Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Earth and Fire teaware by David Louveau

Each firing in an anagama kiln turns out differently. Even each piece in the kiln will be impacted differently depending on its location, shape... Fly ash from the burning wood coalesces on the surface of the pieces to produce a natural glaze. The inside of the teapot remains unglazed (picture left). The cover is placed on the teapot during firing to make sure that it keeps a good fit on the teapot. The clay appears natural, brown and rather fine. It feels hard, fired at a high temperature.

You've seen this teapot last week, but I want to show it bathing in the morning sun:
(Click on the picture to enlarge).

Cooperation and Maturity.
David's teapot making skills have improved dramatically since I paid him a visit last year. He has listened carefully and embedded my advice in his pots without changing his style. The shapes are more harmonious. The tea flow from the spout is clean and quiet. The size is 19 cl for 233 grams approximately.

Thanks to the higher temperature reached in what David says was his best firing in the last 5 years, the teapot is less porous. I have tested it successfully with raw puerh and even classic roasted Dong Ding Oolong. Compared to the same Oolong brewed in a gaiwan, the tea felt fruitier and had a broader range of flavors. And most importantly, the taste acquired more depth and length.

Small cups.
David Louveau de la Guigneraye also continues to make very free and rough cups of 4/5 cl (80 grams):
Contrary to porcelain, these cups don't give a feeling of finesse and lightness. However, I found that their natural clay and wood firing gave life, depth and power to the tea. But they are now a good match with light Oolongs: their porosity would absorb the flavors too much. But with puerh and roasted Oolongs, they add exuberance and wild power to the brew.

Update: The clay of these cups is mixed with sand, a coarser material that better withstands very high temperatures. The cups were then placed near the fire, at the entrance of the kiln. This is why their shape isn't evenly round. The fire was so strong, that it reshaped them and gave them these beautiful red colors.

Teapot number 2 (sold):
Very similar to the above teapot. Size is also 19 cl for 233 gr more or less. This is a good example that shows that not 2 pieces come out the same for the anagama kiln.

I compared the gaiwan and teapot with the Dong Ding roasted Oolong this afternoon. When I wanted to continue to brew the tea tonight, the leaves in the gaiwan tasted old and a little sour. I disliked it and didn't drink it. However, with the teapot, I was able to enjoy 3 more brews! The porous and natural clay has helped to keep the open leaves fresh.

In a related test, I kept the spent raw puerh leaves in the teapot for a week and didn't notice any change during this time. These wood fired teapots preserve the leaves very well.

Now, I have to test how well this new jar stores dry leaves!


nikosan said...

De belles pièces... J'aime les variations de teintes, on sent "l'inspiration" du feu.
Bravo Monsieur Louveau !

TeaMasters said...

Ah! Je suis heureux de lire que tu aimes ces pièces, Nikosan!

drumhum said...

I have refrained from commenting about this pottery but it keeps being mentioned. Sorry, I just don't appreciate this tea ware at all.

The devine elegance of yixing pottery or the delicate refinery of the porcelain gaiwan and tea cups are a joy to behold.

To my eyes Mr Louveau's stuff looks like its come from some sort of prehistoric age, before decent pottery techniques had been refined. Or, dare I say it... like something from a school pottery class.

Come on, we have found better ways of making cups!

I agree, that Mr Louveau's production techniques are most interesting. And his pieces make fine curios too. But can we get real? As a thing of beauty, or even practicality, the teapot hardly compares to a fine yixing pot.

I'm going to stick to what the chinese have been using and developing for hundreds of years.

I'm sorry, but I nearly fell of my chair looking at the cups featured in your post, dated January 25th! Not exactly fit for the kings table are they!!??????

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder though.

TeaMasters said...

At my first encounter with this type of natural pottery, I had the same reaction as you. Yixing is more neat, elegant...
However, over time, I found that there are also quality differences in Yixing ware. Many molded pots lack a certain life, spirit.

Yixing clay can also vary greatly. Modern cheap pots mix all kinds of stuff to make the pot look good, but this makes the tea taste artificial.

David Louveau's teapots are handmade and feel unique (not cloned) and gifted with a strong, powerful personality. They are not refined gentlemen (gossiping behind your back), but rather strong and simple knights with a pure heart. A good king would love to have them at his table!!

As for practicality, the question should be: does it produce good tea? Well, I agree that they are not good fits for green, white, yellow and light Oolongs. But with puerh, they rock!

Marco said...

I am a lucky owner of teapots and tea items made by David Louveau. I have other teapots perhaps more beautiful, but definitely without a soul as are the works of David. His objects should be used every day in order to be understood, come inside you and enhance the taste of tea.

TeaMasters said...

Thank you, Marco, for sharing your experience and thoughts on David Louveau's teapots.
His ware is like alive. The more one 'plays' with it, the more one feels attached to it. There are items I delisted, because I couldn't part with them after using them for a while!

EnKoppZen said...

Hello Stéphane,

This has been an interesting discussion and comparison of art works in your blog lately.
Just to share some more reflections maybe:


TeaMasters said...

Thanks Celina

Lucas said...

Yesterday I had the chance to spend some time with David, and leave with a teapot made in the same firing. It is a whole experience to talk, drink and see all he proposes, and I am extremely happy to have one of his creations to drink my puerh. I can't agree more with you, Stéphane, David's objects are deep and alive not to mention inspiring. I have had it for such a short time, and am already in love with it!