Saturday, February 13, 2016

Differences in gongfu tea brewing

When practicing gongfu tea making, I have realized that making tea using different implements, at a different place, or different time of day, can sometimes make a huge difference in how the tea turns out during the session. Case in point: I had a really good session of Phoenix Dancong last week, using my very small gaiwan, boiling water, and short steeps. The tea had very fruity notes of lychees, and I was really impressed by its sweetness, so much so that I wanted to recommend it to my other tea-drinking friends.

Today, I had the rest of the Phoenix Dancong at the office, with my Kamjove portable gongfu tea brewing mug, and the results were completely different. I don't know if it's the humidity (it is extra humid today), my mood, or the tea mug, but I felt that I just couldn't bring out the full potential of the tea today. In some of the later steeps, it even became quite bitter, but with a little persistence, I think I managed to wrangle some sweetness from the leaves in the end.

I think the lesson here is that sometimes, one may have to sacrifice flavour for convenience, and while I hope that this is a one time fluke, I have a feeling that I will have to bring out my gaiwan to brew the rest of the Phoenix Dancong that I have right now. I've heard that Phoenix Dancong are really difficult to brew correctly at the best of times, so I'll just have to pay more attention to it next time.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Constantly thinking about tea (or, a Year of the Monkey post to revive a blog)

I find myself constantly thinking about tea. I drink tea everyday, and talk about tea everyday, and read about tea everyday, but I found myself having difficulties writing about tea. I post the occasional photo of a cup of tea to Instagram or Facebook, but at the moment I am far from being a tea blogger. So much so that I have decided to post this on my old blog instead of starting a new one. I suppose that I view tea as a current part of my life that doesn't need to be separate from my previous life. 

I have had the intention of starting up something new that relates to tea, but the prospect of a "professional" tea review blog seems too daunting with my current teaching schedule. Not to mention the fact that most weekdays I can only manage to drink teabags (oh the horror!) and that I spend many weekends touring the many abundant tea houses in Hong Kong instead of whittling my tea collection. 

Let's see if I can spend some time writing good quality tea writings here, before I try anything too drastic. 

Here's a picture of a 1970s CNNP Simplified Character raw puerh tea cake that I had the fortune to sample earlier this month: 

I cannot describe the feeling of having the opportunity to taste a tea that is 40 years old (that's older than me!) except that it is a taste that I have kept in my memory and will try to recreate with some of my teas marked for storage. Hopefully I will have a nice aged tea collection by the time I retire!!

I have earmarked a tong or two for long-term storage, let's just see how it goes, since the future is so uncertain nowadays. 

Here's a picture of a set of new tea pets that I got from Verdant Tea for the Chinese New Year of the Monkey (which is tomorrow). They are adorable, and fits into the theme of the year nicely. 

Here's wishing everyone who reads this a happy, healthy and prosperous Chinese New Year !

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's been more than a year.

So, it has been more than a year since I have moved to my new life. How has it been so far? All I can say is: I hope this is just the beginning, because it has been a wonderful experience (including the not-so-great moments).

A little over a year into my MPhil, and I am now worrying about the next stage of what will happen next: will I upgrade to a PhD? Or submit a new application and work on an entirely new thesis? Or will I take a year off from studying and work for a little while? One thing is for certain: I am not going back. I am here to stay, and that is all there is to that.

Even though I am not too sure what I am staying for (I could just as easily apply elsewhere if the mantra of "anywhere but home" is all that there is), I hope to find that out soon. Or just find it.

Will be flying back to Malaysia in a little more than a week. I have the second part of my third chapter to submit, loads of things to shop for, and other things that have to be written. I have come to the realization that going back to Malaysia has become a chore, not something to look forward to, but something to quickly get over with so that I can return to Hong Kong and resume my normal schedule. There are people that I will miss dearly. People who really matter. (Not that I am saying that I do not miss the people back in Malaysia, I do some of them, it's just, well, it's hard to explain).

Anyway, I don't really have much to say, just thought I'd post something up here after such a long hiatus. Hopefully the next time I open the dashboard I have something happier to say.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Mattress - based on my real life experiences.

I was standing alone in a well-lit alleyway, not sure of what to do next. The mattress looks almost new in this light, but one can never be too sure. It looks sturdy, propped up against the wall like that, and I wonder what prompted the previous owner to throw it away so unceremoniously. Perhaps it is the typical Hong Kong fashion of out with the old and in with the new. There is even a saying: "The new will not come if the old does not leave". Maybe the owner bought a new mattress, and had no more use for this one.

I looked at the mattress again. Will it fit into my bed? It just might. I have just moved into a small single room in Des Voeux Road West, and the mattress that my landlady provided was a little too long and too narrow for my bed. It is so long that one end just juts out like a sore thumb, hanging over the edge of the bed. The room itself is just big enough for one person to live comfortably, but oddly enough, was furnished with a double bed, with only a single mattress. And it wasn't a particularly comfortable one.

I continue to stand awkwardly, as there are quite a number of people passing by on this Saturday night. I looked at the mattress in front of me, and wondered how I was going to carry it home. Home. That sounds odd to my ears. But that little room on the second floor of a building on Des Voeux Road West facing the tramways is the closest thing to home that I will know for the next two years. That, and the University I am attending.

People are starting to stare as they walked past, and I tried to move towards the mattress, laying my claim onto it, a silent, unwritten contract that binds the mattress to me. Calling dibs through body language, as it were. I drew nearer to the mattress, and tried to lift it, testing its weight, but it was too heavy for me to lift alone. I stood there waiting, looking at the passers-by, giving them a look that said "move along, there's nothing to see here, you're too late, this is mine". My landlady said she'd be here in ten minutes, but she is nowhere to be seen. The wind is picking up.

My landlady was the one who called my attention to this new discovery. She has a knack for looking out and finding things that other people have discarded, and most of these are in very good, usable condition. Just two days ago, she called me as I was leaving my office, to get home at once, because there was a wardrobe discarded on a lane just behind the building I was living in. "It's still so new, and looks very clean. Maybe if you could come, my husband can help you to carry it back to your room, and you can have a proper wardrobe without having to spend money on one", she told me excitedly in Cantonese.

I barely survived the trip, that wardrobe was so heavy. But they said heavy is good. Means that it's solid. Can't understand why someone would throw a perfectly usable wardrobe in the streets. Well, fortunately, they threw it so close by. I was not a strong person, and that heavy thing took every ounce of strength I had. This mattress , though lighter, was slightly further away. I thanked the Almighty that it has not rained, and that the alley is relatively dryer and cleaner than the ones I am used to back home. I was contemplating getting two round sticks to put under the mattress to roll it to my building, when I heard my landlady calling out my name, walking quickly towards me, excited about her discovery.

"You mean you want to roll it to your room? That won't do, the mattress will get dirty. Look at how new it looks!" she quipped, after I told her my plans to roll the mattress. "Why don't I try to get a trolley, so that we can at least push the thing to your room. It's so new, it will be a shame just to leave it here, and my husband doesn't get off from work for hours", she said. I conceded, and she went on a trolley hunt. It took her less than half a minute to borrow one, and we loaded the huge mattress onto the trolley, through the door, into the undersized elevator, where I paid a man 20 dollars to help me lift it to my room. It fit perfectly. I asked the man I paid to help me remove the previous mattress, and he helped me to carry it to the back door of the building, facing the alleyway, and I left the old mattress there, propped up against the wall.

I slept like a baby that night.

This is how my room looks like since September 10, 2011.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Super sucky day

Today really sucks for me...

First of all, I have an extremely long to do list, which includes getting my semgred all ready and prepared for shipping so that I can get a confirmed offer from HKU. The exams unit previously said that it would be ready on the 20th, TODAY!!!

Then I get a phone cal telling me to pay up, and that the results will not be out until the 27th!!!! I can't really afford to wait until the 27th!!! Those documents must reach before 15 July!!! in Hong Kong!!! Which means that now, on top of everything, I need to fork out more money to pay for EXPRESS POSTAL SERVICES.

And the payment for the semgred was dreadful. I almost died there. There were only 3 people ahead of me, but I had to wait for MORE THAN 30 MINUTES!!! Just to pay RM30 for the friggin semgred!! Which took me only 2 minutes, so I don't understand why I had to wait so long.

And apparently, it takes about 1 month to process my EPF application. 1 MONTH!

And now, there is a problem with the lazy bureaucrats, who either forgot, or neglected to send the letter of my appointment as a research assistant to the bursary AFTER 1 and a half months!!! So now, no letter, no pay!!

And my ear infection has been bugging me the whole day...

TO top it all, my blackberry crashed, and I cannot make or receive any calls or messages even until now!!

Could this day get any worse?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How I yearn for another place.

This is an accumulation of frustrations that I have faced in the past couple of months. I have been letting out these thoughts in small bits and pieces over that same period, and this is a wish list that I have (that I wish will come true in the very near future).

I wish for a place where excellence is expected out of every student, and where each student strives for excellence, not just mediocrity. I do not want to compete with myself anymore. Let me be a small fish in a big pond, that I may learn more.

I wish for a place where people keep asking for more knowledge, more ways to gain knowledge, and not be content with what they already have. I want to have PEERS for once, people I can talk to at an intellectual level. I hate being unchallenged intellectually.

I wish for a place where people take everything as a learning point. Every hardship has something to teach us. I hate be in a place where everything is spoon-fed, and where everybody expects handouts and spoon-feeding. I hate the spoon-feeders, and I am fed-up with the spoon-fed.

I wish for a place where my achievements are really celebrated. I wish for a place where I do not receive what I do not deserve. I want to earn everything I lay claim of ownership on.

I wish for a place where people are evaluated based on their merit and effort, and not because of their race. I HATE IT when people are given certain perks or privileges based on their race. I AM AGAINST giving people what they have not earned. I AM AGAINST affirmative action programs. These programs make me lose ALL respect for the people whom they assist. I will only respect a person based on merit.

I wish for a place where the non-deserving are rooted out and systematically failed. They do not deserve degrees if they are not willing to work hard for it. You should not be able to pass a course simply by being enrolled in it. That is not how an educational system should work. No wonder people complain about the employability of local graduates. 70% or more are RUBBISH. THEY do not deserve to graduate.

I wish for a place where I can call it like I see it. Words that people consider taboo, like STUPID, or RUBBISH, should be able to be used when they are really applicable, not hushed because they sound harsh. People should wake up and realize that they are not as good as they think they are. They think that the 'real world' is out there, but the fact remains that they will still be in a cradle ( more like a coconut shell) just because they do not want to take the extra effort.

One must not live eternally in a cradle. But there are those who are doomed forever. The imbeciles, the ignorant, the indifferent ones who "have it all" in this country and do not even want to make the extra effort. FIE on you.

I wish I could leave. And when I do leave on 31 August 2011, it will be my liberation from this place. My true MERDEKA. I really wish to leave.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So this is how it looks like.

Firstly, I have to apologize because my blog post has nothing to do with how something looks. It's just something I came up with randomly.

I have a minor follicle infection, on my eyelid, which I would not have even noticed if it was not for my friend who had to fork out RM500 to pay for the removal of the huge scab on her eyelid the last time she got infected. Am on a regiment of antibiotics and eye cream now. (Eye ointment is blurring my vision slightly, but oh well.)

I have experienced a general sense of moodiness and gloominess all around me this semester. People around me get moody for no apparent reason (that I know of), and as a result, I am also infected with this moodiness. Symptoms include desperate need to shut out the world, to sleep and be unproductive (which is unhealthy), and to snap at whatever dares to cross my way.

That being said, I have had such types of days for more than 5 times this semester (since we are only in week 4, that averages to 1.2 times a week).

And that being said, I would like to comment that this is not even the semester with the heaviest workload in my academic career so far. I am only taking 5 courses. This should be easy to get through. But it is not.

Somehow I am not enjoying my life as much as I used to. My timetable sucks. I feel drained all the time. Dealing with stupid people, dealing with another type of stupid people (who are actually not academically stupid, just a different type of stupid. (You can't always have things your own way. I hope you realize that before your support system falls apart and you limp lifelessly like a marionette without strings)).

There. That's about it for now. So much complaining, not enough living.