Monday, November 14, 2005

Gaiwan test

I recently bought a very thin and a very thick gaiwan in Yingge. Yesterday, I tested both and my regular thin gaiwan to see the influence on the taste of Bi Luo Chun, a Chinese green tea.

As expected, the most expensive gaiwan with the thinnest walls produced the best results. Why? The the tea cools down fastest in a pot with thin walls and the astringency/bitterness coming out at the end of the brew is not as strong as in a pot that retains the high heat. This really proved that thin walls are very important when it comes to green tea and flowery flavors.

What was more surprising was that my new expensive, nicely designed pitcher was giving inferior results compared to my cheap one. This time, the thinner walls of the pitcher had a negative impact on the tea: they let it cool down faster than the pitcher with preheated thick walls. The thin walls would only be an advantage if I were too lazy to preheat the pitcher, in which case the temperature drop would be less than in a pitcher with cold thick walls. So this is not a good gongfu cha tool!

Spending more does not always mean you get better tools for your tea. Especially in the realm of pottery, esthetics often takes precedence over function. Nobody will let you test the gaiwan or the teapot like one tests a car! All you can do is look at it (and maybe touch it, if the store allows). I'll give you another personal example soon.


Anonymous said...

Si pour le pot de réserve l'important est de garder la chaleur du thé, ne pourrait-on pas envisager d'utiliser un pot en verre ?

TeaMasters said...

As-tu fait le test? Le verre garde-t-il mieux la chaleur que de la porcelaine épaisse? J'en doute un petit peu a priori.
Mais il est vrai que nombreux sont les Chinois qui utilisent des cruches en verres, notamment aussi pour mieux voir la couleur du thé. Teaparker ne fait pas parti de ceux-là. Je pense qu'il trouve que le verre n'est pas un matériau classique du gongfu cha.