Do I need quality yixing? and other questions


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Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby ashtangi » Jan 18th, '14, 21:59

Hi all,

I've been drinking tea for a couple years now, coffee-mug infuser-ball style, and I've decided it's time to start stepping up my routine. I recently had a good experience with puerh, and I've been lurking here learning and researching and I think I'm just about ready to order.

I have a few questions though, the main one being, do I need a good quality ($100+) Yixing pot? I've been looking around at different (reputable) online vendors and I've found a couple nice 90's Yixing pots which are about $150 each. Will a quality pot really make a difference? I much prefer a small teapot over a gaiwan, and I don't want to spend money on something cheaper that will eventually go unused if I ever do decide to get a nice yixing. I was considering a small, regular fired/glazed clay teapot, ($50 or so) but I'm actually having a hard time finding those online in a nice shape. It would also be nice to have one single pot for all my tea, but if I go with a yixing I would be limited to either sheng or shu, right? What do you think? I'm not opposed to spending the money, but I could also buy 2 $80 pots instead of 1 $160 pot. What do you think?

Also, if it's not too much to ask, could you give me some suggestions as to what teas I should start out sampling? I enjoy a wide variety of flavors, but I prefer a very strong, stimulating tea. I wouldn't mind a lighter tea if it's a very stimulating one. I've heard that certain puerh's can stimulate bowel movements, and this would be a desirable trait for me. I like dark, heavy and complex tones more than light and refreshing ones. I like a pronounced mouthfeel, so you know it's not just hot water. I drink tea first thing in the morning to help wake and energize my body in preparation for daily yoga, and I'll usually go a few hours after my tea before eating anything. I also like teas that give a stronger "cha qi" effect. These are just my general preferences, I would like to try a wide variety of flavors but I think it would be good to start out from there.

I've put together a list of samples from TeaUrchin, but I pretty much chose a kind of random selection since I don't know anything. Just from online research I'm leaning more towards aged sheng puerh, but I tried to include a sampling of all different types. This is what I have so far-

-Menghai Tian Ming 2006
-Lang He 2006 Golden Buds
-Bulang 2006 spring
-Yiwu 2006 spring
-Bang Wei 2007 spring
-Dayi Bulang 2008
-Yiwu 2009 spring
-Dayi 7572-01 2012
-Shen Gu You Lan ripe 2012

What do you think? I would appreciate any suggestions on tea choices, pot choices, and general guidance for someone new. Sorry for the long winded post, and Thanks!
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby the_economist » Jan 18th, '14, 22:18

I think ~$100 is a good starting point for a solid first yixing pot that will not lose your interest.

TU is a great place to start, but if you like dark and heavy tea, you might want to avoid super-young sheng pu er unless you are buying specifically for aging (for many of us, we drink young sheng pu er to guess whether it would age well in the future, not quite for current consumption, although there are also people who enjoy drinking them immediately).

This is especially if you don't eat before drinking. I strongly suggest you eat before drinking any tea if you can, with the exception of maybe shou pu er.
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby ashtangi » Jan 18th, '14, 22:30

I think I will avoid the really young shengs, I thought I would put one in my sampler just to see how it is, but I guess that won't be necessary.
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby chrl42 » Jan 18th, '14, 22:34

1. you don't need a good Yixing to start

2. 100$ is not a price range for GOOD yixings, but you can buy REAL yixings if you search

my 2 cent.. :D
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby shah82 » Jan 18th, '14, 22:39

Wow, you make things easy for someone to help!

First, I'd say that quality yixings are not mandatory for good experiences. It's also pretty easy to go crazy over various different features. Anyways, the more porous and low fired, the more each session blurs into another. The more hard fired, the less the pot will be able to influence flavors, and some do well for boosting aroma or mouthfeel. I am not a pot expert, however, I've been told that JingTeaShop: http://www.jingteashop.com/cat-jing-tea-shop-teapot.cfm is a reputable vendors with quality teapots that you can trust to be what they are. In general, you should shop for pots in person. I use a kyusu for my shu, and I wouldn't want to put shu in my sheng pot. Some of them are funky, and I generally want heavy, dark flavors to be from my sheng.

Now, as far as tea is concerned. It sounds like you'd like various Bulangs and Mengsongs, etc, and you'd want a bit of moist age for them.

For cheaper drinking, I think tuos like this one from Origin Tea: http://www.origintea.net/pu-erh-tea/2003-xg-tuo or tuos like the one white2tea has: http://www.white2tea.com/tea-shop/2004-jianshen-tuo/ , or lastly, younger tuos like http://www.chawangshop.com/index.php/20 ... -250g.html

Mouthfeel is a bit trickier, as most of the things I can think of with excellent mouthfeel are expensive, like http://www.origintea.net/pu-erh-tea/2007-yqh-qi-zhong and http://www.origintea.net/pu-erh-tea/200 ... shroom-tuo , and if you do go with Tony for some things, I'd strongly recommend that you ask for a quote on the 2007 Wisteria Hong Yin and Lan Yin. If they haven't gone up too much, they shouldn't be too horrifically expensive. Both are dark tasting, with good body, good energy, and good qi. Given your fashion for yoga, this premium tea from white2tea might be in your wheelhouse: http://www.white2tea.com/tea-shop/2005-naka/. I have my own quality Mengsong like this, and having a well aged tea of this type is quite...preferential, let me say.

If the order from Tea Urchin isn't complete...
I've had the Langhe '06 golden buds. It's an okay shu but overpriced. Golden buds are also a very particular taste--they're lighter than most shu, and they are really meant for aging a long while to develop a floral taste.

People have been pretty nonplussed with the 2007 Bangwei. I wouldn't suggest that one as a sample.

I've had the white paper 2006 Yiwu. It's only okay for me, because it's rather wet, and I don't think much of the original material. It's improved by breaking it up and letting it sit, and it will give a decent darkish brew.

Dayi 7572 can be gotten anywheres, and if you're looking for sampling Dayi shu, I'd recommend sampletea.com, where they have a number of them, cheap. I've had the 2008 Dayi Bulang way back in 2010, and I didn't think much of it. I'm not sure it's really worth thinking about at all compared to boutique bulang offerings. I mean, I get good feedback from the Bulang Beauty TeaUrchin has, or that New Amerykah cake at white2tea. Why bother with Dayi when it comes to single area tea?

I can't seem to get on the website right now, but the one tea that I have had reasonable satisfaction from was the 2012 Spring Xikong, made with Gao. That is worth the sampling, as well as its companion Mangzhi.
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby the_economist » Jan 18th, '14, 22:53

+1 on the Qizhong. Very complex pu er. This loose 80s pu will also give you an idea of how aged sheng pu er can taste like (conditional on storage):
http://www.origintea.net/pu-erh-tea/age ... ild-pu-erh

Also, I just realized you've never brewed 'gongfu style' up til now, since you've been mainly using an infuser. I would instead start with a gaiwan in that case, roughly 80-120ml. See this helpful video from Marshal:
http://www.marshaln.com/2009/05/tuesday-may-5-2009/
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby ashtangi » Jan 18th, '14, 23:16

shah82 wrote:Wow, you make things easy for someone to help!


Thanks for that great post! I tried to be as forthcoming as I could with preferences, make things easier. That's certainly a lot of information! Right now my price range would be $80-100 top, in the future I'll certainly go with better quality tea, but for now I would prefer to spend less. The Naka and qi zhong are very intriguing, but just too expensive for me right now. I was also hoping to be able to get all my samples from one website, to save on shipping, but it seems there is no 1-site-sells-all easy way to go.

the_economist wrote:+1 on the Qizhong. Very complex pu er. This loose 80s pu will also give you an idea of how aged sheng pu er can taste like (conditional on storage):
http://www.origintea.net/pu-erh-tea/aged-raw-pu/80's-wild-pu-erh

Also, I just realized you've never brewed 'gongfu style' up til now, since you've been mainly using an infuser. I would instead start with a gaiwan in that case, roughly 80-120ml. See this helpful video from Marshal:
http://www.marshaln.com/2009/05/tuesday-may-5-2009/


I didn't think using a teapot would be much different than a gaiwan, is it harder to brew from the pot? I did forget to mention that I've never done gong fu brewing...
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby the_economist » Jan 18th, '14, 23:28

As Marshal often says (http://www.marshaln.com/2009/04/friday-april-24-2009/), teapots are probably not the most important dimension to care about when venturing into the world of tea. The benefit of the gaiwan is that it is relatively neutral and a single inexpensive gaiwan can be used for all teas that you encounter. Yixing teapots take on flavors and aromas and people generally dedicate them to a class of teas (say aged puer) to avoid 'contamination' of flavors. So it would only make sense to commit if you have a pretty good grasp of what teas you'd drink in the long run.

I have also found that gaining a level of gaiwan technique can help inform subsequent brewing using teapots. I think it is an invaluable step to one's tea journey.
Last edited by the_economist on Jan 18th, '14, 23:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby ashtangi » Jan 18th, '14, 23:44

Hmm, I wasn't really looking at a gaiwan, but if you think it's very important maybe that's the better route to go. I'm having some trouble deciding about the size though, I'm not exactly sure how big or small the 80-120ml size is. It seems to me that 80 ml is only 1 or 2 sips of liquid. I was looking for a 120ml pot, but there are a lot of 80 and 150 sizes out there. Would you recommend a certain size?
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby the_economist » Jan 18th, '14, 23:51

Good teas will keep going for at least 4-5 infusions, often many more (10+). A brewing vessel about 80-120ml would imply drinking about half a litre of tea which is fairly substantial. The experience of a number of people on the forums is that one starts too large, and then longs for smaller brewing vessels.

120ml gaiwans should be easy to find. An alternative is a glass or porcelain pot, or one of those 'easy' gaiwans.

Something like this:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Zhen-Chang-Shun ... 35a4f43444
or
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Bamboo-Handmade ... 33776fbce2
or
http://www.yunnansourcing.us/store/prod ... roduct=132

Something basic and easily replaceable is my advice. Ceramics and pots get chipped or smashed. And then with a trusty basic brewing device, one can focus more on understanding tea.
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby Puerlife » Jan 19th, '14, 10:31

I am still at the one single gaiwan for all pu-erh stage. I have the glass one from YS that is about five bucks and the glass cha hai he sells as well. Since I drink more shu than sheng, a transparent glass gaiwan is a huge help. When the shu turns dark it's ready. That might be one second or several minutes in later infusions. It takes the guesswork out of it.
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby miig » Jan 19th, '14, 11:18

You might also like a porcelain teacup in the form of a zisha pot:

http://www.chawangshop.com/index.php/tea-hardware/jingdezhen-teapots/jingdezhen-teapot-blue-flowers.html

For me, these work really well, you can drink tea in the "gong fu style", shower the pot and all, i like that much better. Also I think the tea turns out differently there. These are not too expensive either and like a Gaiwan they're neutral an can be used for everything.

Also, I'd agree - use an Yixing for one type of tea, rather invest more because you're going to use that thing for a long time. In oder to make that worthwile, try your way through and when you really know which kind of tea you'll be drinking regularly, then it might be a good point of time to buy a nice Yixing pot for it.
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby yalokinh » Jan 19th, '14, 13:21

I'm sure others have given a better reply, I didn't read any other but in my opinion the answer is: No.
I gave up trying to find good yixing. While they are out there, I felt like it was too much of a time and money investment for me.
I started focusing on functional teaware that also didn't cost a whole lot.
I do have 1 yixing but I barely use it because I have better teaware that I use a lot more anyways.
My favorite teaware is the gaiwan, its a very modest piece of ware (just a cup with a lid) that costs very little (or a lot depending on what you get).
Having said that, I do like yixings a lot. Just don't have the expendable income, or time to do that amount of research.
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby debunix » Jan 19th, '14, 14:36

yalokinh wrote:I'm sure others have given a better reply, I didn't read any other but in my opinion the answer is: No.


Ditto.

My favorite teawares for their effects on the tea--not including the lovely glazed pots, shiboridashis, gaiwans, and other vessels that I also enjoy using regularly--include an unglazed Tokoname pot for Taiwanese mountain oolongs; a Petr Novak treebark pot for deep-roasted oolongs; a kyusu by Petr for sencha; and an ultra cheap 'yixing'* for Dan Cong. I've never had the pleasure of doing a head to head comparison between an expert-certified high-quality and well-seasoned Yixing and another brewing vessel, but I've enjoyed a lot of tea.

I've got more tea vessels than I need, but I rotate among them depending on anything from convenience (sometimes I need a larger volume at once for speed, cleanups at work are harder now since I lost access to the kitchenette with a food-only sink) to whim (the pleasure of handling different pieces from time to time).

In other words, need, no. Want is a different thing altogether.

*one so cheap I can't imagine anyone bothered to adulterate the clay with anything dangerous
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Re: Do I need quality yixing? and other questions

Postby chrl42 » Jan 20th, '14, 03:25

Yup, give up. That's the best policy.

Unless you have real good sources coming in, otherwise it's better to spend your bloody money for stuffs with less bubble in, and you wanna study a lot even with a chance of getting a good one just to understand the pot.

It will also test your IQ or the level appreciation of art, unless you have a quite trained eyes doing it, your money will leak big time.

Yixing teapot is considered among the hardest object to understand, even for the Chinese,

There are many none-Yixings with respectful history and elements, like Korean teawares, Japanese antiques, Chinese Jingdezhen etc....it's better to go in there, other than using bubbled mediocre Yixing thinking it's high-quality because someone says so. :)
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