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Feb 12th, '17, 22:43
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Joined: Feb 28th, '16, 10:46

Pot and Cup testing with a Winter Oolong

by CheekyChipmunk » Feb 12th, '17, 22:43

Hi Chatters,

I recently found a tea-lover's paradise around the corner from me. Here I was bemoaning that there was no quality tea-store in my corner of the globe (Western Australia) and while stuck in traffic not 5 minutes from my house I happened to look across the road and see a gallery of beautiful tea wares displayed in equally tasteful furniture. I immediately parked my car and rang the doorbell (it is a tea gallery, not a store!), and a delightful lady welcomed me into her gallery to try tea and let me browse through her private collection of tea wares which the gallery contains.

I felt that I had restrained myself well, as I only left the store with 2 pots and a gaiwan! She said that her wares are all from her long-time collection which she has slowly moved over from Malaysia and that most of her collection is vintage (sounds too good to be true i know). One of the pots I purchased was very reasonably priced if it is as advertised (70's-vintage shui ping) and I have been keen to try it out. The attached photo is of the first round of tests. The red pot on the left is Chaozhou (as far as I can gather anyway, you guys suggested as much when I mistakenly posted it in the Yixing thread http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... start=2760). I am also trying out a aroma cup purchased from Verdant Tea recently.

The tea being used in testing is the last of a free sample of a winter oolong from Taiwan Sourcing, quite subtle but pleasantly fruity and sweet. First of all I am impressed with the results of the aroma cup, it really does intensify the aroma and accentuates the clarity of the fruits and aromatics. Taste wise, it performs similarly to the control cup (which is the gaiwan as the brew vessel). The tea soup of the gaiwan was poured into the respective pots for testing after being brewed in the gaiwan. The results I experienced are intriguing.

Firstly, I have never really tested the Chaozhou pot in a similar way, but I had suspicions as to its effects. These suspicions were that it somewhat mutes the tea and brings the taste quite low in the mouth (I don't know how else to describe it). These suspicions were confirmed after tasting it against both the control cup and the shui ping cup. Im starting to think that this pot is not well suited for greener oolongs but perhaps more oxidised/roasted leaves may work better with this pot.

I am conscious of potential bias in this test as it was not done blind, but I want to believe that I genuinely experienced a noticeable difference with the shui ping. First of all I will regale you with the circumstances of its purchase. I had deliberated over my main purchase, an interesting flat bodied pot I hope will be well suited for dan congs with a clay I have so far been unable to identify (its a red clay with sesame flecks). As the shop owner was processing this purchase, I looked over my shoulder and saw a previously unnoticed small straw basket with 5 identical shui pings marked on sale as vintage pieces. The price for what was advertised was much lower than you would find online (given that we are talking what I think might be 70-s era clay for sub $50 USD). In fact you would have a hard time even finding any since they are a volume of around 100mls. I examined them all and took what I deemed the pick of the bunch (they were all quite similar, but it appeared that this one had the most mica on the inside of the pot). I was hopeful yet somewhat skeptical as to their provenance as they contained ball-filters (apparently these first appeared in the 70's but it seems to depend on who you talk to). After preparing the pot (boiling it for an hour or so), was somewhat disheartened as a lot of what I thought were mica flecks appeared to be some sort of spray-on effect which the boiling process had little difficulty in removing. However, after the pot was dry, the clay inside still looked somewhat rich in these mica flecks. The thing that first attracted me to them was actually the look of the clay on the exterior. It appears to be extremely fine in its particle size and the firing of the clay looks to be very good (the pot appears a glossier than most, but not in the way that Chaozhou pots are, rather from the density and uniformity of the clay).

So how did it perform with the tea? To my tastes, it created the mostly lively tea in the mouth. Whereas I experienced the Chaozhou washed tea as tasting 'low' in the mouth, this pot had the opposite effect, it tasted much higher than both the Chaozhou and the control cup. It also seems to accentuate the tannins in the tea, but not in an unpleasant way. Rather than increasing astringency, it makes the tea seem lively and full in the mouth, with the underlying taste of the leaves very present. I don't think I am describing this last effect very well, but it's the best I can do a the moment! The result is that I am happy with the purchase, regardless of it's actual provenance as it seems to do very positive things to the tea which I guess is the most important thing! The only thing that remains is to decide what to dedicate it to. Considering its effects, I am thinking that green oolongs might work well, but another part of me thinks it could be great for young sheng (i drink much more pu than i do oolong) as I do enjoy the high notes of a good sheng! Then again, around the 2nd and 3rd steeps, the shui ping seemed to being out a real minerality in the tea and combined with its generally smoothing effects to the liquor, yancha might also be a good candidate for the pot. Maybe I should just go back to the store and get a couple more of them... :lol:

I would be interested to hear some of your thoughts re pairing this pot and/or the Chaozhou.

Cheers,

L
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Feb 13th, '17, 06:59
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Re: Pot and Cup testing with a Winter Oolong

by ethan » Feb 13th, '17, 06:59

When I buy teaware at a shop, w/ water I rinse it well once; then, I rinse it again & pour this water into a glass to check the color; then I put fresh water into teaware & taste it. I check for leaks, effective pour, unwanted chemicals or residue, etc.

In October a ceramics' shopkeeper & I enjoyed 3 infusions of a tea that I brought w/ me that were prepared in the teapot that she had for sale that interested me. (I did buy it after this testing session.)

I tell you this, because I encourage you to return to that tea gallery w/ some teas, for a session of tea drinking & tea testing. You may want to telephone first.

If all of the pots are good & you can identify to some extent for which specific categories of tea, you might want to buy all of them, if not all for yourself, to swap on TeaChat (although shipping from your country may be expensive). < $50 for a pot one knows will perform well seems a good deal.

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Feb 14th, '17, 12:53
Posts: 83
Joined: Feb 28th, '16, 10:46

Re: Pot and Cup testing with a Winter Oolong

by CheekyChipmunk » Feb 14th, '17, 12:53

ethan wrote:When I buy teaware at a shop, w/ water I rinse it well once; then, I rinse it again & pour this water into a glass to check the color; then I put fresh water into teaware & taste it. I check for leaks, effective pour, unwanted chemicals or residue, etc.

In October a ceramics' shopkeeper & I enjoyed 3 infusions of a tea that I brought w/ me that were prepared in the teapot that she had for sale that interested me. (I did buy it after this testing session.)

I tell you this, because I encourage you to return to that tea gallery w/ some teas, for a session of tea drinking & tea testing. You may want to telephone first.

If all of the pots are good & you can identify to some extent for which specific categories of tea, you might want to buy all of them, if not all for yourself, to swap on TeaChat (although shipping from your country may be expensive). < $50 for a pot one knows will perform well seems a good deal.
Thanks for the advice! I'm trying to keep myself away from the store for the next little while haha, because I know I'll probably buy things that I like but don't necessarily need... As for returning with tea, the proprietor actually is very forthcoming with her own teas, most of which are probably far nicer than I can afford. Basically she will let you taste whatever you want. But I'm guessing you are suggesting my own teas as I know how they perform so will be able to get some idea of how prospective pots perform before actually buying them. I should test out how my hopeful dan cong pot performs as that may be enough to twist my arm to return to the store if it also performs well (whether it is suited to dan cong or another category of tea). Also if my initial impressions of the shui ping interest anyone here enough, I don't mind picking another up on their behalf :D

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