Sunday, August 11, 2013

Same tea, different cups

Experimenting with different porcelain cups and a ceramic one. 1) Porcelain yunomi 2) artisanal ceramic yunomi 3) porcelain tea cup.

Few days ago, I received a beautifully glazed Japanese yunomi in the mail by mistake as I had originally set my mind on regular porcelain ware. It was a rustic work of art. I have very few handmade ceramic pieces in my collection and this was the perfect addition so I realised on hindsight.

Being unfamiliar with ceramic pieces, I decided to compare the influence of tea cup materials on brewed tea -  Bi luo chun green tea brewed open style in an old blue and white bowl. Doing so will allow the tea to cool down faster on a hot summer day.

Next, I spooned equal amounts of tea from the bowl into individual cups and went about tasting. Before the infusion was ready, I already did a pre trial on the cups using boiled water and yes, I did notice slight differences in the liquid texture on my palates. Water from the ceramic piece felt softer and gentler on my throat.

Now onto the infusion. Notice the difference in colour intensities? This could be a clue as to how the tea will taste. Through this experiment and also from earlier experiences, the handcrafted ceramic yunomi in the centre gave the mellowest tasting tea. The porcelain cups on the other hand, seem to highlight the tea's fragrances well.

A reader suggested that I could switch to glass - a neutral material that potentially does away with any performance irregularities. Personally, I enjoy the process of collecting intriguing data. This way, I may be able to choose to drink tea out of glazed ceramic when my craving calls for a balanced cup of tea or pick a porcelain yunomi on a Monday morning so the fragrances can provide for an invigorating wake up call. There is always room for discoveries and fine-tuning one's brewing techniques along the way.

What are your experiences so far? Do you have a preference for certain materials or a particular dislike for others?


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