Dec 24th 16 9:16 pm
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Tea & Teaware: Happiness & Value...Desire

by ethan » Dec 24th 16 9:16 pm

Happy Holidays:

I write from Taiwan where it is 2:30 a.m. I awoke at 10:30 p.m. after several hours sleep that was supposed to be a short nap. I missed the hostel's Christmas party as well as family gatherings back in Boston. That's jet-lag & the price of getting a frequent-flyer seat at an awkward time because it is available. So, this thread is a bit selfish, to amuse myself through a long night. Hopefully, it amuses others & perhaps is even humorous. Surely it is meant to be friendly. At least I am not being a "troll" w/ my friendly spirit distracting from some specific purpose of another's thread. A New Year's resolution: don't hijack, don't distract.

Should we speak of goals & desires? Buddha, as we know, explained that desire is the source of our unhappiness. In words of the Western world, I remember the wish of Hamlet (yes, I am quoting Shakespeare), "Oh, God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space--were it not that I have had dreams."

I was quite happy w/ ordinary tea (w/ fresh milk) until the 1990-91 holiday season when I was a manager at a small resort on the island of Boracay in the Philippines. Skipping the long story, there & then I drank tea every night w/ rich guests from Taiwan that they simply called "High Mtn. Tea". They left me what they had not used during their stay, & at their request, its "name" written in Chinese, which was given to me w/ laughs & smirks. The Chinese said, "high mountain tea" & sampling tea at teashops in Manila, Hong Kong, & Singapore over the next several years did not get me close to what I had drunk.

The frustrated desire to did not eat at me. I was getting around the world a bit, trying scuba-diving, etc. My body had not let me down yet etc.

Now I do truly desire tea. I could not say how important it is to me, but tea is more to me than longevity or financial security etc. I want the flavor, I want feelings of well-being, & a bit of stimulation. There may be more to enjoying tea but I don't really desire more. I am not exactly sure what is meant by cha-qi, "truest tea" or "truthful tea"; &,now when a new phrase comes up for describing tea that mystifies or interests me, I will try to ignore it. Enough desires have been aroused, I should not seek more.

Teaware could be a real danger. Besides not having the $ for it, I think seriously getting into the nuances of various clays etc. ultimately would be bad for my soul.

I ask you, any teachatter who can take my question as being friendly, for what are you collecting more pu-erh than you will be able to drink in your lifetime; &/or collecting more teapots than you can use?

I worry my ? sounds bad. Please take it in the context of the following history if it does sound bad. In my early twenties I spoke w/ a psychiatrist for about 15 minutes. I did not know it then, but he had terminal cancer & thus perhaps a view that protracted work on oneself was wasteful; so, he cut to the chase.

"You don't seem to like yourself," was his profound summary of me. His answer to my asking what I should do about that was, "Try treating yourself as if you did."

I was not in therapy w/ the doctor & he killed himself a couple of weeks later; so, no expounding on that.

Tea is my main way that follows the advice of the doctor I suppose. Okay, in the worst case scenario, w/o tea I live in despair or kill myself. (Remember this is me, & I started this thread, HUMOR here).

Do I need so much of the time to drink the best tea? Do any of us?

Yesterday, I returned to Wang Tea. Co. in Taipei. I tried a donfang meiren (oriental beauty) that I had avoided trying in October because it was so expensive. (This one was sold outside of Wang's usual framework of five grades per type of tea & was not on their brochure.) I bought the minimum amount allowed which unfortunately is 150 grams. When I was up all night w/ jet-lag yesterday, I thought myself a vain, self-indulgent fool. I could easily live w/o such tea, right? Today I went to Pinglin & sampled several terrible donfang meiren's & got happy about getting Wang's best because it was not so much more expensive than the other o.b. I like from them & the really cheaper tea in Pinglin is not worth drinking for free.

(Also while I was in Pinglin I spoke w/ a vendor who sold me 4 150-gram tins of oriental beauty in October. I had kept 2 for myself; & a week ago opened one that had much inferior tea in it than the first which I had used up. I told her this through her English-speaking friend. She said to him in Chinese that I had not been in her shop before & walked into the apartment section of the building gesturing as if I were crazy. Her friend told me what she had said but also indicated he did not believe her. This is good for keeping me humble, away from temptation to buy a lot of tea to be the imagined "Valued Customer" in a spot that exploits tourists & the notion that one should go to the source. (Boazhong comes from around there but in 4 trips I never tasted a good one there)).

Oh, dear. I am rambling. Forgive me. Cheers.

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Dec 25th 16 7:28 am
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Re: Tea & Teaware: Happiness & Value...Desire

by pedant » Dec 25th 16 7:28 am

ethan wrote: I ask you, any teachatter who can take my question as being friendly, for what are you collecting more pu-erh than you will be able to drink in your lifetime; &/or collecting more teapots than you can use?
i'll start by saying that i'm a relatively young person, so who knows where obsessions will take me later in life.
so far, i have not acquired anywhere close to that amount of tea, but i do have in excess of 20 teapots and teapot-like things, and a few of them hardly get any use.
i suppose i enjoy learning about teaware, and reading and looking at pictures online only does so much. i need to see things in person and (and preferably brew tea in them) to gain experience and develop my appreciation.
i see no harm in it. i'm not:
  • driving myself into poverty
    destroying pieces of teaware that others would want
i feel that i am, at worst, temporarily denying them from being used to their fullest potential.
also, on the bright side, i'm supporting the teaware economy. many of the pieces i've purchased have directly supported the artisans (not old yixing stuff, but japanese and american wares, sure -- they come either right from the artist directly or 1-2 hops away (vendors)).
i can always sell stuff later or give them as gifts to family and friends, and maybe someone could even appreciate them after i'm gone.
i don't think someone would throw them away.

likewise, with tea, i think a lot of teas can be hoarded without keeping them past their prime (and denying them their potential).
someone, someday, will drink and appreciate them. might as well hang around stuff you like for a while if you're able to. you can still smell your pumidor full of roses despite only being able to drink a petal at a time.

Dec 25th 16 7:52 am
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Re: Tea & Teaware: Happiness & Value...Desire

by ethan » Dec 25th 16 7:52 am

pedant wrote:
ethan wrote: I ask you, any teachatter who can take my question as being friendly, for what are you collecting more pu-erh than you will be able to drink in your lifetime; &/or collecting more teapots than you can use?
but i do have in excess of 20 teapots and teapot-like things, and a few of them hardly get any use.

i see no harm in it. i'm not:
  • driving myself into poverty
    destroying pieces of teaware that others would want
.
someone, someday, will drink and appreciate them. might as well hang around stuff you like for a while if you're able to. you can still smell your pumidor full of roses despite only being able to drink a petal at a time.
Thanks for a great reply, pedant/ Your last phrase is poetic & a surprise as I was thinking about smelling a rose, not drinking "a petal at a time". Your thoughts beautifully expressed make reading teachat today rewarding.

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Dec 25th 16 8:07 am
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Re: Tea & Teaware: Happiness & Value...Desire

by jayinhk » Dec 25th 16 8:07 am

At present, the reason I'm buying up the 80s Yixing I find and new pu erh for aging is for later resale! Even the modern pots I buy are good quality and can be sold for as much as I paid for them. So investment, and that I am a collector by nature. I have investments I can touch and feel and even use without hurting their value (unless I drop them)!

I also have a massive collection of antique and modern knives and swords, many of which have dramatically increased in value since I've had them. None of my teapots, tea or blades are worth less today than I paid for them, aside from the fakes that I just got ripped off on! :lol: Still working on that issue.

Dec 25th 16 9:35 am
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Re: Tea & Teaware: Happiness & Value...Desire

by ethan » Dec 25th 16 9:35 am

jayinhk wrote: I also have a massive collection of antique and modern knives and swords.... aside from the fakes that I just got ripped off on! :lol: Still working on that issue.
Maybe the dishonest vendor would be motivated to make things right, if he sees some of that knife collection. (When you go to Singapore for that problem, you might want to stay at the YMCA at One Orchard Road because guests on off-peak hours you can use the gym & pool. McDonalds on first floor & Paradiz food court a few minutes walk. In the 90s it was 20 Singapore dollars per night for sharing a room w/ 3 others that had one bathroom/shower.)

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Dec 25th 16 11:39 am
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Re: Tea & Teaware: Happiness & Value...Desire

by jayinhk » Dec 25th 16 11:39 am

ethan wrote:
jayinhk wrote: I also have a massive collection of antique and modern knives and swords.... aside from the fakes that I just got ripped off on! :lol: Still working on that issue.
Maybe the dishonest vendor would be motivated to make things right, if he sees some of that knife collection. (When you go to Singapore for that problem, you might want to stay at the YMCA at One Orchard Road because guests on off-peak hours you can use the gym & pool. McDonalds on first floor & Paradiz food court a few minutes walk. In the 90s it was 20 Singapore dollars per night for sharing a room w/ 3 others that had one bathroom/shower.)
Ethan, my sister lives there and I can use the gym in her building for free! My gym membership here gives me access to four or five private gyms there at no charge as well.

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Dec 26th 16 6:53 pm
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Re: Tea & Teaware: Happiness & Value...Desire

by debunix » Dec 26th 16 6:53 pm

Here is one reason to have more than a minimum of brewing vessels, if you can: extended or overnight infusions. At one satellite office, where I spend only 3 days a month, I keep a single pot (and cup and electric kettle). When I brew up a really nice tea that I know would give another one to three pleasant infusions if I could leave it for an hour to overnight, I have to empty the pot and start with fresh leaves, unless this happens to coincide with the end of the work day. At home, or at the office where I have more room for 'extra' teaware, I can take advantage of that last long infusion.

It's a small thing, but when I'm enjoying a really fine tea, like the Fushoushan from the TC group buy, or a handmade Korean oolong from Morning Crane, or the last of a puerh I couldn't buy enough of, I hate to waste even that last long infusion.

I have slowed way down in my teaware purchases, because I literally do not have much more room on the shelves, and there are not often moments when I find myself thinking that 'I wish I had something a little bigger or smaller in a glazed or unglazed interior that worked like this...'. The cups at least get other uses, if they are fully glazed, for soup or fruit or nuts or hot chocolate, so the most versatile pieces get plenty of 'exercise'.

But there still are a few 'holes', especially after a few breakage incidents, room for cups with white interior for first tasting & photographing a new tea...or a larger handled shiboridashi vessel plus a larger pitcher to brew up a more delicate tea for sharing up & down the office hallway before the first infusion goes off.

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Re: Tea & Teaware: Happiness & Value...Desire

by ethan » Dec 29th 16 8:03 am

debunix wrote:Here is one reason to have more than a minimum of brewing vessels, if you can: extended or overnight infusions. .
Yeah, a few pots pay for themselves w/ the infusions gained by no need to dump leaves that still have life in them for convenience of the moment. Traveling w/ only 1 vessel for brewing, my "extra" infusion is leaves in cool water overnight, as suggested by debunix in another thread.

More teachat wisdom: "young" pedant, reminds us that many teas do store well for quite a while; thus, I can sensibly stock up on better tea & great values that I am now sampling in person. "Sensibly" is the key word. I reach out on Teachat sometimes to help me to know what is sensible.

Now I think I am comfortable w/ better tea at good prices & almost none of the best tea at much higher prices. (A small quantity of an exception of 1 or 2 teas will keep me from a boring consistency. Like Bok). Another teachater I won't mention by avatar since he seems to dislike me intensely, wrote using better water & preparation is more important than using better leaves. I'll remember that when I don't buy a couple of teas that are very tempting but too expensive to be sensible for me to buy.

Happy new year.

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Dec 29th 16 8:43 am
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Re: Tea & Teaware: Happiness & Value...Desire

by jayinhk » Dec 29th 16 8:43 am

ethan wrote:
debunix wrote:Here is one reason to have more than a minimum of brewing vessels, if you can: extended or overnight infusions. .
Yeah, a few pots pay for themselves w/ the infusions gained by no need to dump leaves that still have life in them for convenience of the moment. Traveling w/ only 1 vessel for brewing, my "extra" infusion is leaves in cool water overnight, as suggested by debunix in another thread.

More teachat wisdom: "young" pedant, reminds us that many teas do store well for quite a while; thus, I can sensibly stock up on better tea & great values that I am now sampling in person. "Sensibly" is the key word. I reach out on Teachat sometimes to help me to know what is sensible.

Now I think I am comfortable w/ better tea at good prices & almost none of the best tea at much higher prices. (A small quantity of an exception of 1 or 2 teas will keep me from a boring consistency. Like Bok). Another teachater I won't mention by avatar since he seems to dislike me intensely, wrote using better water & preparation is more important than using better leaves. I'll remember that when I don't buy a couple of teas that are very tempting but too expensive to be sensible for me to buy.

Happy new year.
Good water and prep can make or break a tea, but the best water and prep won't save a really bad tea.

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Dec 30th 16 6:40 pm
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Re: Tea & Teaware: Happiness & Value...Desire

by hopeofdawn » Dec 30th 16 6:40 pm

I don't have near the collection that others do here of either tea or teaware--but I still have enough of both that my non-tea aficionado friends look at me very strangely when they see it!

Part of the enjoyment of tea for me, I think, is to be able to enjoy it in the moment. I've never really found an aged tea that was good enough I wanted more to keep for myself, which helps keep my tea collection down to (somewhat) reasonable levels. At the same time, though, I prefer not to drink the same tea day in and day out, because if it's always the same, it becomes a habit, and then I forget to pay attention and enjoy it. So I switch almost daily, to keep things interesting--from green to white to black to oolong, different seasons, different countries of origin, etc. I'm also trying not to save 'special' (expensive) teas to the point where they've aged out of what made them special in the first place, but sometimes my frugal nature makes that more difficult. :)

Teaware is an interesting conundrum. I already have more pots than one person could ever reasonably expect to need--but I chose each one of them because I love how they look and handle. Honestly, I don't do side-by-side comparisons all that often for glazed vs. unglazed, yixing vs. porcelain. I just pick the pots that are the size I want to use, or happen to work better for that kind of tea, or that I simply want touch and admire that day. So most of my pots (except for the really large ones, which are saved for company), tend to get swapped out fairly often.

I have slowed down on my collecting, though. Have you ever had a moment where a beautiful thing--a painting, a piece of furniture, a piece of jewelry--was just right, in a way that really speaks to you? I do--so that's what I wait for these days, even as I continue to look at many, many gorgeous pieces of teaware. So that's something, at least!