Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Three teapots for three kinds tea

Few months ago, maybe it is already half of year, I got interesting order from one of my customers. It was that kind of order where I know from very beginning that I am going to like doing it. Let me slightly paraphrase his words...

"I am interested to have three teapots - all three should hold 50-70ml. Materials and glazes are up to you - if it will be OK with you I would like to ask you to make those teapots in order to fit to tea I going to use them for. The First should be for ShengPu, the second for ShuPu and the third for Yancha oolongs. I have only few thoughts...Lids shouldn't be sunk but rather wider then opening so I can pour hot water on it during my brewing. I prefer ball-shaped forms with as wide opening as possible for the size. Only the one for YanCha rather taller as it will be better for longer leaves of some teas of this kind. I am not in hurry - when those teapots will be ready I would like ask you to send them to me without showing even pictures - I look forward to surprise when I will open the box from you. "

     I was quite sure about material for ShengPu. Combination which I have on the teapot I use for my Shengs. Technical porcelain with celadon glaze inside.
Ash and fire decorated it during firing - only small flowery stamp from me on the side of the handle.

1998 Xia Guan Bao Yan Jin Cha - surprisingly smooth

Thinking about pot for Shu Puer I realized that it should be more spherical. I usually use bigger (150ml) teapot or shiboridashi for my Shu so I am really curious how it will work. High iron clay will help to smooth out brews - I have left it without glaze. 

2009 Red Label LongFeng production - creamy, full body, young but already tasty...
The teapot for YanCha was challenging. How can I create the right teapot for Wui oolong with no experiences with them? Ok, I had some experiences but most of them with over roasted, low grade teas with not many character. First I find old issue of The Art of Tea magazin with several interesting articles focused on Wui. Then going through and enjoying several samples of different cultivars, from different years and different suppliers I find out that "Wui compartment" is something what is definitely worth to pay attention.  

 I chose light stoneware with fine sand in it. Pear shape and again inside it is without glaze. Only outside I couldn't help myself - feldspar on the side have created kind of celadon glaze and cracks on it are going to show off by tea

2010 Hand made RouGui Wuyi sended from The Essence of tea 

My customer already unpacked the box with his new teapots and I am happy that his first sensations are good. I look forward to hear if clays and shapes of those small pieces richen his tea sessions.

Last but not least I would like to mention new tea testing. New for me of course. When I was thinking about this post I thought it would be interesting to show, as kind of illustration, liquor of each tea. Finally I decided to prepare all teas at a time. I didn't use teapots made for my customer but my small teapots and Peter Fulop’s and two Korean cups. It is very interesting -smelling to three different teas, to wet leaves, see and taste infusions. Compare beyond compare. Happy moments.
Shu                                                                   Sheng                                                                 RouGui

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dong Ding in the jar

When I tried sample of 1981 DongDing (from EoT) I woke up morning after with aftertaste of this tea in my mouth and I knew - I am going to get more. Few months later, when I have opened the bag with bigger amount of this aged kindness, I was wondering if the bag is the best for storage. As this is not the only aged tea in my stock I was looking for pot to storage it in. All tea caddies I use turned out as too small but finally I have find the right one in our "for a sale" shelf.

It is made from iron rich clay with simple slip and carving decoration. Will this piece do good job? We will see. 

It is glazed inside by feldspathic glaze and I am not sure how important for storage this is going to be. Glaze protects tea from moisture and loosing fragrances but maybe the clay itself can improve tea better...

This DongDing is pretty light so only 90grams of tea fit to this jar. The color together with scent of those dry leaves is something very pleasant to me. The color of dark caramel but not without luster and mellow, like dried plum scents.

I am still not sure if should seal the lid (by beeswax) or let it breathe. Any experiences with it? Originally it was stored in airtight jars so I will use the wax to protect  it from air (and also from myself...)

 Is this the last cup of the thirty years old Dong Ding I enjoy? I have still some on the side but from this jar, probably yes. Next time it will be thirty-one years old...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dragon of the East Sea part II.

As dragons in Korea are part of mythology and as many wars went through the country you can meet some scents of them only occasionally. Places were you will find them for sure are budhistic monasteries and temples. Wonderfuly carved, dragons are members of guarding crew around roofs.

 Main hall of  Daeseungsa temple...and the dragon holding fish in its teeth is under the roof in the corner
When I was preparing this post I had in my head several pictures, details cought by my camera in few monasteries. But then, while searching the hard disk I found out that all those pictures got lost when our external hard drive broke down few months ago...hmm what a surprise, technique is not the "blue chip". Never mind. So I decided to show you few pictures from Ssanggyesa temple and share with you story of the tea I had bought there. For those who are interested to learn about the history and meanings of Dragon in Korean Buddhism I would highly recommend this .PDF paper from

About our trip to Hadong county you maybe have already read on Morning Tea Crane blog. One of the finest memories from our trip are from Ssanggyesa temple. Even though it is quite famous place for its tea festival and large numbers of visitors go there every year, we have spent there very calm moments.

Remarkable minutes spended with SangHun, monk who invited us for cup of tea.

Although before our visit it the tea temple we have already bought enough tea (ok, there is no term like "enough tea" but our baggage were far over weight...), I was so impressed by nature of those moments that while visiting the "dharma shop" there, I looked for something special to help me keep the spirit of this place alive, when I return back home.

 I have chosen balhyocha made in the temple. So how it is now, seven months and eight thousends kilometers away?

The tea was three times more expensive then all balhyocha there. My guess was that the reason for this price was that leaves come from under-bamboo tea plantation. It probably comes from semi-wild, shadowed tea bushes. When I open fancy package and then air proof bag the strong, spicy aroma surprise my mind. Now after seven months it is not so intensive but still key distinguishing feature from others Korean oolong I have at home. There were attractively shaped, only slightly broken, brown to gold-green leaves. 

The water for first infusion I use is around 80°C.  
After "rinsing" infusion the spicy fragrances again hit my nose. Cloves oil with sweet orange peel. In first infusion there is a little bitterness in the taste but fragrances are sweet and winsome. Scent from fair cup have take me twice longer then drinking...

 The color of the brew tells us why another name for this kind of tea in Korean is Hwang Cha where hwang means yellow. Yellow tea that what it is. In second and third brew I find more and more sweetness and basic taste become heavier. Honey and aroma of some "heavy" flowers maybe orchids with hint of chocolate. Hm...I like it.

Energy of this tea is strong but not aggressive rather balmy and soothing. Also the sweetness becomes really strong. Drinking this tea I feel honey but the sweetness is more like from sugar-cane

The cup is work of Korean potter Oh Soon-Teak. Beauty of pots is highlighted when we are using them. Glaze is very thin, high iron clay and light white slip decoration under the glaze inside the cup.

Study leaves after tea session I see strong, pretty long (compare to balhyocha I know) individual leaves. Sometime for balhyocha are used tea leaves which are too weak for Nokcha (green tea) or leaves from latter harvest - but this was not this case here. I used relatively big amount of dry leaves and enjoyed seven, eight good (and really sweet) infusions.  

To learn more about Korean oolongs - Bylhyocha - pleace visit and search on Matt and ChaDao blogs.