Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Zhuni Baotai Teapot

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.


Barbara Glancy said...

"Zhuni Baotai Teapot" I did not hesitate to own this one.I have a small wall of favorites.This new pot has many of them beat. It also arrived in a bamboo box that serves as it's personal tea sink and storage if needed. The clay is truly unique and proportions are well suited to it's function. It pours better then most others. What you want in a teapot of this nature is elegant enjoyment while making tea. This teapot does it's best to please those who know and appreciate the quality. These are not inexpensive teapots for a good reason.Thank you Stephane for the wonderful offering. An opportunity you seldom find.I will simply cherish the Zhuni Baotai Teapot for years to come!

Anonymous said...

I just received the Shui ping Baotai from Stephane today, and have to comment that it is very well worth the price. I don't think that you can find a well craftede piece for such a value. The pour is forceful but quiet. The clay is eggshell thin, and so impeccably crafted that it is ascends to be called an artpiece.

Technically, this instrument is perfect for producing high notes, and bringing out nuances that I've never felt before. Its easy to handle, feels comfortable in the hand, and large enough to serve several people.

The piece also comes with an impeccably finished cube-ish bamboo case that doubles as a draining tray (albeit a little tall), that alone would probably worth 1/3 the price.

I just wanted to say, "thank you" for the careful packaging and "extras"

Danica said...

I've been looking at this teapot for six months, wondering if I would get good use out of it. It's large and it's expensive and considering the quality of tea that Stephane sells, it is worth every penny. I brewed some of Stephane's oriental beauty last night (filling the pot 1/3 full) and was overwhelmed by how wonderful and delicious the tea was that emerged. Not only does the teapot improve the texture of the tea, but the aroma and flavors are enhanced as well. It made the tea 'addictive' in quality. I easily drank 5 pots full. This is definitely the effect of the teapot, as it had the same effect on a 2006 Bao Zhong that I brewed in a gaiwan and other teapot--delicious and vegetal but it preserved the sophisticated floral notes. I highly recommend this extremely special teapot.

Unknown said...

I just received my Zhuni Baotai Teapot today! Its a Birthday gift for my Father in Law, all i can say is, the pot never leaves his hand all night that night during the party. Well worth the money and thank you Stephane for offering us a chance to own one of this wonderful piece!

You will be hearing from me very soon for more of these pots and the wonderful tea you send along!

Anonymous said...

Stéphane, will this tea pot become available again?

TeaMasters said...

Yes, but I don't know when yet.