Other people’s seasoning

Many of you have probably read the apocryphal story of an emperor visiting some farmer, was brewed some tea. When asked, the farmer replied that there was no tea, only seasoning from the pot. And there’s the story about a collector wanting to buy a pot from a farmer for a good price, and the next day when he came back, he found out that the pot was cleaned and so no longer wanted it – stories like this reinforce the idea that Yixing pots will season over time, and that when properly seasoned with years of brewing, are themselves capable of amazing teas.

I’m sure when you stare at that teapot of yours that you bought two or three years ago, you might be wondering how, if ever, that pot might acquire any taste from all the teas you’ve brewed in it. I certainly had wondered the same thing. Sometimes, though, it’s good to get some positive feedback.

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This is a shot of a white mug I have, with water from an old pot I bought about two years ago from eBay. I never actually used the pot since I purchased it, because it’s a big one – about 350ml or so. Last night, with MadameN wanting some easy to drink tea, I decided to try this pot. The pot is already pretty clean. After rinsing it with cold water, I poured hot water in it to clean it a bit. The first rinse I threw out. This is the second rinse. The water spent maybe a total of 10 seconds in the pot, and the colour, as you can see, is a light yellow.

The pot smelled right after the rinse too – a slight sweet smell, reminding me of green tea residue. I didn’t actually taste it, but it’s pretty obvious it’s not going to taste like plain old water. The pot was advertised on eBay as something that the seller’s grandmother bought from China.Who knows how much green tea has been brewed in it over the years.

This pot is actually not a Yixing, but rather a Chaozhou pot – it’s also one of the few big Chaozhou pots I’ve encountered. Chaozhou pots seem to have a clay that is more porous than Yixing. I’ve never done any A/B tests with them against Yixing to see the effects they have. That might be something worth trying.

I ended up brewing some awkward sort-of-aged Taiwanese Lishan oolong in the pot – sweet, smooth, easy to drink, while still tasting a touch green. It’s not a bad combo.

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Too bad it’s so big, otherwise I’d use it more.

A full accounting

If there ever were a point at which a person can have too many teapots…

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I must soon be approaching it.

Unpacking and then organizing all my stuff after my move has led me to reassess what I have, and at least think about (and perhaps act upon) what I should keep and what I don’t need/want anymore.  What you see above are all my unglazed teapots – there are a few missing, because they live in boxes and I didn’t quite feel like taking them out.  Of these 100+ items, however, I really only use these ones on a very regular basis

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A number of others I use more sparingly

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Some I used to use a lot, but for various reasons, I don’t anymore

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And some that I know I’ll never, ever use, because I got them for more or less decorative purposes, and they are sized and shaped in such a way as to making tea brewing almost impossible

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Among all the Yixing pots here, there are a few tokoname, which are more or less easily identifiable.  There are also the ugly ducklings — Santou pots, which are less obvious.

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After I took this picture I realized that one eluded my eyes and hid among a bunch of yixing pots.

So, what does that leave me?  There are still dozens of pots that I have not accounted for, basically.  One reason is because quite a few of them are in bad shape, cleanliness wise.  I need to wash and clean them before I can actually use them, and am currently in the process of doing that.  I also need to start doing a better job of rotating my teapots so that I have less “rarely, if ever, used” ones and more “frequently used” ones instead.  In other words, I need to spread the tea around.  Finally, I need to start culling the collection.  There are some items here that I know I’ll never use (personal preference), or are just not practical (usually too big).  So, those need to go.

More teaware

More teaware

This is a chaozhou teapot, uncharacteristically large for something of this type.  It’s a typical 300-400ml size.  I’ve never seen one that big before.  It’s supposedly from turn of the century — bought from someone who claimed it was a grandma’s leftover.  It looks the part though, as it has an older feel and look.  Only lightly used.  The chawan is there for size comparison.

Spot the difference game, part two

Ok, we’re back.

To keep you all occupied while I am still learning the ropes, here’s something for you:

Which one of these three pots is Yixing?  For the two others that are not, what are they respectively?

Keep in mind this is pre-cleaning.

The prize is either a cup (chosen from a group of them) or a few tea samples.  Winning entry must specify what each pot is.  Good luck :)