30 August 2009

Ceramic tea tray by Xu De Jia

I use my wooden tea tray since 2003 and it serves me well since then. Unfortunately, because of its size it’s quite unhandy to use on my work desk, and since last winter I had to work quite a nights, I decided to get a smaller, ceramic tea tray.

Celadon Lotus Petal Tea Tray

This is a celadon tea tray made by Taiwanese artist Xu De Jia I acquired from Guang at HouDeAsianArt. The tea tray is made from bluish "Chin Tzi" celadon in stylized form of Lotus With Eight Petals. The tray is quite heavy and feels massive and the tea stand (isle) found in the center of it is removable.

Celadon Lotus Petal Tea Tray

First, let's describe how celadon works. When purchased, it’s clear and translucent without any visible cracking – yet, these cracks are there, they are just hollow and hard to be seen. If you click the top image (it’s the outside wall of tea tray), you can see, that from closer look the cracks are there.

The bottom picture is taken from the surface of tea stand, where the cracks are already filled with tea and clearly visible. These cracks appeared as soon as on my third use of the tea tray, and to my surprise, they are much darker on the upper sides of tea tray, than on the bottom, though the bottom is filled with tea most of the time I use the tray.

Celadon Lotus Petal Tea Tray

The setup of this tea tray is quite easy – the teapot stands on the isle, so I can feed it with tea broth. All unused tea is collected in the bottom of the tea tray. Fortunately, all my pots under 200 ml fits the isle.

Celadon Lotus Petal Tea Tray

But my favorite function of it is the shui fan, container used to store wasted tea and used tea leaves. After my tea session I usually remove the tea isle and clean the pot dumping all tea leaves into the tray.

Celadon Lotus Petal Tea Tray

I have another, more artistic and slightly less comfortable tea tray by Xu De Jia, but I will write about it later…

24 August 2009

White Jade

I spent the last week in Prague, so I took the opportunity and met with Mr. Prachař, owner of Longfeng tea shop. Even though I had extremely little time - it was the last day of our course and my colleagues were very, very eager to go home, I left them and returned an hour and half later with big bag full of teas and tea samples.

Among the teas that I bought there were some Chinese red teas. I haven’t had them for quite a time, so I decided that it's time to drink red tea!

2009 Bai Lin - White Jade

Bai Lin (白琳), literally White Jade is a less known traditional Chinese red tea. This one is the highest grade produced in city of Hu Lin in Fujian province.

The quality of tea leaves speaks for itself – the leaves are long and covered with dense pale hairs, so they resemble miniature dachshund puppies quietly sitting in the cha he. The smell of tea leaves is intense, sweet, reminds me of caramel.

Dachshund puppies
Photo stolen from www.josephpets.com

The quality of tea leaves forces me to prepare it gong fu style. I use one of my oldest yixing teapots made of high quality zi sha. I decided to go for 4 grams of tea per 150 ml of water. I could use more leaves, but I never liked too strong black teas. I keep the infusion times low and use boiling water (fortunately this tea is really made of tea leaves and not miniature dachshund puppies, so boiling water is OK).

2009 Bai Lin - White Jade  - liquor

Liquor has a crystal clear orange-reddish color and makes a strong sweet scent. I know now why I do not drink so often Chinese red tea – it’s just too sweet for my palate, just like Hungarian wine from the Tokaj region. Never mind, let's drink. The taste of tea is sweet caramel mixed with fine fruity flavor; the aftertaste lingers in mouth and reminds me of high quality dark chocolate. I like this one.