Tuesday, May 22, 2007


To celebrate that I have readers now, well, a reader, I will take a sec to introduce myself.

I'm Alex.

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I live in Fort Worth, Texas, with this beautiful woman who tolerates my fascination with tea.

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Tea and I first fell in love when I moved to Fort Worth. I rented a room from a British woman who made my first cup of tea, PG Tips. From their it was a year or so of trial and error as I explored all the teas available at my store, Twinnings, Taylors of Harrogate and what not. Then I discovered Rishi-Tea's Travelogue covering their Fair Trade Certified project in Xishuanbanna, Yunnan, and it captured my imagination. Since then tea has been my doorway to other cultures, a way to learn about other places, people, languages, geography.

I work at Central Market as a Grocery Lead and local Tea Guy. This is my curse, to love tea, work with tea, and forced to sell Celestial Seasons and Bigelow and friggin Republic of Tea. I crave, yearn, for a customer to come in and ask me a legitimate tea question.

And that's me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tomasini's Challenge

Earlier today at Teachat, Tomasini challanged everyone to a tea drinking contest. I don't think anyone decided on any rules, but here are my results. In retrospect, I shouldn't have had three diet cokes before I started.

5:54 pm, 8 oz of dian hong from Xishuangbanna.
6:23 pm, 8 oz of autumnal darjeeling from the Makaibari Estate
6:44 pm, 8 oz of bai hao yin zhen, first infusion
7:07 pm, 8 oz of bai hao yin zhen, second infusion
7:34 pm, 8 oz of bai hao yin zhen, third infusion
8:04 pm, 8 oz of keemun hao ya
8:29 pm, 8 oz of fukamushicha from Kagoshima, first infusion
8:54 pm, 8 oz of fukamushicha, second infusion
(at this point I realise I don't particularly care for fukamushi)
9:29 pm, 8 oz of golden needle from Xishuangbanna
10:07 pm, 4 oz of qi lan, gong-fu first infusion
10:17 pm, 4 oz of qi lan, second infusion
10:30 pm, 4 0z of qi lan, third infusion
10:38 pm, 4 oz of qi lan, fourth infusion
12:33 am, 4 oz of lan gui ren, gong-fu first infusion
12:45 am, 4 oz of lan gui ren, second infusion.
12:46 am, vow never to drink lan gui ren again.
1:02 am, I think briefly about moving on to the kukicha, then decide, fuck that, I'm done.

Total: 96 oz in just over 7 hours. Don't think I won.


The first reviews that I will write for this blog will be over my various tea wares from Tokoname, Japan, so I thought it a good idea to provide a brief history of Tokoname, taken from Rishi, Wikipedia, and various other sites that I used to cross-check the information.

Tokoname teapots and wares are the yixing of Japan. I prefer them to yixing, as I am particularly fond of my kyusu and opt for larger pots (8-10 oz). They are also less porous than yixing and will take longer to absorb flavors. This could be good or bad, but advantageous for beginners, as it will be more forgiving.

Tokoname is a city in the Aichi prefecture on the main island of Japan, Honshu. In terms of kilns, it is the oldest and largest pottery center in Japan. During their early history, Tokoname potters mainly produced wares for Buddhist Temples, but economic growth during the Momoyama Period (1568-1603) allowed them to shift their focus to household items. By the 19th century, yixing wares had become popular among Japanese tea lovers. This in conjunction with Chinese potter, Jin Shi Heng's visit to Tokoname had a profound influence on Tokoname teawares.

Common Japanese Teaware Terms:

Chasen - Bamboo whisk
Chashaku - Bamboo tea-scooper-thingamajig
Chawan - Tea bowl
Kyusu - Teapot with side handle
Obi Ami - Mesh band screen
Sasame - Clay mesh screen
Samashi - Water cooler
Shudei - Red clay
Ushirode - Teapot with back handle
Yohen - Natural ash glaze

Ah hell, who am I kidding; there's a much better list here: