In his monograph on tea, Lu Yu seemed to hold silver in high regard as a material for teaware. “用銀為之，至潔，但涉於侈麗。雅則雅矣，潔亦潔矣，若用之恆，而卒歸於銀也，” he wrote in Cha Jing in the section describing pots used for boiling water. Silver, he asserted, is most pristine, although extravagant.
Furthermore, Lin Chun-Chieh highlights in his book 清風習習：煎茶道具之美, “日本大多數煎茶道流派不使用金壺與鐵壺，而以銀壺與湯罐為主。” Silver, rather than gold or iron, is also the preferred choice of material for tea kettles used in most Japanese senchado schools.
There are of course numerous contemporary tea experts who oppose the use of silver tea kettles, basing their objections mostly on their understanding of science and food safety and claiming that silver kettles are toxic and will kill you (never mind that silver has antimicrobial properties and was traditionally popularly used to indicate the presence of arsenic poisoning).
Perhaps that’s why the previous generations of tea practitioners who’ve been using silver tea kettles to brew tea are now all six feet under? 😅
The water this evening while fishing.
君德 Junde pot, a.k.a. “who sat on my 思亭 Siting?” Pun intended.
Pure silver kettle, which in my mind isn’t just the perfect counterpart to a good clay kettle, but is also entirely suited for formal tea ceremonies.
No romanticisation, no fetishism. Just the meeting of clay with flames and ashes, preserved for eternity.
Another of Murakami Yaku’s rust iron glaze teapot. It belongs to one who had the honour of personally brewing tea for the artist, and later recounted to me how profound and meaningful the experience was for her to offer a cup of tea to a craftsman she so greatly admires. There’s nothing that’ll convince her to part with this pot, she says, and I suppose it’s only understandable!
Also... is there such a thing as tea envy??
There is more to putting boutique teas and culinary artistry together than just discussing flavours and pairings, and it’s heartening to see that people are now becoming increasingly receptive, because outside of its conventional boundary where it is stripped of its stigma, tea has something new to say.
Was gonna have a breakfast dorayummy when this happened. “You are what you eat.”
Late-Qing to early-ROC.
大紅柑 tangerine peel, probably the only thing my ancestral home of Xinhui is famous for. Aged for 30 years, this tiny batch of chenpi has a nuanced character but is very intoxicating, invigorating, and restorative!
Artistry aside, probably one thing that awes me most about Yixing stoneware (apart from how it brews) is how thin it can be made — at its thinnest point, the flange on this lid measures just a little under 1mm.
The very kind folks at @monsoontea sent me a collection of eight of their teas to sample. Given the amount of tea that I go through in a day (one can only stomach so much!), I thought I'd first pick out those that I'd like to focus on, which are basically those that aren't augmented with oils and non-tea ingredients.
Monsoon takes pride in committing to sustainable tea agriculture, producing teas from wild (grown in the forests with no human intervention) or free-grown (natural tea plantations situated in the forests) camellia sinensis assamica in Thailand.
Lanna White Buds
Free-grown assamica, Mae Taeng region, 1000m-1200m altitude.
Clean and fragrant with a honeyed character underscored by notes of macadamia, leading to a sweet round finish. The accompanying fact sheet says there's an "earthy taste" but fortunately it didn't appear in my cup — I'm not entirely convinced that earthiness is a positive thing in a white tea.
Lahu Green Oolong
— Free-grown assamica, Fang region, 1300m altitude.
Firm and tight, evoking hawthorne, fig, and date. Very structured and assertive, which would be great if drunk with desserts. Tannins are quite present but don't bite.
Wild assamica, North Chiangmai, 1300m altitude.
Fresh and almost balmy nose. Unusual flavours reminiscent of tart berries, sour cherries, and a hint of Virginia tobacco. When allowed to cool, a pronounced note of tarte tatin appears. Tannins are just a little harsh. Highly intriguing; I'm especially curious about the fixation and level of oxidation.
Free-grown assamica, Fang region, 1300m altitude.
Lovely authentic expression of a black (red to the Chinese) tea, with suitable depth and concentration. Malt, cocoa, toasted nuts, and brown butter can be discerned on the nose and palate. Quite soft and persistent on the finish.
Tea Bunnies is the exclusive distributor for Monsoon Tea in Singapore. Check out their selections at monsoon-tea-company.com or monsoontea.com.sg.
All teas brewed according to instructions on accompanying fact sheets.
- Bonavita gooseneck kettle with temperature control. - Takashi Ichikawa white clay teapot and cup (wood-fired kiln).
Yixing clays from Zhaozhuang (only the pots, not the base piece). The shuiping was made in 2014 while the siting was made just recently.