Friday, May 23, 2008

Ming Dynasty Cha Xi practice

On Sunday 1st of June, 3PM, Cha Ren Ya Xin will perform a Ming dynasty Cha Xi (tea party) at the Taipei Story House (next to the Fine Arts Museum). This time, the Cha Xi is supposed to take place indoors.

Here is my latest set-up that I have thought of for the occasion. Teaparker suggested we use a green Cha Bu (so I made this new one!). The main reason for green is that we will all brew loose green tea (as fits the current spring season). I liked this green cloth, because its dark roughness has a certain 'authentic' depth that should fit an ancient Chinese dynasty quite well.

Silver would be the best fit for green tea, but we thought that silver teapots are not very particular to Ming dynasty. Ming teapots used to be big and roundish in shape. And most were made of clay. Teaparker told us that duanni clay is the best match for green tea. I thought that a harder clay would brew the light fragrances better. So, I compared brewing my San Hsia Bi Luo Chun in the zisha Chun Si and in this 20 cl duanni Yi Li Zhu. And to my surprise, the result with the duanni was nicer. It was rounder and lost less fragrance than I had feared. That's why I decided to use this teapot, the biggest duanni teapot I have (so far).
We will use an old white plate to present the dry leaves. After they are inserted in the teapot, I'm thinking of bringing my second old tetsubin on the Cha Bu.

For this practice, I could use these wonderful handmade Korean tea cups (thanks again to the dear reader who gave them to me). They are really very special with their color variations. And they fit this Cha Xi very well. Unfortunately, I won't have enough for the Story House Event. So, I still need to find other cups until then...

There's another interesting Ming dynasty habit I learned from Teaparker. In those times, each participant would have his own teapot and make his own tea! If you want to make your own Ming dynasty event, this is tradition can help it make it more interactive. But for this Story House event, we will retain the usual format of one brewer and 5-6 drinkers for more convenience with the water (and teapots) preparation.

See also my previous attempt at making a Cha Xi with Ming dynasty inspiration (in French).


  1. So duanni teapots match with green tea... What a surprise, isn't it?

    In your opinion, what are the plus and minus of using a yixing teapot with green tea (compared to a gaiwan or a porcelain teapot)?

    I'll definitely try this soon.

  2. Quand j'ai commencer à boire des thés chinois il y une dizaine d'année, je buvais essentiellement des thés verts...
    Je n'y connaissait alors absolument rien et n'avais jamais rien lu sur le sujet, j'avais alors acheté un théière yixing en duanni (en me disant que cela faisait plus "authentique"...), pour péparer mon thé vert... en fait les résultats n'était pas mal du tout, surtout pour les thés verts courants qui sont un peu "rapeux"... ce qui est quand même étrange de faire du thé vert dans une théière en terre.
    Entre temps, je suis quand même passé au gaibei...

  3. Stéphane,

    did you use a new duan ni or one you used before with Cooked pu er or roasted tea?
    If it was used before with a powerfull tea it can be a good test to know if the seasoning of a teapot has a real impact on the brew... becuase duan ni is very porous.

    Thanks for you enlighthment!

  4. This is indeed interesting...
    I once used a yixing pot to brew
    green teas but switched back to
    porcelain gaiwans because I thought
    of "over-cooking" those delicate
    green teas in a clay pot...

    And I would also have doubt to
    use duan ni because it is so soft...I would have prefered zhu ni instead...

    Very interesting...

  5. e.,
    Since silver is the preferred material for green (top grade), the fact that Yixing keeps temperature better than porcelain is a plus (for top grades, but would be a minus for lower grades that can't stand the heat).

    On the other hand, duanni may help to smoothen lower graded green tea (this is also what Thomas experienced)... For top grade, I would still prefer to have a neutral vessel that tells me truthfully what I'm brewing.

    What I like with a gaiwan, is to open the top and see the brew and the unfolding leaves. This is not as easy with a teapot.

    Lastly, the design of your setup may fit a gaiwan or a teapot better. For my Ming dynasty Cha Xi, I really think the duanni teapot adds an aesthetic plus in terms of old atmosphere.

    I had used this teapot for cooked puerh, but not very often (less than 10 times, I think). So, to clean it, I alternatively filled it with boiling and cold water 3 times in a row. To my nose, the previous smells were gone.

  6. Kim,
    I do agree that even high grade green tea is fragile. That's why it's important to pour the hot water very slowly in the teapot.

  7. Interesting stuff. I have always been interested in learning tea ceremony.