Friday, August 28, 2009


Last Group for the tea utensils posts is these tea scoops.
(Clockwise from Top)
1. Early Rep. Zitan wood scoop with jade inlay 5-7g
2. Silver spoon 1890s 2-4g
3. Cow horn scoop 8-12g
4. Bamboo scoop 6-8 g
5. Modern Rosewood scoop 6-9 g

Very simple but useful tools these are, I realized there is such a history behind them besides going further to Chinese, Japanese or Western tea culture. These Chinese scoops' shapes, widths, and sizes were all pre-calculated.

What do I mean by that? For example, while scooping loose wiry oolong one supposed to roll the tea onto the scoop, rather than digging into the delicate leaves, this rolling action will position the long leaves for easy entry to a yixing pot. Also, a full scoop equals to one tea session in general, around 6-8 grams for 120 ml brewing vessel. Depending of the sizes of the pot, we can then use different sized scoop.

Something so simple, yet following the basic design principle of form follows function.

Friday, August 14, 2009


How many is too many? Organizing and rotating tea utensils is often a headache for me... not because I am trying to show them off, but the fact that only 10% of the utensils are being used. Some even get used only once or twice. So what are these? Here, I am trying to put a glossary together for the record:

Group A: Yixing brushes.
1. Boar bristle brush for polishing larger yixing.
2. Hay brush for cleaning inside of wet yixing after use.
3. Boar chest-hair hard brush with ox bone handle, for brushing off uneven patina on yixing surface.
4. Soft 'feeding' brush to even out patina on yixing.
5. Fan brush from my watercolor class, to even out water spot while brewing.
6. Soft polishing cloth for cleaning yixing after brewing, and while the surface is still hot.

Group B: Tea strainers.
1. Korean Calabash Gourd Strainer.
2. Blanc de Chine Strainer set.
3. English silver nickel tiny Strainers.
4. Cheapest stainless steel Strainers ($5 for 25) with glass pitcher
5. QingBai Cha Hai

More to come.... Would it be fun to have quizzes next? hmm... a sneak peek:

Group C: Modern Kung Fu kits.

Group D: Whatnots.
1. Bamboo roasting basket
2. Taiwanese refreshing/roasting pot
3. Puerh knife
4. Wild guess 1
5. Brazier chopsticks
6. Puerh Sword
7. Whatnot jar
8. Wild guess
9. Yixing tea tray

Anyone interested in guessing what 4 and 8 are? Of course there will be a small reward. Enjoy

Thanks for everyone anticipations... Close guesses, unfortunately, no one get it right : (
Here are the answers:

4. Wild guess 1 - Teapot lid holder. Material like Pearl on the top suppose to avoid reaction with yixing (as the maker told me), more like caviar spoon.
8. Wild guess 2 - Tetsubin holder. While using Brazier to heat Tetsubin, this traditional chopper tools adjust and hold the kettle in place. You can see the notches at the end for gripping the rim of a brazier, which RTEA pointed out.

image reference for Scotttea comment.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Boiling Puerh

After drinking 2 days straight on the 90s Tibetan puerh, I think it was pretty exhausted.... will I just discard it? Why not try something the Tibetan will do - Boiling it. Only without adding yak butter and salt.

Boiling puerh is a traditional way of drinking tea in the mountain of XiShuangBanna. Village Elders usually drink the boil soup after a day of work, companying a nice green tobacco.

The boiled soup tasted like classic black Assam tea. Warm and welcoming.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Early 90s Xiaguan FT Tibetan Flame Mushroom

Is there a season for drinking aged cooked puerh? Most of my experiences with shu aged (7-15yrs) during dead-winter season, is flat and boring.... really nothing to write home about.

Organizing some cigar boxes in the storage (which I use for aging shu puerh), I bumped into a lost mushroom. I did a post back in 2008 Feb., this puerh did not impress nor inspire at that time. But when I opened it up this morning, in a 80% hum./80F storage, it was like an invitation to a fine Chinese Banquet.

The continue down pour and hot muggy weather, it seems to have given a new life to this dried up, loveless mushroom. Fragrance of sweet cedar wood, dried wild morels, and a hint of tobacco caught my fancy. The shape of mushroom puerh always look exotic and intriguing, so inspired by it, I have to find some vessel which is similar in texture and tones.

A neglected set of Japanese tea cups seem to beg for a summer breeze.

8g/150ml pot. Crab eyes boil. 3 Flash Rinses. Set 1 min rest after 3rd rinse.
10s to 3rd brew / 30s on 4th / 10s on 5th / 1 min onward.

Clear shine, ruby red, burnt chestnut and oily.

Red Jujube and dried dates, sweet woody, after rain forest.

Dry sweet mushroom, dates, chinese herbal medicine, cedar wood, pale rose.

Sweet, clean, coating top of throat, oily refreshing (like Olio Nuovo), deep and tingling.

Calming, numbing to back of mouth and throat, gentle cha qi, sweet spots at top of throat, refreshing and moisturizing the tongue. Still a bit flat after the 5th. to my taste.

Besides drinking it hot in my chawan, I also lined the 'new' small cups out for a cool tasting. From 1st brew to the 6th. Most of the time, when tasting aged puerh (shu & sheng), do try drinking it cool. It's a preferred way for older pu-headed mandarins.

So next time, if you have a disappointing aged shu in your storage, try picking a right season or after heavy rain to give it another chance.
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