Yixing inventory #12: Zini water dropper

Not all yixing pots were used for tea brewing, or at least that’s the way it seems sometimes. In things like senchado sometimes they were used for water cooling/pouring rather than tea making. It’s not always clear to me why one is designated as water dropper rather than teapot. When there’s a pair sometimes one gets assigned one job and the other the job of tea making. In any case, this pot is called “zini suichu” which literally means purple clay water dropper. 145ml. … Continue reading

The taste of water

Most of your cup of tea consists of water – and what water you use has a huge effect on how your tea tastes. It is an important thing to remember when trying a tea – what water are you using, and what does it do to your tea? Most of us rely on some kind of tap water supply for regular drinking. Where your municipality gets its water changes how your tea tastes. When I lived in Pacific Northwest I remember the water tasting very fresh and is often very cold even in the summer – it’s snowmelt so that’s how the water comes out. In places like Hong Kong we get most of our water from a river source in nearby Guangdong, and it’s heavily treated. It’s not that great, but I suppose it could be worse. Then you have bottled waters, which as bad as it is … Continue reading

Water temperature

I was just in the US for a few days for a quick conference trip, and had to endure a few days of subpar tea. I did bring my own – some tuo that I found recently that’s rather decent. These days, nice hotels generally have better coffee makers than they did of old. Whereas the old drip coffee machines mean that your water will have to pass through not only the area where the coffee goes, but also into the glass pot where anything going in will start tasting/smelling like coffee, the new ones tend to be done with a construction such that, if you were to remove the coffee element, water will directly pour into your cup. This means, among other things, that there’s no more need to really try to eliminate the coffee smell before you can use them for tea. So thankfully, tea in my room … Continue reading

The importance of water

Water is a subject that I talk about from time to time, but it is very easy to get caught up in all the myriad discussions about this tea and that tea that you forget just how important water is to your tea drinking experience.The past two days I went to a local shop that just opened recently and which makes new pressings of Yiwu cakes. I like their stuff, and the quality is there. They are also a bit more traditional in their processing, so that the taste is not the high and floral stuff that you often find on the market today. In our conversation, we talked about old teas, and I also drank some old teas with them, including the remnants of a Fuyuanchang Hao from early 20th century. So, in the spirit of sharing, I brought with me some of my aged oolongs on the second … Continue reading

Chlorine in water

The water here is heavily chlorinated.  Apparently, my town gets its water supply from wells, and in addition to being heavy on minerals, the processing of the water happens pretty close to where I live, and when I go to a restaurant  that serves unfiltered tap water, it comes out as bitter and nasty.  There is a very unpleasant taste to it, in addition to the chlorine that you can feel in the water that gives it a heavy, metallic taste. Once filtered, the water comes out much better, at the very least it loses some of that nasty edge to the water.  The difference is not obvious to me, day in, day out, since I never drink the water unfiltered (so the only time I notice it is when I have to go somewhere and drink the tap water).  The thing is, when I tried to make tea for … Continue reading

How to pour water

Another topic that came up during my conversations with Sherab is pouring water into the pot. Think it doesn’t matter? Well… the story he told me is like this A certain famous tea master, who shall remain nameless, was brewing tea for a few people somewhere in China. Sherab has a friend who went. Two teas were made. The first was a wet stored cooked puerh, and it tasted like crap. The tea supposedly gave off the “locking the throat” feeling, where one feels as though the throat is closing up and is often attributed by mainland Chinese as a sign of wet storage — a bad side effect, so to speak. The second tea, which, while not specified (to me) I assume is also of a similar genre, had no such effect. Second tea is better, no? Well… not quite. Apparently, when the master made the first tea, he … Continue reading

Water water everywhere

My friend from Beijing, L, recently took on a job to be an editor for a tea magazine that Zhongcha puts out, and he asked me to try to write a column for him. It’s going to be in English and Chinese (the column, not the rest of the magazine) and I thought I should give it a shot in English first before writing the Chinese equivalent. The below is my first attempt — please give any thoughts or comments you might have so that it may get a little better. Thanks 🙂 There are only two ingredients in a cup of tea – the leaves, and the water. The leaves we talk about very often. In fact, I would say the leaves are almost the only thing we tea lovers normally talk about. Water, however, is a much neglected subject, and for water, the preparation is usually the least … Continue reading

Water again

So I’ve been using the tetsubin to make water that I then use to brew tea. How has it turned out? Pretty well, actually. The tetsubin does make the water seem a little softer, instead of having that sharp edge that a stainless steel water kettle will provide. It also makes the water a little heavier. I’ve found that for my aged oolongs, which are my tea of choice these days, it means the tea comes out a little more flavourful. The iron ions or whatever are drawing stuff out of the tea. Today I had my aged tieguanyin from my candy store, and it came out particularly strongly in a way that wasn’t really true when I had this tea a week or two ago. That said, it might interfere with certain types of tea, especially green teas, if the water is used for that. It will make the … Continue reading

Tasting waters

Still kinda busy…. I conducted a taste test just now with my cleaned tetsubin and my regular stainless steel electric kettle… the electric kettle water is, relatively speaking, a little sharper, whereas the tetsubin water is a little softer. I find tasting waters to be almost as much fun as tasting different teas. Lining up four or five cups of water, unmarked if possible, and drink them one by one — swirling around the mouth a bit, feel the body, the taste, etc, and one really gets an appreciation of the way different water tastes. Then, use the same waters to brew the same tea — preferably a tea that you know very well already. The differences are going to be quite obvious and remarkable. Now I need to try my tetsubin on the teas I’ve been making the teas I’ve been making…. let’s see if I can tell any … Continue reading

Heavy teas, light teas, and the water they drink

Food for thought while driving 6 hours to go to Washington DC for a conference and sipping bad teabag teas — there are, I think, two types of teas out there, heavy and light. Heavy teas are things like cooked or aged puerh, roasted oolongs (and some aged oolongs), black tea, and that sort of thing. Light teas are green, white, light fermentation oolongs, etc. That’s probably pretty obvious. I think though that generally speaking, in terms of tea preparation, there are one set of requirements that will work for heavy teas, and one set that will work for light teas. This is of course not accurate, because they each vary individually and each batch of tea will perform differently. However, I think that over time, I’ve noticed things are different waters and different teas that seem to play out consistently roughly within the heavy/light classification. So, for example, a … Continue reading