28 January 2009

Two Oolong Jars

Two new Oolong jars from the kiln, both designed with storage in mind.

First, a multicolor jian-style glazed jar with slip applique:

Great Red Spot jar

Great Red Spot jar - spot detailGreat Red Spot jar - side detail

Great Red Spot jar - interior

Great Red Spot jar - lid knob

Second, a soft brown glazed dual-lid storage jar with green glaze accents:

Mint Chocolate Oolong Storage Jar

Mint Chocolate Oolong Storage Jar - alternate viewMint Chocolate Oolong Storage Jar - outer lid view

Mint Chocolate Oolong Storage Jar - glaze detail

Mint Chocolate Oolong Storage Jar - inner lid

That is all! I'm off to Atlanta on Thursday for my first business school interview. Wish me luck!

19 January 2009

Wuyi Duet: Will's Bei Dou and Jing Tea Shop 2004 Bei Dou

I wish I had taken more photos of these teas.

Last Sunday, we drank these two Bei Dou Wuyi oolongs to break up the pu'er sessions and freshen up our palates.

Will brewin 2

The first tea was sourced from a local farm not located on the Wuyi Scenic Area. Its roasting falls on the high end of medium fire, still a bit green. However, its nicely high oxidation made it fruity in addition to roasty, and only a bit bitter.

The second is Jing Tea Shop's Aged Bei Dou (2004). We drank this in between the two pu'er sessions. The scent was roasty and sweet. After 4-5 years, it indeed tasted aged with a dried fruit flavor that went a little sour, maybe from being in humid Guangzhou. Spicy, too: Davin noted black pepper. I really enjoyed it.

Wuyi pot

16 January 2009

Pu'er Competition Tasting - Six Sheng Bing from 2007-2008

As mentioned, Will of the Teadrunk Forum, Roy, Davin and I met up on Sunday to taste six sheng pu'er bing from 2007-2008.

Our setup:

Puer Competition Tasting 2008 teas - Setup 1

Six 150ml (?) tasting sets and spoons. Preheated with boiling water and decanted. 3g of tea would steep for 5 minutes, then be decanted in succession. We preceded the session with some roasty oolong to prepare our palates, and kept hot water around to clean our mouths between teas. Will also provided some olive oil, which he and I took shots of when we felt our palates began to converge the flavors of the different teas.

The candidates all came from Will's Yunnan Sourcing sample collection. Included in the mix were the 2008 Yong Pin Hao Lan Xiang, 2008 Xiaguan FT Nanzhao Round Cake, 2008 Xiaguan FT Exquisite Elegance, 2008 Shuang Yi ("Hai Lang Hao") Star of Bulang, a 2007 Yong Zhen Qing Bing, and 2008 Menghai 7542-801.

Sample A
Puer Competition Tasting 2008 teas - Sample A

Sample B
Puer Competition Tasting 2008 teas - Sample B

Sample C
Puer Competition Tasting 2008 teas - Sample C

Sample D
Puer Competition Tasting 2008 teas - Sample D

Sample E
Puer Competition Tasting 2008 teas - Sample D

Sample F
Puer Competition Tasting 2008 teas - Sample F

We all remarked on the smoky smell of "factory" green pu'er when we decanted the teas. The smell threatened to become too strong, so we left the leaves in the lidded tasting mugs, lid on, to limit its influence our olfactory perception.

Puer Competition Tasting 2008 teas - Tasting 3

I had some fun trying to guess which were the "factory" cakes--the Xiaguan FT and Menghai 7542--and which were the smaller productions (Shuang Yi and Yong Pin Hao). While I couldn't place exactly the factory, I guessed from the smoky roughness of teas B through E that they were probably the large factories, with A and F having the least smokiness and a more gentle strength.

It turns out I was mostly right. Tea F was the Yong Pin Hao cake. Tea A was the Yong Zhen Qing Bing, which I know nothing about and don't see on the YSLLC storefront. What surprised all of us most of all was that the Hai Lang Hao / Shuang Yi cake was one of the smokiest and roughest teas. Here are our notes:

Sample A: 2007 Yong Zhen Qing Bing
Scent of after processing smoke. Not too bitter. Nicer flavor than the initial scent. Good after taste. Perhaps a blended leaf? Medium-sized and broken leaf.

Sample B: 2008 Menghai Dayi 7542 Batch 801
Smells and tastes like factory tea. Smoky, fruity, and a little sour. Not that bitter, though. Tastes similar to C. Wet leaf is tiny little bits.

Sample C: 2008 Hai Lang Hao Star of Bulang
Thick. Broth transitions from oily in the mouth to dry. More interesting after taste. Little bit sour? Tastes similar to B, but more bitter. Side note - according to Scott, the maocha in this is actually from 2005. Also, it’s not really a Hai Lang Hao cake; it’s a joint production with another vendor. Small leafed.

Sample D: 2008 Xiaguan FT Nan Zhao Round Cake
Bitter. Smooth. Smoky. Round citrus. Bitter aftertaste. Jason guessed it as a Menghai factory tea [oops!]. Distinct after taste. Roy says it tastes like the Pacific North West. Mix of little bits and medium leaves, but mostly the former.

Sample E: 2008 Xiaguan FT "Exquisite Elegance"
Sour with some cigarette. Light scent. Bread mold or dust. Same as D in leaf quality.

Sample F: 2008 Yong Pin Hao "Lán Xiāng"(兰香)Wild Arbor
Least like a factory tea. More herbal. Astringent at the end. Most whole leaf of any of the teas. Largest leaves of the bunch.

Personally, I liked teas F, D, and A in that order. I disliked teas C and E. I thought B was good but maybe too much like dianhong to be convinceably wholly da ye varietal.

But this opinion probably doesn't amount to much: none of us are particularly accostumed to competition-style tasting. I yoinked Will's samples to brew them gongfu at home, and will post anything interesting later.

Puer Competition Tasting 2008 teas - Leaves 1
From top to bottom: C, D, E, F

15 January 2009

Pu'er Competition Tasting - Three 1999 Menghai Factory Qing Bing

This past Sunday, Will of the Teadrunk Forum, Roy, Davin and I met up to taste a lot of sheng pu'er while drinking as little of it as possible. After doing a a blind competition tasting of eight young sheng bing, we moved onto these three 1999 Menghai factory teas:

Sample A:
Puer Competition Tasting 1999 Teas - Sample A (2)

Sample B:
Puer Competition Tasting 1999 Teas - Sample B (2)

Sample C:
Puer Competition Tasting 1999 Teas - Sample C (2)

The setup was three competition tasting sets. They were preheated with boiling water and decanted in the succession they were filled. We used 3g of tea brewed for 5 minutes. We attempted to create roughly equal samples in terms of the proportion of chunks to loose leaves.

Puer Competition Tasting 1999 Teas - Decanted 3

This is the result, from top to bottom the teas are A, B, and C.

Sample A
We all remarked that A's darker color probably meant it underwent the most humid storage. Unsurprisingly, it gave off some mold smell on the tasting spoon. However, it did not taste as wet stored as it smelled until it cooled significantly, which was nice. Will and I instantly felt a rush of energy on our first sip, but otherwise the tea didn't offer much. Its flavors were relatively flat.

Sample B
Sample B tasted dry stored and young. Despite its age, the flavor had developed some fruit and just a bit of wood. It easily tasted the most complex of the three and had a good aftertaste. The dry storage made Will remark that of the three, this was his favorite.

Sample C
I liked Sample C best. It underwent slightly more humid storage than B and showed more development of wood and earth notes, but still complex enough in young ways (straw, a little smoke, bitterness on the tongue root).

Puer Competition Tasting 1999 Teas - Leaves

Here are their brewed leaves. It might appear the white balance is off between photos, but it's a trick of the eye. Sample A's leaves are darker, B's the lightest, and C's brown.

Puer Competition Tasting 1999 Teas - Leaf A

Puer Competition Tasting 1999 Teas - Leaf B

Puer Competition Tasting 1999 Teas - Leaf C

Unfortunately for me, tea C is the most expensive, over $400. Teas A & B are roughly equivalent in price, around $150-$180.

The teas are:

A: 1999 Menghai 7542, Sampan Tea
B: 1999 Menghai Big Green Tree, Sampan Tea
C: 1999 Menghai Big Green Tree "Dark Blue Piao", Hou De Asian Art

New Pieces

Black Basaltware Whiskey Cups / Yunomi, Set of Four
Collaboration between Jason Fasi (throwing) and Davin Dawson (glazing):

Black Basalt Whisky Cups - soloBlack Basalt Whisky Cups - first pairBlack Basalt Whisky Cups - 2nd pairBlack Basalt Whisky Cups - foot

Red Stoneware Tea Tray with Rust Glaze and Lichen Detail
The top only fits one way because the lid shrank less than the lip of the tray. Still, I'm very happy with the glazing and clay texture.

Lichen Red Stoneware Tea Tray - top viewLichen Red Stoneware Tea Tray - inside viewLichen Red Stoneware Tea Tray - clay detailLichen Red Stoneware Tea Tray - interior glaze detailLichen Red Stoneware Tea Tray - lichen detail

White Opal Gaiwan
This piece's lid unfortunately suffered damage. Artfully hidden in photograph.

White Opal Gaiwan - wide frameWhite Opal Gaiwan - alternate viewWhite Opal Gaiwan - lid detail

Footless Yellow Spot Gaiwan
Layered glazes, wax resist decoration

Yellow Spot GaiwanYellow Spot Gaiwan - alternate viewYellow Spot Gaiwan - lid

03 January 2009


Black basaltware tea tray in blue and gray, handbuilt by Davin Dawson:

Basalt-ware blue and gray glazed tea tray - top viewBasalt-ware blue and gray glazed tea tray - side shot
Basalt-ware blue and gray glazed tea tray - side detailBasalt-ware blue and gray glazed tea tray - rim detail