Friday, February 24, 2012

Old puerh, plain mini cups, new combination

Change is a natural part of life. This is also how we keep our daily routines interesting: adding small variations. They can be tests, technical improvements, aesthetic changes reflecting our mood... 

For my mid 1980s loose sheng puerh, we turn again to the familiar view of my tea corner. This time, I replaced the flowers with my bamboo, to stress the uncompromising character and finesse of this tea. A kimono belt adds warm colors to my Cha Xi. On top of live charcoal on my white clay stove, water boils in an old tetsubin.

And I'm testing these old, plain, white porcelain cups with a qingbai glaze on the outside. These mini cups are all slightly different. Their rims are generally unglazed, because they were fired one on top of another (see picture above). This technique enabled to fire more cups in the kiln.

The little defects and traces of time passing by make these cups rather charming. The old raw puerh appears in a bright red-brown color. With their small volume, they could be used for shots! (They are so small, I had to add a bigger cup to empty the teapot).
Preheating the cups is essential and difficult. The tea cools down very quickly in them. But the taste is sweet and deep, I found. The feel of the uneven glaze is very different than a modern cup.
The water from this antique tetsubin still has a taste of iron. (1.1 kg for 1 liter). It's a good fit with sheng puerh. But, ideally, such a tetsubin should be used regularly. This would improve the purity and diminish the iron flavor, while still retaining the depth and aftertaste.

Brewed this way, I felt the heat of this puerh reaching the sole of my feet in no time! 


Feldin said...

Dear Stephane!

Where could I get a Cha Xi?
And speaking of this, or a bofuro?

Thank you!

TeaMasters said...

Dear Feldin,

Please send me an email at: and I'll send you my price list.


Green Stone said...

Beautiful! Those cups are so charming.


Unknown said...

I really love those little cups? Where did you get them?

TeaMasters said...

Thanks Kate!
I got them from an antique shop in Taiwan.

Patrick said...


That is quite a beautiful cha xi!


Wilhite said...

About that tetsubin. I've always wondered about how the iron reacts to the water. I understand that these traditional tetsubins do not have an enamel coating on the inside. How do you keep it from rusting? I use cast iron pots and pans for cooking food. I season them with oil. But that seems like it would be really horrible for tea.

TeaMasters said...

A little bit of rust on the surface isn't a big deal. The 'trick' is to use your tetsubin very often and always dry it after you've finished using it. The water that flows out of the tetsubin should be clear, transparent.
You don't want to coat the inside of the enamel, because then the water wouldn't interact with the iron anymore. (A little bit of iron taste is what adds depth to the water/tea.)