891 Tasting Notes
I always feel so refreshed after a visit to the zoo, and yesterday was no exception! Ben and I chanced going on the weekend, usually we go during the week to avoid the much loathed crowds, but going at open means we missed most of the crowds. The real highlight of this visit was an ibis, at the Australian Bird Enclosure (it is a giant free-range bird cage where you can interact with a bunch of birds, I LOVE it, plus it is sentimental since that is where Ben proposed last year) there was a fairly young ibis that was the friendliest. It followed us around examining our clothes, pockets, shoes, my hair with its enormous beak. Sometimes birds are pretty rough with their beaks, but this ibis was gentle, just tickling as it for lack of a better word groomed us. It was the best thing ever!
Today I am taking a look at Green Tea Guru’s 2014 ‘Shixiang’ Fuding White Tea Cake, a compressed Bai Mu Dan with a little bit of age on it, and that little bit of age makes quite the difference. White tea has this habit of becoming immensely sweet as it ages, which is pretty amazing when you consider how sweet it already is. From the aroma of the compressed leaves (which are really quite pretty) it is a great blend of notes from an aged white and a fresh white, strong notes of honey and sun warmed hay blend with sweet grapes, crisp melons, gourds, wildflower pollen. and a finish of book pages. It is one of my favorite notes present in Bai Mu Dan, it smells like a novel, not an ancient leatherbound book, but one of those paperback novels found at a used book store and lovingly carried around in a coat pocket to read in dull moments. Yes it triggers very specific memories.
I decided to use my aged white clay pot for brewing this tea, still one of my favorite clay pot thrift store finds! I didn’t brew the whole chunk from the photo, but you could think that I did when you see how fluffy the wet leaves are now that they are not compressed. The aroma is very sweet, pollen loaded raw honey with juicy fresh green grapes blend with mild cucumber and melon with a finish of fresh hay. The liquid’s aroma is wonderfully sweet with strong notes of raw honey and melon with a gentle accompaniment of slightly woody gourds and wildflowers.
Woo, that first steep is a doozy! Thick mouthfeel that coats all of my mouth with honey sweetness! The color of the liquid is golden, but it also tastes golden, with sun warmed scuppernongs, honey, hay, and just warm sunlight. That last one is more of a sensation combining the color and taste, but you know, it works. At the finish there is a lingering gentle melon that stays into the aftertaste for a while, it sticks around in the mouth a long time after the tea is done.
The aroma of the second steep is super sweet, the previous steep’s woody gourd note has vanished to only have wildflowers, pollen, grapes, and wonderful raw honey. Well, it is not a surprise that this steep is thick and sweet, but it managing to be sweeter is impressive! It is very much like someone took melon and grapes and poured melted honey all over it, super decadent and delicious. The finish is a gentle hay and grape note that lingers for a while.
For the third steep the aroma stays pretty much the same, somehow the honey is stronger and the wildflowers fresher, but the notes stay the same. Not the same with the taste, oh there is still the strong raw honey and grapes, but there is a distant note of oregano that adds a depth and crispness. This tea has longevity, lasting many more steeps, and amusingly it seems to reverse in age with steeps where later steeps pick up crisp notes of lettuce and cucumber coolness. I really enjoyed this tea and was a bit sad when I saw the full cake is sold out on the website!
So here I sit with a sample package of salt pickled sakura blossoms from Kobayashi Shoten by way of my one stop shop for Japanese teas, Yunomi. I found myself pondering what to do with them, years ago when I looked at the other sakura tea they offer I tried different drinks and that was it, I thought this time I would take it a bit farther.
Iced Matcha Sakura Latte!
I got so angry, I saw so many pictures of people’s lattes around the internet with their sakura blossom delicately floating on top, and mine sank like a stone, I assure you there is a sakura in there! Along with the water I used to soak it, to give it that extra bit of salty flowery goodness. First off, the combination of matcha and sakura is a match made in spring-time heaven, there is a reason it is so famous. The delicate flowery notes of the sakura play off the green notes of the matcha, the salty notes of the pickling play off the umami quality of the matcha, and if you sweeten it then all the tastes really pop and the milk is just that extra bit richer.
Hot Sakura Latte
So for this one I mixed milk, sugar, and a few spoonfuls of the sakura brine into my little sauce pot (it is a tiny vintage pot that looks so minuscule even on my smallest burner, it gets a ton of use) and heated the mixture until just boiling and then tossed it in a jar (wrapped in a rag, learned that lesson before) lidded it and then vigorous shaking. It is like a milk frother at a fraction of the cost! Even with the foam my sakura threatened to sink to the milky depths, so I draped the stem over the rim and then promptly guzzled it. There is real competition between this and the matcha, both are spectacularly tasty but I think the pure sakura wins because you get that undiluted salty, flowery, umeboshi taste with sweetened milk, the combination of salty and sweet work together in such a magical way.
Sakura Mizu Shingen Mochi
Like a sakura blossom frozen in an extremely large raindrop, these mochi are super mild, relying on the kuromitsu and kinako to really make the flavors pop. I did not have any kinako so I substituted kurogoma powder to get that nutty goodness. So my biggest mistake (other than not having molds and not having mineral water) is taking a recipe usually set up for 8 and reducing it to 1, even with my super precise scale that level of control when you are measuring things by a fraction of a gram is hard. This meant that my mochi was a little cloudy, but it still tasted great, I am happy for my first time making one of these. The taste of the mochi by itself is pretty much just sugar water, but mixing the rich kuromitsu and nutty kurogoma with the sudden salty floral burst of the sakura in the middle makes for a fascinating transition between tastes.
Steamed Matcha and Sakura Cake
What is more easy than mixing a bunch of ingredients and microwave steaming them for a single serve cake? Not much really! A standard steamed matcha cake but with an addition of sakura embellishments and soaking brine for extra taste. I think this would have turned out great had I discovered before I started eating it that apparently my culinary matcha had gone off, which sucked. It was not gross, but the taste of stale matcha is not a pleasant one so it made me cranky. The addition of the sakura was a fantastic choice though, it was mild enough that it was like the ghost of a blossom, I could imagine eating this as a way of closing out a viewing festival.
Layered Sakura Jelly
Man, I love me some agar, it is so versatile! This layered jelly is comprised of a sweet milk layer and a sweet translucent layer swimming with flowers and a bit of added brine goodness, because I love the way this salty sweet flower tastes!
This one was not only very photogenic, it also tasted fantastic, it was like the latte bit in wiggly jelly form! Combining the sweetness of the milk and the saltiness of the sakura with that lingering blossom quality, this might have been my favorite of the desserts and one I seriously recommend trying!
The amount of cute in my lap right now is unreal. Espeon jumped in as soon as I sat in my chair and immediately rolled over onto her back, she then proceeded to bat at my hair with her paws. I am trying to type around her doing this which is exciting, though with the increase in purring level I think she is about to just drift off to kitty lala land. Ben’s new work schedule seems to have shaken her a bit, so she has been extra clingy, I am pretty sure she adjusts to change worse than I do and I was unaware that was possible. Tao on the other hand, she could care less, as always.
Today I am taking a look at Adagio Teas’ Golden Spring, their name for their Bailin Gongfu, a delicate Fujian Hong Cha that has long been a favorite of mine, though this is my first time tasting Adagio’s. The leaves on the website are super fuzzy and golden, and my sample, while not quite as fuzzy and golden, is still quite pretty with an even speckling of golden trichomes and delicate leaves. The aroma is sweet and rich, notes of malt and molasses with yams, brown sugar, roasted peanuts, and a finish of ripe currants and a touch of apple butter. I want to keep my nose in these leaves for a while, but I learned many years ago, tiny Fujian curls will easily fly up one’s nose and that is not fun.
Into my beloved little Petr Novak pot the leaves go for their steeping, the aroma of the steeped leaves is a bit brisk with a slightly woody cocoa note, alongside that are notes of sweet cherries and juicy ripe currants with a starchy yam finish. The liquid is sweet and malty, with notes of cherry, cocoa, apple butter, and a bit of starchy yams. It is not too strong, but it is quite distinct, though I am sad the currant notes did not carry over in the aroma of the first steep.
The first steep is pleasantly light, specifically in the mouthfeel which seems almost fluffy and airy in its texture. It starts with a blend of cherries and currant at the beginning (yay, currants!) and moves pretty quickly to apple butter and starchy yams. The finish is a gentle cocoa and slight woody briskness, with a cocoa note that lingers into the aftertaste.
For this steep the aroma is sweet and surprisingly fruity, notes of apple butter and cherry, currants and yams, and a gentle finish of brown sugar dance up to my nose through the steam. Where the first steep was light and airy, this one is smooth and a bit thick in the mouth. Wow, this steep is sweet! Strong notes of brown sugar, apple butter, currants, and cherries blend with a delicate and starchy yam quality at the finish. It manages to have heavy and sweet notes while not being too intense, a quality I find very enjoyable in this style of tea.
This steep has a sweet and almost tart aroma of cherries, cranberries, and currants with a touch of woody cocoa and peanuts, no yam this steep! It starts sweet and light and pretty much stays that way for the rest of the session, which is only one more steep. While tasty, it does not have a ton of longevity, which makes me a little sad, a tea as tasty as this should stick around longer. It does have the distinct pleasure of being one of the fruitiest Bailin Gongfu teas I have had, so congrats there!
So, yesterday my phone went missing, which was very unsettling. It was, as I suspected, with Ben, and will be for a few days now. His phone died a miserable death (it was a piece of garbage anyway) and he needs one for work, so I said he could borrow mine until his new one arrives. I am only regretting this decision a little, mostly because my day feels like it hasn’t started. When I develop a routine and it gets interrupted I tend to become very disoriented, so starting my day has been super hard.
Today I am looking at Yunomi’s Ogose #08: Naturally Grown Wakoucha, Shizuoka Black Tea, and let it be said, I have a serious fascination with Wakoucha. This is more than my usual obsession for the darker teas, I just love teas that are not necessarily ‘normal’ for the region it is produced by. When most people think of Japanese teas they picture the vibrant greens, they produce a ton of other teas but the greens are iconic, so you know I go all ‘gimme gimme’ at the black teas! The leaves are delicate and slightly curly, with aroma notes of malt, lychee, yuzu, distant flowers and a bit of a brisk woodiness. It is not a very aromatic tea, it is light and sweet with a very crisp quality.
Into my shibo the leaves went, at this point I had far too much fun watching the floating stems. The aroma of the wet leaves is malty and woody, with notes of peanuts, toasted soy beans, a bit of honey, and distant crisp citrus. The liquid is sweet and malty, with light notes of honey and mochi, giving it a starchy quality. At the very end is a distant citrus quality like a fresh peel of yuzu.
Ah, that is a mild tea! It is very smooth while also being crisp, not at all bitter or brisk, the crispness coming through like biting into a citrus of some sort, it is more texture than taste. The flavor starts with a sweet lychee and smooth malty start, it then moves into a roasted soybean and mochi (specifically the mochi not the filled sweet) for a sweet yet starchy middle. The real surprise was at the finish where the tea picks up a coconut and sage leaf quality giving it an almost savory tinge. Sadly this tea only really had a single steep in it, the second was very mild and almost ghostly, so I thought to myself, why not cold steep the rest of my sample?
Cold steeping was a good idea! This really brings out the lychee sweetness and crisp citrus notes for one of the most refreshing cups of a chilled black tea I have had in ages. I was amazed at how sweet it was, really it was like someone took black tea and squeezed a bunch of lychees into it. The tea is enjoyable hot but I definitely recommend trying it cold steeped as well.
I woke up to something terrible, my phone has decided to go missing!! I left it on my desk when I took a sleep and now it is gone, which really puts a dent into my usual morning ritual, sigh. I hope Ben took it with him to work since his stopped functioning, because if not I have no idea where it could have gone. Wherever it has gone I hope it is having fun.
Today I am taking a look at Green Tea Guru’s 2010 Hai Lang Hao ‘As You Like’ Ripe Puerh Cake, a cake which was pressed in 2010 but is a combination of 2003, 2008, and 2009 Menghai leaves with a low to medium fermentation. The sample I received had some excellent sized chunks, letting me see that the cake is really densely compressed, not an iron brick where you need a hammer and chisel to break it up, but not falling apart at the sight of a puerh knife either! The aroma of the chunks o’ tea err more on the side of brisk and robust than rich and sweet, with notes of leather, wet leaves, a bit of earthy soil and mushrooms with a slight gamy animal quality that vaguely reminds me of moose. It is not at all unpleasant, unless you don’t like rambling around an alpine forest during the spring thaw, but I do so I am in a happy sniffing place.
After a rinse and first short steep in my clay pot, the aroma of the still pretty compressed leaves is sweet! Notes of molasses, wet leather, cocoa, yeasty dark bread, and wet pine wood mingle together. The liquid combines notes of wet peat, wet wood, and minerals together, not very sweet but pleasantly earthy.
I knew from the first sip that this tea was love, and considering it took a while to wake up. It starts with a thick texture and sweet molasses almost creamy taste, but what really got my attention was the wonderful rain drenching stone and earth, what fancy people call petrichor. I love the way the air smells after a rain, but more importantly I love the way the air tastes, so a tea that evokes that makes me happy. Later steeps retain this wonderful petrichor quality but ramp up the molasses sweetness.
Around the middle steeps (steep three to be exact) the tea has awoken from its compressed slumber and is showing its inky beauty. It still has the wonderful petrichor and molasses but also brings along wet mushroom rich wood and wet leather with a raisin sweetness. What really makes the middle steeps noticeable other than an increase in intensity is a building internal fire. I chose to drink this on a cool (for summer in the Midwest) night, and boy am I glad I did because wow, I think I could be a Firebender with this heat!
By the end steeps I am drinking a literal sauna, or at least the rich, thick, wet, heat from one. It has the same sweetness and petrichor, but also brings in a wet wood quality that lasts well after the other flavors start to fade away. One thing that never seemed to fade was the intense heat from this shou, it was unreal! Talk about turning a cool night into a sweaty mess, I ended up having to pile my icepack on myself to cool down! I am tempted to get a cake for medicinal reasons, if it has this affect in the winter I won’t need my customary heating pads to keep myself from being achy. Plus, and the most important part of any tea purchase I make, it tastes really good!
The struggle of a nocturnal person living in a diurnal world is real, especially with Ben’s new work schedule! He gets up right when I am going to bed, and with him being such a light sleeper I have to creep around not making much noise (and keep the cats relaxed, they always get rambunctious when one of us is awake) so not to wake him. I am going to try, ugh, again to switch back to diurnal, but it is so hard. Something I have always struggled with, I say I am nocturnal, but really I have a cycling sleep schedule and always have. I sleep fine when my cycle matches up to when I am supposed to be awake, but if not…well…there was a reason in school I would fall asleep leaning against a wall sometimes. So it is that time to brute force ‘reset’ my sleep schedule so that my nocturnal rustling doesn’t bug my more productive fiance, not fun!
Today I am taking a look at Bitterleaf Teas’ Sabertooth 2015 Feng Qing Ancient Tree Dian Hong Black Tea. A Hong Cha from scenic Yunnan, made from old tree leaves and if age was any indication of leaf size, well, this tea comes from an Ent. When I was sharing this tea with Ben it easily fit in my larger teapot, but for a single session I needed a gaiwan because the leaves didn’t fit in my Petr Novak pot and I didn’t have the heart to break them. They were big ol leaves with a hint of golden fuzz here and there, mostly they are dark and twisty, they look archaic. The aroma is rich, with notes of cocoa, malt, autumn leaves, acorn squash, and caramel sweetness. There is also a woody briskness at the finish of the sniff, giving promises of a zinginess along with the heavier qualities in the aroma.
I decided to use the big audacious golden gaiwan, because she is needy and gets jealous when neglected. The aroma of the wet leaves after their first water dousing blend notes of cocoa, malt, molasses, dried cherries…and…hello…notes of sassafras! Yessss!!! I love when that note pops up, I have only had it show up in Red Jade, but considering it is a hybrid of assamica and wild growing trees, picking up this note in a Yunnan tea I am assuming is an assamica is not too surprising. Now if I am wrong and it isn’t then I will admit to being surprised, because I have never seen sinensis with leaves this big. The liquid is sweet and rich, with notes of acorn squash, creamy sweet molasses candy, malt, and a finish of cocoa and a touch of cherries.
Well, this first steep is complex! It is really a coin flip with Hong Cha as to whether the first steep will be a gentle introduction or a complex flavor burst, and I have found it almost always is not indicative of how complex later steeps will be. It is why I love this tea so, it always keeps me guessing and interested. It starts with notes of cocoa and dried cherries, then moves to cranberries and sassafras, on it then goes to finish out with acorn squash and myrrh. It starts smooth and finished a bit mineral and dry, really waking up the palate…hello morning tea!
Guess how long I waited til the next steep…yeah not long at all. The aroma of this steep is straight up chocolate covered cherries and molasses, super rich and sweet. This taste starts out rich and sweet, with notes of caramelized sugar, cherries and a bit of cranberries. The middle is mellow squash and a bit of peanuts. For the finish is a resinous myrrh and pine wood with a lingering rich molasses that lasts for aged. This steep is nothing but smoothness as well, not a single note of dryness or briskness.
The aroma for steep three is rich and super sweet, again it is a chocolate covered cherry and molasses bomb with an extra explosion of yams and squash in the finish. My goodness that first sip is sweet, like a mouthful of brown sugar and cocoa with a rich dark cherry (not dried, juicy fresh this time) note as well. In the middle the familiar notes of squash and yams are joined by a touch of pumpkin and distant sassafras. This tea has great longevity, it just goes and goes, and if it wasn’t totally obvious, its taste is quite enjoyable while being very soothing. In my opinion this is a perfect morning tea, since I do not use caffeine to wake up, I use intense sensory input, and this tea takes the cake!
I do believe it is time to admit defeat, and then immediately yell at myself internally for calling it a defeat! Having this blog be daily has been a goal of mine since I started it, but I have never made it a month without missing at least a day, usually due to health problems but also due to electronic glitches, kettle woes, things just happen. Not being able to reach this self imposed goal has caused me more stress over the last few years than I would like to admit (because I am ridiculous) so starting in September this blog will update every other day. I am super excited about this upcoming change and I had to share!
Today I am taking a look at Grand Tea’s Yunnan Pure Gold Black Tea a beautifully fuzzy golden Dian Hong, and you all know how much I love my golden fuzzies. I wasted no time sticking my nose into the needles and enjoying the aroma. Notes of dried tomatoes, malt and cocoa blend with light yams, dry cherries and a bit of woodiness at the finish. The aroma is not too potent, fairly light and fluffy much like the leaves themselves.
Ok, I managed to stop ogling the leaves and tossed them in my gaiwan, I am always a little sad to steep the fuzzy golden leaves since they are not quite as pretty after they are doused with water. The aroma of the now soggy needles is malty and a bit rich, with accompanying notes of dried tomato, black pepper, dry oak wood (hello tannins) and dry cherries. The liquid, wow, it is super delicate and light, I almost dipped my nose trying to pick up notes. All I detected was a faint malty sweetness and a touch of cocoa.
The first steep is really quite light, but despite its lightness it is very thick in the mouth. I was quite surprised by its thickness and smooth quality, even though the taste was very light the texture kept me entertained. The front taste is delicate malt and honey, then moves to yam and peanut with a slightly lingering yam aftertaste.
So the aroma of the second steep is pretty light, but it does pick up more. Notes of gentle yam, malt, and cocoa dance in my nose as I enjoy the steam from my cup. Like the first steep, the mouthfeel is pleasantly thick and smooth, though the taste is a bit more robust this time around. It starts with a strong malt and peanut sweetness, then moves into a mellow yammy sweetness with a hint of cocoa. The finish is woody, a bit brisk, with a sweet note of honey that lingers.
On to the third steep, it is still fairly light in the aroma, with the same notes of yam, malt, and cocoa but with an extra little burst of molasses as well. This steep had a lot in common with the second steep, sweet, mellow, and very smooth. This is not a real stand out Dian Hong (granted I drink a lot…) but it is solid, I would say this is a great daily drinker with a very pretty aesthetic.
For blog and photos (I got a killer droplet photo this time): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/grand-tea-yunnan-pure-gold-black-tea.html
You know what is kinda fun? Playing around with the wedding registry! I have not made it public yet since we don’t have a date set and that seems disingenuous, so I am occupying myself by perfecting it. By perfecting it I mean adding ridiculous captions to all the things on it, and of course removing the completely random nonsense I add at three in the morning when I am bored. The majority of things on it are things that are useful but we have just not acquired, like silicon baking mats and a deep fryer, but there are also silly things like a skull shaped trinket bowl, replacement nerf darts, and of course the much desired skull shaped ice trays. There is a real skull theme going on.
Recently I was given the opportunity to look at an old favorite tea company, Adagio! Over the several years I have been tea rambling they have shown up many times, they were the first online tea company I tried after diving into the vast ocean of online tea shopping, so I have a real nostalgic fondness for them. I am looking at Casablanca Twist, their take on Moroccan Mint, something I have been craving lately but have had no luck getting my hands on any that has been enjoyable. Granted I am not a huge fan of gunpowder, so seeing their blend used Sungma Summer Darjeeling and Peppermint I was very intrigued. I think I got really unlucky with my sample pouch though, I am pretty sure it is 90% mint. You can see a few spindly leaves mixed around with the mint, but mostly it is bright green minty fun. When sniffing this tea, all I smell is mint, fresh and cool and super strong. My nose is now clear and my lungs are happy, mint is good for the sinuses!
I decided to cold steep the tea, it just seemed right…maybe because I am Southern and chilled mint and black tea is kinda a big thing. The aroma after I crack open the cold steeper is a minty blast in the face, it is like walking into a snowy crisp landscape, and considering it is summer this is not too bad a thing. I get absolutely no notes of the Darjeeling, the mint has totally overpowered it. The aroma of the liquid sans leaves is pretty much the same, there is a tiny hint of brisk sweetness but mostly it is all mint all the time.
Well, tasting this tea is tasting mint. There is a slight bitterness to it, not the bitterness of tannins but the bitterness of vegetation, for me mint always comes off a tiny bit bitter, it is one of the main reasons I like mint blends and not just straight up mint. I also like my mint blends a bit more balanced, it is such a potent herb that it will almost always overpower what it is blended with if it is used in abundance. The photo on the website made it seem like it was a more even split, so I think I just got unlucky and since mint is fluffy I got the mint…somewhere out there maybe someone got a sample that is mostly Darjeeling. I really like the idea of a mint Darjeeling blend, but sadly I just got to really explore the mint side, so I do not have a real opinion on this tea. The quest for a Moroccan Mint continues!
Since my favorite plane in MTG is Ravnica, and Ravnica is vaguely inspired by Russia, I decided to dabble in Russian cooking and made a soup. Granted I picked the wrong day since it is freaking hot, but I really wanted a hearty soup. I made Kapustnyak (I saw it listed both as Russian and Ukrainian technically) a soup made with porky goodness (I used kielbasa) and sauerkraut, and man is it good! Definitely keeping this recipe around for what passes for winter in these parts. Also I have a poll with regards to blog scheduling on twitter, answer it if you have the time!
Today I am taking an adventure into Japanese dark teas with Yunomi Furyu: Tosa Bancha! It is my goal to try all the dark teas offered by Yunomi, Japanese dark teas are so fascinating. This one is a blend of pan-fried autumn picked bancha and Chamaecrista nomame, a sweet herb which, if my bit of botanical research is correct, is a member of the pea family. The leaves are gorgeous, big glossy things interspersed with a few stems and herbal bits. The aroma is savory and herbaceous, notes of sage, miso, soy, toasted rice, and a bit of hay sweetness. It is light and fluffy, delicate but distinct.
The aroma of the steeped leaves, which look uncannily like mulch, is a blend of autumn leaves, toasted rice, and toasted sage. It is very autumnal and savory, no real sweetness to be found. The aroma is lightly toasted and very gentle, notes of autumn leaves, barley, rice, and a subtle herbaceous sweetness.
The taste of this tea has a lot in common with a lightly roasted hojicha, gentle notes of autumn leaves and roasted rice. Alongside these notes is a gentle lemony salivary sweetness, then it develops a gentle fresh hay. The finish is a delicate lemon blossom and cocoa sweetness, which is peculiar but tasty. Sadly I only found this tea lasted for a single steep, luckily the first steep, for all its delicate quality was super tasty and very relaxing, it has a wonderfully mellow before sleep tea.
I am so glad I had this written in advance, because I can barely type at the moment. Yesterday there was no blog because headache, and the headache is better but still really annoying…no the problem today is my piece of garbage electronics. Both my computer and my phone have decided to simultaneously act like fails. It has taken me half an hour to just write this paragraph. NECROMANCER RAGE!!! Tomorrow I will be back with tea, or an announcement that my computer has been smashed into a million pieces. Sigh, I so wanted this to be for teaware Wednesday.
It was love at first sight when I spied this shiboridashi on the Teaware.house website, seriously, with a motif of the dragon and phoenix (a common motif used in wedding art, along with the double happiness) and flowers made for a beautiful piece of teaware that borders on the gaudy. And I love things that are gaudy and audacious. I love the color, that shade of green is retro, seriously I had a road-side arm chair from the 60s that had that same color, it is classic. Though in person it is a bit more of a lime green than an asparagus green, very subtle but these things matter.
One this that I really like about this piece is the inside of the shiboridashi, a lot of my favorite pieces have designs on the interior as well as exterior, and this one is no exception. A peony in full bloom is embossed on the interior giving a bit of texture as well as a ghostly appearance, plus it matches the peony lid knob.
At 85ml, it is on the small side, which I like, perfect for a tea that requires a ton of steeps and you are the only one drinking. Using this shibo took a bit of getting used to, the pour is great for larger leaf Chinese teas, I found that the grooves and space between spout and lid did not work for Japanese teas as I was hoping, but it works perfectly fine for other teas. The one little finicky bit I found is that the lid does not fit perfectly flush, when I go to pour I have to wobble around to make sure it is lined up perfectly or it makes a mess. Using it enough times I can eyeball it by matching up the pattern to the spout, but at first it was a bit frustrating.
Now the real important part that sent me on a night of research, what exactly is Huoci? 活瓷 It means ‘Living Porcelain’ and is a modern style of porcelain created in 1986, fusing art and science for what seems like one of the silliest gimmicky things I have heard in a while. Combining over 20 minerals with high heat, this porcelain is supposed to remove bitterness, release healthy ions, dechlorinate water, increase skin beauty, and boil water faster….suuuuure it does. I can see why this is not listed on the website and required me to search elsewhere, that seems far-fetched at best. Apparently this glaze has tourmaline in it as one of the ingredients and I wonder if that is what causes its lovely green? I did not notice any magical taste changing effects, it is a beautiful piece of teaware that is quite happy in my collection. I especially love using it for darker colored teas to contrast the bright green.