Sunday, 11 September 2011

Some Fresh Yixing

This is my new teapot. I like it very much.

Director's Cut recently made a weekend trip to Montreal and picked up this little gem (along with a bunch of tea, of course) from Camellia Sinensis. A couple of weeks and a dozen or so sessions later, he decided 90ml steeps aren't really his preference, so, figuring I could get better use out of it, he sold it to me. The clay is porous enough that it had already accumulated some cosmetic outside seasoning in its short stint with DC, so I figured it wouldn't suffer much of a setback if I got rid of said seasoning and gave it a fresh start.

Conventional wisdom says to never use detergent or a cleaning agent of any kind on a clay teapot, lest it should become impregnated in the clay and ruin it forever, but because MarshalN has been routinely bleaching his teapots now with no adverse effects that I can gather and because I've learned not to trust conventional wisdom when it comes to yixing (conventional wisdom often being profit-motivated and sometimes arbitrary from what I can gather), I bleached it. The pot and lid soaked in a dilute Javex bath for a little over an hour before being pulled out and rinsed again and again. After being rinsed in a half dozen baths of boiling water and subsequently soaked overnight in a bowl of hot water with some tea thrown in, the smell of bleach was gone. The first couple of post-bleach sessions with this teapot had a bit of roughness in the aftertaste usually characteristic of pesticides, but at the time of writing the pot bears no indications of having been bleached.

In order to better equip myself to decide which teas to make in this pot, I poured some 85C water through it just to see what the clay on its own will do. DC told me that this teapot is made of some great clay, and I'm inclined to agree with him. It has great energy and lends the water a very deep and full feeling in the mouth. The most notable characteristic seems to be a mineral aftertaste I normally associate with yancha, making this seem the most intuitive pairing. In practice, for whatever reason the way this pot renders yancha is unbalanced, and is actually much better suited to traditionally processed TGY. Surprisingly, despite the porosity of the clay, this pot is high-fired enough to produce an aromatic but also round and full baozhong.

So far, this teapot seems very versatile, but the degree to which the clay accumulates seasoning leads me to believe that I'll have to eventually settle on a genre. In the meantime, my plan is to continue experimenting and searching for that ideal balance between a tea that pairs well and a tea that will ensure the pot gets used.

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