Had a beautiful session with the 2013 Winter Da Yu Ling 95K from Origin Tea this morning with my fiancée. After several steepings of wonderful buttery broth in a gaiwan and two singing cups, Jenni needed to head out.
I decided to finish up the leaves grandpa style on my own. So I grabbed my tenmoku chawan from Michel François that I purchased at Postcard Teas two years ago, popped the leaves from the gaiwan in there after heating it. I got two really nice bowls out of the leaves with a slight astringency towards the end of the last bowl. All in all I found this a very enjoyable experience (thanks mcrdotcom for the idea) since the different brewing methods drew out different aspects of the tea.
Warming the kettle again now to see what more I can get out of these precious leaves.
There is an added dimension to enjoying the tea like this and I find it was a great way to finish up the tea. There are probably a few lines I'm crossing here with using a chawan as well as brewing a bunch of DYL grandpa style, but I do find that the way this was done was respectful in both regards.
Does anyone know if the tenmoku bowl, which has its roots in China rather than Japan, was used for other teas than powdered tea like macha? I believe I read in 'The Book of Tea' that powdered tea came from China and was the dominating type of tea at the time of arriving in Japan, but I could be remembering wrongly. Has chawan-sized bowls only really been used with powdered tea?
Anyway, here is a picture of the brew.
And a bit of sexy drippiness.
Oh the joy tea brings!
Yes, tianmu bowls were historically used for powdered tea and powdered tea was the dominant method of serving tea in the Tang, etc. but....while practicing tea in the teahouse in Taiwan with my teacher, we students often brewed loose-leaf teas in bowls. Qiu Shan Tang/秋山堂 (the teahouse) has a nice selection of exquisite tianmu bowls for sale and use. We practiced different settings and pots (teapot, kyusu, gaiwan) but the hardest style to prepare and serve to others
was bowl style. The setting was the same as the other tea settings, multiple cups (scent cup, drinking cup), etc. except with a bowl and ceramic spoon used as the brewing vessel. Serving tea brewed from a bowl to guests is really tricky since the tea can not be poured from the bowl and the heat loss from a bowl is faster. The bowl does not contain the leaves like a pot would, meaning that the leaves often expand quicker/at different rates. Though a proper thickness bowl contains heat better. If the tea leaves are not rolled, as in a gao shan wulong tea, and are more similar to a baozhong or Wuyi wulong, then their essence spreads quickly (sometimes too quickly) into the brew within the bowl; this made serving some aged or red (more potent) teas much more tricky. We placed the proper amount of leaf in the bowl and then carefully used a beautiful ceramic spoon to serve the tea from the bowl to the guests' scent cups. It takes time and patience and proper timing but is a very elegant, meditative way to serve tea to guests in a formal gong fu/cha yi setting and almost always has a calming, enriching effect upon guests served in this manner.
In some Taiwan teahouses wulong tea is often served this way: a brewing bowl/chawan packed with leaves, a ceramic spoon, and a second drinking cup or bowl to fill for one's self if one so chooses. There was a teahouse in the mountains not far from my town that I'd ride up to visit. It was on a large overlook above a Cherry tree setting alongside a creek, visited a lot during the blossom season. Their specialty was serving Taiwan gao shan tea "bowl style" in large chawans.
For myself, I often put some leaves in a smaller shino tea bowl that my wife made and sip Taiwan wulong tea from the bowl. This is also a way that my chawans get to see more use, since I seldom brew matcha. As you wrote, there is an added dimension and simplicity to enjoying tea this way. For the Taiwanese, this method is definitely not a faux pas but I don't how the Japanese feel about it.