Negative Experience with Yixing

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Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby Noonie » Oct 26th, '13, 06:45

I've had a yixing for about two years. When I first got it I used it for TGY. I can't recall how good the tea was, but I later switched to Rou Gui (after re-seasoning the pot) and had been using it for that tea for a while...probably 200g worth of this wuyi tea in the pot.

I decided to use it again for TGY. I had been having this tea in a gaiwan and was really enjoying it, but thought I can do even better in my I was out of wuyi and wanted a change. I followed one of the many cleaning instructions found on the web (same I used previously), and before last nights session I poured near boiling water on it, ran a brew threw it and then poured the brew over it, and then brewed two cups in it that I drank.

The two problems:

1) both times the pour was nearly stalled because a leaf was blocking the holes in the spout. Never happened with the wuyi and I can't recall it happening before with the TGY/yixing.

2) the tea didn't taste as good as with the gaiwan. I felt it lost some of its clarity and the little bite the tea usually has (I can't describe flavours)...overall it was flat.


P.S. Going to do a side-by-side tonight...
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Re: Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby Ambrose » Oct 26th, '13, 12:27

There are so many variables with yixing pots more so with vintage than modern. With most yixing there tends to be compromise in bringing out certain traits in tea. Maybe the pot you own is not suitable for the tea you enjoy and the way you enjoy it. If you have enjoyed your pot before perhaps you will find joy in it again a different day. It could be just your mood and current preference in that moment. In my opinion there is no need to play side by side trust in your gut feeling and enjoy the tea as you wish it to be.
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Re: Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby tingjunkie » Oct 26th, '13, 16:54

I think pairing Yixings with teas can be quite difficult, and takes lots of experience to do well. Also, when compared to a gaiwan, the vast majority of Yixing pots will take away or round off some degree of the highest flavor notes, hopefully in exchange for enhanced mouthfeel, aroma, and more.

Not sure what type of TGY you are drinking, but for my taste buds, unroasted oolongs like gao shan and green TGY are especially hard to find a proper Yixing for, and they often come out better in a gaiwan. That may be because I drink those particular teas for their flavors, aromas, aftertaste, and energy more than for their mouthfeel. Finding a pot that can preserve the highest flavors and aromas well, and still noticeably improve the mouthfeel is quite a challenge.

While we're on the topic, I think pairing Yixings with tea is often so difficult for us beginners because we focus too much on the categories I mentioned above (flavors, aromas, mouthfeel), and not enough on the overall feeling that is much harder to describe with words (no, I'm not talking about Qi, but something different). For example, I brewed some 20 year old king's tea from Ten Ren twice this past week. The first was in a gaiwan, and the second time was in an 80ml medium-walled, fairly high fired hong ni pot. The pot actually took away a little bit of the aroma and flavor, but in return, perhaps due to the extra radiated heat, it just gave the tea more power and oomph. Even though I can't really describe what "oomph" means with real words, I could certainly feel it and know it was there. For me, the pot was the clear winner with brewing that particular tea, but I may not have felt the same way 3-4 years ago at the beginning of my tea education. Back then I may have been too hung up on the "missing" flavor and aroma and preferred the gaiwan.
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Re: Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby Noonie » Oct 27th, '13, 06:31

Great thoughts from both of you...thanks.

My thinking in changing the tea for my yixing was that I was really enjoying TGY, so I might as well enhance the experience by using a yixing. I guess the tea was fine brewed in a gaiwan, but I tried the yixing and it didn't improve on what I was enjoying, so back to the gaiwan. I will again use the yixing for wuyi, even though I only have it once or twice a week (for now).

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Re: Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby steanze » Oct 28th, '13, 12:01

As Tingjunkie and Ambrose mentioned, there are a lot of variables involved, and pairing an Yixing pot with tea is difficult.
This is a shot in the dark, but my guess would be that a likely reason why your Yixing pot might not be doing well with TGY is that it is made of a type of clay which is too porous for that type of tea (for instance zini, dicaoqing, or duanni). In my experience, I only found pots made of zhuni or hongni (the orange/red ones) to work well with TGY, because the high density of those types of clay allows them to preserve the aroma of the tea and to prevent it from tasting flat.
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Re: Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby chrl42 » Nov 1st, '13, 01:02

According to Baidu ... hZxX7krGEI

It recommends TGY to use Gaiwan or porcelain, filtered water as possible. Baidu Baike (wiki) is the hugest sources in China but pretty organized to read for beginners. TGY is better in thin-walled Zhuni or high-fired Duanni/Lvni and nightmare with DCQ..IMHO :)
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Re: Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby steanze » Nov 1st, '13, 16:03

Thanks Charlie for mentioning that duanni could be good for TGY. I did not know that. I always heard that duanni is too porous, but probably it is because I mostly heard about duanni that is so-so quality and not high fired :)
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Re: Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby wyardley » Nov 1st, '13, 18:48

I wouldn't say your experience sounds negative, exactly.

Some teas will work better one way than another, and personal preference has a lot to do with it too. I've got a lot of teapots, but I do find that there are a lot of teas (especially more delicate oolongs, or teas where I'm looking for a lot of fragrance) where I prefer making it in thin glazed porcelain. Sometimes that's just about not pushing a tea that's just Ok too hard, and sure, it could also be because I haven't found the right pot for a particular tea yet.

Keep experimenting, and keep an open mind.
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Re: Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby bagua7 » Nov 1st, '13, 22:27

Noonie wrote:I've had a yixing for about two years.

One Chinese man I know of in real life has got nearly a thousand pots. He always tells me, this pot is my favourite for Taiwan tea, this other for dancong, and I use this one for TGY. As you can see pairing Yixings with teas is a nightmare, they pick the teas and not yourself. A very tricky business.

Good luck.
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Re: Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby Noonie » Nov 2nd, '13, 21:26

Given the positive experience I've had in pairing this pot with Rou Gui from a local retailer, I think I'll get more so this tea and let the pot enjoy what seems to be a good mate.

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Re: Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby betta » Nov 9th, '13, 11:34

Teapot does absorps components in tea. This term "absorption" has been exaggerated by yixing vendors or people who earn benefit from selling this effect. The absorption effect is evident when you buy a brand new pot.
Upon longer time of use, there're some tea components absorp and adsorp in the clay irreversibly. Thus this absorption effect is no longer traceable unless you "regenerate" the pot "chemically".
This absorption and adsorption process are the same in lab or industrial process.

I personally observed, that the main benefit of yixing teapot or any other pots compare to gaiwan is the additional degree of freedom to influence the temperature of the brewed tea in the pot by pouring warmer or colder liquid on its surface. This could be a benefit or disadvantage dependent on your skill. Plus an additional "fun" or "fear" upon preparing tea because of teapot. The main negative aspect is the pouring time.

For gaiwan the main degrees of freedom are full control of steeping time, low temperature drop (it doesn't absorp anything). Unlike with teapot, here you don't have to heat up / vaporise also the water absorps in the clay pore and clay surface.

This gives me a much better brewing result with all tea.
Tea and water are decisive, but the relation of steeping time, temperature and amount of tea/water used is more important to me.

Basically it takes several tea sessions for me to optimize these parameters and the more experience you have, the less session you need.

Now the most important question is, what is the main objective of using a pot for preparing tea? Is it pot for tea or tea for pot?
Personally it took a lot of tuition fee for me to find the answer to this question until one day a seasoned tea drinker showed me how he got the best out of different teas just merely using his ordinary gaiwan.
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Re: Negative Experience with Yixing

Postby ethan » Nov 9th, '13, 12:13

I thank you for that post. I cannot afford 1,000 pots, nor 100, nor 10. I believe that you have said there is no need to own more than one gaiwan to prepare teas well.
I would not suggest that anyone abandon any pot/tea combinations that give them tea as they like, nor suggest abandonment of a hobby of collecting beautiful ceramic work.
I do take from betta's post a reminder, that what we do is most important for drinking delicious tea; not how much teaware we have to do it with.
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