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emmy [AT] curious-notions {dot} net
September 2022
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Teaware

So I probably shouldn’t have written that entry while the tea had me all jittery. It really was some bad whiskey. Just the memory has me jolting a bit.

I figured I’d show my little teaware family. I started off with the glass gaiwan and a little pitcher. They were bought from different vendors and the glass pitcher was made of cheaper glass and shattered one time when I poured the tea into it.

Glass gaiwan and pitcher

Then I got the two yixing pots.

The brown pot is the one I used yesterday for the Feet of Crab tea. The tea in the gaiwan is some yummy Tie Guan Yin. Maybe not the best stuff out there, but pretty tasty.

2007 Menghai Feet of Crab

So this journal was going to be primarily knitting and spinning with some random adventures thrown in (ha). But I have four real passions in my life. 4 things that have been consistent loves of mine for years (most for all my life). 1) family 2) books/stories 3) tea 4) knitting/spinning/fiber stuff

The tea has always been a background thing. I don’t like to drink coke (soda or pop or soda pop for people not from the south) or alcohol (personal reasons, not religious or health). Then I discovered that something in coffee doesn’t sit with me all that well. Maybe the acidity, maybe I add too much sugar, I have no idea, but it can string me out. So my constant beverage of choice: tea.

Now I obviously like to ramble, but I’m getting to my point. I have been trying loose leaf tea recently (last few years or so). At first I brewed it just like you’d brew bagged tea. I got a nice hit in flavor that you don’t get with lipton or celestial seasonings, but after a while it all kinda tasted similar. I’d heard about yixing pots, but I was still a big ol’ mug kind of gal and those yixing pots are expensive for something so tiny. Then I saw some tea blogs. And learned about gaiwans. That opened a whole new world. Suddenly teas that I’d tried that had tasted terrible before using the big ol’ mug method were amazingly good. Smaller amounts of water, shorter infusion times, more infusions made a huge difference.

I now have two lil’ tiny yixing teapots and a gaiwan. I hardly using my tetsubin and I’m trying to figure out what to do about the big ol’ mug at work. But this brings me to my point. I tried my first pu-erh cake tea today. In the little yixing pot I also got today (after I did the boiling, toothpaste cleaning and boiling again thing). The first pu-erh I tried? 2007 Menghai Feet of Crab. Seriously. Feet of Crab.

And so I decided to take notes. I’ve been trying out the gong-fu method of brewing for a few weeks now with the gaiwan, but mostly on some crappy teas. With two exceptions (the best Tie Guan Yin I’ve had to date and some Dragonwell that Bear has now claimed that is also one of the best teas I’ve had to date).

So my notes. Water at a full boil. Tea when wet with no water half fills a 140 mL little teapot. This might mean I didn’t use enough tea, but this stuff was incredibly potent, so I’m actually pretty happy with it. I’m sitting here now sipping my 8th infusion with a 9th cooling on the table. Infusion times: 20s, 30s, 20s, 5s, 5s, 15s, 25s, 1:05, 1:30 (these times are amount of time I left the teapot sitting. Pour time for the little pot to the last drop is about 25s).

I’d read that this tea was very fishy and not very pleasant. I didn’t find it fishy really, but it did take a bit of getting used to.

1st infusion: very very light taste. Bit of saltiness. Yellow sunshine. After this infusion the color stayed a constant clear yellow orange.

2nd infusion: just about knocked me on my ass. Whole body flushed after each swallow. Could detect lighter notes if I forced myself to hold tea in my mouth, but had a very hard time with this. Very strong bitterness/astringency (my mouth would tingle and prickle). Strong aftertaste. Strong throatiness.

3rd: same as second. decided much shorter infusion times are needed.

4th: still had strong astringency, aftertaste, bitterness, and throatiness of the previous two infusions, but thinner. could finally taste hints of sweetness and tea felt smoother. still felt a flush through my whole body but it was warming instead of heart racing.

5th: very very similar to 4th, but could start to taste the water

6th: noticeable drop in everything but the aftertaste and sweetness. stronger water taste.

7th: nearly indistinguishable from 6th

last two: tea dropped off. mostly sweet astringent water.

So I finished the tea while I was typing up these notes. A good 30 minutes later and my mouth still has a dry feel, and there’s a thickness at the back of my throat. There’s also a smooth and sharp aftertaste that’s pleasant and yet odd.

Those 2nd and 3rd infusions? Every sip caused me to go “Wooo” and pant while my body would flush. The tea was so bitter and astringent that I half wanted to throw it out, but at the same time it was so compelling that I kept taking a sip and “wooo”ing and panting and flushing.

Little presents

I came home on Friday to see this when I opened my screen door:

Yay for Surprises

The box on the left might not be of much interest to people. It’s a tea shipment from Seven Cups. I usually order my tea from Adagio, but I thought I’d try somewhere else for a change. I love talking about loose leaf tea and can spend hours wasting time online looking at different teas and teaware, so if you are interested, let me know.

The envelope on the right should be of interest. See the AIRMAIL sticker? How about the Royal Mail one? Or even the Customs sticker? It’s a little order from Heirloom Knitting. I made it, then completely pretended I didn’t. When we walked to the door and I opened the screen the conversation went like this:

Bear reached to grab the packages so I could open the door. “What’s this?”
I hunched my shoulders and reached for the packages. “A pattern and my tea.”
He laughed. “You bought it and then went into denial or something huh?”
I shot a glance at him. “How did you know?”
He hung up his coat and headed up the stairs. “Because you didn’t show me a million pictures and talk incessantly about it while you were waiting for it to get here.”

Heh. He’s so funny. Wanna see what was inside?

Front

That’s the front of the Yarn Guide and a piece of the front of the Gossamer Sample pack.

Back

Sorry for sticking my big hand in the middle of the photo, but for some reason I could not get the envelopes to stay on the bush when I flipped them around. But I find the back of the envelopes much more interesting than the fronts.

I waffled a lot when I was thinking about buying the yarn guide. A lot of the information I’m sure a person could find out on their own or wouldn’t even need, but it does have quite a bit of information and I found it terribly interesting. I also love her card with the yarn samples attached. It ended up being (in my opinion) very worth the 16 bucks or so that I spent on it. The gossamer sample pack is what convinced me to make the purchase, but strangely, I never would have considered buying it if I hadn’t already been looking at the yarn guide. The sample pack has 10g of the gossamer mohair and 10g of the gossamer silk. The little pattern that is supposedly takes 5 to make, so you have enough to swatch with both yarns and still make the mini Orenburg sample shawl. I’m extremely pleased with this purchase I have to say.

I spent a good portion of my weekend taking both the yarn guide and the little pamphlet that has the mini Orenburg sample pattern on it out and skimming and reading and rereading and reskimming both. The rest of the weekend was spent cleaning or knitting. I made great progress on the Branching Out doll scarf.

march 26 Branching Out progress

The ruler is there to show an approximation of how long the scarf is unblocked. Around 24 inches. Not terribly long. It’ll grow a bit when it’s blocked, but I don’t imagine by much. I actually expect to have pictures of it bound off at least by Friday and next week to have blocking shots and finished product shots. I actually think the greatest indication of how little is left to do is the flattened little ball of yarn. Can’t be long now huh?

Oh, and sample pack and yarn guide aren’t the only presents (those are just my presents to me). I don’t expect to keep the doll scarf once I’m done with it. I know a little girl who will die, just die, if she doesn’t get it. The horrible thing is, she has 3 other little cousins who must also get cutesy little handmade things so as to not feel left out. I have no ideas. The good thing is that they live in different states and so I can probably get away with giving the other 3 (who are all sisters) stuff for Christmas, so I’ve got months to work something out.

And honestly, that makes it sound like I don’t like making things for them. I love making things for other people. Making stuff for other people is my excuse (to myself, it doesn’t make a difference to Bear) for knitting lace instead of sweaters (sweaters are at least practical right?) and for having all this yarn lying around, especially since I’ve learned to spin. I’ve lost almost all interest in buying yarn, but it’s when I start to think about making things for other people some of the grand ambitions (spinning gossamer weight yarn to make a wedding ring shawl anyone?) fall away finally and I go shopping.

Speaking of shopping. I have more stuff arriving soon. Easy content for Friday huh?