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Let's See Your Teaware!

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Here's another yunomi by Virginia Marsh. It is roundly square in the shape of the body below the rim, which the photos don't show well, making it a pleasure in the hand.

Ginny Marsh small  Yunomi Sept 2009 010.jpg

Ginny Marsh small  Yunomi Sept 2009 019.jpg

Japanese green tea usually looks best to me in a white or very light green cup, or a cup that at least has a white or light green interior. This yunomi seemed too dark for sencha and I was about to make it a cup for orange juice when it occured to me that the brown accents were similar to the tone of brewed houjicha. So I brewed some and yes, now it's a houjicha yunomi. (I should note that in the exterior photo the color of this yunomi is a little off, making it appear a darker than it is.)

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This dinner set was a gift from my parents from their tip to Japan a few years back. I have service for 2. I have only used it 3-4 times in the past 4 years given how delicate and beautiful they are.



Edited by DanM (log)

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Ditto on the clumsy. These new granite countertops are proving their utility in more than just pastry.

They break glass- and stoneware for fun! :blink:

I have one wine glass left. As for teaware, I suspect the Staub teapot will be the "last man standing" in a few months.

Edited by fooey (log)

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Thought I should add an update: I am trying a very simple glass kettle from Amazon. I wanted to see the water doing its thing, so I can learn what 160-180 degrees looks like, and I'm rarely putting the kettle on and leaving the room, so I don't miss the whistle. So far, it's nice, but if it has an unfortunately short lifespan in my kitchen, I will go for the simplex.

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I'm now the proud owner of some semi-decent teaware. For everyday use, I have a plain white porcelain teapot with plastic infuser from Muji. I also have two Japanese-style teacups for use with meals, also white porcelain from Muji, that I can use with a variety of teas. I've also bought this lovely gaiwan, which is hand-painted bone china, for gong-fu brewing:

2009 10 24 007.JPG

I did my first gong-fu session with it this past Sunday, and I really enjoyed using it, although I did manage to burn myself with the hot tea on my first attempt at pouring with it.

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Yes, smaller gaiwan are generally more useful...and easier to pour. Upwards of 200 ml feels rather awkward to many people. Mine run 55 ml to about 140 ml. Measured to the rim of the lid.

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Over the last couple of weeks I've had a useful realization: the little strings that tied the lids of my little yixing pots to the handle may not simply be to keep the lid and pot together while being handled by customers in the store: that neat little string will keep the lid from falling off when pouring out the last drops, even if you forget to keep a fingertip on the lid as you pour. It only took several broken lids before I realized this was a pattern I might be able to fix by leaving those little strings in place.

And on a different note: The gongfu set I posted a picture of here has one other problem besides the stringless lid that is free to fall off and shatter: the tasting cups' unglazed outer surface may be interfering a bit with the flavor of especially delicate infusions.

Yesterday I noticed that the gyokuro kin I brewed at work for the first time, drinking from the lid of my stanley thermos with its plastic rim, was just not as interesting as the same tea brewed a few days before at home, despite best attempts to duplicate brewing conditions and a liquor and aroma that appeared quite similar. I had pretty much finished the batch off but had a little bit left to pour into a porcelain cup and suddenly the subtle vegetal sweetness was more prominent. So I paid attention during the gongfu session last night with the Lao Mansa Puerh, and suspect that the unglazed surface is indeed distracting.

I'll head to Wing Hop Fung again this weekend, and along with replacing some little teapots whose lids are broken (wish I could buy just lids!), and setting those up with little retainer strings, I will get some bowl-shaped porcelain cups for tasting and see how those affect the next brewing of the Lao Mansa Puerh.

I'll also have to figure out some carrier arrangement for a porcelain tea cup to carry with my thermos, because I usually am carrying way too many files and other things when I take it to clinic, and will surely shatter an unprotected cup.

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Got the porcelain tasting cups, and as I reported in the Lao Mansa tasting topic, they did distract my tongue less, although I didn't notice any different flavor of the tea. So a good thing overall, but not strictly necessary. The joy of Wing Hop Fung being so easy for me to get to is that even though I picked some of the fancier porcelain cups, they were still only $1.79 apiece, so not a large investment. I also replaced yet another teapot whose lid broke, but before this one was put in the cupboard it and all the rest got restrung to keep their lids from meeting a similar fate. Again, that was a $5.99 mini yixing pot. I figure I need to go at least a few months without breaking anything before I dare consider investing in a higher quality of teapot or drinking cup.

I also bought a bamboo tea tray with a drip drawer, and it worked beautifully. The counter required a lot less cleanup after my session, because the tray did indeed catch the majority of the drips. There were beautiful ones in porcelain and hand carved wood, but again, I need to figure out what I'm doing here before considering anything special or fancy.

Shockingly, no actual tea came home with me, in a most uncharacteristic display of restraint.

And I found a small basket with a handle at another store that I can use to carry a small teacup with me even down to clinic, so I don't have to drink the more delicate teas from the plastic thermos lid.

My teaware shelf is not yet anything like the retail displays at wing hop fung, but some of the missteps along the way will soon head off to goodwill, leaving the rest a bit less crowded. This includes a couple of overly large teapots with glass infuser inserts whose tiny slits are essentially uncleanable, clogging very quickly with even a single batch of tea that has any quantity of fine particles, and are simply hopeless with chamomile; or the deep and thick tasting cups that don't let tea cool quickly when tasting many short infusions of hot-brewed puerh; or the glass gaiwan lets you watch the color of the tea liquor but has a little rim that the lid settles on that makes it awkward to tilt the lid the tiny bit needed to pour the tea out but retain the leaves.

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I don't have photos of most of my teaware at the moment; I suppose that's something that I'd better change!

I do have photos of a few of my favorite teapots, though. I own three kyusu teapots, one of them was a cheap mass produced model, another is hand-made earthenware, and finally, there's this one:


I got this one at a small shop in Snohomish, WA, and it was expensive, but I've been very happy with it. It feels great in my hand, and the teapot itself works flawlessly.

Here's one of my antique teapots, which is clay covered in pewter. I didn't know much about it until someone from England saw it on the internet and volunteered some information about it. Needless to say, it's been retired!


I'm new at this forum, and looking forward to being a member here!

- Matthew

Matthew Gore Photography


The Tea Archive


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I use the kyusu whenever I drink green tea, regardless of type... but I don't actually drink green tea very often anymore. I also use it for white teas (silver needle), I guess. My green tea drinking is pretty limited to what I can get in the ID (international district, aka Chinatown) in Seattle, and I usually buy sencha, kuki cha, and in the winter, genmai cha (if that's how it's spelled!). There's also an organic Chinese green tea that I buy on occasion.

I'm a much bigger fan of high mountain oolongs!

In any case, the pewter encased yixing teapot is just one of a pair that I have. This is the other:


After posting a photo of this pot with a stock agency (I'm a photographer), I got an email from a British collector who loved it and wanted more information about it and any others that I might have, and after I replied, I got this bit of information:

The second pot in the shape of a bamboo stem is on a par with the first. I

recognise the signature at once as Shi Mei which is the hao or nickname for

Zhu Jian probably the best known name associated with these pots. I can't

quite see the first character but the crucial two are quite clear.

Both should have a seal on the base of the inside of the pot though in these

they are often made on an applied piece of clay and all too frequently

either come off in the firing or through use. They are a real challenge to

photograph. If they are still present I would love to see what they are as

it should tell you who made the pots, the signature on the outside is

usually the person who inscribed the poem not the maker.

The general design of these has a poem on the left side, ie when viewed with

the handle to the right and spout to the left, and the reverse with a

picture or sometimes another poem frequently in seal script. It is not

uncommon to find one side engraved by a different scholar from the other

since many of these pieces where collaborative works between scholar and

potter and frequently commissioned by a third party who designed the shape.

For this reason it is useful to see both sides of the pot.

We emailed for a few more times about them, and I got a better idea of their value. The poet who wrote the inscription on this teapot is still unknown (to me), but I got this information about the teapot itself:

The seal comes as no surprise as they

are two different variants of the potter Yang Pengnian who is credited with

the best pieces. I say this with care since he was also capable of turning

out some pretty junky ones too but heck we all have to make a living and not

everyone wants to pay over the odds for perfection.

The handle is more of an enigma, not helped by the fact that the two

characters are in archaic oracle bone script which is pretty impenetrable.

If I have any luck I will let you know.

So, of course, I have photos of all of the relevant details, but I've probably already given more detail here than anyone cares about :) It was interesting to me, though, since I didn't know anything about pewter encased yixing pots to begin with, despite having found a couple of very nice ones!

- Matt

Matthew Gore Photography


The Tea Archive


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Thanks Diane, and I'll have you know that I went to college in Ohio! It wasn't anywhere near Cleveland (OU in Athens), but my roommate was from Hudson/Aurora.

- Matt

My sister also went to OU. She graduated around '94, '95.

She rented a cabin in the Athens area last month for our whole family to get together. We discovered an Athens tea company. Their tea was being sold at the major grocery store (Kroger?). I don't recall the name of the tea company but she bought lots of their tea to take with her back to Switzerland for gifts. I thought that was funny since I often purchase packets of tea at Palias de The in Paris to bring back to the states as gifts for friends.

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Looking at two pots now--the 1.7L chrome beehive pot and the 1L mini chrome pot. I rarely need more than a quart at a time, but the extra capacity might be nice at times, plus help the water hold its heat longer when I get it up to temperature for a longer gongfu session. Also, I remember reading someplace as I was looking these up previously that the beehive pot was faster to the boil because of the shape or something.

Looking at these, the spout of the beehive pot looks different, with the black piece at the tip. What is it? Is that going to be hard to clean/easy to break?

Edited by heidih
edit out copyright image (log)
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It's the whistle.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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