Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Last piece of the Last Thoughts


Today I decided to open up something more serious, serious in terms of quality and depth. Fusion of heart touching poetry and good tea. It is time for The Last Thoughts...



Nice chunk of this expensive tea was generosly given to me by TwoDog in Autumn 2014. These are the last leaves, ready to be brewed and drinked. Ready to make happy all of us who sits around our tea table today...



Wrapper have lead us to many dicussions, about tea threes and tea people, Dylan and Woody Guthrie, music and poetry, live and dead, about the life. Thank you TwoDog for that...



.. I can imagine I will find you both one day in GuaFenZhai in sundown...




When yer head gets twisted and yer mind grows numb
When you think you're too old, too young, too smart or too dumb
When yer laggin' behind an' losin' yer pace
In a slow-motion crawl of life's busy race
No matter what yer doing if you start givin' up
If the wine don't come to the top of yer cup
If the wind's got you sideways with with one hand holdin' on
And the other starts slipping and the feeling is gone
And yer train engine fire needs a new spark to catch it
And the wood's easy findin' but yer lazy to fetch it
And yer sidewalk starts curlin' and the street gets too long
And you start walkin' backwards though you know its wrong
And lonesome comes up as down goes the day
And tomorrow's mornin' seems so far away
And you feel the reins from yer pony are slippin'
And yer rope is a-slidin' 'cause yer hands are a-drippin'
And yer sun-decked desert and evergreen valleys
Turn to broken down slums and trash-can alleys
And yer sky cries water and yer drain pipe's a-pourin'
And the lightnin's a-flashing and the thunder's a-crashin'
And the windows are rattlin' and breakin' and the roof tops a-shakin'
And yer whole world's a-slammin' and bangin'
And yer minutes of sun turn to hours of storm
And to yourself you sometimes say
"I never knew it was gonna be this way
Why didn't they tell me the day I was born"
And you start gettin' chills and yer jumping from sweat
And you're lookin' for somethin' you ain't quite found yet
And yer knee-deep in the dark water with yer hands in the air
And the whole world's a-watchin' with a window peek stare
And yer good gal leaves and she's long gone a-flying
And yer heart feels sick like fish when they're fryin'
And yer jackhammer falls from yer hand to yer feet
And you need it badly but it lays on the street
And yer bell's bangin' loudly but you can't hear its beat
And you think yer ears might a been hurt
Or yer eyes've turned filthy from the sight-blindin' dirt
And you figured you failed in yesterdays rush
When you were faked out an' fooled white facing a four flush
And all the time you were holdin' three queens
And it's makin you mad, it's makin' you mean
Like in the middle of Life magazine
Bouncin' around a pinball machine
And there's something on yer mind you wanna be saying
That somebody someplace oughta be hearin'
But it's trapped on yer tongue and sealed in yer head
And it bothers you badly when your layin' in bed
And no matter how you try you just can't say it
And yer scared to yer soul you just might forget it
And yer eyes get swimmy from the tears in yer head
And yer pillows of feathers turn to blankets of lead
And the lion's mouth opens and yer staring at his teeth
And his jaws start closin with you underneath
And yer flat on your belly with yer hands tied behind
And you wish you'd never taken that last detour sign
And you say to yourself just what am I doin'
On this road I'm walkin', on this trail I'm turnin'
On this curve I'm hanging
On this pathway I'm strolling, in the space I'm taking
In this air I'm inhaling
Am I mixed up too much, am I mixed up too hard
Why am I walking, where am I running
What am I saying, what am I knowing
On this guitar I'm playing, on this banjo I'm frailin'
On this mandolin I'm strummin', in the song I'm singin'
In the tune I'm hummin', in the words I'm writin'
In the words that I'm thinkin'
In this ocean of hours I'm all the time drinkin'
Who am I helping, what am I breaking
What am I giving, what am I taking
But you try with your whole soul best
Never to think these thoughts and never to let
Them kind of thoughts gain ground
Or make yer heart pound
But then again you know why they're around
Just waiting for a chance to slip and drop down
"Cause sometimes you hear'em when the night times comes creeping
And you fear that they might catch you a-sleeping
And you jump from yer bed, from yer last chapter of dreamin'
And you can't remember for the best of yer thinking
If that was you in the dream that was screaming
And you know that it's something special you're needin'
And you know that there's no drug that'll do for the healin'
And no liquor in the land to stop yer brain from bleeding
And you need something special
Yeah, you need something special all right
You need a fast flyin' train on a tornado track
To shoot you someplace and shoot you back
You need a cyclone wind on a stream engine howler
That's been banging and booming and blowing forever
That knows yer troubles a hundred times over
You need a Greyhound bus that don't bar no race
That won't laugh at yer looks
Your voice or your face
And by any number of bets in the book
Will be rollin' long after the bubblegum craze
You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more
You need something to open your eyes
You need something to make it known
That it's you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you're sitting
That the world ain't got you beat
That it ain't got you licked
It can't get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special all right
You need something special to give you hope
But hope's just a word
That maybe you said or maybe you heard
On some windy corner 'round a wide-angled curve

But that's what you need man, and you need it bad
And yer trouble is you know it too good
"Cause you look an' you start getting the chills

"Cause you can't find it on a dollar bill
And it ain't on Macy's window sill
And it ain't on no rich kid's road map
And it ain't in no fat kid's fraternity house
And it ain't made in no Hollywood wheat germ
And it ain't on that dimlit stage
With that half-wit comedian on it
Ranting and raving and taking yer money
And you thinks it's funny
No you can't find it in no night club or no yacht club
And it ain't in the seats of a supper club
And sure as hell you're bound to tell
That no matter how hard you rub
You just ain't a-gonna find it on yer ticket stub
No, and it ain't in the rumors people're tellin' you
And it ain't in the pimple-lotion people are sellin' you
And it ain't in no cardboard-box house
Or down any movie star's blouse
And you can't find it on the golf course
And Uncle Remus can't tell you and neither can Santa Claus
And it ain't in the cream puff hair-do or cotton candy clothes
And it ain't in the dime store dummies or bubblegum goons
And it ain't in the marshmallow noises of the chocolate cake voices
That come knockin' and tappin' in Christmas wrappin'
Sayin' ain't I pretty and ain't I cute and look at my skin
Look at my skin shine, look at my skin glow
Look at my skin laugh, look at my skin cry
When you can't even sense if they got any insides
These people so pretty in their ribbons and bows
No you'll not now or no other day
Find it on the doorsteps made out-a paper mache¥
And inside it the people made of molasses
That every other day buy a new pair of sunglasses
And it ain't in the fifty-star generals and flipped-out phonies
Who'd turn yuh in for a tenth of a penny
Who breathe and burp and bend and crack
And before you can count from one to ten
Do it all over again but this time behind yer back
My friend
The ones that wheel and deal and whirl and twirl
And play games with each other in their sand-box world
And you can't find it either in the no-talent fools
That run around gallant
And make all rules for the ones that got talent
And it ain't in the ones that ain't got any talent but think they do
And think they're foolin' you
The ones who jump on the wagon
Just for a while 'cause they know it's in style
To get their kicks, get out of it quick
And make all kinds of money and chicks
And you yell to yourself and you throw down yer hat
Sayin', "Christ do I gotta be like that
Ain't there no one here that knows where I'm at
Ain't there no one here that knows how I feel
Good God Almighty
THAT STUFF AIN'T REAL"

No but that ain't yer game, it ain't even yer race
You can't hear yer name, you can't see yer face
You gotta look some other place
And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin'
Where do you look for this lamp that's a-burnin'
Where do you look for this oil well gushin'
Where do you look for this candle that's glowin'
Where do you look for this hope that you know is there
And out there somewhere
And your feet can only walk down two kinds of roads
Your eyes can only look through two kinds of windows
Your nose can only smell two kinds of hallways
You can touch and twist
And turn two kinds of doorknobs
You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You'll find God in the church of your choice
You'll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

And though it's only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You'll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
At sundown





Thank you for reading...


Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year, new blogging attitude...



spoiler note before you start the reading: all pictures here are from my November trip to WuYi and Yixing, where I went with my dear friends from Global Tea Hut

   As many others tea senior blogs , also this one is slow and pretty quiet for some time now. Maybe all have been said in the vast ocean of teablogs. Or maybe people just drink more and talk less. As for me, I personally prefer tea silence over tea talk more and more...

YanCha in bloom...smell of heaven!

But! Tea is about community, sharing and join-joy as well....

So we talk
and share
and lough
and argue and engage in trifling tea-fights all the time. But just less on blogs,  I guess other social media rule the world these days....


Actually, tea table is my favorite social medium of all times! What is yours?




Anyway, back to this  Pots and Tea blog. I honestly do not want to give this space up (yet). I like the idea of more stable online space where I can share my "pots and tea" stories. Just to make it work in my recent live schedule, some changes have to be done...

First of all, my blog post, from now on, will be shorter but more frequent. My wish is to post here one, two pictures every week. Some kind of "the best weekly", from what happened in our studio, new teaware from our kiln or interesting teas from our tea cabinet. Tea-teaware travels, exhibitions and so on...

The First Yixing pot in progress...

Yes, Dragon Kiln! Where magic happens...


Then there is our Ten Gems Collection...my "ten gems of ten kilns" project was really fun and I can not emphasize enough how I appreciated your support. It was kind of cool "game", there was always live discusions about each new addition to the collection. It helped me to be focused on refining skills with every firing and and still gives me so important feedback on my own past work. But I am not able to keep it running anymore and the collection was not updated for a year now. So lets change it!

"Ten Gems of Ten Kilns" project is closed now! I send a notification email to all who reserved pieces from that selection and I will send those pieces over with good vibes...

Gem Number Twenty Six, enjoying view at a valley in the WuYiShan...



But I still would like to put aside "the best" of each firing. For exhibition reasons or future hindsights. However, all that without posting that regularly with no pressure when and how to share it with others. First piece to that New Gem Collection is already aside and I will be happy to share it with you. Sooooo....ooon

And finally our Pots and Tea Club- well, there is not many changes in this chapter. Just that we are still tuning that up. But it is already working (almost) smoothly (especially when we consider that it is run by two potters and not by group of IT experts) And it is a lot of fun. And ton of extra "not clay" work. But we receive a lot of support which is more then rewarding. Thanks for that! If you are not in yet, just send me an email to keramikakcajiATgmail.com and we will explain all in details directly.


Sitting under Buddha...


Be in touch soon...


Thank you for reading!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Drinking mountain- six Mengku teas



One of the ways how to learn a bit more about particular kind of tea, style or tea region is to stock your tea cabinet with it and then...drink it.

Mengku is still kind of mystery to me. Almost all what reach my cup so far have aroused kind of ambivalent feelings. To put it into words I would say "I like it, but I really do not know why, there is not much to like but I do and I want more" To break this down, I decided to go through six Mengku teas in, let say, competition way. No so much in order to label winners and losers. Side by side testing helps me to understand differences and resemblances, Plus, it is always real fun: Sitting, sipping here and there, sniffing for hours - enjoying time devoted only to myself.


Plus it is sunny day, so lets spend it with tea outside!



There are more ways how to taste-compare more teas in line. I prefer to use small shiboridashis with matching cup. It alows me to make several brews of several teas at once. It can also go as close to "gong fu" as possible. And, with some imagination, you can know how each tea will perform in teapot during more serious tea session.



All teas I have here are (according to labels ) from 2006, just one 2005. That is good. To avoid mind-lost, I cut the "competition" in two parts followed by finale. Round number one with three teas from Scott's YS and round number two with 2005 Shuangjiang from TwoDog (the cake was around 70$, sold out few months back), over-famous BingDao from Peter of Pu-ehr.sk  (sold out as well. Can you imagine that this cake was around 40$ just 3-4 years back? There is not reasonable exuse for me why I did not buy few tongs back then) and DaXueShan from legendary EOT.



Are you ready for the round one? 


We can put aside names, I think it does not say much to us. Wild Arbor King brick, Wild Arbor King cake (both from BingDao area), Big Snow Mountain Wild...Honestly all that sound to me too good to be 100% truth. Especially if we know that Shuanjiang is tea factory with huge (I heard hundreds of tons) production for each release. It does not mean just that Wild King will have just a part of "wild king" leaves in it, but also that sample does not say much. If my 20g of tea is smoky-bitter it does not mean that ten tons down the road it will be also smoky-bitter. That been said, my "competition" is really more about learning of what Mengku is then looking for the best tea.




I can say I like all three samples. Just by dry leaves the "wild king cake" wins, more hairy, unbroken leaves with nice smell. From the first brew, it is clear that teas are really siblings. The "wild king brick" and "wild king cake" should made of the same batch of leaves. Maybe. But the brick is pine-smoky and I am still not sure if I like it. The cake have also more distinct taste. Big Snow Mountain (DaXueShan) performed as more subtle, lighter tea then those "kings". All three have trace of pleasant bitterness. And even if I would read their story on YS site, I would label them as "nice dry stored"

After 8-9 years, leaves are still pretty green.
Would you like to hear a verdict or recommendation? Then if you are after mouthfeel and you do not mind light smokiness, then go for brick (it is also cheapest one) If you are after taste and looking for bitterness, go for "Wild King Cake" That would be my choice. If you like lighter, fragrant teas, then give a try to Big Snow Mountain. To this one, I will definitely give it a try in stronger leaves-water ratio! But for now, tamtadada, "2006 Mengku Wild Arbor King Raw Pu-ehr tea cake go to finale!

Second Round!


Teas in the second round are not so similar to each other. Also I have whole cake of 2005 Shuanjiang and Puehr.sk BingDao so I know them pretty well. The EOT DaXuaShan leaves are from 2006 but were pressed in to cakes in 2013. I know that is does not say much (ok, it actually says nothing) but here you can see leaves from the second round of my competition:



Like in first round, I like all three teas. 2005 from White2Tea is much more aged, it was definetely in wetter/hotter place for some time. It is less complicated, I like such teas for everyday drinking. distinct but not easy to go wrong. BingDao is again more striking than DaXuaShan. This BingDao is actually quite close to what I remembered from YS cake. But this time DaXueShan is very clean, and have very nice "fresh mountain water" effect in mouth. I love it, love its clean energy. Generally, these three teas are more appealing, maybe because they are not so similar to each other. But truth is that you would as me "you can have tong of one of them, which do you want" it would be much more difficult to choose. Please, tong of each!! But for now, tamtadadadada, 2006 BingDao Puehr.sk go to final match with the winner of the first round. (dont say it anyone, but I really want to see if they are some similar as my notes says)


For second round, I moved inside....
Testing these teas, I was also testing new Mirka's stove 

The difference in colors of this first brew is quite real. The top one is 2005 Shuanjiang 

Final Round!


I have to admit that when I put 3g of those teas next to each other, they are so similar that I almost lost the track which one is which. 




But first brew and all is clear. Taste is very close. BingDao is finer, "Wild King" more robust. This time I make it stronger with longer steepings. Now I understand the claim on YS site that these teas are sold as fake LBZ. Bitterness and power is there. BingDao from Pu-erh.sk is cleaner, finer tea. Wild King over-role in strength and taste-power. I like this but there is also something a bit harsh. I will probably go for a cake, just to see how this will go in few years.




Being tea-drunk while writing these lines, tamtadadadadada, the BingDao is winner here. Smooth, easy for stomach, pleasant for throat but still mysterious and complicated enough to be called shallow.
After today, I know a bit more about what Mengku tea means. But I also know that there are other shade of this region and I look forward to meet them in my cup. Anytime...



Thank you for reading!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Notes from Qiu Shan Tang 秋山堂



When I was leaving for my first visit of Taiwan last spring, I promised myself to take many pictures, making notes and then share as much as possible here, for my curious readers. Yes, I took over thousand pictures. Yes, I put down some notes about my "pots and tea" experiences. Just that sharing part is missing. My good friend Daniel, who joined me on that trip, just posted some of his notes, memories and pictures on their blog. Thank you Dan!


Enjoy the reading here: Tea Lesson with Fang LaoShi.


I love that place and there are already some plans to go back, to meet friend over tea, to learn and go deeper. If you will find yourself in Taichung one day, you might want to make some space and stay there for a while. Be sure you are not in hurry, it is worth it.


Here are few shots from my camera...







Bowl tea after...



Thank you for reading!