Tea For Me Please

Tasting Puerh Storage Methods

Comparing dry, traditional and heavy traditional methods.

5 Awesome Things About Being a Tea Blogger

There are some pretty awesome perks of what I do.

5 Reasons Your Gaiwan Should Be Your Best Friend

The handiest tea tool of all. Are you using one yet?

Tea DIY: Iced Chai Latte

A summery treat that you can brew ahead of time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

An Introduction to Hagi

Japan is famous for several pottery styles but one of my favorites is known as Hagi Yaki. It is a glazed, high-fired stoneware that is the specialty of the city of Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The glaze can be made in a variety of colors but milky white is the among the most recognizable. This style of pottery originated in Korea and was brought to Japan in the 17th century. No two pieces are ever exactly alike due to their handmade nature. Their perfectly imperfect appearance exemplifies the wabi sabi aesthetic of the Japanese tea culture. The clay has a rough, almost rocky texture and the glazes are typically lumpy or drippy. Most pieces do not feature any designs other than those made by the glaze. Hagi is traditionally used for serving sake and other types of alcohol. It is also a popular medium for flower vases used in a tatami mat tea house. Their earthy feel draws the viewer's attention to the beauty of the blooms rather than detracting from it.

Seigan Blue Glaze Sakazuki Hai

Hagi is different from other teaware like ceramic or porcelain because it is designed to permeable, so much so that new pieces may leak a bit. Small cracks will also develop in the outer glaze with each use. Don’t worry, your beautiful new teacup isn’t breaking! Tea seeps into these cracks and changes the appearance of the vessel over time. This process is referred to as the “seven changes” of hagi. Although I've seen that phrase repeated many times, I actually have not been able to find a list of what those changes actually are. The first time that you use a piece of hagi yaki, I recommend soaking it in water for two to three hours. This helps to remove dust particles and reduce odors from shipping. In the event that your piece leaks too much, regular use will encourage tea to crystallize inside of the pores in the glaze. Filling it with a solution of cornstarch and water can also help.

Close Up of Cracks in Glaze
I fell in love the hagi teaware near the beginning of my tea journey. Group buys through Tea Chat enabled me to acquire some very nice pieces directly from Japan without breaking the bank (although they were still a bit of an investment). I tend to not use them when writing a review because of the affect that they may have on the taste but they are still my favorites when drinking for fun. Seeing each cup change over time makes me love them that much more.

Hagi ware should only be hand washed with warm water. They are so absorbent that soaps or detergents would render them unusable. Avoid leaving tea or alcohol for extended periods of time in the teacups and dishes. These can seep into the cracks and cause stains, odors and unpleasant stickiness. Never microwave your hagi or place it onto a heat source. The bottoms of cups and pots are usually a bit rough so use a coaster of some sort if your table has a delicate finish.

If you're wondering where to find hagi to add to your own collection, I highly recommend MAGOKORODO. Shipping from Japan may take a while but I've been very happy with everything that I've purchased from them.

San-Sai Glaze Chawan
Sea Cucumber Glaze Yunomi
Waste Water Bowl

Shiro Glaze Houjin
Pair of Shiro Glaze Gyokuro Cups
Ice Split Glaze Chawan

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Taiwanese Oolong Issue - Going Out July 31st!

I can't believe that it's already time for the next quarterly journal. My mailing list has grown by leaps and bounds and I have all of you to thank for that. From a small list of under 200, you've grown to over 500 subscribers. That's a lot of tea lovers! This time around I'll be focusing on one of my favorite types of tea, Taiwanese oolongs. There are some great articles lined up from +Tealet+Tea Ave+Dachi Tea Co. and +Eco-Cha Artisan Teas.

For this issue's community page, I'd like to bring the focus to Twitter. Post your tips on brewing Taiwanese oolongs using the hashtag #teaformeplease. The five best responses will be published for everyone to see!

If you've haven't signed up for my quarterly journal already, just use the form below. Each issue is sent as a high quality PDF that is available for download via Google Drive, Issu and Drop Box.

Teatulia Black Tea Loose Leaf

Country of Origin: Bangladesh
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Tea Maker
Liquor: reddish brown

I first wrote about this tea way back in 2011, in its pyramid tea bag form, so I thought that I should give it another go. For those of you who aren't familiar with +Teatulia Organic Tea, I'm a big fan because of the social good that they do through their garden in Northern Bangladesh. It's always a good feeling to know that your tea is supporting education, health and cattle-lending programs. Now, let's get back to the leaf. The brewed tea was full bodied with some astringency. Malty and fruity notes alternated around a sweet, somewhat woody base. There was an almost red wine-like quality that I really enjoyed. It was bold enough to take milk and sugar if you felt the need but it's really not necessary at all. My second infusion was bit milder but also pleasantly sweeter. Now that I'm revisiting these teas, I definitely feel that the quality has increased over the last few years. I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Linda, their CEO, and Chris, their director of marketing, at World Tea Expo earlier this year. They're were perfect examples of one my favorite sayings, tea people are the best kind of people!

Black Tea Loose Leaf sample provided by Teatulia.