Tasting techniques and other similar things


Discussion on virtually any teaware related item.

Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby AdamMY » Mar 3rd, '13, 16:59

I've kept quiet in this post for long enough. Red Barron yes another poster did say they experienced a similar effect, but that does not mean there is anything beyond a placebo effect going on. That being said sometimes we need to choose our own placebos that we like for our own enjoyment.

I do want to bring up that nothing you have said makes this any less skeptical, and while it may seem impressive in person, there are all sorts of extra factors that can come into play. Such as is the one saucer just more pleasing to look at, so even if you do not know its origins or anything else about it, when you see it, you psychologically associate nicer things to the tea in the cup sitting on that saucer? Not to mention while you said the teamaster runs these tests without saying anything about the saucers and such before hand, but there could be a multitude of things from nonverbal cues from facial expressions to gestures that subtly influence the drinkers opinion. Not to mention his phrasing of the questions can often influence how people respond and retroactively influence their opinions of the tea.

I think this is why some of these others tests were suggested. I mean if you really don't want to be blind folded, there are other ways around that by brewing while the person is out of the room, and before he tastes the person who brewed removes the saucers. ( I mean if they improve the tea, it should be there if its away from them for a few minutes while one person leaves and another enters right?)
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby theredbaron » Mar 3rd, '13, 17:07

Chip wrote:Given the propensity of falsehoods circulated on the various subjects of tea ... and even blatant fraud, it is only logical that there would be a degree of skepticism to something that seems really out there to a "grounded" Western reader ... and this does seem pretty far out. This is not sarcasm, just Western PoV of an Eastern unknown.

The discussion has room for two sides. One side would seek logical explanations for results while the other believes regardless of lack of logical explanation. This is nothing new, is it? This has been occurring for millennia

We can easily grasp that materials that touch our tea and water could have an effect on the resulting brew. It is a farther reach for us to grasp the concept of saucer material having an effect on the resulting brew.

Plus there is the reality that for the vast majority of us, access to a tea master of any kind is not feasible.

Nevertheless, I read with a degree of interest and a lesser degree of curiousity.


That why the reputation of people that claim to be tea masters is of high importance. Ten Ren, for example churns "masters" out by the lot, all with a certificate. But then - Ten Ren's reputation is, well, not exactly the best. And of course we all know the "masters" who are nothing but shopkeepers.

Lim Ping Xiang's reputation is extremely good, and he is respected in all tea centers in Asia. You can find even some English language articles on him in google. He is not an "eastern unknown".

The lack of a logical explanation *by me* means nothing. A physicist may be able to give you one - based on atomic level interaction, or he may not, as he may not have the budget to research the importance of this question. But that still doesn't mean that there won't be a logical explanation.
Lim Ping Xiang may give you an explanation, or he may simply let you try it for yourself, with different materials that he will show you.
I tasted a difference.

People take Aspirin for their headaches, yet there is still not a logical explanation on how exactly it works. And you can be sure that much more scientific research was funded for Aspirin than for how different saucer materials may affect the taste of tea in cups placed on them.

Or do you also dispute that Aspirin works against a headache?

At times we have to make do with empirical evidence when hard science has not yet found your logical explanation.

My sincere apologies for having had the opportunity to have tea master as a teacher and friend, and for having tried to introduce some of the things i learned to "grounded" westerners on the 'net. I will try to make sure that i won't make this mistake again.
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby edkrueger » Mar 3rd, '13, 17:11

I don't see anything logical about these questions. They are all empirical questions not matters of logic.
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby gingkoseto » Mar 3rd, '13, 17:38

theredbaron wrote:People take Aspirin for their headaches, yet there is still not a logical explanation on how exactly it works. And you can be sure that much more scientific research was funded for Aspirin than for how different saucer materials may affect the taste of tea in cups placed on them.


Hmmm... It depends on what "exactly" means here, because nobody knows anything "exactly" but people know a lot through scientific explorations. Although human biology is complicated, mechanism of why Aspirin helps with headache (not a big helper though) is very well described decades ago...

This is a bit off track, but I can't help jumping in when seeing people claiming scientific uncertainty when there is no uncertainty, such as this aspirin thing, or the trend of climate changes, or the diminishing of shark species... The harm of falsely claiming scientific uncertainty is beyond the statement itself - it may lead some people (not intelligent people here, but some people elsewhere...) to think, even science can't do anything on this, so let's forget about being scientific...
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby Chip » Mar 3rd, '13, 20:16

... exactly ... :mrgreen:

RB, not sure I follow the aspirin analogy. Aspirin is ingested and is then in direct contact with the internal human body, interacting and having direct physiological effects.

The saucer is not in direct contact with the tea. There is a solid barrier between tea and saucer. There is no apparent interaction.

edkrueger wrote:I don't see anything logical about these questions. They are all empirical questions not matters of logic.

:lol: As I wrote "logical" I thought of you and knew you would pick up on it. Logical in its slang form perhaps ... though I agreed, empirical is more precise!
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby Chip » Mar 3rd, '13, 20:18

theredbaron wrote: My sincere apologies for having had the opportunity to have tea master as a teacher and friend, and for having tried to introduce some of the things i learned to "grounded" westerners on the 'net. I will try to make sure that i won't make this mistake again.

Hm, who is calling the kettle, black. This oozes sarcasm, the very thing you accuse others.

There was nothing sarcastic in my post. But it seems it is actually you who cannot handle opposing PoV very well. I was trying to express a Westerners PoV. And fact is, we will likely not have access to a true master as you have. This is simply fact, nothing to be offended about.

Come to think of it, I was not even disagreeing with you, but offering you a plausible explanation to the divergent postings which I could have simply said there are tremendous differences in Eastern and Western philosophies.

So, please let's not make this a personal thing.

But the fact that this one example by your own admission has not made its rounds in the West ... nor East to any great degree says something. :?: :idea:
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby edkrueger » Mar 3rd, '13, 21:34

Chip wrote:...
edkrueger wrote:I don't see anything logical about these questions. They are all empirical questions not matters of logic.

:lol: As I wrote "logical" I thought of you and knew you would pick up on it. Logical in its slang form perhaps ... though I agreed, empirical is more precise!


I was trying to point out that saying this explanation is more logical than the other doesn't work. What you mean to say is this sounds more reasonable than the other explanation, but sometimes the reasonable explanations aren't true. (i.e. Catastrophism is a perfectly reasonable explanation of why there are no dinosaurs, but its complete empirical crap. A lot of "talky" science explanations are like this.) Its an empirical matter...

..one which I don't really care to investigate. That said I find it much more reasonable that the way tea tastes comes from the physical composition of the tea.
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby tingjunkie » Mar 4th, '13, 00:53

A good friend of mine is a true master in the fields of both psychology and traditional healing traditions (i.e. shamanism). When I say master, I mean a truly massive name in both fields.

He's also the most humble and down to earth dude you'd ever want to meet. He's an American, and of course we do not have the tradition of "masters" in the arts in the same way as they do in China, but I remember he told me once to be wary of anyone who refers to themselves as a master. "Being known as a master is a dead end," he said. "If I called myself a master of psychology, I could accidentally fart during a session, and the client would assume it was a brilliant intervention!" :lol:

The point of this little story is not to belittle the idea of a tea master, or anyone who accepts that title. What I understood from the story is that we have the tendency to hold our masters up on such high pedestals that we forget that they are only human, and capable of making mistakes, or just being flat out wrong. Our faith in these people can be a very powerful thing that can lead us to see what we want to see, taste what we want to taste, etc.

Ultimately, if I thought wearing a tin foil hat made my tea taste better, then to me and my experience it's valid, and I'm going to keep on rocking that hat no matter what anyone else says. :lol:
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby theredbaron » Mar 4th, '13, 01:36

Chip wrote:
theredbaron wrote: My sincere apologies for having had the opportunity to have tea master as a teacher and friend, and for having tried to introduce some of the things i learned to "grounded" westerners on the 'net. I will try to make sure that i won't make this mistake again.

Hm, who is calling the kettle, black. This oozes sarcasm, the very thing you accuse others.

There was nothing sarcastic in my post. But it seems it is actually you who cannot handle opposing PoV very well. I was trying to express a Westerners PoV. And fact is, we will likely not have access to a true master as you have. This is simply fact, nothing to be offended about.

Come to think of it, I was not even disagreeing with you, but offering you a plausible explanation to the divergent postings which I could have simply said there are tremendous differences in Eastern and Western philosophies.

So, please let's not make this a personal thing.

But the fact that this one example by your own admission has not made its rounds in the West ... nor East to any great degree says something. :?: :idea:


How would you know that such knowledge has not made its rounds in the east? My own *admission*?! Where?

Because it has. As you can read in the primary discussion - one poster here has heard old tea people talking about this topic in Taiwan. It may surprise you, but also in the east tea culture is not a mass culture, but only a small minority of people that drink tea know or study tea culture, or drink with tea teachers.
But, tea culture has been existing for a very long time in the east. In the west tea culture, especially in terms of Chinese tea culture is in its early birth stage. Just because you haven't heard of something doesn't mean that it does not exist. And chances are that, given the very brief history of Chinese tea culture in the west - that there is far more about Chinese tea that you haven't heard than that you may have. Which is logical, i guess.
The internet is very useful, but it still cannot replace real life exposure. Going and mingling with tea people and visiting to tea gardens in person will be more useful than anything you can read or write on the net.

Not having had the chance to do so? Some people have very limited financial means, and for them the chance may not be there. But nowadays there are airplanes, hotels and guesthouses - and given the amount of money some spend on tea a tea ware - these amounts could easily by a trip to the home countries of Chinese tea and tea culture. In this case it is not a question of having a chance, but of determination.

As to personal - after i have been accused during the course of the discussion with terms such as "ignorant" and of being "rude" of having even brought up this point - i am slightly annoyed.

As to Aspirin - here a short article on it by the New York Times, that describes how we know it works, but exactly how we don't - therefore being a lot of "empirical crap" being associated with aspirin:

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/18/healt ... magic.html

The difference here in this case may not be about "grounded" west vs "mysterious" east, but between being open minded or not, as also in the west much in common usage is associated with more empirical crap than "logical explanation". But there seems to me a slight feeling of cultural superiority here as well, straight away swiping a new unheard of concept away by positioning one self as "grounded" westerner. In terms of knowledge on Chinese tea - the west has by far not reached a stage of being grounded in anything.

And before i am accused of idealizing the "east" - i have spent more than half my life in the east, and appreciate both cultures equally, and have been far too long here, and been exposed far to much to the problems of "the east" to romanticize Asia. I am not living in a bubble of a walled compound or a religious community here, and never have done so.

I have only been fascinated by especially Chinese tea for the past 20 something years, have been able to drink tea with and learn from some very knowledgeable tea people, have made a point to travel to many tea growing areas in China. I have done that with an open mind - when i was told of concepts new to me, i have, before rejecting or questioning it, been curious to find out about it first hand, before making any quality judgement on it.

It's as simple as that.
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby theredbaron » Mar 4th, '13, 01:49

tingjunkie wrote:He's an American, and of course we do not have the tradition of "masters" in the arts in the same way as they do in China,


That is quite wrong.
In European (western) culture the concept and tradition of "master" and "apprentice" has been well established, and at least since the middle ages has been formalized by the very strict rules of the guilds, which are not only about the basic technical aspects of the chosen professions, but transgress into personal conduct and even (still in the quite recent past) into religious matters.

A "teamaster" is not a fluffy concept of a self declared sage, but a person that is well grounded in many aspects of tea, such as knowledge on growing, processing, tea ware and the development of taste.
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby tingjunkie » Mar 4th, '13, 03:03

Well darn. My mistake. Please don't let my silly ideas interfere with your absolute truth. :lol:
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby AdamMY » Mar 4th, '13, 10:33

The Red Barron, I think we are equally annoyed because we trying to understand it and learn more about it are asking all sorts of questions, but all we get in return are posts calling us naive westerners, who if we can't google it doesn't exist. Not to mention the fact that your posts insult us and just insist you are right without actually attempting to answer our questions.

To give an example of what this is like, it would be like if I helped my student with a problem, but they only took away the steps and none of the reasons. Then they go and try and help their friends, and their friends are asking "Why is this the negative of that?" To which the student I helped just tells them "The teacher said it so it is true" and then ignores all discussion as to why it could possibly true.

That is what this whole discussion is like, you got some information from your teacher, now you are sharing it to the rest of us, but you don't care to even guess at the why's.

I mean I asked some rather interesting questions that you completely ignored.

Is there some hidden charm in the older pieces of teaware that the tea drinker may be appreciating and using those good feelings and transferring them into the tea?

That is possibly the best explanation, as the reason why a lot of us collect nice teaware is because we seem to enjoy tea better in them. Though in the west we tend to phrase it that way, as opposed to saying "it makes the tea better" which up to translation are nearly identical phrases with slightly different implications.
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby ethan » Mar 4th, '13, 11:22

Adam, I like your comment about charm.
I think there is charm in a lot of things that won't be noticed if one is not open to it. I buy lots of things that are not special unless one tries to percieve what I feel is special about those things. Last Christmas I bought a lot of pottery from hobbyists trying to support their hobby. I could not afford it all & took some to sell along w/ my usual jade. Whether those mugs, cups, etc. ended up on a shelf or filled w/ coffee, I don't know. I do know that I may have paid 3 or 4 times more for pieces w/ "soul" (for an imperfect description) than what some "ordinary" piece might cost that was quite close in appearance etc. & managed to make a profit on them from people who were not interested in them until they let me put the pieces in their hands.
Charm may be may be the obvious, the look & feel; however, the look & feel may = a sum that is greater than the addition of look & feel.
"Hidden" may imply that it is not necessary to uncover the how & why. Just enjoy the teaware & the tea.
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby theredbaron » Mar 4th, '13, 12:16

AdamMY wrote:The Red Barron, I think we are equally annoyed because we trying to understand it and learn more about it are asking all sorts of questions, but all we get in return are posts calling us naive westerners, who if we can't google it doesn't exist. Not to mention the fact that your posts insult us and just insist you are right without actually attempting to answer our questions.

To give an example of what this is like, it would be like if I helped my student with a problem, but they only took away the steps and none of the reasons. Then they go and try and help their friends, and their friends are asking "Why is this the negative of that?" To which the student I helped just tells them "The teacher said it so it is true" and then ignores all discussion as to why it could possibly true.

That is what this whole discussion is like, you got some information from your teacher, now you are sharing it to the rest of us, but you don't care to even guess at the why's.

I mean I asked some rather interesting questions that you completely ignored.

Is there some hidden charm in the older pieces of teaware that the tea drinker may be appreciating and using those good feelings and transferring them into the tea?

That is possibly the best explanation, as the reason why a lot of us collect nice teaware is because we seem to enjoy tea better in them. Though in the west we tend to phrase it that way, as opposed to saying "it makes the tea better" which up to translation are nearly identical phrases with slightly different implications.


I think that i have stated already at the start that *i do not understand why that is so because to do so one may have to be a physicist which i am not*.
There are many things in this world for which i have no logical explanation, such as what makes a car drive (i am not exactly a mechanic), but other things that i have studied in depth for which i can give you logical explanations for which others can't. Nobody knows everthing.

I started beginning to get annoyed when i was told that i should be aware that may just want to sell me antique tea ware. I was getting more annoyed when a poster graciously assumed that i was ignorant over certain psychological effects (how would he possibly know what i know or don't know about psychology?!), and getting very annoyed when my posts were described as "rude". The original poster thought not so, he found the tangent interesting, and so far the person accusing me of being rude has not yet retracted his accusation. Nice manners.

As to your question - i don't know why you all collect old tea ware. I was taught that there is a reason why particular old tea ware might be better, and others might not be.
In terms of Yixing pots (and i am far from an expert, and many others here on the forum know much more on Yixing ware), i was told that there are several reasons, such as a different way of processing the clay (by hand then vs by machine now), the use of wood fired dragon kilns, and similar - giving quite different results that may be more of importance than what particular kind of clay is used in a pot. I don't know either why that is so, i just know that i find that tea does taste better to me (and not just to me) when made in old yixing pots.
Somewhat similar is the matter of old cups - more care was given in the inner geometry of older cups, giving a better flow and therefore better development of taste in the mouth and sinus cavities. I can only say that my older cups do taste better, than the new cups i have tried. But i have some old cups that are not great, and only showpieces, and others that i use. Again - just more empirical crap.

There were other explanations i have heard regarding physics and atoms, but excuse me - that is a point when my mind begins to switch off, and i honestly don't remember.

And yes, i am right in my statement that a highly respected tea master is teaching that the material of a saucer/place on which a cup is placed influences the taste of tea. I am right that none of my detractors here in this annoying discussion has the knowledge, level of experience or authority to question this tea master without having ever experimented or even heard of this before i made the mistake of posting this.

I have not, as another sarcy commentator had to reply to me when i corrected a blatant falsehood, the "absolute truth" - i simply have tasted the difference when this particular tea master (who does not sell antiques, or is in any way out to rip off gullible westerners) showed it to me on several occasions. I stated from the beginning that i don't know why that is so, and would not be able to repeat that on my own.

Go, find and contact this particular tea master when you are so keen on either questioning him, or when you to find out why that is so, make your lab tests that can explain what may or may not occur on a nuclear level (sorry for the sarcasm). But you may have to live with the disappointment that it was/is enough for *me* to simply see that there was a difference in taste, and that my aspirations in tea are not high enough to exactly know *why* that is so.

I also do not really care about why car is driving, it is enough knowledge for me that it does drive. The same counts for electricity - i am one of the people who are quite comfortable in their faith that electric power happens when you stick a plug into a socket.

There are many things we don't really have a logical explanation why things are as they are. Take food, and food preparation, for example. It is quite well known that food prepared on a old style wood or coal fired stove is better than done on a gas flame, which again is better than electric plates. I am not aware of any logical explanation, but having two of the three aforementioned possibilities at home - we do prefer by far our wood fired stove over gas.

Can anyone give me a logical explanation why coal fired stoves are considered to give better tea water quality over any other flame - a concept that is quite well described all over the place?

To conclude this rant - no i cannot give you a logical explanation for the phenomenon i mentioned and which caused me so much grieve here - yet i was honest enough to state that *I* haven't got one, instead of babbling some complete falsehood here just so i can appear knowing more than actually do.

Get it?
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Re: Tasting techniques and other similar things

Postby yanom » Mar 4th, '13, 12:59

I have a lot of sympathy for Red Baron in this thread: it's interesting to know that some hard-core tea people do what he described. The aspirin thing is like bees: no one can explain how they fly, but they do. Acupuncture 'works', although probably not for the reasons that are traditionally given. There are more things there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio. And I can fully see why he'd be on the defensive.

However as for Lim Ping Xiang, I went to a tasting thing in London, and found one thing absurd: he said: 'do this' with the water, now taste the tea and compare it with the tea that used the other water, this first tea is much better right? Of course, I always let you guys decide.

Or something along those lines. My point is he certainly wasn't letting us decide: if some dude with lots of knowledge tells you to compare two things and says he's sure you'll find thing A is better than thing B, you will find thing A better than thing B, even if they're identical.
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