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Friday, April 26, 2013

Pouring a Kyusu to avoid clogging

This question comes up far more than I have expected, and I have myself struggled with this problem several times, but when pouring a kyusu it is not uncommon, for the filter to clog.  This happens most with kyusu with ceramic filters, which true teaware addicts seem to love because the entire piece is made by the ceramic artist and there is no additional metal filter.   Which ever way your mood leans, this tip for pouring can be very useful.  Here I walk through my interpretation of a description given by the Teachat Moderator Chips method for pouring a kyusu to help prevent clogging.

Enjoy watching me brew up two steeps, talking through and illustrating the pour.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The State of my Tea State!

While I sip on some very good sencha, realizing I am down to nearly 100grams of the Japanese goodness, I can not help but think that Shincha Season is in full force but due to life I am forcing myself to step to the sidelines for the most part this year.  Life happens, and because it happens I am stockpiling cash as much as I possibly can while I eagerly search for employment.

It is the uncertain future for employment, coupled with a few all too certain things, such as a move is inevitable, but to where remains unknown. This has me working extra hard to conserve cash, and make sure I move as little surplus stock as possible.  I have already begun the process of selling/ giving away teaware I rarely use to friends in the area that enjoy tea, and I am working diligently to finish off as much tea as possible, starting with the low hanging fruit of samples but trying to work my way up to other items I have had open for awhile.

Hopefully in a few weeks I have some good news, and I can catch the tail end of Shincha season.  But for now it is simply enjoy the spring as we head into summer, and wish for the best in my tea journey.  I hope all my readers are well, and enjoying any spring teas they decide to order.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

So out of the box, the leaves don't fit in!

So any of us that have been around the block a few times realize we have our own preferred brewing styles for nearly every single tea we come across.  Having heard good things about Da Yu Ling, I picked some up from a newly started vendor.  Initial impressions were lack luster, they seemed to fall quite flat.  Turns out I brewed it incredibly too light.  Even though that is how I usually approach brewing Taiwanese oolongs. 

Through talking with the vendor, I pulled out the stops and brewed it his style, and cameras were rolling while I talked through my impressions for the first three infusions.  ( I am currently on infusion 10, and I've heard it can go for far far more).

So without much more ado,  I present to you this video.   (The title of this post will make sense when you see it).

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Not old, but Not Young Puerh

I used to really enjoy 10-14 year old puerh, back when I thought it was the definition of aged puerh.  Lately I have realized even at that age it can still taste quite young, and lack the deep and wonderful qualities I have since come to associate with aged puerh.   This was seen in a 2002 Haiwan HOP puerh today.  Claiming to have leaves from both Yiwu and Menghai regions, even though it is quite brown in color, and brews up a reddish liquor, it is far from aged.

I worked really hard at attempting to describe this tea, all I can say is I enjoyed it through and through so descriptions are somewhat meaningless in this instance.  At this age the teas I feel show off what qualities they have that will persist with age, but most of the flavors that are present when young have mostly faded into the background, while the aged flavors are still in their infancy and have not really developed.  You are left with something that is indescribable, but based on the feelings you can tell if it should be good or bad.

Verdict on this one is good for me, but then again, I am far from a puerh expert, heck I am not even sure I qualify as more than just a puerh dabbler.  Either way I filmed the first few infusions, enjoy!

For Those With Large Hands

I have long since known that I have larger hands than most people, it fits as I am a larger person than most people.  It did not occur to me though that it would be a good idea to post a blog about using teaware with larger hands, as quite a bit of the smaller, and more reasonable single person teaware items are designed for people with very small hands. 

Japanese kyusu's are oddly not a problem at all, although my very small one is best handled with a  grip in which the handle sits between your fingers, and your palm rests upon the open end of the handle, and the pour is done with a twist of the forearm. For the most part kyusus are easy to use no matter your hand size.  And example of this kyusu grip:

It is teapots similar to those  you see on western style teapots, except in much smaller sizes on Japanese and Korean teaware. In this instance to avoid awkward proportioned teapots they make the handles smaller also.  Well this can make it nearly impossible to use these teapots in the same fashion you would a larger teapot of that size.  In fact even though it may seem insecure, the best way I have found to handle small teapots with small handles, is to pinch the handles instead of hook the handles with one or more fingers.  Even if your finger can fit in the smaller handle it either feels awkward or places the back of your finger far to close to the teapot containing near boiling water risking burns. An example of this teapot grip ( with my smallest teapot 60ml):

Although the biggest advantage to having big hands I believe comes with the use of Gaiwans.  With gaiwans you have the most versatility possible to use it what ever way you want.  I prefer the three finger method, which allows me to even with massive gaiwans to keep most of my hand a decent distance away from the hot, hot water inside the gaiwan. As shown below:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Lets brew some Jade Tie Guan Yin

A new video, in which I brew some Jade Tie Guan Yin.  A very nice Tie Guan Yin which honestly didn't shine until the second infusion and later.  I of course in my own fashion stumble to talk about what I am tasting and feeling about the tea while brewing the first few infusions.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Teaware Choices

EOT 80s Wang Zhi loose leaf in antique cup

I feel one of the things people associate with me and tea is my teaware, and while I have spent more than I probably should have, I feel it makes the sessions better in an almost intangible way.  If you are into eastern mysticism they can often try and explain that away using energies and what not of the various pieces.  What I am about to say does not conflict with that it is more of just an alternate way to view that principle.

I have found that when making tea, and drinking tea, that so many of our senses are occupied it is hard to give each one all the time it deserves.  Yet they are all busy sending all sorts of information to our brains which it then interprets.  As such the senses that are often over looked such as feel, and to a certain extent sight (on the teaware itself, not the tea), contribute far more than we imagine to the tea session. This is my explanation when people say simply having a nicer item sitting beneath the teapot or the teacup makes the tea taste better, when it has no contact with the tea itself.

I recently bought the "antique" porcelain cup pictured above, and while I am not 100% sure of its provenance, it feels nice both in hand and on the lips, and looks nice with tea in it, when the tea is bright enough you can just make out the detail of the piece beneath the tea. In the first session tea did not taste quite right, I think because I was mentally worried I did not thoroughly clean it even though when I forced myself to just consider water poured in and consumed the water itself didn't taste bad.  Hopefully that goes away with time, but that is another interesting thing to consider, how your mental shift towards a particular piece alters how tea tastes in it.

If you are worried you are going to break the piece, worried that the piece is dirty, you just plain are not fond of the piece, etc. Then tea will likely not taste that great when you use that piece. Might actually be a weird backwards way of why some of the most rustic tea bowls in ancient times were the most prized because "they made good tea" the tea makers did not really worry about their heads if the bowl happened to be damaged.

On the other side if there are things you absolutely love about the piece tea may taste better in them. Weather it is how the piece fits into your hand and is so easy to cradle, or if its as simple as the wonderful feeling of the clay foot, that while you hold the cup pondering the tea you are drinking,  you graze your pinky across the foot and enjoy the feeling.  Our relationship with our teaware is easily just as complicated, if not more complicated as our relationship with our tea, and then of course you need to consider their relationship with each other.   

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Approaching a new (to you) Tea

New video is up on how I approach a tea that is completely new to myself.  The main idea is a a more neutral leaf to water ratio ( not light, but not packed either) and then brew it similar to how you would brew most teas of that style.    Its a great way to get an idea of how you should brew the tea in the future. Namely does it seem like it can really be pushed, or should it be brewed at a far lighter ratio.  Enjoy!

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