Friday, June 19, 2015

Japanese Tea Caddy

My recent tea ware purchase was this Japanese tea caddy.  This tea ware is made in Kyoto and such ceramic works are known as Kyo ware.  This tea caddy measures about 2.8 inches high with its girth at about 2.8 inches as well.  This tea caddy comes with a cow bone lid with gold foil lining the base of the lid.  A cloth bag call shifuku was included in this purchase.  

I was informed that the lid of the tea caddy was made from cow bone.  Such lids may also be made from resin, bone and even ivory.  I found the lid extremely light.   It looks very nice aesthetically but I would prefer the lid to be designed like a stopper so that this caddy can be carried about easily without worrying about losing the lid.

The overall appearance of this tea caddy is very attractive.  The high reflective surface easily makes this tea caddy a great conversation piece while you are having a tea session with guests.  Did you notice the reflection of a camera tripod on the tea caddy? 

But I digress…..I had put some oolong in this tea caddy and took this tea caddy to visit my friend for a tea session. He had the impression that the oolong was expensive since I had used such elaborate tea ware.  He remarked, when we had brewed the tea, that the oolong was an old and high grade oolong.  We had a good laugh when I told him the tea was a Sea dyke oolong.   Lesson learnt - never judge a tea by its tea caddy……or buy an expensive tea caddy; your tea will taste much better.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Teacup Plate

A teacup plate is a plate where you rest your teacup.  I believe the term 'saucer' is used in the UK, to described these tea ware.  Saucers are normally circular in shape and may have a depression in the middle of the plate to prevent the teacup from sliding around on the saucer. 

Call it anyway you want - plate, saucer, tray, coaster, holder or dish.  The 1st two pix shows some of the teacup plates in my collection.  You will observed that even a gaiwan (literally means covered bowl) comes with a plate.  And….such plates need not be circular in shape.  The wooden rectangular teacup tray in the 1st pix is made from vietnamese teak.  The 3rd pix shows Lau Yu Fat teashop in Hong Kong, where I had a sampling session with Mr Lau.  Notice the square wooden teacup holder that came with my teacup.  If you google Japanese tea ware, teacup plates can be very pretty and well decorated.  Some of these Japanese plates are made from copper or tin.  

Why use a teacup plate?  It helps keep the table dry.  Some teacups may have a rough base and using a teacup holder may prevent scratches to the table top.  To me, the indirect advantage is that it gives the tea drinker a sense of personal space.  If you have a tea session with 3-4 friends, using a teacup plate would help the tea drinker know where to place his teacup after drinking…..not to his left or right but on the teacup plate. For a bigger tea session with 5 friends or more, and if you use similar cups, having teacup trays may help the tea drinker drink from his right cup.  

There are tea sets that does not come with teacup plates.  The last pix shows a new goldfish theme tea set that does not have teacup plates.  When I brew tea myself, I do not use teacup holders for my teacups.  

Using teacup plates in a Chinese tea session have its usefulness and help enhance the ambience of drinking Chinese tea.  Do you use a teacup holder? 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sea Dyke Lao Chung Shui Hsien - Premium Tin


Sea Dyke recently introduced their premium Lao Chung Shui Hsien that came in a small fancy gold tin.  Sea Dyke's famous yellow can Lao Chung Shui Hsien in the last pix (link) had been around for more than 30 years and remains today a favorite among many oolong tea drinkers, myself included.  

This premium edition tin has 4 gold foiled packets of shui hsien nicely packed inside.  Each packet holds 10g of tea meaning you get 40g of tea in each tin.  This tin retails today for US$10.  This a not a cheap tea as a kilogram of this tea would cost US$250.  This tea is to me, slightly expensive as this price point would also allow me to purchase much older oolong.  I do give credit to Sea Dyke for selling this amount of tea at a not too intimidating price of $10.

This Lao Chung is a very good tea.  The aroma is very strong and pleasant.  Taste of this tea is good with nice combination of sourness, sweetness with a floral hint in the tea.  There was good salivating sensation when I consumed the tea and there was a nice extended aftertaste of the tea that lingered in the mouth for quite a while after a tea session.  I suspect that Sea Dyke had used a slightly older shui hsien in this premium tin.   

Brewing a 10g pack of this set would cost $2.50 but you could mitigate the cost by using a 80-100ml teapot and this would enable you to use only 5g (half pack) of this tea.  I had a few good sessions with 5g of this shui hsien and I am into my 2nd tin now.  

I do not rate Sea Dyke oolong as a top shelf tea.  I find that Sea Dyke oolongs, especially the tinned ones very good.  It is my opinion, that starting or drinking Sea dyke oolong would give any tea drinker a good platform to appreciate traditional roasted oolong.  I recommend my readers to skip the boxed Sea Dyke oolongs as they are of a lower quality.  I had brought Sea Dyke tea to a few tea sessions with my serious oolong drinking friends and they were not willing to acknowledge the quality of the oolong after they had discovered that the tea drunk was a Sea Dyke oolong.  

If you like traditional high roasted oolong, I recommend you get a tin of Sea Dyke lao chung shui hsien.   No regrets.