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Bamboo Cups?

by jayinhk » Sep 13th, '12, 07:50

Picked up a bamboo cup at a local retailer today. I originally intended to use it as a pen holder on my desk, but it was so nicely finished, I knew I had to try drinking out of it. The inside and bottom of the cup preserves the natural membrane found in bamboo, and the outside is nicely sanded without any lacquer.

I got it home and washed it thoroughly with cold water and then filled it up to the brim with boiling water. It had a very light aroma of bamboo left over. Since bamboo is used for aging pu erh, I then threw some of the used cooked pu erh I'd been drinking this morning into it and added more boiling water, intending to 'season' it a la Yixing.

What I didn't expect is how amazingly well the bamboo insulates and traps heat. It was slightly warm to the touch when filled with boiling water. I drank the first brew and it was fine with very, very little bamboo aftertaste to it, and it wasn't unpleasant at all. I tried to stain the outside of the cup with the tea, but without success.

While the cup may soak up a little tea, it seemed like it might make a viable alternative as a 'poor man's Yixing' with even better insulating properties. I threw on one of the lids from one of my bone China mugs and it was a perfect fit. Made up a fresh batch of pu erh in it and it was great! I just poured the tea off into another cup and it tasted just fine with just the tiniest hint of bamboo flavor to it. I may have to pick up a few more for TGY and sheng pu erh if it holds up and the flavor dissipates! They're unbreakable, insulate well and are cheap and readily available.

Image

The cup and some Nepalese cigarettes I picked up. I don't smoke cigarettes (less than two packs a year). I went in looking for Nepalese tea (they only had commercial Indian CTC) and somehow walked out with a bottle of Nepalese rum and a pack of cigarettes from under the counter. lol

Sep 13th, '12, 13:21
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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by theredbaron » Sep 13th, '12, 13:21

I have seen people using bamboo cups to drink tea in the tribal areas at the Thai Burmese border, and if i can remember correctly, in Wa state as well, when i had a chance to travel around there 11 years ago.

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by jayinhk » Sep 13th, '12, 13:25

Thanks, nice to know it's actually done somewhere in the world! I actually quite like the cup.

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by Chip » Sep 13th, '12, 13:44

Bamboo cups pop up on the forum from time to time. They are out there and available.

Problem is, they can split. I think if you have forced hot air heat or live in a very dry environment, they are more prone to splitting.

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by TuoChaTea » Sep 13th, '12, 14:24

Another problem with bamboo cups is that they can mold.

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by jayinhk » Sep 13th, '12, 21:09

Good points re cracking and mold! I guess they have to be used very regularly and washed with boiling water to stay moist, yet mold free.

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by jayinhk » Sep 14th, '12, 00:57

Re the mold and cracking issue, I just treated the exterior, rim and bottom of the cup with food grade mineral oil, and I will give it at least two or three more coats over the next few days. The interior membrane effectively seals off the cup from liquid, and also prevents the cup from holding any aromas. This may just be healthier to use than my porcelain cups, and I feel the very light aroma of bamboo complements the pu erh and liu'an I like to drink quite nicely, since both are traditionally stored in bamboo husk and leaf.

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by theredbaron » Sep 14th, '12, 01:13

jayinhk wrote:This may just be healthier to use than my porcelain cups, and I feel the very light aroma of bamboo complements the pu erh and liu'an I like to drink quite nicely, since both are traditionally stored in bamboo husk and leaf.
Bamboo cups are a bit of a toy, i am afraid. Good porcelain cups will be better. In cups the shaping of the interior of the cup and the rim is very important as proper flow will help directing the tea the right way to your mouth.
A well shaped cup will direct the tea all over you mouth and throat straight away, leading to an expansion of taste into all your oral and nasal cavities, while in a badly shaped cup the tea will primarily stay on the tip and front part of your tongue.

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by jayinhk » Sep 14th, '12, 01:31

You're right redbaron, I can definitely see how that could be true re rim angle: drinking out of the long, straight bamboo cup does mean the tea ends up at the very front of my mouth. Maybe it would work out better if I had a smaller nose. 8)

Perhaps I'll use it as a brewing vessel as it holds heat very well.

Back to the porcelain cups!

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by debunix » Sep 14th, '12, 01:59

I've had lovely tea drinking sessions with cups ranging from the tiny

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to the very large tea bowl

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I've found the size/shape/thickness/degree of filling of the cup to make a big difference in comfort when the teas are brewed hotter or cooler, but how the tea moves around my mouth depends on what I'm doing with my lips and tongue in my mouth between the sip and the swallow, much more than the shape of the cup.

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by jayinhk » Sep 14th, '12, 02:06

That's true too: moving the liquid gold (or amber, since I like the black teas) around once it enters your teahole ensures distribution and better tasting. Further testing is needed. Ultimately, of course, it boils down to whether I enjoy drinking out of it and I think I'm getting the most from my tea. I'll have to brew up another small porcelain pot of luk on the same way right after this one and try it in my little Jingde porcelain cups for comparison.

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by theredbaron » Sep 14th, '12, 02:29

debunix wrote:
I've found the size/shape/thickness/degree of filling of the cup to make a big difference in comfort when the teas are brewed hotter or cooler, but how the tea moves around my mouth depends on what I'm doing with my lips and tongue in my mouth between the sip and the swallow, much more than the shape of the cup.

I would suggest to try differently shaped cups (inner shape, rim shape - more straight, or more rounded), and to concentrate on the very first impact of the tea in the mouth. Ideally you should not need any movement on tongue or lips for the tea to fill the whole mouth immediately, and the taste should move straight into all cavities in an upward direction.
Many tea drinkers prefer older porcelain cups (i belong to those) as they feel that they are better shaped.
I hope i don't offend, but the two cups you have shown here, while undoubtedly very beautiful, are not the most ideal cups for drinking leaf tea. A good cup should have a rounded inner shape going slightly convex towards the rim, enabling a good flow.

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by jayinhk » Sep 14th, '12, 02:42

Red, do you have any pictures of the cups you mean?

I usually use the simplest of Jingde porcelain cups now: the ones with 'rice' that have been used for decades in homes all over Hong Kong, and are often left out filled with water, wine or tea as offerings to the gods or ancestors.

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by theredbaron » Sep 14th, '12, 03:00

jayinhk wrote:Red, do you have any pictures of the cups you mean?

I usually use the simplest of Jingde porcelain cups now: the ones with 'rice' that have been used for decades in homes all over Hong Kong, and are often left out filled with water, wine or tea as offerings to the gods or ancestors.
I am a bit too lazy to take pics of my cups right now, but here is a link i found from TeaChat shows cups that are quite affordable, reasonably good, and not too difficult to find:

http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=8653

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Re: Bamboo Cups?

by jayinhk » Sep 14th, '12, 03:32

Thanks, I might have to visit my local Chinese porcelain vendor (across the street) to see if he has anything like it (in shape, anyway)!

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