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Greetings!

Postby Inspired by Tea » Jan 23rd, '08, 13:04

Hello, another newbie here.

I had been drinking Yogi green tea bags for several years never thinking much of it until my recent trip to Portland OR where I visited the Tao of Tea teahouse with some friends and WOW! I don't think I'll ever be the same!

I had the Frozen Summit Oolong and it was the most wonderful thing i'd ever tasted in my life. I also used Gaiwan cups for brewing which were so beautiful and I loved being able to see the tea floating. So now that I have been converted I need a little more knowledge about loose leaf teas and gong fu/ yixing methods as I simply can't bring myself to microwave another teabag ever again!

I purchased some China Gunpowder Green Tea from my supermarket and added about two teaspoons in my Beehouse teapot/infuser. After two minutes I poured a cup which tasted nice (nowhere near as nice as my frozen summit though) and it had a yellowish color. It appeared that the water level had gone down below the infuser so I left the leaves in the teapot. My next cup was very bitter however!

I would like to purchase a yixing tea pot, two I guess, as I like green and now I think I really like Oolong too. I know that you are supposed to only use one tyoe of tea in each pot but does that mean you can put any oolong in one pot, or only one particular kind of oolong?

Also for warming your water, does anyone use the stovetop, or is everyone using an electric kettle? I've seen pictures of little candle bowls that kettles sit on top of to keep warm, does anyone use one of those? Where can I find one?

Ok last question, I have heard round yixing pots are good for rolled oolong, would the classic style work then? Or would the rounder dragon style be better? And what shape would work well for my green tea?

Thank you all! It was a wonderful surprise to find a thriving tea community here!

-Alisha
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Re: Greetings!

Postby scruffmcgruff » Jan 23rd, '08, 13:42

Inspired by Tea wrote:So now that I have been converted I need a little more knowledge about loose leaf teas and gong fu/ yixing methods as I simply can't bring myself to microwave another teabag ever again!


Welcome to Teachat! I'm glad to hear that you are interested in loose leaf! :)

Inspired by Tea wrote:I purchased some China Gunpowder Green Tea from my supermarket and added about two teaspoons in my Beehouse teapot/infuser. After two minutes I poured a cup which tasted nice (nowhere near as nice as my frozen summit though) and it had a yellowish color. It appeared that the water level had gone down below the infuser so I left the leaves in the teapot. My next cup was very bitter however!


Was this just one infusion, or two? If just one, I'm guessing the leaves were still in the water and infusing; if two, I guess you just over-brewed the second cup. How hot was the water you used, and how long did you wait before the second cup?

Inspired by Tea wrote:I would like to purchase a yixing tea pot, two I guess, as I like green and now I think I really like Oolong too.


I think your interest in tea is a great thing, but I would suggest you wait before you get your first Yixing pot. They can be expensive, and people new to tea (no offense intended) are often misled into thinking a teapot is going to be great because it is made from Yixing clay, which is simply untrue.

I think a gaiwan will serve you *much* better for now (especially when it comes to green teas), and after you learn some more about tea and teaware, you might think of trying out Yixing. And, honestly, the difference is not that great– a regular teapot or gaiwan will brew most things almost as well as a Yixing pot. Also, talk to the people in the chat room, some of them know a lot about this stuff and are more than willing to help!

Inspired by Tea wrote:I know that you are supposed to only use one tyoe of tea in each pot but does that mean you can put any oolong in one pot, or only one particular kind of oolong?


This depends on a number of factors. Some teas (such as puerh) leave behind a strong aroma and flavor, so it is generally wise to have at least one Yixing for puerh– I say "at least one" because there are many types of puerh, which you can learn about elsewhere on the forum.

As for oolong, it's really a matter of personal taste. I personally have one pot for Wuyi oolongs, one for medium to high roast oolongs, and one for unroasted oolongs. Many are even more discriminating, with several pots dedicated to individual types of the teas mentioned above, but it's really not necessary. Don't forget what I suggested earlier about Yixing though!

Inspired by Tea wrote:Also for warming your water, does anyone use the stovetop, or is everyone using an electric kettle? I've seen pictures of little candle bowls that kettles sit on top of to keep warm, does anyone use one of those? Where can I find one?


Most use electric kettles for convenience and speed, but some use the stovetop. The most hardcore among us use alcohol or charcoal burners, but those are pretty rare. If you use an electric kettle there's not much use for the candle-warmers, but if you're interested I think Adagio has them.

Inspired by Tea wrote:Ok last question, I have heard round yixing pots are good for rolled oolong, would the classic style work then? Or would the rounder dragon style be better? And what shape would work well for my green tea?


You are really interested in Yixing, aren't you? :) This is why I said to wait a bit– you are getting into some complex issues which really only affect gong fu brewing. Yes, many say rounder yixing pots are better for rolled oolongs, as gong fu brewing often results in the entire teapot filling with leaves as they unfurl, and a rounder shape accommodates unfurling rolled leaves better. That said, it's not really a huge deal. There are other properties of yixing pots that are more important-- size, thickness of clay, pouring speed, type of clay, etc.

As for green teas, while it is technically possible to brew them in yixing, most recommend against it. I'm not exactly sure what the argument is, but I believe most thing yixing is too harsh, as far as heat goes, on delicate green teas. Yixing is good at extracting all the flavor possible from more robust teas like oolongs and puerhs, but gaiwans are much better for greens.

We're glad to have you– keep asking questions! :)
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Postby Mary R » Jan 23rd, '08, 13:50

Wow...everything Scruff says is the truth. He rules.

I'd just like to add my two cents on candlewarmers. They definitely do NOT generate enough heat to brew a pot of tea, but they will keep a larger pot nicely toasty, which can be great if you're serving English style to a lot of friends and don't particularly want to always be running off to make more tea.

They are far from a necessary tool, though, ESPECIALLY if you have a smaller (10 oz or under) pot for personal use. I bought one of these candlewarmers from Teavana when I first started drinking teas. It was $40. I have used it exactly twice.

Your money will be much better spent on an electric kettle. It's insane how much faster you'll get boiling water with one of those.
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Postby Inspired by Tea » Jan 23rd, '08, 14:21

Ok, maybe you are right! After coming home and doing a little reading and research everything seemed to point to the yixing pots. I feel waiting would be a wise decision after hearing your advice, and also so that I can develop my tastes enough to know what types of tea to dedicate to yixing pots. I have so much tasting ahead of me!

Also, as I said earlier, I really enjoyed using the gaiwans. I have searched the web to find the same setup that I used at the Tao of Tea. They brought out the gaiwan and cup on a little tray side by side for each person. Here's a picture, please ignore the fact that I am pouring incorrectly! I loved the little tray! I don't see many gaiwan sets for sale, it seems they are just for individual sale.

http://picasaweb.google.com/LishKersch/PortlandOR2008/photo#5158735926728639298


Mary, thank you for your advice! And if I will be holding off on the yixing then the candle warmer would certainly be unecessary as well. I do like the idea of an electric kettle, do you have any suggestions for a particular model? Thank you both for your help and advice it is very much appreciated!

-Alisha
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Postby Mary R » Jan 23rd, '08, 14:47

I love that little blue tray too! It looks very, very similar to one that Target carried recently. Perhaps they still do. I know they had a red version...I almost bought it yesterday!

You said that if you're holding off on the yixing, then you wouldn't need a candle warmer either. I've actually never seen a person use a yixing (or other unglazed pot) with a candle warmer. I have a cast iron pot I use on mine, and others use glass pots. What you might not realize is that tealights do produce a lot of smoke. I had to scrub the bottom of my tetsubin last time I used the warmer...and I mean scrub! Yixing pots usually have no glaze to them, which means the smoke particles would lodge into they clay and become incredibly difficult--if not impossible to remove. It probably wouldn't affect the taste of the tea, at least for a nice long while, but it would be rather unsightly.

As far as electric kettles go, I adore my Adagio Utilitea. I got mine as a gift, but I love it so much that if it ever breaks down, I'll gladly give Adagio $50 for a new one. Once I got the variable temperature figured out (everything in the green range is certainly NOT 180ºF), I realized how much it simplified my every day drinking...I didn't have to hover over a pot anymore to catch the right temp. Hallelujah.

Before the Utilitea, I used a $15 Proctor Silex hotpot I picked up at (shudder) Wal-mart. It's not a piece of art, but it gets the job done well.
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Postby Inspired by Tea » Jan 23rd, '08, 14:58

Thank you for your suggestions, I will definitly look into the Utilitea!

As far as the candlewarmer, I got the idea by watching this Youtube video yesterday where they go through the process of making Chinese Oolong Tea and he warms the kettle on a candlewarmer and pours hot water over the yixing teapot throughout. It looks like a lovely little ceremony..

Here's the link if your interested, the video has been split into two parts.

part 1

part 2

Now.. off to research the UtiliTea! (and target!) Thanks again :D

-Alisha
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Postby Mary R » Jan 23rd, '08, 15:33

Ah, I see. He starts out with hot water in the water pot, then keeps it at a good oolong temp with the candle. That would actually work...and work well!

I did notice that his candle warmer is a good bit taller than most I've seen in the US, which would help with the candle smoke. I think my tealights smoke more in the Teavana warmer because it is so low...it probably interferes with the physical chemistry of combustion or something. :D
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Postby skywarrior » Jan 23rd, '08, 17:47

Welcome aboard!

Scruff is pretty knowledgeable and his answers are spot on, so he's got some good thoughts.

I don't use my yixing pot or a gaiwan. I use a tetsubin. :twisted:

I also use a Utilitea kettle. Love it. Won't ever go back to the stove way unless it breaks and I can't get another one (or I'm not at home).
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Postby Chip » Jan 24th, '08, 01:57

Hey Alisha, welcome to TeaChat.

Scruff truly flexed his TeaMuscles.

Stick around Alisha and have many cups of tea with us!!! It will be our pleasure.

Next to tea, the electric kettle is the next most important thing in my kitchen. The utiliTEA is great.
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Tao of tea??

Postby KG » Jan 24th, '08, 11:00

I spent a lot of time in Portland growing up, but being a native to the area and it's proximity to Seattle, I was a coffee freak for years. I remember driving past Tao and thinking, "Does anyone still drink that stuff?". Well, here I am a couple years later, I can't drink coffee anymore, and not just because I have been liberated. I still wish that I had tried that place, always heard great stuff, but never went. I might head back that way, thanks for the recommendation.

Tea is always best when shared.
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Postby Inspired by Tea » Jan 24th, '08, 13:11

Thank you all for the warm welcome and advice, I look forward to learning more and getting to know you all on my wonderful tea adventure!

The Tao of Tea really was a beautiful place. It has such lovely interior design, with all sustainable products, a waterfall, wonderful presentation and the food was to die for.

I had green tea tofu with fresh ginger on top along with edamame and it was the best tofu I've ever had in my life!
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Postby hop_goblin » Jan 24th, '08, 15:06

Welcome aboard
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