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I embarked on my tea journey when I studied abroad in China in 2008 and traveled around Taiwan that summer. I'm here to share my experiences and offer my own opinion, advice, and comments on tea.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What was I thinking?

I'm not old yet to experience this phenomenon, but it's portrayed often in popular media. You have a normal-looking adult who looked completely different in their high school days. I.E. you have high school nerds who turn into studs, conservative Christians who dressed like goth punk, etc.

I just had the experience with my tea-ware. When I first got into tea drinking, I was studying abroad in China. In my limited experience/knowledge of brewing tea, I knew that Yixing was the way to go. I proceeded to buy a collection of these Yixing, not paying attention to size or quality of clay. They were mammoth pieces, about three times as large as the teapots I use now. I paid about $50 for eight of them, so it wasn't a bad deal.

I had shipped them from China to the United States. By the time I got back (I spent the summer in Taiwan) in the fall, I had moved past large Yixing and brewed tea gong fu style. I decided I would relegate my larger pieces as decorations when I moved into my own place, so I didn't bother to remove them from the bubble wrap, to save me more trouble later.

I was looking for my peeing ceramic boy...er, it's a clay figure of a little boy, and when you pour hot water over it, it um..."pees." I think it's mostly a gag thing that you keep on your tea table/tray to mess with people. But back to the story...I was curious about my large Yixing, and in a moment of sheer spontaneity, decided to free them from their bubble-wrap prison.
Group "A"

Group "B"

Wanting to test how far I've come, I put the pots through various tests, including the tapping test, the stop-pour test, and the smell test. First came the tapping test, which means I took the lid and tapped it gently against the handle, and body, and the spout. I was surprised by hot "metallic" sounding some of these sounded. Of course, the larger hollow body might have contributed to that. Although they didn't sound like bells, group "A" made some pretty nice sounds. The ones in group "B" sounded dull and flat.

Next was the stop-pour test, in which I tried to pour out water with my thumb held over the "blow-hole." Well, some of these didn't have it, so yeah...the ones that did though failed miserably. It was as if I didn't stop the "blow-hole" at all! I sniffed the pots after I poured in some hot water, and it seemed okay, they all had a clay smell to them. I'm not surprised by what I found out about these pots, although the results of the tapping test are very interesting, although I don't know what that says about the quality of the clay, though the metallic sounds might mean these pieces are high-fired?

The food chain in the Teapot World

I had thought that these pots might actually be usable enough that I can trade them away for some tea samples or whatever, but these things are so darn user-unfriendly that I'd be one dishonest salesperson if I did that. But, if anyone wants these teapots for decoration purposes, let me know and maybe we can agree on something. Still, I can't believe that I actually bought eight of these ridiculously large teapots before I learned that small = better. I'm tempted to just destroy the whole lot, since they're so ungainly large and really poor quality.

Note: My teapot and tea from Imen arrived today. I already brewed the Zhi Lan in my gaiwan and I was supremely impressed. Prepping my teapot as we speak....*sigh* I can't believe I have to let it sit there overnight, and since I work tomorrow I probably won't be able to put the badboy to use until tomorrow night...but anyway, this is just a tease so you can keep following my blog (yes, I know I'm desperate/cruel).

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