Sunday, April 02, 2006

Yixing pot

There are a lot of conversations on seasoned pots, old pots, new pots and long instructions on caring and using Yixing. A lot of information and detailed facts.... Maybe we should have more in-depth personal conversation on our own pots to start with? How do they behave, what do we use them for and how? How many broken-lided pots we have and the stories behind them? I would like to know what Yixing pot's fans and tea lovers use for their daily enjoyment. Hoping to learn from others' experiences, so we can improve the knowledge on these precious and mystic treasures we use daily.

This is my daily 500 ml. puerh pot. Made by a Chaozhou tea potter for the family 17/18 years ago. The old craftsman used 4 different types of ZiSha clay to made this pot: Lu Ni (Green), Zhu Ni (Red) which is the yellow, Zi (Purple) and Hong ni (Red). The coloring of pictorial images is not by dye, instead it is from different Zisha clay crafted by his hand and pressed onto the surface before firing. You can still see the finger prints on the wings of the chicks and on the red peony.

This style of pot is under the category of "Flower" pot. Flower style flourished and brought to collector's attention in the last 30 years by the living legend Master Jiang Rong.

Although this style of pottery began from or earlier than the Ming Dynasty, her influences on the new generation potters are undeniable.

I use it almost daily in the morning for my "morning puerh" for the past 8 years. Using loose cooked big leaves, l drink up 2 full pots (1 liter!) of tea before heading for the day and pour the last one out and cool it down for the evening. I did not follow much text book directions on cleaning and wiping it dry while it is still hot for the shine etc., or any of the master's "keeping" instructions. The only thing I do is cleaning out the leaves daily, using boiling hot water to cook the pot for 2 mins and pouring boiling water over it, until the clay sucks the surface dry then I will let the lid uncover and air-dry for the next use. This takes 3 mins max.

You can see the stain on the bevel of the lid and I don't have a problem with it. Since I broke my last daily big pot for a usage of almost 2 years, while I was wiping, cleaning and polishing every time after or during usage. Until one day I dropped the lid while laboring on rubbing the bottom to shine and cracked the lid and my heart.

I believe there are fine pots to be used on occasion for high-graded teas, but they are not comfortable pots to use. Not that they are badly made, but just the pressure of using something I am not familiar with, and cost an arm or leg. And if we do use them, and cause an accident, what can we do? Can we mend them? I have many pots that have broken lids and have been sitting on shelves since.... What do people do, professionally or domestically?


Anonymous said...

First time reader of this blog, very impressed by the technical stuff (almost too methodical, actually!). I'm too lazy to write such detailed notes.

For this particular pot -- isn't it a bit large for one person's consumption? I suppose cooked puerh takes more abuse in brewing than almost anything. How much leaves are you adding in, if I may ask? I also find it intriguing that there are no obvious signs of mineral deposits on your pot if, as you claim, you don't clean it carefully. Often there is a ring of deposit near the cover and a little near the spout.

toki said...

Welcome to our blog Lawrence. Cha Dao's contributors are very methodical, that's the spirit of "Dao"!
I guess, if you want to understand the complexity of tea, you have to break it down and share the details and problems with minds alike.

For this particular pot, I call the daily pot. As a custom, there is always a "all day" tea pot with high volume for all day consumption.
Usually it's 7g-9g of tea for a full day. The wild large leaves cooked loose puerh is very durable, and for this ratio of 8g to 500 ml, the infusion will not be overwhelming in density. Sometime in the summer, I will mix 2/3 of puerh to 1/3 of Sau Mei (a yellow / white tea) adding the refreshing touch to a hot day.

Uh, and the mineral deposit issue! That's going to be a lot of "gong fu" practicing. For me, there is a big difference between carelessness and quickness upon tea pot care. To start, the made of the pot is the most important, a result of a badly made spout pouring and water speed, the tightness of the lid and the vacuum of the interior, these factors will contribute to a front/bottom stained spout and around the lid area.

My tips on it are: First, after every refill of hot water for brewing, pour hot water over the full pot, this will raise the leftover droplet out evenly and always end with hot water evenly over the pot. Second, the pouring of tea should end with a quick, clean jerk to stop the liquid from leaking. The pot masters usually call this "drooling teapot ". This will result in a long stain on the spout. Sounds complicated... but if you use your pot so often, you will learn how they behave.

I have a picture of a pot which is carelessly maintained, plus a bad made. But it's one of my treasures which I use for the real Cantonese Traditional Kung Fu brewing. Will post it soon.

Anonymous said...

This is not the best way of carrying out a conversation, but for lack of a better method...

I see, I only drink tea once a day, gongfu style (if I can get home in time), so I guess I have no need for a large pot. 8g for 3 infusions for 500ml seems a little thin though.

Puerh+shoumei is an interesting mix -- never tried that particular rendition before. Cantonese often drink puerh+chrysanthamum, although that practice died down somewhat when somebody came out with research saying it was chemically bad for you.

As for pot maintenance, yes, I know all that :). I was actually just expressing surprise that you have little mineral deposit around the rim of your cover, actually. Do you pour tea/water on the pot after you brew? Do you brush it with a brush after the water dries off? Since you use it for all day brew, I guess it is possible that you don't do what is usually done with a pot, which, I'd imagine, would result in less deposit.

I am sometimes lazy with the brush, resulting in some deposit around the lid. There's a bit of a drool deposit for my puerh pot, and I've decided to try to get rid of it. My qingxiang tieguanyin and nongxiang tieguanyin pots are better maintained. I'm going to spend a little more time on my pots' maintenance from now on, especially since I acquired two more very recently.

toki said...

You can purchase a brush specially made to remove stain on Yixing, it's made of boar's hair. Usually if the pot became too shinny by polishing or just simply neglect.

The Puerh+shoumei mix is a specialty from Hong Kong teahouse Luk Yu in Central. They can custom mix tea for you if you became a regular. Do stop by next time if you are between transit.

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