Tuesday, October 10, 2006, 01:19 PM ( 46 views )We just like to hear the knocking sounds of yixings and cannot get enough of them! I recorded several more for you:
Now we have heard quite a few different sounds from different yixings. Except being pleasing to our ears, what do they really reveal to us?
I will discuss my 2 cents in the next How to Select Yixings to Match Your Teas blog : )
Monday, October 9, 2006, 02:51 PM ( 25 views )This blog entry is for collecting our discussions of the tasting set:
Please feel free to post your tasting notes/comments/likes/dislikes in this entry.
I withhold my own opinions about the two samples so as not to bias your tasting experience : )
Saturday, October 7, 2006, 12:33 AMOld wisdom said that the knocking sound of zhu ni is like the knocking sound of "Jing Shi" - meaning metal and stone. Also, it was also said the knocking sound of zhu ni is like the knocking sound of two jade together. True? Here are four exmples, and you can judge for yourself : )
(1) 60's Nan-Yan Zhu Ni Shui Pin:
(2) Early R.O.C Pear-Skinned Zhu Ni, 120cc:
(3) Early R.O.C. Zhu Ni, 325cc:
It's rare to have zhu ni in such a large size. And even with its size, the crispy knocking sound of zhu ni remains! Marvelous!
(4) 18th century (mid-Qing) "Fu Yuan Ting" Lon-Dan Zhu Ni, 110cc:
I also put all four clips into one file on YouTube - Click here.
Aren't they lovely? Aren't they just like the knocking sound of metal, stone, or jade? Although "modern zhu ni" - hong ni-based blend - can mimic the effect, the sound would not be as natural and round. Above all, the clay would not be as great and treasurable.
Woooow... I can replay those beaufitul sounds for hours ^__^
Please be extra careful when trying this at home! Any teapot can break if knocked too hard!
Monday, October 2, 2006, 05:35 PM ( 28 views )In the coming days, we will gradually roll out a series of discussions on how to properly select an yixing to bring out the best of your tea(s). We may use video clips to demonstrate our concepts.
The first topic - The affect of Shape on tea brewing
In "Chao Zhou Cha Jing" of Wong Hwei-Dong of the Qing Dynasty, it is said, "... to select a teapot, better small but not big, better shallow but not deep." Most of us are familiar with the benefits of using a small-sized teapot when doing gong-fu style brewing. I found the second criteria the old wisdom put forward is also noteworthy: "better shallow but not deep". Why?
The characters of a tea can be greatly changed by different oxidation and roasting degrees. In general, the more oxidized or more roasted, the more stable the tea quality becomes. That's why we can just use a jar to store and age our tie guan yin, dong-ding, bai hao, etc., but need to use vacuum or low temperature storage to preserve the freshness of green teas and Taiwan's high-mountain oolongs.
When a tea is more oxidized/roasted, or aged for pu-erhs, it usually needs a higher brewing temperature to bring out the best mellowness and most sophisticated aroma layers. We all know that green tea like Longjing should be brewed ~ 175degF, but Dong-Ding needs boiling water (212degF).
The shape of a teapot can affect how fast the inside temperature drops. A shallow-shaped teapot dissipates heat faster than a tall and deep teapot.
Moreover, when we pour out the liquor from a teapot, the teas inside the teapot is still hot. As a shallower teapot dissipates heat faster, it drops the tea's temperature faster too. This helps preserve the freshness of tea and prevents the tea being over-heated.
On the other hand, when we are dealing with a high-oxidized/roasted type of tea, we want the heat and we want the temperature inside the teapot to hold.
Following the above discussion, we can draw a Shape-Tea Matching Diagram as shown below:
The X- and Y-axis represent the oxidation and roasting degree, individually. The bottom rainbow spectrum explains the oxidation degree for several common type of teas. In the coordinate, we position three shapes - shallow, round, and tall/deep - that, theoretically, is the best-matched teapot shape.
So why Mr. Wong only liked a shallow teapot? My guess is the region of Chao Zhou, inside GuangDong province, is constantly hot and humid. So a shallower teapot can help balance the ambient condition by keeping the teas cooler.
In general, I've found the shui-pin design, in a form of a slightly compressed circle, to be suitable to a wide range of oolong and black teas.
Please note I highlight the word "theoretically". There are many other factors that all affect the brewing performance at the same time. So the shape-matching discussion should be considered just as one of the factors. We should always judge a teapot from many different angles - shape, firing, clay quality, body thickness, craftsmanship, your ambient conditions, etc.
I have been hesitated to discuss such a kind of topic, for I never like to make the art of tea become too "scientific" or engineering, and for the fear that my limited knowledge might mislead people : ) So please post your comments and let's exchange our ideas.
Our next discussion will focus on the clay quality.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006, 12:23 PMWuyi yen cha can be categorized into three groups, according to the locations of the plantations:
Zheng-Yen : The yen cha is from a plantation located inside the Scenic District of Wuyi Shan, average elevation 650m. This is where the orthodox and very limited yen cha were produced. The soil in this district is gravelly and rich in minerals. The warm and humid climate keeps the tea trees well hydrated while the roots can breath easily. This Terroir contributes to the ethereal and spirited (or, dynamic) taste of yen cha. The picture below shows a plantation inside this District:
Ban-Yen : "Ban" means "half, in the middle of". This refers to plantations on terraces just outside the Scenic District, a transition from zheng-yen to zhou-cha.
Zhou-Cha : This is where the bulk of yen cha are produced. Zhou means "outside the limit" in chinese. So this says "tea from outside the District limit". But another way of writing Zhou in chinese means "terrace". Elevation usually 100~400m high. Tea from these locations sometimes lack enough characters, so not uncommon they have to be darkly roasted to enhance the taste and structure.