think I am mistaken on “Fychow”; other historical sources quite clearly state that Fychow is from Anhui. Some go on to say technically it is made in Wuyuan like Moyune, being simply a different style of tea produced in the same region.

  • #7538

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    (The missing ingredient here being that Wuyuan used to be considered part of Anhui Province. 😉 )

  • #7539

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    The name “Fychow” is apparently a mispronunciation of Huizhou (徽州)… Perhaps it was a generic name for all Huizhou teas that weren’t from Wuyuan (“Moyunes”) or Tunxi (“Twankays”)?

    (On an unrelated note, is there a way to edit previous posts? I feel like the past few posts could be consolidated into a single post, but the “edit” button seems to disappear after a couple minutes…)

  • #7540

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    Perhaps only of historical interest, but the category “Moning” was named after Wuning, a place in Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province. I suspect that it was simply a popular trading area for the styles of congou that fall within that category, rather than a tea growing place in its own right… although it is quite close to Ningzhou.

  • #7551

    Jackie
    Keymaster
    @jackie

    @mbanu I linked to this thread on G+ because I thought it might particularly interest someone called Michael Coffey, who incidentally knows a lot about tea. This is what he said:
    “I’ve read that book and came to many of the conclusions Mbanu did. I don’t know where s/he came up with some of the terms, but since I can’t quibble with any of the results I know, I’d be willing to give the benefit of the doubt on the other ones–though and explanation of where/how those other ones came from would be cool.”
    So he seems to agree, but I’m also interested in knowing where you are uncovering your information, which to me is very interesting and valuable input.

  • #7553

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    I have an account with a local research library, which allows me access to many works through inter-library loan. When it comes to terminology, however, much of it has been assisted through Google Books. 🙂 You can gather years worth of information in a few hours, sometimes from sources hardly anyone would have thought to look in. The trick, of course, is testing the reliability of the information once it is available. 😉 I sincerely hope that all of you can help me with this.

    In particular:

    Ankoi Oolongs don’t sound like anything made today… maybe low-grade wild-grown Anxi Oolong?

    This is a guess. Here is a source from 1863 where it is said that Ankoi is a variant of Nganki, a tea growing region. It gives the Chinese characters as well, which seem to be those for Anxi. Yet the description says that the tea has been prepared indifferently, from a shrub that looks different than ordinary tea plants. Wild-grown tea tends to be very inconsistent in quality, as there is less control over the growing conditions, and may not be familiar to those who are used to seeing cultivated bushes.

    Amoy Oolongs are Oolongs traded in Xiamen, in Fujian Province. Xiamen is still a major Oolong center, but I’m not sure if this tells us anything about the style… High-grade Anxi Oolongs, maybe?


    That Amoy is an old-fashioned term for Xiamen was simply in the “trivia” part of my brain. 🙂 It seems unlikely that “Amoy Oolong” would refer to tea actually grown in Xiamen, because in the 1800s it referred only to the island port itself, which is maybe 90 square miles… Also, historically it was one of the very few ports open to Western traders in China, so it seems likely that it would refer to the type of Oolong commonly traded in Xiamen. As for why I suspected it to be Anxi, that has to do with proximity. Anxi is maybe 90 kilometers from Xiamen Island. It is 545 km to Wuyi from Xiamen.

    Of course, using this same logic could cast doubt on

    Foochow Oolongs are Oolongs from Fuzhou in Fujian Province. Given its location, this makes me think that Foochow Oolongs are Wuyi Oolongs.

    as it is still about 350 km from Wuyi to Fuzhou. Fuzhou was one of the five trading ports formally opened to Westerners after the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 (the others besides Fuzhou and Xiamen being Canton/Shamian Island in Guangdong Province, Ningbo in Zhejiang Province, and the Shanghai International Settlement). so it is not surprising that a style of tea was named after it. Under Foochow they list the subvarieties “kokew, mohea and ningyong”… I haven’t been able to make much sense of these, so Foochow certainly could be other teas than Wuyi. I suppose when I saw “Mohea” I thought “Bohea” which is an old name for Wuyi.

    Formosa Oolongs are the heavily-oxidized oolongs from Taiwan.

    Formosa is an old name for Taiwan. (Again from the “trivia” part of my brain. 🙂 ) As for the oxidation level, I defer to Michael Harney, who said in his very well-researched work, Guide to Tea:

    Formosa Oolong tea was invented in the mid-nineteenth century by a British entrepreneur named John Dodd. If they speak no other English, Taiwanese tea men can pronounce the name “John Dodd” flawlessly. They consider Dodd a national hero or first bringing the island’s teas to the world stage. In 1865, Dodd saw that the world tea market was about to change dramatically. China supplied almost all the tea in the world. What Dodd knew (and the Chinese did not) was that the British were preparing, on a mass scale, to grow their own Indian tea. Dodd shrewdly came up with a tea that he thought might compete with both the Chinese and Indian alternatives. Working in Taiwan, he developed and marketed a dark oolong under the name “Formosa Oolong.” The tea traveled well yet was lighter, fruitier, and more flavorful than the heavily fired black teas then on the market. Formosa became such a hit in both Europe and the United States that it remained one of the world’s favorite teas well into the twentieth century. Its popularity grew both in the United States and in Great Britain until the Japanese occupation of Taiwan all but ended production. After World War II, US and British demand increased again, but after China reopened in the 1970s, demand fell off because of superior teas available from both China and Taiwan. This tea is the only oolong in this chapter that is harvested mechanically—a process becoming increasingly common in tea as the cost of labor rises. The tea is bruised while withering to start the oxidation, twisted in a rolling machine to brown to about 75 percent of the extent of pure black tea.

    As for

    “Chingwo” is Zheng He, a black tea produced in Zheng He county in northern Fujian Province. Still produced today as one of the “three famous congous of Fujian”

    this information is from tea wholesaler Vicony Teas, who mentions this in their very well-done Tea Encyclopedia.

    “Ning Chow” is a black tea from Ningzhou in Jiangxi Province. (Something like modern Ning Hong Jing Hao, maybe?)

    For this, I refer to Robert Fortune’s 1856 A Residence Among the Chinese: Inland, on the Coast, and at Sea. Being a Narrative of Scenes and Adventures During a Third Visit to China, from 1853 to 1856.

    During the days of the East India Company’s Charter all the best black teas were produced in the province of Fokien. The towns of Tsin-tsun and Tsong-gan in the vicinity of the far-famed Woo-e hills were then the chief marts for the best black teas exported by the Company. At that period the districts about Ning-chow, in the Kiangse province, were known only for their green teas. Now, however, and for many years past, although the Fokien black teas are, and have been, largely exported, those produced in the Ning-chow districts have risen in public estimation, and, I believe, generally fetch very high prices in the English market.

    Kiangse is an old romanization of Jiangxi.

    “Kee-Mun” is Keemun black tea from Qimen in Anhui Province.

    A reasonable guess, I think. 🙂

    “Panyong” is Tan Yang Congou black tea from the region around Tan Yang in Fujian Province, to the soutwest of “Chingwo”

    Once again I defer to Michael Harney’s work:

    Panyong (also called Tanyang) is a town located in northeastern Fujian province, near Fu’an. Though the region is better known for its white teas and art teas, it has produced black teas for at least the last two hundred years.

    When I say

    Under “Souchong Teas”:
    “Lapsing” is Lapsang Souchong. I don’t know of any other teas still made by the Souchong method today.

    it’s really just another case of “Pretty good guess, don’t you think?” 😀 On the other hand, though, I have heard that today’s Lapsang Souchong often has a heavier smoke than historical ones. I don’t know if that is true or not, though.

    Under “Scented Teas”:
    “Pouchong” is a term for a very lightly oxidized Oolong.In this case it refers to one scented with Chloranthus… not sure if Chloranthus Pouchong is still made today…

    Pouchong is a term still in common use today. As for the Chloranthus, that is because of the bit, “…peculiar in scent, the latter being imparted to it by the admixture of the seeds of the Chulan flower.” That was simply a case of using a dictionary to look up Chulan. 🙂

    I will post again soon with the rest of my sources.

  • #7554

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    @jackie, I met Mr. Coffey at a tea festival in Seattle a couple years ago. I remember we had a very nice conversation. 🙂

  • #7560

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    In 1935, William Ukers (author of All About Tea) described “Basket-fired Japan” this way:

    Basket-fired tea is an attractive appearing tea, made from long leaf. The highest grades are rolled some 2 1/2 inches long, and as slender as a needle, hence the name “needle leaf” or “spider-leg” tea. It also is called Tenkaichi, literally, “Number One Under the Sky,” a title given it many years ago by a prominent Tokyo dealer.

    I’ve seen “tenkaichi” sencha offered for sale by various dealers… does the term have any technical meaning that distinguishes it from “standard” sencha?

    Also from Mr. Ukers, a bit more information on Kokew oolong:

    Kokew or Kou Chao, Nae given to teas of the Liuyang District (Hunan Province)

  • #9009

    riccaicedo
    Participant
    @riccaicedo

    @mbanu I’ll give you my two cents with the Japanese teas:

    Kamairicha is by definition made through panfrying (as opposed to steaming), and it further divides into two types of tea.

    Nikkan, or hiboshi (meaning sun dried) bancha is a type of bancha that is sun-dried. Some examples are: kyobancha, yoshino nikkan bancha, and kageboshi bancha.

    These sun dried teas are different than the standard bancha and sencha. They aren’t as popular, so outside of Japan it’s not easy to purchase them. Consider them “souvenir teas” so to speak, because they are made in their respective area only and usually not in a large scale.

    I’m making a very detailed list of Japanese teas, and will be adding all the sun dried teas too. I’m not finished yet, but I’m adding one each week. Tomorrow I’ll publish the article on kyobancha. This is the link for the types of Japanese green tea. Hope that you’ll find it useful.

  • #9010

    riccaicedo
    Participant
    @riccaicedo

    Oh, and about tenkaichi, from what I’ve seen it’s just a sencha blend. Not really a specific type of Japanese tea.

    I saw online that the company Kaburagien sells it, but I haven’t tried it yet.

  • #9172

    Warren Peltier
    Participant
    @tea-author

    *Back in the 1800s, Fuzhou (then Foochow) was the largest tea trading port in the world. Several countries had their consulates established here (American, British, Russian, etc.) in an area of Foochow known as Kuliang (or Kuling)鼓岭, which was high in the mountains and provided and escape from unbearable summer heat and humidity. 

    Foochow, since at least the Tang Dynasty was also a tea production area, known for green tea (see Lu Yu’s Classic of Tea).Later on in history, besides loose-leaf green tea, green bricks, Foochow also produced scented tea, using Jasmine flowers, which were introduced during the Song Dynasty (if memory serves correct).

    Historical records are silent on production of oolong tea in Foochow (though today some tea friends do produce it in Gushan).

    As a major tea trading port, tea from the tea producing regions of northern China had their tea shipped to Fuzhou. The tea would be floated downriver on wooden crates via bamboo rafts to the sea,then,onward to Fuzhou. The crates were sealed with wax to keep the tea getting wet. At the end of the voyage, the raftsmen would  junk their raft (no longer needed), collecting special tea tickets with a currency value on them as payment, then walk back to the tea factory – often taking a month or more just to get back. 

    1839-1842 saw the opium wars where Britain tried to offset tea purchases with sales of opium – fiercely resisted in campaigns by government official and Fuzhou local Lin Ze Xu. 

  • #9175

    Xavier
    Participant
    @xavier

    @tea-author Do you have anything (picture, book, postcard…) on this port?

  • #9176

    Warren Peltier
    Participant
    @tea-author

    @xavier I have nothing, but work with the Fuzhou Agricultural Department, so I’m keenly aware of the tea history in Fuzhou. Forgot to mention, this tea port was called Fan Chuan Pu 泛船浦.

    There is a newspaper article about it here in Chinese:
    http://digi.dnkb.com.cn/dnkb/html/2011-12/15/content_194426.htm

    There are historical photos of the port, but not on the web.

  • #9179

    Xavier
    Participant
    @xavier

    Thanks but my Chinese is non existent.

  • #9182

    Warren Peltier
    Participant
    @tea-author

    @xavier Ok, no problem. I’ll probably end up writing another newspaper article about it in English sometime in the next few months. When it’s printed in the newspaper (and online), I’ll let you know.

  • #9183

    Xavier
    Participant
    @xavier

    Thanks.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.