Evaluating Yixing Teapots - Part One

This is Part One in a two part series about evaluating Yixing pots. It is inspired in part by Michael Wong of The Tea Gallery. The world of Yixing teapots can sometimes seem a daunting mystery. Among tea lovers, few subjects garner so many strong opinions. Preferences among collectors can be based on size or shape of the pot, the type or quality of clay, age, or craftsmanship. In this short series, we make no claims about the desirability of any of the above properties. »

Best Friends

Today we had a chance to examine a beautiful pair of pewter teapots from the Qing Dyanasty. They are owned respectively by a pair of real life tea pals. The handle of the smaller pot was expertly repaired with silver “nails.” The repair is indicative of workmanship from long past. The tall pot had its original spout carved from stone. So it goes in the case of these two collectors, and many others among us, that your favorite tea buds are also friendly rivals. »

Backyard Chanoyu

The Philly Tea Club (and guests!) assembled in the back yard for an introduction to Chanoyu. Being far from a proper tea room, Pamela L - a third year student of the Urasenke school - performed one of the more casual forms, o-bon temae. This ceremony is performed with the utensils arranged on a round tray, and draws hot water from a tetsubin rather than ladled from the kama. She selected a fantastic sweet to pair with the tea - candied Yuzu, a slightly sour citrus fruit. »

Classical Revolution at Random Tea Room

This Thursday at the Random Tea Room Philadelphia, the crowd was hanging from the rafters for the chamber music flash mob “Classical Revolution,” and, of course, tea. In their own words: “The mission of Classical Revolution is to present concerts involving both traditional and modern approaches while engaging the community by offering chamber music performances in highly accessible venues, such as bars and cafes, and collaborating with local musicians and artists from various styles and backgrounds” »

Brewing Rock Tea

Step One: Enlist some tea loving friends. Step Two: Add 7g of leaf to a 100 ml gaiwan (preheated). Replace lid. Allow your guests to appreciate the fragrance of the dry leaves in the hot gaiwan by smelling the edge of the lid, then replacing the lid and passing to the next guest. Step Three: Pour boiling water to the top of the gaiwan. Use the lid to remove the bubbles that form on the surface of the tea in a single, horizontal scraping motion. »

Long Jing - "Double Brew" Method

Using room temperature water in the inner tea bowl, boiled water in the outer bowl, slowly brings up the temperature of the leaves. Adjust the time from 30-60 seconds depending on the thickness of your gaiwan (thicker walls, more time.) This will give your greens a much different character. Long Jing from Brandon on Vimeo. Steps: Preheat gaiwan Add room temperature water to faircup Add leaves to gaiwan Fill gaiwan with water from faircup Steep for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on thickness. »

Yixing Travel Pouches

Our friend Evan has been prototyping travel pouches for Yixing, made from fine silk (with some additional padding.) The quality and construction have advanced rapidly, and he is ready to show off. Check them out and drop him a line - I collaborated to fit some common sizes, but they can be custom made to your own specifications. Larger sizes are also good for your favorite chawan. »

The Mandarin Decoded - Long Jing

Our good friend at The Mandarin’s Tea has spent the better part of a month researching, experimenting, and practicing to share his findings on Long Jing with us. As you might expect, trying to pack the level of detail the Mandarin is known for into a short blog post makes for some very dense verbiage, and you might not catch everything that was intended. Hoping for forgiveness, I am breaking down what I learned from this post into practical application. »

Sharing

Sharing tea is one of the greatest joys I have found. Quite often, people are generous enough to share with me as well. After enjoying the contrast of two grades of Shan Lin Shi, fresh from Taiwan, our friend Benito offered another special treat. This mini-beeng is made of very high quality leaves. It isn’t punchy in its youth, but rather sweet and buttery. If you are only drinking alone, you are missing half of the experience. »

Brandon on #puerh,

Royal Orchid Tea Museum

We made our second trip to the Royal Orchid Tea Museum, currently under a serious program of improvements. The event carried a water theme - an exhibition of Shui Pin Yixing teapots from Ming to modern, and, a sampling of several Shui Xian teas. I offered two pots of my own - 1970s hong ni and 1930s zi ni. Kai suggested my elder pot was originally made for export to Japan. »