Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gem Number Three- Lily of the Valley

Another firing, another Gem to my collection. This time it is not a single piece. I have chose set of three porcelain cups, fair cup and stoneware teapot. To see more pictures and desription, please click-thru and visit second leaf of this blog. If this "Ten Gems of Ten Kilns" project is new for you, then please read this post first .

The gem picking was quite interesting this time. On one hand there were many successful pieces and few really strong candidates. On the other hand I also wanted to Ten Gem represents full body of my work. So after some thinking I end up with the kind of tea set which I recently prefer during my tea sessions. Cups and fair cup are made from translucent porcelain. I would like to continue work with this material, to make it clearer and thinner. I like the contrast between elemental process of woodfiring and clean, ethereal nature of this porcelain. The teapot in this set is kind of story itself and I promise to make whole post here about its genesis in near future. To make you wonder, I am going to say for now that it is made from original Zhi Ni and fired in our wood kiln to around 1200°C

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My favorite sheng of the last season

I know, the name of this post is, let's say, a bit thick. But when I was thinking about all shengs from the last year which I have or I have tried then the one I am going to share with you here is my favorite. Again, I know this is not a competition. And of course, there are milion cakes which I haven't tried and/or some teas will probably age better. Also my preferences as well as understanding and officiating of teas do change in time. In spite of all above, if I should choose one ShengPu from those thirty(or so) ones I had, it would be this small ManNuo cake.

The 250g cake has nice jacket- besides Chinese, there is also (if I am not wrong)  Burmese description and  post-printed logo of the Slovak seller.

 It came to me from Slovak eshop, with few more samples, in late autumn. I didn't know this shop before and I was agreeably surprised. I haven't found any weak or unpleasant leaves in my package then. What we can say about my favorite one? According to supplier the cake came from Mannuo village from Bulangshan. Leaves are from ancient tea trees which are pluck by Bulang minority. But what leaves say ?

Cake is natty, pressing is medium-strength. Leaves are smaller to middle sized. When smelling to the whole cake, there are heavier scents of fruits, from apricot to citrus, and also light hint of tabacco. In wet leaves, those fruits are still there, just more juicy and pungent. It makes my mouth water, just like slice of lemon. It is really funny...we can call it sheng-reflex.

Testing new stove and kettle...

First brew is light in color and thick, strong in mouth feel. Though I feel a bitter tastes (citrus like) on beginning, it disappears before I swallow the sip. I have oversteep the third brew and this bitterness was stronger and very similar to fresh teas from LaoManE. But those pungent fragrances, which remind in empty cup, are more fruity and sweet.

What makes this tea so special? It is probably that there is nothing special, nothing to spare. It is clean and strong raw puehr and that it is. There is nothing "interesting", striking or strange. It is not fawning but on other hand I dont have to look after taste and character- my mouth are full of it. Its stamina is outstanding. I also like the energy of this tea. I call it forest qi. It makes me breathe deep. Mind is focused, body energize. That the place where my love to Pu-ehr comes from and what with is feeded.

The leftover leaves are still juicy. After ten or more brews it still does not feel right to throw them away. I leave them steep over night to get very nice "day after" cup.

Coltsfoot- the first wild flowers from our garden. I am going to pick them and dry them- it is one of my favorite herbal teas when I get cold.
Thank you for reading.