Saturday, December 22, 2007

Paintball and Tea

I always wanted to play paintball. Paintball is a sport in which participants eliminate opponents from play by hitting them with paintballs shot from a compressed-gas-powered "marker". Now the thing is that these paintballs are fired from these markers at speeds well up to speeds approaching 300 feet per second. Now, paintballs flying at such high speeds can easily cause serious bruising at close range and hurt even when you're hit by them at a distance. That, is what I believe puts the fun in paintball. With paintball, scoring a hit is so much more satisfying because you know that your opponent would definitely do his best to avoid a shot that would cause some serious smarting (as I write this, my hip still aches from two shots to my hipbone).

The Paintball Crew

So we finally decided to quit procrastinating and to play paintball on Friday, at the Extreme Park in Sunway Lagoon. We had 6 people in total - Yi Ting, Victor, Andrew, Keefe, my dad and I. We had to go to Extreme Park (which I do not recommend due to the high cost of purchasing additional paintballs - RM0.50 per pellet!) because that was the only place with a field size small enough for our little group. The other paintball arenas were large football fields which would have resulted in us running around quite a bit, since we only have 6 of us.

The arena at Extreme Park was however, smaller than expected. They had only one arena there and it was a sand-floored capture-the-flag arena the size of one and a half standard classrooms.

Dad (near the pillar) sniping!

Andrew grabbing the flag!

We played with the initial 20 pellets provided and realised that 20 wasn't enough. So we bought 40 more! Shooting each other was good fun, even though it really hurt. In the end, the team comprising of Yi Ting, Victor and I won with 3 out of 3 flag captures with Yi Ting, our resident Tai Kor scoring all of the 3 flag captures with some assistance from Victor and I. :D

Even gals play paintball! :P

Had to go over to my uncle's place in the evening for my cousin's pre-wedding gathering. There, Uncle Richard shared his great knowledge about tea with us during an enlightening tea drinking session which was amazingly elaborate. Tried many varieties of Chinese tea from Pu Er to varieties whose names I really cannot recall. We even had the chance to taste a 50 year old "Luk Bou" tea which was a type of Pu Er tea. That tea alone, cost RM12000 per kilogram. I got that figure right, that was tea worth twelve thousand Malaysian Ringgit per kilogram!

"Liu Bao" or "Luk Bou" tea which we drank

Teas, like wines, do age, and the flavour of that aged tea was definitely more mellow and smoother than the other younger teas we tasted.

Some fun facts about tea and it's preparation:

1. The flavour of a tea changes as it matures. Mature tea changes its flavour through four stages:

  • The first stage is when the tea reaches an age of about 30 years. The tea takes upon the flavour of lotus leaves in this first stage.
  • In the second stage, the flavour of the tea changes to resemble the flavour of lotus flowers. The aroma in this stage becomes more floral in nature
  • In the third stage, the flavour of the tea changes again to resemble the flavour of dried red dates commonly used in Chinese cooking.
  • In the fourth and final stage, the flavor evolves once again to resemble the flavour of ginseng. Here, the aroma becomes more herbal than floral.
2. The temperature of the water used to brew the tea matters. You only need water of about 80 degrees Celsius for green tea whereas you need to use boiling water for most other varieties of fermented tea.

3. As a general rule of thumb, older teas need to be brewed longer than younger teas. This is because the older teas have extremely low water content and are really shriveled up. This results in the older tea leaves requiring a longer brewing time for their flavour to really emerge.

4. The time in which the tea is left to brew in the teapot matters. A rule of thumb you can use is to pour some hot water over the teapot. The tea should be just right when the water is absorbed by the clay teapot and the teapot looks dry once again. As mentioned later, a slightly longer brewing time is required for older tea.

5. The teapot matters. True tea connoisseurs use a different teapot for each of the different varieties of tea, and never ever wash the teapot with soap. They only rinse the teapot with hot water. Washing the teapot with soap is sacrilege as the soap can impart a harsh, caustic, taste to the tea. So try hot water instead of soap next time you make tea ya?

6. Tea, like wine, is best aged under constant temperature and low humidity. The really prized teas are not only old, but properly kept under optimum conditions. An uncle of mine has bought a penthouse apartment just for proper storage of his prized teas! This is just how serious tea collectors can get!

Drinking tea is a great hobby as tea holds the key to a multitude of health benefits! It helps you relax, is full of antioxidants, and a whole host of vitamins and minerals! Drink some tea today!

Till then, cheers to tea!