Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Earth and Fire teaware by David Louveau

Each firing in an anagama kiln turns out differently. Even each piece in the kiln will be impacted differently depending on its location, shape... Fly ash from the burning wood coalesces on the surface of the pieces to produce a natural glaze. The inside of the teapot remains unglazed (picture left). The cover is placed on the teapot during firing to make sure that it keeps a good fit on the teapot. The clay appears natural, brown and rather fine. It feels hard, fired at a high temperature.

You've seen this teapot last week, but I want to show it bathing in the morning sun:
(Click on the picture to enlarge).

Cooperation and Maturity.
David's teapot making skills have improved dramatically since I paid him a visit last year. He has listened carefully and embedded my advice in his pots without changing his style. The shapes are more harmonious. The tea flow from the spout is clean and quiet. The size is 19 cl for 233 grams approximately.

Thanks to the higher temperature reached in what David says was his best firing in the last 5 years, the teapot is less porous. I have tested it successfully with raw puerh and even classic roasted Dong Ding Oolong. Compared to the same Oolong brewed in a gaiwan, the tea felt fruitier and had a broader range of flavors. And most importantly, the taste acquired more depth and length.

Small cups.
David Louveau de la Guigneraye also continues to make very free and rough cups of 4/5 cl (80 grams):
Contrary to porcelain, these cups don't give a feeling of finesse and lightness. However, I found that their natural clay and wood firing gave life, depth and power to the tea. But they are now a good match with light Oolongs: their porosity would absorb the flavors too much. But with puerh and roasted Oolongs, they add exuberance and wild power to the brew.

Update: The clay of these cups is mixed with sand, a coarser material that better withstands very high temperatures. The cups were then placed near the fire, at the entrance of the kiln. This is why their shape isn't evenly round. The fire was so strong, that it reshaped them and gave them these beautiful red colors.

Teapot number 2 (sold):
Very similar to the above teapot. Size is also 19 cl for 233 gr more or less. This is a good example that shows that not 2 pieces come out the same for the anagama kiln.

I compared the gaiwan and teapot with the Dong Ding roasted Oolong this afternoon. When I wanted to continue to brew the tea tonight, the leaves in the gaiwan tasted old and a little sour. I disliked it and didn't drink it. However, with the teapot, I was able to enjoy 3 more brews! The porous and natural clay has helped to keep the open leaves fresh.

In a related test, I kept the spent raw puerh leaves in the teapot for a week and didn't notice any change during this time. These wood fired teapots preserve the leaves very well.

Now, I have to test how well this new jar stores dry leaves!

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