Thursday, April 29, 2010

Choosing a teapot

All about utilization

Teapot designs are personal.

They reflect the taste and personality of the owner.

The best teapots come from Taiwan.

This is particularly due to the quality of the clay and water in Taiwan that are free from industrial pollutants.

Teapots that are vintage (pre-1950's) or antique (more than 100 years old) teapots made in China are considered safe as daily food utilitarian items.

Most of the teapots that come out of China, past the 1950's are best just for collection and not for food use.

The Taiwan kilns are tested for contaminants and chemical pollutants by the master potters.

Master potters of Taiwan are particular about the quality of their clay.

These potters are also some of the best following the tradition of ancient Chinese potters.

Selection Technique

Design is a matter of choice and taste.

A teapot must please the user.

Above its beauty, a good teapot must reflect good form and function.

Form and function of a teapot is vital in the preservation of the essence of the tea brewed in it.

General Guidelines

•A standard teapot will have a paralled alignment of its handle, mouth and spout , this reflects the skill of the potter.

•A teapot lid must fit perfectly to retain the flavor and aroma of the tea.

•Overall balance of the teapot, the handle and spout must align,.

•Thickness and curve of teapot handles must be comfortable for handling.

•Quality of clay must be clean and high. It will reflect the lustre of the overall teapot.

•Dyes in clays must be avoided.

•Teapots must not have odours. Any odour of oil, stains or chemicals indicates contamination.

•A new teapot must smell like clay or earthy tones.

•The pouring flow of the teapot must be smooth so that it does not influence the flavour of of the tea brewed.

•A teapot that pours out tea without leaving a drop, is a superiorly designed teapot.

•Thickness of the pot can be assessed by the pitch that is emitted from the friction caused by the lid against the mouth of the teapot.

•A thick walled teapot emits a low pitch, and is best for teas that require a higher temperature and longer brewing time, e.g. pu errh, black teas.

•A thin walled teapot has a high pitch and is best for brewing teas that require a lower temperature and shorter time to brew, e.g. oolong, scented teas.

•Tall and small flange teapots are best for brewing fermented teas.

•Short teapots that have a large flange are best for mildly fermented teas.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'm a little teapot


There are 4 basic designs that most potters use:


•Forms found in nature

•Symmetrically aligned


Essence of the clay

Regular use, a teapot will absorb and retain the essence of the tea brewed in it.

That is the charm of an old teapot.

Old and used teapots are prized over new ones.

Tea connoisseurs will generally use one teapot to one particular tea so as not to adulterate the teapot or the taste of the tea.

There are various types of clay - purple, red, green ,white , lava clay and aged.

A well made teapot is made with the best and highest quality, that has a fine texture, porous and fired twice at the appropriate temperatures.

Colouring in the clay is achieved by mixing different clays together and right firing temperatures.

The iron contained in the clay mixture will produce colours like purple (which is actually a very dark brown), red, yellow, black, green or white.

No dyes should be used to attain colour.

It is all about knowing the right mixture.


Durability of a teapot is determined by how well the teapot was fired during its conception.

A well made and correctly fired teapot can withstand rapid temperature changes during its usage.

Ideally, firing needs to occur twice at the right temperature for the particular teapot.


•Always prime a new teapot.

•Never wash a teapot with any soap or detergent.

•Always rinse it in hot water and allow it to air dry completely before putting it away.

•Nurture the patina of the teapot with a clean tea towel.

•Store it with 1/4 tsp of your favourite unbrewed tea leaves.

•Always rinse the pot with hot water before each use.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Making of a teapot

Handcrafted teapots are a work of art.
They become heirloom pieces with time.
Buying a handmade teapot is considered an investment that cannot be replicated.
The potter makes one.
The next teapot that is made is different and again is considered unique.
No two are the same in design, form and function.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Brewing Temperatures

The amount of times a pot of tea is brewed varies.
It primarily depends on the quality of the tea.
Also the ratio of tea to size of teapot makes a difference
in the taste and strength of the tea.

Caffeine is affected by heat.
The antioxidants located in catechins and theanine when combined with heat reduces caffeine activity.
When green tea is steeped in cooler water (158 degrees F), relatively more caffeine and antioxidant polyphenols will be extracted in the second infusion.
When hotter water (about 185 degrees F and above) is used, more caffeine and polyphenols will be extracted during the first infusion.

White Tea
150 °F (66 °C) – 160 °F (71 °C)
1–2 minutes
3 infusions

Yellow Tea
160 °F (71 °C) – 170 °F (77 °C)
1–2 minutes
3 infusions

Green Tea
170 °F (77 °C) – 180 °F (82 °C)
1–2 minutes
4 - 6 infusions

Oolong Tea
180 °F (82 °C) – 190 °F (88 °C)
2 – 3 minutes
4 - 6 infusions

Black Tea
210 °F (99 °C)
2–3 minutes
2 - 3 infusions

Pu-erh Tea
200 °F (93 °C) – 210 °F (99 °C)
4-8 infusions (depending on the age)

210 °F (99 °C)
3 – 6 minutes
Varied infusion times

Tea Dictionary

Brazier - a bronze, ceramic or clay vessel holding burning coals for heating a kettle or to cook on

Bodhidharma - Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk from southern India.

He lived during the early 5th century and is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Zen Buddhism (Chinese: Chán) to China.

Cha - tea

Camellia Thea Sinensis - Latin name forthe tea plant.

Shui fang/Crucible/Slop pot - for disposing tea water, tea leaves, used when tea tray is too small, in pre-Ming dynasty, it was a water container used to store unboiled water for tea.

Chawan- tea bowl

Cha Yi - Art of Tea

Cha Tao 茶道 - Way of tea

Cha dao  茶道 (君子六件套) - tea implements consisting of typical set will include 6 items: a scoop, a pick, a pair of tongs, a funnel, a scraper and tool holder.

Cha Chi 茶匙 tea scraper, lit 'tea spoon,' for nudging tea into the teapot

Chado- Way of Tea

Cha chuan - tea boat or teapot stand

Cha chen - platform for teapot, for preparing Gongfu tea; overflow of water flows into the Cha chen

Cha diao 茶雕 - tea pick

Cha gang  茶缸- tea leaf jar

Cha Hai - Means tea sea (see Justice cup)

Cha He 茶荷  - presentation vessel

 Cha ji 茶几 - small tea table

Cha jin  茶巾- tea cloth for wiping spills and drops

Cha jia 茶夾 - tea tongs

Cha lou  茶漏 - tea funnel

Cha lou - tea house
Cha Ren - tea person dedicated to the art and craft of drinking tea

Cha pan - bamboo tea tray

Cha shao 茶勺 - tea scoop

Cha tong  茶通 - tea open(er) 
Chashitsu - room designed and designated for tea ceremony

Cha qi 茶器 - teaset

Cha qi 茶器 - vital energy of tea

Cha qi - brewed tea 

Cha zha chi 茶渣匙 - tea dregs scraper, for cleaning out a teapot

Cha ze 茶則 -  'tea chooser' 
Chasen- tea whisk

Chashaku - tea scoop

Cha Ji - full tea presentation with a meal

Chaki - tea caddy

Chakin - tea cloth

Chamasi - tea and horse office

Chamagudao - tea and horse road in Chinese

Chamadao - the tea and horse road

Cha Xi - Tea setups/ the decor and stylized implement placements by the Tea Master/ sometimes mistakenly also known as a Water Bowl for GongFu teacups

Darjeeling - a town in the state of West Bengal in India

Fair cup - see Justice pot

Funnel - for channelling tea leaves into the teapot

Furogama - a Japanese brazier used in a tea ceremony

Gaiwan - A three piece porcelain set up to brew tea, consisting of a lid, handleless cup and saucer; its a covered bowl.

Gaibei - is a covered cup, smaller size than a gaiwan

Gong Fu Cha- Old man's tea, a brewing method.

Green tea - One of the 7 classifications of tea. Hishaku - bamboo water ladle

Justice cup- For equal distribution of brewed tea from the standpoint concerntration of the infusion.

Ju Zhong - means a brewing cup

Kama - kettle

Koryo- is a small Korean infuser that is made up of a cup, infuser basket, and a round saucer that doubles as a base or a lid. It is made from clay and is often glazed inside and out.

Kyusu teapot - A Japanese style teapot with the handles placed on the side that resembles an old chinese herb pot

Mizusashi -jar for containing water/water vessel

Monkey Pick- An oolong tea.

Matcha - finely powdered Japanese green tea

Oolong - One of the 7 classifications of tea.

Pincers - Used for removing tea sediments from the teapot.

Prefecture-level city - An urban centre with a non-rural population over 250,000 with the gross output of value of industry of 200,000,000 RMB; with the economic output of the tertiary industry superseding that of the primary industry, thereby contributing to over 35% of the GDP. Renminbi - The renminbi is the currency of the People's Republic of China. The principal unit is the yuan , subdivided into 10 jiao , each of 10 fen .

Shui fang   - water bowls for used and spent tea leaves and tea brews; a waste receptacle for tea leaves and tea / sometimes also used for fresh water to brew tea with          

Shui xi - 水洗 - waste water bowls like a Shui Fang       

Southern Silk Road - Was a winding network/paths of mule/horse caravans going through the mountains of Yunnan Province into the Southwest of China. This, over a thousand years ago was the land trade link from the city of Chang'an (Xi'an) towards the Indian Ocean. This road is commonly known as The tea and horse road. Economic trade goods carried along this route were tea and horses, rarely silk.      

 Tea- A liquid infusion made from the Camellia Thea Sinensis plant.       

 Tea and horse road - This is also known as Chamagudao, the oldest horse caravan trade route in Asia spanning from Southwest China - Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces, running along the eastern foothills of the mountain ranges Hengduan (China's centre of tea production) crossing this mountain range and deep canyons of the Yalong and Jingsa rivers (tributeries of the upper yangtze river), the Lancang (tributary of the Mekong River), the Nu (Salween) and then spanning across the two highest plateaus Qinghai in Tibet and Yunnan-Guizhou in China, into south of the Himalayas in India.          

Tea Flush- Refers to picking of teas          

Tea receptacle - For showing tea leaves.         

Tea pitcher - see Justice cup        

Tit Kuan Yin - an oolong tea associated with a legend of a tea plantation         

Tsukubai- stone basin          

White tea - One of the 7 classifications of tea.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A scoop of leaves

This would depend on the strength of tea desired and style of brewing.

This would depend on the strength of tea desired.

A medium strength tea requires a 60 ml teapot
to be filled with 1/2 its capacity with tea leaves.
For something a little stronger, fill the pot up to 2/3 capacity of leaves.

A mug with the capacity of 8-12 oz of liquid, 1 teaspoon of leaves will suffice.

For an English style of brewing using a teapot, use 1 teaspoon per person and 1 teaspoon for the teapot.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Green tea versus oolong tea

Green tea and oolong tea

Green tea is usually unfermented,
raw tea.
Oolong is fully fermented and cured tea.
Oolong means black dragon.

There are 2 categories within this classification.

They are what is commonly also known
as green oolong and black oolong.
The green oolong is also commonly and rather loosely termed as green tea.
How green oolong is achieved is dependent on the tea master
who handles the processing.
Unlike coffee crops that are sold prior to harvest, tea crops are sold only
after the tea is harvested,
processed and the taste test is conducted.
The final product sold is dependent on the quality of the end product.
Therefore, the tea quality is dependent on factors like weather, seasons
and the final processing by the tea maker.
Freshly roasted green oolong is vacuum packed to preserve its freshness.
Black oolong is achieved by re-roasting the old green oolong.

Semantics of a Gaiwan

Gaiwan is a covered bowl.
Gaibei is a covered cup.
Ju Zhong means a brewing cup.

They are one and the same with different names.
It consists of a lid, a handleless cup and saucer.
It is a universal tool for tea preparation.
It is a "teapot" and cup in one.
Larger gaiwans are usually used a teapots.
Smaller gaiwans are to brew and drink from - individual use.
You may use any tea in a gaiwan.
Most gaiwans are made from porcelain.
However, porcelain loses heat quickly.
The recommended tea in a gaiwan is a green/oolong tea, since it brews well in lower temperatures.
It takes experience and "asbestos fingers" to handle a gaiwan.

Please be cautious when using a gaiwan to brew hot tea.

Since it does not have handles or is not heat insulated,common sense dictates
that the cup will be hot to the touch when hot water is poured into it.

How to handle a gaiwan

Please be cautious when using a gaiwan to brew hot tea.

•Use the thumb and middle finger to grip the rim of the gaiwan and the index finger to press on the lid.
•Proceed by moving the lid slightly to create a gap between the lid and the cup.
•The gap will work as a filter, while allowing for the tea to flow out.
•Please be cautious as you are handling a hot dish with no insulators.
•It takes practice to handle a gaiwan skillfully.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Taiwan High Mountain Tea

This would depend on the strength of tea desired and style of brewing.
Taiwan High Mountain Tea is known as Gao Shan oolong cha.
This is the top of the oolong tea world.
It is the best of the best.
These tea plants were brought over by the fleeing Ming dynasty supporters to Taiwan in the 17th century.
They came from the Fukkien province of China during the Manchu dynasty takeover.
These tea plants have been cultivated for over 350 years in the Highlands of Taiwan.
They are considered the best in the tea world and the favorite among tea connoisseurs.
This is a semi-fermented tea.
It retains retains all of the nutrients and antioxidants
contained in unfermented green tea.
It goes through a brief brief fermentation process eliminating harsh
irritants from the raw tea.
Subtle fragrances and flavors are retained and enhanced,
which distinguishes this tea from all other varieties.
It contains the least amount of tannins when compared to fully fermented teas.
The cultivation and appreciation of High Mountain Oolong is unique with each plantation as well as each mountain producing its own distinctive bouquet of flavors, and each year's harvest yielding its own special character influenced by the weather and seasons.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Puer, Pu 'er, Pu-erh

Puer tea is usually compressed tea made from processed
tea leaves that have been compressed into molds of different shapes. 

Puer tea is usually compressed tea made from processed
tea leaves that have been compressed into molds of different shapes.
This tea is usually made from the broad leaf tea tree Camellia sinensis var. assamica.
It was used as a form of currency in trade during ancient times.
Tea was commonly traded for horses.
Pu-er or aged tea was the favorite of the ancient Tibets, Mongols and noblemen.
It was also used as a form of medicine for digestive disorders and overconsumption of food and alcohol.
The making of this tea is a well kept secret among tea growers amd makers for centuries.
Puer tea was transported for miles along the ancient Silk Road to western regions of the Asian continent and the European world.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Here's to your health

Tea contains high levels of antioxidants like polyphenols,
flavonoids, and catechins.
These take on the “free radicals” in the body and prevent them
from harming the healthy cells.
Antioxidants prevent diseases and protects the body
against premature cellular deterioration.
Antioxidants are not only in teas but also in fruits, flowers and vegetables.
Tea also contains flouride which benefits the teeth and has bacteria killing properties which helps control bad breath and the formation of plaque.

What is an antioxidant?
Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods
which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body.
Benefits of tea varieties

Does green tea have more antioxidants than black tea?

• Higher quality teas have more catechin antioxidants than lower quality teas.
• White tea has more antioxidants than any other tea.
•Green tea has more catechin antioxidants than black tea since black tea goes through more processing.
•Unfermented rooibos tea has more polyphenol
antioxidants than fermented rooibos.
•Freshly brewed teas have more polyphenol
antioxidants than instant or bottled teas.
•More researchers seem to agree that brewed (cold or hot) or caffeinated tea has more antioxidants than instant teas.

Where to begin

To get the most health benefits out of your teas, choose high-quality
loose leaf teas from your local or online tea shop.
Brew it up and enjoy.
Sip, savor, and fight disease today.
It's never too late to enjoy the many health benefits of tea!
Recent studies on benefits of tea and its antioxidants:

•Study finds tea drinkers have lower blood pressure
(Archives of Internal Medicine, 2004).

• Tea may lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease
(Journal of Nutrition, 2003).

• Black tea may lower “bad” cholesterol
(United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA) Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, 2003).

•Tea consumption may help heart disease patients
 (Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association, 2001)

• Green tea could help stem esophageal cancer.
(Harvard Medical School, 2004).

•Green and black tea can slow down the spread of prostate cancer
(Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, 2004)

•Tea may protect against cancer caused by smoking.
(Journal of Nutrition, 2003).

• Green tea and white tea fight colon cancer (Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University study, Carcinogenesis, 2003).

• Hot tea may lower risk of some skin cancers (University of Arizona study, cancer epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention (Vol. 9, No. 7), 2001).

•Green tea consumption may lower stomach cancer risk
(University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health study,
International Journal of Cancer
(Vol. 92: 600-604), 2001).

•Green and oolong teas reduce risk of hypertension
(National Cheng Kung University study, Archives of Internal Medicine, 2004).

Immune boosting
•Tea believed to boost the body’s defenses
(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2003)

• A green tea component helps kill leukemia cells
(Mayo Clinic, 2004).

•Drinking tea might delay Alzheimer's Disease
(Newcastle University's Medicinal Plant Research Centre study,
Phytotherapy Research, 2004).

• Tea may play a role as an AIDS fighter
(University of Tokyo, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2003).

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea, caffeine and me

The caffeine content in some teas depend on the class of teas.

Knowing your green tea is important.
The most prized part of the tea leaves are the terminal buds and the adjacent 2 to 3 leaves.
This is called the tea flush.
They are the most naturally sweetest part of the plant and also contain caffeine.
The highest grade teas are made from this part of the tea pickings.
Japanese green tea has more caffeine than dark teas like Pu Errh and Lapsang Souchong.
Recommended consumption of caffeine products are no more than 300 milligrams per day.
The caffeine content in tea has been found to be a better and steady
source of stimulation when compared to coffee, soft drinks or chocolate.
Common side effects (nervousness, headaches) associated with consumption
of caffeine from tea are few and rare.
Use high quality loose tea leaves.
They allow for you to adjust the strength of the tea according
 to your taste preference and caffeine tolerance.
Caffeine content lost in the first 5 minutes of the first infusion is 70% .
However, the length of this first infusion can effect the strength
 of the second infusion and the subsequent infusions.
The up side to this blander taste in the following infusions is the caffeine content gets significantly lower.
Tisanes are a great alternative to caffeine sensitivity.
flower and herbal infusions do not contain caffeine but has all the benefits of antioxidants.
Some pointers to consider about caffeine

1. Knowing your caffeine sensitivity and level of tolerance.
2. Avoid tea in tea bags.
They are of inferior quality and are made of tea sweepings.
They also contain far more caffeine.
3. Begin with half a cup of tea.
1 cup usually contains between 15 to 75 milligrams of caffeine.
Smaller doses are easily monitored.
Increasing gradually according to your reaction to caffeine.
4. Brewing the tea a little weaker in strength can help you build your caffeine tolerance.
Rule of thumb is 1 -2 tsp per cup for a normal cup. Cut that in 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.
Increase it with time.
5. Brew it the traditional way.
Throw away the first infusion.
This first infusion soaks up
about 70% of the caffeine in this first infusion.
6. Drinking hot tea is better than cold tea.
The antioxidants catechins binds in hot water and lessens the caffeine's effectiveness.
Cool or cold tea breaks the catechins down and more caffeine is released.
7. If your sensitivity is still high, drink tisanes.
They are made of flowers and herbs.
The antioxidant levels are just as high if not higher than green teas minus the caffeine effects.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sugar, cream or lemon?

Yes and no.
It really depends on the the class of tea that is being brewed.
Usually teas that are designated Breakfast teas are made from black teas.
They tend to be darker and more roasted teas.
Teas that are grown and processed in India and Sri Lanka
are designed to take on additions like spices and ginger.
These teas are particularly designed to be had with milk, sweeteners or lemon slices.
The general rule of thumb is that black teas are best for any of these additions.
Moderate to high quality teas that are mildly to almost no roasting do not require additions.
It is about the flavor and aroma of the tea.
Some are purist and would not think of tainting the tea with additions of sweeteners, milk or lemon.
This is considered tantamount to adding salt and pepper to a dish that is already perfectly flavored.
At the end of the day, you are the final arbiter of taste in your tea.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Art of Tea

A tea ceremony is a culturally influenced ceremonial activity, where the Art of Tea is practiced.

 Cha Yi

Cha Yi means Art of tea.
Cha Dao is Way of tea.
Cha Ren is Tea person - dedicated to the art and craft of drinking tea.
The Chinese way of drinking tea is more of an art form than it is a ceremony.
According to Chinese culture, tea is meant to be enjoyed without inhibitions, rules, self-consciousness or any restraints to pomp and circumstance of ceremony.
It is an experience that is spontaneous and free like flowing water - just like the Great Tao.

Japanese Tea Ceremony

In the Japanese tradition Chanoyu is a cultural activity.
The actual ceremony is called Chanoyu or Chado.
It involves the ceremonial preparation and presentation of Matcha - powdered green tea.
The manner or art is called Temae.
The development of the Japanese tea ceremony is attributed to Zen Buddhism.
Drinking tea was introduced to Japan in the 9th century by Eichu a Buddhist monk who brought it back from China.
It began to develop as a transformative practice due to its quiet and sober yet refined and subdued taste.
The act of drinking tea is characterized by humility, simplicity, natural, profound yet imperfect, celebrating beauty, time and space.

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