Saturday, September 29, 2007
Lochan White Tea Samples
Monday, September 24, 2007
Shimizu Genji-san, Part 3
Mogake Yokode Kyusu
I knew that I wanted a side-handled kyusu by Genji-san, and I have been saving up for one for a while, humming and hawing over which one I should purchase. At the last minute I picked this one, and I'm glad I did.
This teapot uses a "mogake" design, where seaweed is attached to the pot using string, thus allowing the salt to oxidize the clay during firing. This creates a unique and elemental pattern.
The spout is well made, and the lid is a remarkably precise fit, so there is absolutely no leaking or dripping.
Notice that the handle and spout are not a perfect right angle. I can't remember where I read it, but supposedly that is a sign of a well designed kyusu.
I saw this one on a Japanese website that only sold wholesale, and I had been looking for it since. When I ordered the kyusu, I figured it couldn't hurt to ask Yoshikawa-san if this was an item that he could procure for me. To my very pleasant surprise, it appears he spoke with Genji-san, who then made this particular one.
When I first saw a picture of it, and every single time after, all I could see was water being poured into it, sort of sloshing around, pure and clear. It sounds lame, I know, but the yuzamashi knew its purpose and wanted to full fill it. When it came, as soon as it was unwrapped, without thinking about it, I filled it with water, and it was like a deep itch had finally been scratched.
Yeah, lame, I know, but this piece is special to me, nonetheless.
It handles very well. Being wide and shallow allows a better distribution of weight than the tetsuki yakishime samashi, facilitating a smoother pour.
I like the feet.
I chose to say little and let the pictures try to speak for themselves. But I can tell you that seeing a picture is nothing like holding them. These two items are superb.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Zarafina Tea Maker Suite
If they had contacted me about reviewing the Zarafina Tea Maker Suite a few months ago, I would have been rather skeptical. I am mostly a purist when it comes to tea, but having read the reviews from Tea Guy and Gongfu Girl (huh, reminds me of a movie), I was reasonably optimistic. It turns out the optimism was justified; the Zarafina is as good as I expected, if not a little better.
:) Good Cup
Friday, September 14, 2007
Sencha and Sake
Retail: $1.79/ea. (store price) $45/case (Ito En price)
I learned about and purchased my first bottle of sake today. I have nothing to compare it to, the stuff I bought was made and bottled in the U.S., so I have my doubts about how wonderful it really is, but this stuff was good, strong at first with a remarkably smooth finish.
What I learned is that the quality of the sake depends on how much the rice is polished, so here are a few words to look for.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Teance Free Leaf Tea
I sampled the Peony, and I was surprised by the quality. The bouquet uses lots of buds, and you can see the fine white hairs. The flavor is very pleasant, and it reminds me of the xian tao, only "whiter." It is also fruitier than most white teas I've had. The single bouquet easily yielded a few solid infusions. I would happily drink this tea again. But I wouldn't want to pay for it. I didn't care for the $10 price tag at my store, and I am less fond of the $13 price on their website. Even taking into consideration the labor intensive bouquets, $1.63 a bouquet seems a little steep. The overall quality of the leaves is quite decent, but I fear this may be just another expensive gimmick.
Edit: I feel I should clarify that my comments about the price are based solely on my opinion and limited observations. I know nothing of the costs involved with producing this kind of tea, and for all I know, it is a fair price. Just not one I'm going to pay.
Friday, September 7, 2007
A Brief Hiatus. Maybe.
Some things have come up, and I may be going away for a bit. I may get an update in before that happens, I may not. There are a few other things on my mind this week.
To everyone else, don't drink all the tea while I'm gone.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
If the cat doesn't eat it all.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Diameter: 3.73 in.
Height: 2 in. (not including lid)
Volume: 9 oz.
Imported by Rishi-Tea
This was my second teapot from Tokoname, and since I gave the first one away some time ago, it is the one I've had the longest. I dedicated it to white tea, and in some of the pictures you can see the patina that has built up over time. The name translates to round (maru) chrysanthemum (kiku).
Like the Fukugata the elegance of this pot is found in its simplicity.
And as you can see, it is not particularly large. I like to make white tea in 8 oz portions, so I find it to be the perfect size.
The spout is designed well to prevent dripping, more on that in a bit, and the lid is a perfect fit.
The sasame is wonderful, slightly finer than the one in the Fukugata. When looking for a Tokoname pot, or Japanese teapots in general, the sasame is the first thing I look at. If the filter is high quality, than odds are the teapot is as well, and this sasame is the best I've seen.
Another important aspect of a good pot to consider is does it have a "leaky bottom." If the pot is designed and crafted well, it will not drip or drain while pouring. The video will demonstrate what I'm talking about.
Like the Fukugata, I think this is a wonderful teapot at a good price. If you are looking to purchase you first Tokoname pot, I still say start with the Fukugata. You will get the same functionality for $20 less. If you are looking for your second pot, or don't mind paying a little more for a marginally better pot, do not pass this one up.