Wednesday, September 21, 2011
My Cha Xi is very similar to the one I designed to match the event "Autumn colors on the Chiao and Hua Mountains". However, today I'm using my ivory white gaiwan instead of a zhuni teapot. Following the hot Taiwanese summer, I want a neutral brewing of my 2003 wild Yiwu cake. The gaiwan is the simple, elegant accessory that makes gongfu cha affordable to all. It's not as simple to use as a teapot, but that's also where one can gain skills that will improve the tea.
For instance, since porcelain doesn't retain heat as well as clay, the preheating of the gaiwan (including its cover!) is a key success factor:
- use just boiled water,
- touch the cover to make sure that it's hot
- without haste, don't wait too long to put the leaves and the pour the hot water, after you've emptied the preheating water in the cups. Everything should be ready in advance: the puerh should be flaked before you start preheating the gaiwan. If it's very cold, you may even want to preheat the gaiwan twice!
- (for puerh) pour the boiling water rather low and strong to avoid cooling in mid air.
- and, if it's a good tea, let it brew a little longer than with a teapot. You can wait until the water that covers the edges of the cover retreats inside below.
- leave your cover on the gaiwan between brews to retain the heat of the wet leaves.
Now, I enjoy the cool, dry autumn air. It's nice to be able to turn off the A/C and fans again. The breath of fresh air combined with the natural warmth of this puerh feels good.