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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.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Experiments in Water

Water is an important, if not most important, component of the tea-making process. In some ways it's even more important than the tea leaf itself! Another component, though a bit less important (IMO), is the tea ware of choice. In many cases, it's yixing, and there are endless debates about the merits of particular clays, shapes, year made, etc. and how it affects the tea made. I have a general idea of what I should look for in terms of my own needs, but I always encourage experimentation for others, because the fun is the journey, not the destination.

We're always so focused on the interplay between yixing and tea, but what about the interplay between yixing and water? So I had a little experiment to see how my different pots affect water. I could have just brewed the same tea in all of them, which probably would be better in terms of detecting differences, but that seemed like too much of a hassle for me.

I pre-heated all the pots with boiling water, taking into account the difference in wall thickness, with the added bonus of "cleaning" out tea leaf bits, tea juice, oils, etc. Granted, the tea/coffee stains on the cups should have been cleaned, but oh well. I'm not claiming this is super scientific or anything. After pre-heating I poured boiling water in, letting the water sit for a few seconds, before decanting into the cups.

So starting from the upper left, going in a clockwise direction. I must note that it was a bit difficult to discern differences between all of these. If this experiment was being done with tea it might have been easier. The pots on the top are darker clays, all some sort of Zi Ni. With all of them, the water was generally "rounded" out in flavor with a thicker mouth feel. The upper-middle one left a weird off-taste in the water that I didn't really like. The pots on the lower level are more of a mixed lot. The lower-left is a modern Zhuni, the lower-middle is a sand-blended 80s Zhuni, and the lower-right is a modern Chao Zhou clay. For the most part, the water seemed a little brighter and sweeter, with the Chao Zhou clay making the water taste the sweetest. I wish I could drink water from that Chao Zhou pot everyday.

Of course, there are things that complicate the results. These pots have been used regularly, so maybe the change in water is the result of seasoning rather than the clay itself. Anyway, it was a fun experiment.

Happy New Years to All!

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