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Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Wall" of My Dining/ Tea Room

To anyone that wanders into my dining room, there is really no hiding the fact that I am an avid tea drinker, and teaware collector.  I am borderline calling it a shrine to teaware related pottery.   I honestly think I have spent too much time discussing something that photos can easily show, so 5000 words coming up shortly.

Teaware display

Teaware display (1)

Teaware display (2)

Teaware display (3)

Teaware display (4)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gyokuro with a touch of Heaven and Hell

Heaven and Hell Gyokuro theme

Now there is no denying that I am a Teaware addict.  I have found that when people start to collect enough pieces of teaware they start to come up with themes.  While I don't have any definite themes when it comes to Sencha yet, my gyokuro set ups are getting rather poetic names, which I think are easily understandable when you view them.  Above is a somewhat new set up, which I honestly can not help but call Heaven and Hell.    From the volcanic, ultra rough near black guinomi, to the soft and fluffy cloud looking white Houhin, they stand out against each other as stark opposites.

Now the houhin makes an appearance in my other named Gyokuro setup, which I know has been seen many times before on this blog.  It is named White out, and is a favorite set up of mine to use on a winter day during or shortly after a decent sized snowstorm.
Dreaming of a White Christmas

In my understanding it is not unusual for teaware to be given nicknames.  In fact I know of several people that like to give English nicknames to their pieces because they have a very loose understanding of the Japanese name given to the piece by the artist, or sometimes the artist gives a name that is so literal it loses its fun.  I mean "Blue yunomi" or "Three Colored Glaze Yunomi"  while it tells you the glaze and the type of cup, it seems to lack character.

But these themed tea set ups I find rather interesting.  Like the artisan teaware I use, I help they feel you enjoy the tea, even if they do not make the tea better in a literal sense.  Simply put by stimulating other senses in the mind with pleasing images and thoughts they help transfer those thoughts over into the experience of the tea you are drinking.  This while not making the tea literally taste better, does at least give the appearance of the tea tasting better.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Orwellian Baozhong

1984 Baozhong (2)
What else would you call a baozhong from 1984, if not Orwellian?   I honestly wish I had made up that terminology myself, though before I heard it called that, I was thinking along the lines of a "Baozhong so famous, they named a book after it!"  Honestly I think quite of the tea vendors I frequent must be upset, because it seems like there has been a plethora of organised tea tastings that use up my tea budget for each month.  While it keeps me stocked with tea, it certainly is far from a dedicated order from a specific vendor.

These Baozhongs were put together as part of an educational tasting on aged Baozhong.  There were 5 packs with approximate ages ~10 years old, ~20 years old, 1984, ~30 years old, and 1967.  I have had the first three already. I am rather interested in digging into the last two, mostly because part of the educational part is examining how does going "green" in style alter how well it ages.  While I have been told by the host of this tasting Tony over at Origin Tea, that roughly 20 years ago Baozhong started being created in greener and greener styles.  So lower and lower oxidation.  A trend that has been happening in many oolongs  to this day.  (How many times have you heard people reference Nuclear Green (Insert balled oolong here?)

From my experience with the three Baozhongs I have already tried, the ~10 year old one is actually very nice to drink, but it dies practically instantly.  The ~20 year old I have a hard time getting the hang of, I just can't seem to brew it right, and it seems to disappoint all around. I am going to write up a note on the 1984 below.

1984 Baozhong(3)

First infusion is very nice, soft, subtle but lots of nice aged flavors.  Prunes, raisins, and plum dominate both the nose and the taste.  Honestly not as heavy as I remember it being, it is sweeter and softer than I remember, but very enjoyable.  Maybe it really did need some exposure to air.

The second infusion is a lot more like I remember it being, a lot of similar flavors as the first but heavier and this time more sour notes come through.  Reducing the time on the third infusion slightly gets an infusion now much more like the first.  Slightly more earthy, no longer as sweet.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sencha and Allergies?

Summer Tea Set Up

To help fight the headache and the allergies, I am turning to Shincha.  I am not sure why that connection sticks in my mind, the whole allergies and Japanese green tea thing.  I believe it stems back to a discussion about a type of sencha called Benefuki, which was supposed to be ultra deep steamed and had a touted health benefit of being great at fighting allergies.   The connection has just stuck ever since, and I do not know if it is placebo or something more, but I honestly do believe it helps.

Zencha Shincha (1)

Thankfully I am in the middle of working through a Shincha Tasting Initiative put on by the moderator of Teachat, so I have plenty of Japanese greens on hand. Not to mention I am of the opinion the one of the reasons why people say green teas are for late spring and during the summer as opposed to late fall or winter is because they are brewed at a cooler temperature.  I think they are great all year round, even if there are less allergies to contend with during the winter.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pictures (as Promised)

Maiko Kinari Shincha 2013

I am starting to think there is not much better (at least not in the world of tea) than an early summer Sunday afternoon Shincha after cooling off from a 4 mile run/walk. So today I did another grab from the bag of Shincha samples and came up with Maiko Kinari, a Shincha I enjoyed very much last year, and this year seems to be far far better!

Lean in close I will give you a whiff of this tea.
Maiko Kinari Shincha 2013 (2)

Also some things to look out for on the Love of Ceramics Blog.  One item is the Kyusu above, while the other is this lovely yunomi.

Mukuhara Kashun Tsuchinohana Yunomi (2)

Oh, and something else-- a rather looker of a guinomi, but a teaser picture would just ruin the surprise!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Shincha has Cometh!

I am sorry for the lack of photos, I have finally dug my camera out of its hiding spot after the move, so hopefully more quality photos comes soon.  Wait, this post is not about photos, lets look at the title again!  Yes, that is right I finally have received some Shincha, and I feel like I am rolling in it, I have 240 grams of it split among 12 different samples thanks to a tasting from Tea Chat organized by the Moderator Chip.   In another tasting I placed an order for 200 more grams of Shincha, which I am unsure when it will be shipped out, but it comes from a source I know to be of top notch quality.

Since I got the shincha I have been enjoying it immensely, I do not know if it was due to the rationing of Japanese greens I have had lately, going from five sessions a week, to one maybe two.  Heck today alone I brewed two top notch Shinchas.  Thes du Japon which is quickly climbing my list of preferred Japanese tea vendors.   The other one is a perennial classic, that this is honestly the first year I did not order a bag of Yutaka Midori from O-Cha in the Shincha Season. 

I honestly do not normally hear reports like this, but based on my first 3 teas of this Shincha season, I think this might be a very good year for quite a few Japanese Senchas, maybe Japanese Tea's all around.

Back to talking about Photos... I really can not wait to dig up my camera and snap some shots.  I have a brand new tea cup and teapot that are just begging to be shown off in something better than a cell phone snap.   Not to mention I think the lighting in my new place is worlds better than the lighting in the one room cave I used to live in.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What happens when you mix a Camera, Tea, and a tired mind...

A video gets made that turns into a ramble about things that have been going on in my tea life while I brew up a delicious pot of Balhyocha tea from Korea.  Honestly I knew I was rambling while filming the video I was just nervous making my first video in the new setting, and as the tea was an unknown tea I could not talk too much about the tea itself, leaving way for the lips to flap incessantly because I was too tired to realize Silence can be acceptable at times.


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