Astea lovers we all have favored vessels for brewing tea. I have many favorites as I have enough Yixing to designate for more than enough teas. Despite my perhaps excessive amount of teaware (I say not enough!) I only have two pots that I bought while in China a few years ago.
I might write another post about the second pot another time but for now I’m just to talk about the one you see in pictures above.
Starting our trip in Kunming (minus the unintended sleepover in the Beijing airport…) we got to really experience being surrounded by tea culture/business and enjoy being able to walk around any corner and finding a shop that has puer.
As much fun as it was to drink puer all day and glaze over at the thousands of different puer (not to mention the other types too) Going to the big markets also led us to many a shop for teaware. This part was perhaps the most fascinating. The sheer volume and variety of wares available to tea drinkers in China is unfair. Like 5 times as many cups as Lego kits you might find at a toystore in the US! Don’t get me wrong, Legos are great but I’d rather have teaware.
In the big market there are many shops that sell wares (a whole quarter of it actually…) This biggest shop though is where my pot comes from. But I almost didn’t even get it. To be honest it was a hasty decision at the last minute before we were leaving the market.
I had picked out this beautiful, perfectly sized Fang Gu shaped pot with minimal design and medium profile. Just as we were about to leave, Payton asked me if I had done a pour test yet. Panicked, I ran back to the bucket of water over by the teapots that patrons use to test the pots. It was awful. Water came out of the pot like a drunk person taking a swig of beer and trying to whistle. Not good. Ok so now what? my beloved pots was pretty on the outside but totally worthless for actually making tea.
I looked back at the same area I found that pot as they were organized by style as well as price. Being early in the trip (3 days into a 5 week trip) I needed to manage the funds early which was nearly impossible being a puer lover surrounded by bings…
As everyone else had already left the shop, Just Payton, Matt and I were left to finish our purchases. I found the pot above on the top shelf in the back row of the middle level of probably 500+ Yixing pots. it was nearly invisible, blending in with everything else. Somehow it caught my eye. Clay looked good. Handmade with visible tool marks and minimal design and a medium to low profile. But how was it functionally? Pot in hand I dunked it in the bucket. Perfect. Pour. 8 seconds flat. No drips, stops dead when the blowhole is plugged and when poured against the wall of the bucket it barely makes a sound.
I was thrilled, feeling like I won the teapot lottery and It only cost me about $25 bucks! I couldn’t wait to use it but I needed to find the right tea. Having a few teapots back home already designated to various things, I made the obvious choice (to me) that this pot would be paired with young sheng Puer which in my world is anything 7 years or younger. I had a few purchases already but didn’t use it til after a special part of the trip that inspired me.
After a day in the mountains at the base of a supposed 3200 Year old tea tree in Jingxiu village outside Fengqing, We bought some maocha from the villagers. This, for many reasons was one of my favorite teas from the trip. I even still have some which I reach for every once in a while.
The next part of our trip was in Dali. A nice place with a couple really cool shops and beautiful scenery. The famous Three Pagodas was the ideal spot for the inaugural brew in my new pot. Seen above outside the temple area, Matt and I set up a minimal Cha Xi with some of our newly purchased Items. The pot performed well as expected and the day fantastic even though we got a little sunburnt and Matt was cursed by a Bai woman… But I’ll let him tell you about that.
Every time I use this pot I taste a little bit of that maocha and the can smell the air around the temple. The pot still serves me and still makes great tea. I hope I can share some tea made with this pot with you next time you visit.
I would also like to put out a call to anyone who wants to share similar stories of a favorite pot, cup or other teaware. I understand many of my readers may not have traveled to Asia for their wares but that doesn’t mean the wares didn’t travel a long way to get to you! So tell me about that great jar you found at a yard sale or the gift from a friend that turned out to be a perfect cup to add to your collection. I look forward to reading your stories as much as I hope you enjoyed reading this!