Jan 11th, '15, 15:04
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Where to invest my money?

by ryancha » Jan 11th, '15, 15:04

I have been lurking here for years, and finally decided to post:

I have a few hundred to spend on teaware and am trying to figure out what to do with it. But the number of options and vendors are overwhelming my decision making capability.

Currently I use an electric kettle and 80 ml gaiwan (the right size for me, though I can even do smaller) for everything except sencha, where I have a random kyusu I bought at a new-closed teashop in NYC's UES (I forget its name). I mostly drink dancong, Taiwanese (gaoshan, hung shui, oriental beauty), and sencha. I know that leaf quality is more important than teaware, and have put my money there. I live in California's Bay Area, and seem to get pretty good tap water from the Sierras, though I occasionally find bottled water better for dancong.

So I am looking for some advice on how (and where) to spend my money. My priority is to maximize my enjoyment of the tea; of course I'd like whatever I buy to be beautiful, etc, but this is a lower priority.

The leading contenders are: 1) buying a tetsubin, 2) buying one of Hojo's clay pots, 3) buying a yixing. (I've ruled out chou zhou pots as too fragile/high maintenance.)

While we are speaking of yixing, I am totally confused by the differences in price across the vendors and how these relate to their capacity for making tea better. I know some of the price is for recognizable craftsmen, and some is for older pots which (allegedly?) have superior clay. But I'm still confused what separates, say, the low $100 pots on Life in a Teacup from the ~$200 pots of Teamasters or Jing, from the $400-500 pots of Sample Tea or EoT.

I know much of this is a rehash, but I am confused. Any help greatly appreciated.

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Jan 11th, '15, 15:40
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by Muadeeb » Jan 11th, '15, 15:40

If you'd like to see some beautiful teaware in person, check out Song Tea in San Francisco. Those pieces will maximize your enjoyment. :D

Jan 11th, '15, 16:36
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by ryancha » Jan 11th, '15, 16:36

"Maximize my enjoyment" - as in, he sells really expensive stuff?

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Jan 11th, '15, 16:50
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by Muadeeb » Jan 11th, '15, 16:50

Out of my price range for sure, but part of what you're paying for is Peter's experience and location. He carries a top-notch selections of teas too, and you can taste them in store.

I placed an order with Hojo back in October which included one of his magic clay shigaraki pots, as shown in my avatar. It brews fantastic green and oolong tea and I would definitely order another one when I have another $180 to spend on it. It's fun watching it change, and even in the 3 months I've had it, I can see the bottom lose its reddish tones and turn more brown.

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Jan 11th, '15, 17:07
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by futurebird » Jan 11th, '15, 17:07

Hi welcome to teachat. What kind of Chinese tea do you enjoy? I find the yixing are like Pokemon -- hard to have just one.

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Jan 11th, '15, 20:55
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by kyarazen » Jan 11th, '15, 20:55

futurebird wrote:Hi welcome to teachat. What kind of Chinese tea do you enjoy? I find the yixing are like Pokemon -- hard to have just one.
whilst some have too many!... 8) :lol:

Jan 11th, '15, 21:26
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by ryancha » Jan 11th, '15, 21:26

Muadeeb - thanks for the rec on Song. I've been thinking about going over for a while, but your rec is likely to push me over. On the other hand, as you say, I am sure there is a big markup for location: how could there not be given real estate prices in SF?

Futurebird - From China, I mostly drink DC, though also some Wuyi and puer. I also drinks lots of Taiwanese tea.

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Jan 11th, '15, 21:29
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by kyarazen » Jan 11th, '15, 21:29

ryancha wrote:I know that leaf quality is more important than teaware, and have put my money there.
strike a balance!

when i started interested in tea, I was led to think that everything is about going for the best leaf qualities.. teawares are unimportant. i still have the $3 gaiwans and 50 cents tea cups somewhere in my storeroom.

just about a month into the hobby, i observed that top quality teas tend to be the most forgiving, easily very aromatic, not bitter, OK tasting with slipshod brewing, even using them in a piao-I, but I was not bringing out the "best" in the tea especially when these were premium leaves.

once you do not bring out the best in a tea, a lower grade may suffice.. a 40 cents/gram dancong i buy locally is not very much inferior to a $6/gram dancong

there are some tea companies that do sorting, i.e. same batch of tea, the largest leaves go into top grade, medium and some broken goes into regular grade.. so the differences may not be that big.

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Jan 11th, '15, 21:35
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by futurebird » Jan 11th, '15, 21:35

Hmmm. Most people dedicate a yixing to a genre of tea. But it's hard to know what will be the right match till you get the teapot.

Buy something that you really love in terms of style, color, etc. Classic shapes are always nice but there is nothing better than having a teapot that makes you excited to brew because it is special.

Jan 12th, '15, 03:47
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by AdmiralKelvinator » Jan 12th, '15, 03:47

From the options you posted, I would say that "1) buying a tetsubin" would have the overall largest effect since you can use it brew across all the various genres you drink, ie good for oolong and good for sencha . It is more of an upfront cost than a single MOR yixing but if you are looking to maximize your "bang for buck" I'd go for that. Also, In my limited experience, the material of the kettle has a greater effect on the final product than the material of the teapot / gaiwan, but there may be significant disagreement in this regard from others..

Jan 12th, '15, 04:04
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by BW85 » Jan 12th, '15, 04:04

AdmiralKelvinator wrote:From the options you posted, I would say that "1) buying a tetsubin" would have the overall largest effect since you can use it brew across all the various genres you drink, ie good for oolong and good for sencha . It is more of an upfront cost than a single MOR yixing but if you are looking to maximize your "bang for buck" I'd go for that. Also, In my limited experience, the material of the kettle has a greater effect on the final product than the material of the teapot / gaiwan, but there may be significant disagreement in this regard from others..
I would agree. Each yixing that I have definitely has its unique effect on the tea, but the yixing and other clay kettles that I use have a much more obvious effect when compared to basic stainless steel kettles. I don't own a tetsubin. Very happy with clay kettles, zisha in particular

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Jan 12th, '15, 04:21
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by kyarazen » Jan 12th, '15, 04:21

BW85 wrote:
I would agree. Each yixing that I have definitely has its unique effect on the tea, but the yixing and other clay kettles that I use have a much more obvious effect when compared to basic stainless steel kettles. I don't own a tetsubin. Very happy with clay kettles, zisha in particular
i have 4 tetsubins now.. but my daily use remains a clay kettle (lin's ceramic non-purion normal clay kettle)...

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Jan 12th, '15, 07:28
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by futurebird » Jan 12th, '15, 07:28

I've never seen a tetsubin in the US for less than $350+

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Jan 12th, '15, 08:13
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by kyarazen » Jan 12th, '15, 08:13

futurebird wrote:I've never seen a tetsubin in the US for less than $350+
you can consider a kunzan from artistic nippon or take a peek at global.rakuten

the yen's at a super low to USD now.. good time to bite!

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Jan 12th, '15, 09:49
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Re: Where to invest my money?

by JBaymore » Jan 12th, '15, 09:49

kyarazen wrote:the yen's at a super low to USD now.. good time to bite!
Yeah...... I'm watching a stack of Yen (in cash) depreciate badly. :wink: :roll: :cry:

best,

..................john

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