A first blog reader in the USA has received this teapot yesterday. So it's time that I translate its description into English!
This teapot is a perfect fit for Baozhongs and the lightest high mountain Oolongs, or even Oriental Beauty. I hesitated several months before purchasing it (it's my most expensive teapot). Let me explain why it's such a good fit.
1. Baotai means thin walls:
They are very thin. It takes a lot of know-how and time to make. (This explains the price). At the end, this teapot of 15 cl weighs 50 grams, while my other zhuni teapot with a landscape (also 15 cl) weighs 90 grams (these are the weights without the lids). My tests with gaiwans have shown that thin walls are best for oolongs with light, flower fragrances. The thin walls and the high firing temperature (1250 degrees Celcius) give the teapot a high pitched tone when you gently lift and drop the lid.
Addendum: With the lid, the teapot weighs 71 gr.
2. The zhuni clay
This red clay is harder, less porous and finer than other Yixing clays. It's closer to glazed ware, but still keeps the benefits of Yixing clay. It therefore doesn't alter the aromas very much. The pores and the minerals of the clay still do what do best: filtering and improving the taste of the tea.
Zhuni clay has a bigger shrinkage ratio during the firing than other clays, and this means it is harder to make perfectly fitting lids. So mine is a little bit loose, but it has hardly any impact on the tea.
3. A bigger spout
It enables to empty the teapot faster. The speed of pouring the tea out of the teapot has an impact on the taste and smell. A faster pour will make the tea lighter and more flowery. A slow pour will, on the contrary, give more body and heavier smells to the tea. A large spout is not very cute. It's a little bit too masculine to my eye. But my priority is not aesthetics, but functionality. And this large spout is what is needed to get my light oxidized Baozhongs and high Mountain Oolongs to shine.
4. A built-in filter in shape of a golf ball
It prevents the leaves from clogging the spout and slow the pouring.
5. The size of the teapot
This 15 cl teapot is rather big for a gongfu cha teapot. But it fits the large size of high mountain oolongs. Their leaves are bigger, because they grow slowly in the cooler high mountain climate.
6. The shape
The round shape enables the oolongs to unfold in all directions. But at the same time it is also a little flat, which fits Baozhong (or Oriental Beauty) even better.
Experience with my 1800 meters high Da Yu Ling Oolong:
The first time I used it was with what used to be my best high mountain oolong (now dethroned by the 2200 meters high Da Yu Ling), I thought it would take a lot to impress me. The doubts I had quickly dissipated. The teapot brewed my oolong lighter, fresher and purer than ever. Amazing!
I even did a parallel brewing with my thin wall gaiwan and I was able to taste the difference. The aromas were clearer, more fragrant and smoother.
This experience also let me realize that this kind of light oxidized oolongs doesn't like to brewed in a stop and go fashion. If you let them sit too long and cool down, they will loose their freshness. Best is to reserve your time to drink the many brews in a short time period.