Changing tastes

I rarely repeat the same tea two days in a row, and never with the same teaware.  I think one of the joys of drinking tea is to thoroughly explore all the varieties that it offers, be it young, old, roasted, green, black.  Add in the variety that you get with changing teaware, and the combinations are endless.

Weather was nice today after a nasty week of rain, so I decided to drink out on the balcony while my cats decide to soak up some sun.  Rather than using my usual tetsubins, I opted for one of my silver kettles instead

This is something I found on Ebay, of all places, for a rather reasonable price.  It’s Korean in origin, and on one side is inscribed the words “For Mr. and Mrs. Henderson”.  I’m pretty sure originally it was intended for use as a teapot, but it’s very large for a teapot, and I’d rather use it as a kettle, which is exactly what I did.

Water from silver kettles tend to accentuate the high notes in a tea.  With good tea, the aroma will coat your mouth and linger for a long time.  What it won’t do is to add to the body, and if the tea is sour, it may make that show up more prominently as well.  So, whether it is really a good idea to use a silver kettle for the particular type of tea you’re drinking really depends.  I don’t think silver kettles should be used universally for all teas.  Tetsubins are much more versatile, I think.

The first tea I had today was an aged shuixian that I bought in Beijing almost three years ago.

It tasted very different from the last time when I made it a few weeks ago, using my usual tetsubin.  I think I actually prefer this tea with the tetsubin — the water from a tetsubin accentuates the qualitites of this tea.  It’s not the highest grade of shuixian, just some common stuff, and perhaps it only deserves the commoner treatment.

The pot I used still baffles me though.  For those of you familiar with bankoyaki, it might look awfully like one, and I still don’t know if this is actually a Yixing pot or not.  Although the seal says “Yixing County Mengchan Made”, I have my doubts as to its geographical origin.  Maybe the potters out there can tell me if this looks like a thrown pot or a hand built one.

Not quite having enough tea, I had another, this time an aged oolong from Taiwan that I recently acquired.  It’s nice and mellow, but works much better with the silver kettle.  All in all, a pretty good day for tea.


Comments

Changing tastes — 9 Comments

  1. To me it does not look thrown, but handmade in the yixing tradition. It’s very interesting that in the last picture you can see (what appears to be)the maker’s fingerprint and indent made by their nail. That’s my 2 cents anyways…

  2. I think it is wheel thrown.

    It is not easy to say for sure though, since concentric rings happen on hand built pots as well, since it is turned on a small lazy susan and the curve is unified after paddling by turning against a bamboo piece.

    There are a couple places though where there are concentrics that should not be there for hand built.
    In the lid, on the skirt, there are horizontal scrape lines. If it was hand built, the skirt ring is formed first, and then setup before attaching to the lid. By the time it was scraped to clear the extra slurry used to attach it, the ring part should have been pretty firm, and resistent to taking those lines.

    But I think the most compelling tell is the inside bottom of the pot. In traditional hand building technique, the bottom is pounded flat with a mallet, and then cut with a compass before attaching to the body. There’s no reason for concentric rings on the bottom of the pot. You may find one circle in the bottom where the pot was supported when the bottom maker mark was struck, but on this pot, there are several concentric rings, which suggest the bottom was made through a spinning technique rather than the flat mallet. Also, there’s the fingerprint. If it was assembled, the bottom would be allowed to setup to leather hard so that it could be handled. The clay should be too hard to take a fingerprint like that, which means it was probably wet when it happened, and the potter used his finger to support the inside when he pressed his seal instead of whacking the seal with a mallet since the clay was hard.

    That’s my guess anyway.

  3. Thanks Walt for the comments! One of the reason I suspect this might be wheel thrown is because of those rings. The other reason I am suspicious of this pot is because of the outside surface and how it has a weird shine that’s unusual among Yixing pots I’ve seen.

    From what I know though, the pressing of the seal is usually the very last step in the making of a pot. The base should’ve been attached already and everything is set. They stick the pot, base up, on a little stand and then hammer the seal in.

    Maybe I should take a few more pics and let you experts look at them 🙂

  4. What?! This is just ONE of your silver kettles? Man, you’re rich. By the way, I saw this kettle on eBay — hahah, now no wonder where it is now! Okay….

    The maybe-Yixing pot looks good. No matter where its origin, I like it shape and especially the rim of the lid — that’s something I like a Yixing pot to have.

  5. Hi Marshaln, it has been two years since your post on this korean kettle. Meanwhile, have you continued to test its influence on lighter green teas or greener oolongs? I’m curious to learn about your encounters if any, in the case of such a kettle. Cheers.

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