question about one tea type per one Yixing teapot


Discussion on virtually any teaware related item.

Postby britt » Jul 5th, '08, 22:08

random person wrote:-- but I've just purchased two Yixing pots from Jing's Tea Shop -- one of them is zi ni, which I will use for Wu Yi tea exclusively, but the other one -- they claim -- is actually Zhu Ni! They also said that the "Huang Zhu Ni" pot would be best for low-oxidized teas, by which I assume they mean high mountain oolongs.

My problem is that so far I haven't met a high mountain oolong that I like. To me, they are too bland and vegetal and lack the sweetness that I look for in a classic oolong. So I may end up dedicating the Zhu Ni to something more classically oxidized, like Formosa Fancy Silvertips at 50% oxidation.


I just recieved my 4th Jing Tea Shop order and my 2nd JTS Yixing, and I am very happy with everything. I am especially pleased at how well their recommended tea pairing works with the particular pots I purchased.

I know which two pots you purchased from Jing. The one you decided to use for Wuyi is IMO a very good choice for that tea.

The second, which they recommended for lightly oxidized oolongs, is probably best kept for that purpose. Clay isn't the only issue with tea/Yixing matching; capacity, lid size, shape, thickness, weight, whether the pot has feet, etc. all factor into the equation. These mostly affect heat retention, with high retention typically better for heavily oxidized teas and quick heat release preferred for lightly oxidized teas such as Taiwanese high mountain oolong.

Jing probably made their recommendation based on all of these criteria. It wasn't until I purchased my 12th Yixing that I finally had one that was suitable for high mountain oolong. When brewed in the more suitable Yixing, the taste difference was like night and day compared to the others. The heavy background taste was replaced with a very light, clear, and refreshing taste I had only witnessed before when brewing in an extremely thin and light gaiwan.

random person wrote:-- Can I find happiness with a ZhuNi if used for more traditionally roasted oolongs? Maybe even for Oriental Beauty?!


You can certainly try, but for the reasons above I don't think this match will be optimum. However, I've found the darker oolongs to be more forgiving of an incorrect choice of pot. The wrong pot often results in a lighter taste which is tolerable, but not ideal. The high mountains aren't anywhere near as forgiving. The wrong choice of pot gives a heavy, clouded, and unpleasant taste. The problem may not be obvious unless you compare it to the same tea brewed in a proper Yixing or a thin, light gaiwan. Without the comparison, it may be written off as just another mediocre, over-priced tea.

random person wrote:-- I sent this question to Jings too but they haven't replied. Go figure!


I had the same problem. There may be two reasons for this:

1. I believe both Jing and Sebastien are travelling in Europe for at least the first two weeks of July.

2. Jing Tea Shop seems to have a problem with certain e-mail addresses either never making it through or being placed in the junk mail folder. I tried re-sending from a different e-mail address and promptly received an apologetic, friendly, and complete response.
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Postby Salsero » Jul 5th, '08, 22:55

random person wrote:My bad -- I realize now that these two things are frequently confused but they are not the same thing, as fermentation refers to the introduction of bacteria and not just oxygen, am I right? Or are they frequently -- if incorrectly -- used interchangeably?
Your second guess is right. While your definition of fermentation is correct, common parlance is the culprit here. They just meant oxidized, though some teas actually do ferment, like puerh. In those case, however, people don't actually use the term fermentation.
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Postby chrl42 » Jul 5th, '08, 23:10

random person wrote:Thanks for responding, chrl42. You seem to be a true expert on the subject!

The way I read things, it seems as though zhu ni's relative lack of porosity might make it particularly well suited to the "subtleties" (blandness, I tell you!) of high mountain oolongs, but that said, that does not mean that zhu ni would be inappropriate for more oxidized teas, just that it might work particularly well for finicky highmountain oolongs. Is this correct?


random person, Zhuni is idle for any type of teas in my opinion.

I've heard, high quality teas, light-oxidized Oolongs are best with Zhuni type. Because Zhuni is more likely to earn a tea more honest taste.

Whereas, low quality teas, cooked puerh are best with more porous type. Because it will get rid of foul taste and make it much milder, some don't like porous clay such as Qin Shui ni or Duan ni cos they say it eats aroma away. But it has to do more with personal opinion I think.

For me, I don't even want cooked puerh to be brewed in porous type cos aroma is very high point to me no matter which teas I'm brewing.

Peace.
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Postby britt » Jul 5th, '08, 23:22

random person wrote:britt, thank you for your kind and thoughtful reply.


You're welcome!

random person wrote:I actually think I have made a fundamental error here -- the Jings website said my second pot (zhu ni) was best for "lightly fermented" teas. they did not say "lightly oxidized" teas.

My bad -- I realize now that these two things are frequently confused but they are not the same thing, as fermentation refers to the introduction of bacteria and not just oxygen, am I right? Or are they frequently -- if incorrectly -- used interchangeably?.


I consider them to be the same, but I can't say for certain that this won't be argued by others. I believe that tea is fermented by exposing it to oxygen.

Hou De Asian's descriptions break it down into fermentation and roasting, assigning a % value to each of these.

random person wrote:In any case I can't wait to get the pots!!!! Aren't they beautiful? Somehow they both SPOKE to me, if you know what I mean. .


Then I'm glad I didn't purchase the Zhu Ni pot, otherwise you'd only have one on the way! I did consider it, but I ended up picking one up at Hou De Asian instead, and it worked out very well for high mountain oolong. Both of your pots are very nice and I actually considered buying both, although I think the zi ni was a bit larger than I wanted. If you stick to the recommendations of JTS, I think you will be very happy with these two Yixings. If you really don't like the high mountain teas, you may consider the greener Taiwanese oolongs from lower elevation tea plantations. These typically aren't as light as similar teas from higher elevations, yet they should still be suitable to your Zhu Ni pot.

random person wrote:As for the high mountain oolongs, I've recently been trying Alishan from Seven Cups and apart from my lightheadedness due to the price tag I just can't see what all the fuss is about. Too expensive, too bland. In a nice Gaiwan. I suspect no pot will give me the palate required for this tea! Any brewing suggestions would be most welcome..


Teas that bear the same name can vary in quality when purchased from different vendors, and they can actually be sourced from different tea farms. There are often many grades and sources for each, and how the vendor handles, stores, and ships them can also make a difference. The high mountains are very light, so maybe this will never suit your taste. I've purchased the high mountains from three sources; one was very good, one is consistently excellent, and one was garbage that I threw away. None of these were cheap, yet the quality between different versions of high mountains, as well as the same tea from different vendors, varied tremendously.

Hou De Asian was the vendor that I rated as consistently excellent. I now purchase ALL of my Chinese and Taiwanese teas from them. It is high quality and I feel very safe drinking it. Guang is very careful when he selects his teas to sell.
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Jul 5th, '08, 23:47

britt wrote:I consider them to be the same, but I can't say for certain that this won't be argued by others. I believe that tea is fermented by exposing it to oxygen.


Well, it's not really a matter of belief, they are scientific terms. Fermentation is anaerobic metabolism, a carefully choreographed series of reactions carried out by microorganisms; oxidation is a much less specific type of reaction that organic materials tend to undergo in the presence of oxygen.

An example of fermentation is alcohol production by yeast in beer (though not all fermentation produces alcohol). An example of oxidation, on the other hand, would be the browning of an avocado when you leave it sitting out for a few minutes (before any microorganisms start digesting it). Very different!
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Postby betta » Jul 6th, '08, 03:24

britt wrote:Hou De Asian was the vendor that I rated as consistently excellent. I now purchase ALL of my Chinese and Taiwanese teas from them. It is high quality and I feel very safe drinking it. Guang is very careful when he selects his teas to sell.


Britt, probably you'll need to have a look at one other store on the net TeahomeUS.
I've purchased teas from couple of vendors (those people here used to buy from), but this one gives me high quality teas at a more reasonable price. I've bought the guei fei tea and compare with other vendors and it's excellent. While other vendors focused mainly on the aroma leaving less body of the brew, this guy balances the aroma and also taste of the tea at a reasonable price. Their prize winning high mountain oolong is also really excellent.
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Postby britt » Jul 6th, '08, 18:49

random person wrote:The Seven Cups Alishan Gao Shan, at $34 for 50 grams, should have more going for it! I enjoyed the high mountain from In Pursuit of Tea at half the price much more! It's like fine wine -- I don't mind spending the money if the quality is there. but I DO want to get my money's worth!


Since I haven't tried either it's hard to say for sure, but it could be that the Seven Cups tea is better but lighter than the cheaper one from In Pursuit of Tea. It's not unusual for the higher priced teas to be so light they're labeled as bland by many. I've had lower elevation high mountains whose flavor is more pronounced than the much more expensive ones from higher elevations.

A good example of the wine comparison is that I don't like expensive wine as much as I like the cheaper stuff. If I drank it more often, that would probably change over time.

It could also be that you just got better tea or a better deal at In Pursuit of Tea.


random person wrote:Thanks for not buying my pots! ;-)


But I should thank you! You saved me quite a bit of cash, which I just spent on a couple of yunomi's. I needed yunomi's more than Yixings, so this worked out well! Actually, I don't really need any more teaware of any kind, but there is always an excuse if we look hard enough!
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Postby britt » Jul 6th, '08, 19:07

scruffmcgruff wrote:
britt wrote:I consider them to be the same, but I can't say for certain that this won't be argued by others. I believe that tea is fermented by exposing it to oxygen.


Well, it's not really a matter of belief, they are scientific terms. Fermentation is anaerobic metabolism, a carefully choreographed series of reactions carried out by microorganisms; oxidation is a much less specific type of reaction that organic materials tend to undergo in the presence of oxygen.

An example of fermentation is alcohol production by yeast in beer (though not all fermentation produces alcohol). An example of oxidation, on the other hand, would be the browning of an avocado when you leave it sitting out for a few minutes (before any microorganisms start digesting it). Very different!


Thanks for the explanation. Beer is always a good example that grabs our attention!

I never really cared about or paid much attention to the technicalities because whether a vendor calls it fermentation or oxidation, I get a good idea from the description what kind of tea I'm purchasing. However, since this subject seems to cause a lot of confusion, I decided to check it out for myself.

I went to three sites; Hou De Asian's blog, Tea from Taiwan, and Oolong-Tea.org. All three agree with what you stated, that although the terms fermentation and oxidation are often interchanged, they shouldn't be. The correct term to apply to oolong tea is oxidation, not fermentation.

To start the oxidation process, the fresh leaves are first roughed up or brusied by an action such as shaking them in a bamboo basket. This causes the tea leaves to secrete enzymes which helps achieve a uniform oxidation when they are exposed to air. The leaves are then exposed to air until the desired level of oxidation is reached. At that point the oxidized tea leaves are put through some form of drying process to prevent the oxidation from continuing and exceeding the desired level.
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Postby britt » Jul 6th, '08, 19:19

betta wrote:Britt, probably you'll need to have a look at one other store on the net TeahomeUS.
I've purchased teas from couple of vendors (those people here used to buy from), but this one gives me high quality teas at a more reasonable price. I've bought the guei fei tea and compare with other vendors and it's excellent. While other vendors focused mainly on the aroma leaving less body of the brew, this guy balances the aroma and also taste of the tea at a reasonable price. Their prize winning high mountain oolong is also really excellent.


Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. I think from your other posts that high mountain oolong is your preferred tea. For non-Japanese tea, it is also my first choice. I appreciate the info.

Now if I can just find a compressed Zhu Ni Yixing with extremely thin walls (Bao Ti?)!
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Postby Salsero » Jul 6th, '08, 20:17

britt wrote:Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

Wikicha also has a nice summary about oxidation and roasting.
http://wikicha.com/index.php/Oolong_Tea#Oxidation

Also, oxidation tends to make the brew more tinted with red, roasting tints it more brown. I personally have a lot of trouble understanding which flavors come from which process: oxidation or roasting. I also do not understand what level of heat is applied to make an oolong no longer a green oolong, but a slightly roasted oolong, since heat is always applied to stop the oxidation process. When is heat just kill green and when is it roasting?

britt wrote:I think from your other posts that high mountain oolong is your preferred tea.

I was just conversing with Geekgirl about gao shan issues. Some people seem to thrive on their floral characteristics, and a few people dislike the floral. Needless to say, Victoria, a perfume bloggeur, loves gao shan and seems to have difficulty with things that are more earthy or vegetal. I wonder to what extent we are physiologically disposed to prefer one tea over another?
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Postby britt » Jul 6th, '08, 20:53

Salsero wrote:Wikicha also has a nice summary about oxidation and roasting.
http://wikicha.com/index.php/Oolong_Tea#Oxidation


Thanks, I just checked it out.

Salsero wrote:I also do not understand what level of heat is applied to make an oolong no longer a green oolong, but a slightly roasted oolong, since heat is always applied to stop the oxidation process. When is heat just kill green and when is it roasting?


That's the remaining question which I still can't answer. Hou De's blog mentions that some form of heat is used to stop the oxidation, but he definitely labels many of the greener Taiwanese oolongs as 0% roasted. Wikicha agrees that roasting is not necessary. Neither explains the type of heat that is used to stop oxidation.

Salsero wrote:I was just conversing with Geekgirl about gao shan issues. Some people seem to thrive on their floral characteristics, and a few people dislike the floral. Needless to say, Victoria, a perfume bloggeur, loves gao shan and seems to have difficulty with things that are more earthy or vegetal. I wonder to what extent we are physiologically disposed to prefer one tea over another?


I think the aroma can add to the overall perception, but I can take it or leave it as I prioritize the taste over everything else. If the taste is good, then a good aroma certainly increases the enjoyment but then so does color and the selection of teaware.

I hold gao shan in almost as high regard as I do sencha. The two look different, taste different, and the aroma is very different, but these are the two teas I drink the most. Where many oolongs, especially the darker ones, sometimes make me feel thirsty, I find gao shan and sencha to consistently quench my thirst.
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