Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Teaware kitsch

A beautiful blue-sky day in Seattle.  Spring comes early in the Northwest.  The early flowering trees are already budding out and the daffodils have broken ground getting ready for their appearance.  I love the turning of the seasons best -- winter to spring, summer to fall.

Took a break from puerh this morning.  The day was just too bright and my mood was yearning something that would open me to that.  Puerh just seemed a little too inward.  I still have some green teas sitting around from last year's pick though I worried they might have suffered some from the lack of freshness.  But it's all I had so I decided to find out.  Today's green tea, some An Ji Bai Cha from Jing Tea Shop, served in my fun new acquisitions -- a set of tea cups from a couple of long gone Chinese restaurants in central Oregon.  Totally kitsch and typical of restaurant cups, made from the kind of sturdy thick ceramic that says "I dare you to break me... go ahead, try."  Great for heat retention, as well as burning the crap out of your fingers when you try to drink out of them.

I decided to do another water experiment today, curious to know how tap-vs-bottled water would affect the taste of green tea, inspired by MarshalN's thoughts on the matter in his own water experimentations.  Predictably, the bottled water (Crystal Geyser again) pulled out more color from the leaves.  I'm assuming this water has a higher mineral content but I can't say for sure and I'm not going to go to the trouble to send away for their detailed water analysis report.  I'm less interested in the science of it all than in how it enhances my tea.  In the picture below the tea made with tap water is on the left, bottled spring water on the right --

MarshalN guessed that green tea would taste better with water of a lower mineral content and I would have to agree.  I found that the more viscous mouth feel of the bottled water tended to cover up the delicacy and sweetness of the tea.  As for taste and aroma the only difference I could detect was in terms of strength and concentration.  The bottled spring water just seemed like a more concentrated version of the tap water tea.  To test this I tried doing a comparative steeping where I infused the tap water leaves for twice as long as the bottled water and it seemed to confirm this, although the thicker mouth feel of the bottled water tea was distracting and made it hard to really compare taste subtleties.

One other thing I've been noticing with these experiments is that the bottled (presumably more "mineraled") water seems to make the tea leaves open up faster in the gaiwan.  This would make sense, I guess, in how it makes for a deeper color in the soup.


  1. Sounds like what I have found in my experience. Generally I think lighter teas benefit from lighter water -- which the Pacific NW tap water generally tends to be.

  2. Nice cups, btw -- I saw similar cups on ebay