Fun with a Chao Zhou stove


Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Herb_Master » Aug 9th, '09, 16:50

Minded that charcoal should not be burned indoors because of Carbon Monoxide, or that the stove would get very hot, or my temerity in using the stove first time - it is many weeks since it arrived, and July was a washout weather wise - so breaking in my Chao Zhou stove was long overdue.

I used Spanish Olive Pit Charcoal, which is far too small for the vent holes at the bottom of the stove. I obtained some heavy duty stainless steel wire mesh from the DIY specialists, a builder acrooss the street cut it into nice small discs that fit the bottom of the stove, and fashioned a little bucket shaped ladle with another strip.

Tonight I set up the stove outside, heated some charcoal over the gas range indoors and when glowing took it outside to lay over a thin layer of Olive pits at the bottom of the stove. Expecting a decent amount of waiting time before the water was ready I began drinking DTH Yulan DC, water heated with my Kamjove, whilst waiting for the Chao Zhou kettle.

The anticipation was great, it took an hour for the first kettle. The Yulan was much needed. The first layer of heated charcoal had been barely glowing, so I had added a 2nd which was quite red when added and it became obvious this was more the requirement.

The Spanish Olive pits being so small, fill the bottom of the stove quite densely, so airflow (oxygen supply) may be partly the problem. I wonder if a small bellows with a stubby outlet would be of assistance.The charcoal gives off no smoke (except when blowing strongl through the bottom vent, and a light perfume that is perhaps not ideal (being slightly reminiscent of kerosene).

Eventually the lid on the kettle started jumping, and my Tea Habitat 2008 Wu Dong Huang Zhi was brewed - and - very enjoyable - though nothing outstandingly different to usual, perhaps mellower all round.

Using a 140 ml Yixing, the kettle was still half full, but I had kept the kamjove going, and topped the kettle up with quite hot water. The next 3 kettle-fuls took only a minute or two before the lid was hopping. The exterior of the stove was by now really hot, and the kettle was equally hot.

The 5th Kettle took longer, by now the charcoal was settling down, and heavy rain clouds were gathering. Mindful of the effect of cold rain on hot clay I started to clear things away. Even after resting on my table top for 20 minutes the Kettle was still really hot the heat retention of the kettle and stove seem extremely high.

The stove would not be safe to handle (to bring indoors) for a long time, so I inverted an extra large clay plant pot over the stove and covered it.

I am not sure that I achieved any better quality in the water but it has been enormous fun!
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Salsero » Aug 9th, '09, 17:06

Good story, H_M. Thanks!
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Chip » Aug 9th, '09, 20:59

Sounds like a great guy thing, anything with fire and/or charcoal is alll good!

Thanks for sharing with us Herb_Master.
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby coloradopu » Aug 9th, '09, 22:27

sounds like the experience was one of the old days. fire ,water, earth/clay and tea. i wonder if the wind was blowing before the storm.

all around i bet it was a relaxing pleasurable experience. and if the tea was not effected by the brewing apparatus then i bet the timely style had an effect of making it more enjoyable.

thanks for sharing herb.
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Oni » Aug 10th, '09, 06:07

I wanted to buy such a stove, but I changed my mind in the last minute, and I am gathering a bit more for a tetsubin, but I would recommend buying a chao zhou zhuni teapot from Imen in order to have the most authentic equipment for Dancong. And the fact that it is not safe to use in your home makes it a complicated tea ceremony, I think all the preparation is worth only if it makes a better cup of tea.
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Tead Off » Aug 10th, '09, 07:16

Oni wrote:I wanted to buy such a stove, but I changed my mind in the last minute, and I am gathering a bit more for a tetsubin, but I would recommend buying a chao zhou zhuni teapot from Imen in order to have the most authentic equipment for Dancong. And the fact that it is not safe to use in your home makes it a complicated tea ceremony, I think all the preparation is worth only if it makes a better cup of tea.


Agreed. The result has to justify the means for me, too. But, I think HM really likes Dancong and I encourage him to experiment more and refine the process, and, like you, suggest a Zhaozhou teapot for him.

But, it makes a lot of sense for you to get that tetsubin you've been dreaming of since you are also in love with Japanese greens and we know the tetsubin will enhance the outcome.
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby hop_goblin » Aug 11th, '09, 09:12

I may get one in the near future. I wish Lins Ceramic would make them. They do make Braizers but not my cup of tea.
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Intuit » Aug 11th, '09, 14:55

In Asia, where charcoal cooking has been used for many thousands of years, starter charcoals are perpetually maintained to start slow-burning hardwood indoor fires. The beauty of your small olive pit coals is that they fit snuggling together, slowing air intake *once they are thoroughly ignited*. That's the key. You mound them with your starter coals, keeping them loose enough for air intake.

You're going to have to be a bit inventive on how best to maintain your perpetual starter coals. Think about the physics of banking a fire for clues:
http://www.ehow.com/how_4714687_bank-a-fire.html

Be prepared to tend your starter coals daily because you will need to add a piece or two every few days. Your use of the clay pot to protect your stove from rain was clever. Use that same approach to build yourself a little insulated and fire-proof coal saver. Recycle your coals as starters, just as has been done for tens of thousands of years.

By the way, your wire mesh grate not last long because of water/heat oxidation of the metal. Tim mentions use of a cheap clay grating that may be a more long-lasting choice of materials.

Once you have mastered management of starter coals, turn your attention next to Japanese methods of fire tending. Google it. The Japanese and Koreans have recipes for various types of indoor fires - combustion mixtures, placement of coals and timing in managing your little stove is an art in itself.

Well worth the practice, because it gets you out into your lovely garden for fresh air, tenderly tending hot water preparation as you meditate on your selection of tea and it's qualities.

Therein lies the zen simplicity of heating water for tea: chanoyu is the way of Water for Tea.
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Herb_Master » Aug 11th, '09, 16:44

Intuit wrote: You're going to have to be a bit inventive on how best to maintain your perpetual starter coals. Think about the physics of banking a fire for clues:
http://www.ehow.com/how_4714687_bank-a-fire.html

Be prepared to tend your starter coals daily because you will need to add a piece or two every few days. Your use of the clay pot to protect your stove from rain was clever. Use that same approach to build yourself a little insulated and fire-proof coal saver. Recycle your coals as starters, just as has been done for tens of thousands of years.


Intuit, thank you for your ideas, but I am presently not inclined to keep starter coals. As a lone dweller, who brews chinese day for usually only one session a day - I think it would be overkill, and relatively expensive on charcoal.

For an extended Chao Zhou family, all of whom drink tea throughout the day, that may well use starter coals to prepare their cooking stoves also, I can see how practical and sensible it is.

The nearness of my gas cooking range to the back garden suits me admirably for the present.

I have wondered how easy it was for travellers (such as those in Aaron's sketches) to get their little tea stove going on a rocky ledge, or beneath a wilderness tree. Do they carry hot coals?

I think if I was hiking in the mountains, with a fantastic source of mountain spring water, then a simple camping gaz affair would be sufficient to light my starter coals.
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Intuit » Aug 11th, '09, 17:41

Oh yes, I quite understand your predicament. I'm merely pointing out the mechanics of why it took so long to heat your initial kettle, and the time-honored remedy.

A reasonable alternative to maintaining starter coals might be an electric charcoal starter.

>I have wondered how easy it was for travelers to get their little tea stove going on a rocky ledge, or beneath a wilderness tree. Do they carry hot coals?

Yes. Historically, before the advent of flint fire-starters, travelers who wished to be able to rapidly start cooking fires carried their coals wrapped in grass or leaves, in small bags of water-soaked leather. You can actually boil water in water-soaked leather, by the way. More recently, I've seen old photographs of early settlers outfits - they carried their starter coals from campsite to campsite, wrapped in fresh grass and housed in a special heavy metal bucket that was hung below and behind their wagons.
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Dreamer » Aug 11th, '09, 17:55

Herb_Master wrote:I am not sure that I achieved any better quality in the water but it has been enormous fun!


That's what it's all about!

Thanks for sharing,
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Herb_Master » Aug 11th, '09, 19:09

Intuit wrote:
Oh yes, I quite understand your predicament. I'm merely pointing out the mechanics of why it took so long to heat your initial kettle, and the time-honored remedy.



The initial heating also involves, heating the stove, heating the kettle and heating the water therein.

The stove and kettle take some time to warm through, even with glowing coals from the gas range. Once hot though, they continue to get hotter and hold the heat very well. Today, I used more preheated coals, and the first kettle took only 40 minutes or so. I used bottled water for refills, ambient temperature rather than preheated in my Kamjove (poured in carefully to a still half full kettle) taking perhaps 5 minutes rather than yesterday's 2 minutes, and the tea was a joy, seemingly much sweeter than yesterday's first effort.

I am falling in love with this little stove.
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Intuit » Aug 11th, '09, 19:48

An aside first: Do you by any chance have an AGA range?

If so, you might consider trying a heat diffuser for heating your kettle, if you can find one that allows your vessel to sit up and away from direct flame. Can't see how this can be much different from charcoal heating, because you're removing the direct heat that many kettles don't tolerate (thermal expansion stresses causing cracking/wall failures).

This would be an alternative during inclement weather or cold winter months to using your kamjov or little charcoal stove.

You mention that you used bottled water and you report the result was a better tasting tea. Perhaps the combination of the water source and the contact time are the ticket. Since the kettle is potentially providing some form of physical and chemical treatment, perhaps a slower thermal ramp and longer heating contact time are important for conditioning tea water?

An interesting point I had thought about before your post!
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby Herb_Master » Aug 11th, '09, 20:17

No Aga :( We used to have one in the 60's it was a joy

It started to rain today so I brought the stove into the kitchen (- with Kitchen Gloves -on a marble pastry slab, near the open door) it worked a treat.

Part of the improvement from yesterday may have been breaking in the stove, and glavanised steel mesh - today no odour!

But then again, long slow water conditioning may have been part of the improvement.
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Re: Fun with a Chao Zhou stove

Postby coloradopu » Aug 11th, '09, 20:45

Herb_Master wrote:No Aga :( We used to have one in the 60's it was a joy

It started to rain today so I brought the stove into the kitchen (- with Kitchen Gloves -on a marble pastry slab, near the open door) it worked a treat.

Part of the improvement from yesterday may have been breaking in the stove, and glavanised steel mesh - today no odour!

But then again, long slow water conditioning may have been part of the improvement.



herb stop don't do it the health risks bro bad bad bad
:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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