I bought some raw pu erh tea while I was browsing the Kunming tea markets a couple of months ago. This is the 2013 Xiaguan Fang Cha. This 100g square brick is very tightly compressed like their traditional iron cakes. You will observe the pointed spikes on the brick that was from the molding process when the tea was being compressed. One thing I learnt about Xiaguan compresed tea - put your palm on the brick, press your palm on the pointy side of the brick...its quite sharp.....if its blunt....may be a fake (I will verify this).
The description on the box says the tea used in producing this brick is made from 3 to 7 year old raw tea. Well, it was to me, the main selling point and I was sold by it. I had already noticed that new ripe pu erh being produced by major tea factories are already incorporating slightly old ripes into the new tea making drinking these tea very pleasant.
Back to this Xiaguan brick. Smoky - checked, some aged taste - checked. Aroma is very nice and I enjoyed the tea session. Given the choice of whether I prefer this tea or the new style 'green tea taste' pu erh.....I would rather settle for this inexpensive Xiaguan brick anytime.
I owned a couple of Lin Ceramic purion teapots. Purion clay, is a mixed of clay that has a high mineral content. In my opinion, this clay seemed to have a higher iron content which may explained the oxidization, or rust like color after regular use of this teapot. I intend to find out more about purion clay and will share my findings with my readers when I make a trip to Taiwan, hopefully next year.....that's where Lin Ceramic is located.
In my few years of drinking tea and learning more about tea by visiting Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, many tea shops allow you to sample their teas before you make a decision whether to buy their tea. One common observation would be that the sampling tea session would see the use of a porcelain gaiwan to brew the tea. The reason given, or is understood in the tea drinking community, is that use of clay teapots or clay teaware may affect (some say will enhance) the tea in terms of taste and aroma. In my opinion....Yes, there is a difference if a clay teapot is used, but....you need to be an old hand (or old nose) as the differences may be quite subtle. What are the reasons? It may be the clay, the way heat is maintained for a longer period or maybe the tea patina on the inside of a seasoned teapot does enhance the tea being brewed. There is no definite answer.
I was at Lau Yu Fat teashop Hong Kong a couple years ago when old man Lau asked me to purchased a Lin purion teapot. He had noticed that using this purion teapot had improved the taste of pu erh tea. I decided to get one teapot.
I got to examine this purion teapot at leisure when I was home. It looked rough as though it was an unfinished item. After using this teapot for more than 50 tea sessions, these were my findings. Old pu erh tea actually tasted better. It may be my imagination or it may be due to the iron content in the clay....but the tea taste seem slightly more pronounced. I felt purion teapots works very well with ripe pu erh tea.
I had the opportunity to visit Hong Kong this January and this time, Mr Lau used the purion teapot as a serving tea pitcher. He even used a porcelain tea pitcher at the same time to compare a tea being brewed. Somehow, the tea poured out from the purion teapot tasted better (to me).
The 2nd pix shows the 2 purion teapots I had purchased. The 2012 version (on the left), which I am using looked different from the unused 2013 version. Notice the color differences.
I believed there is another Lin purion teapot where there is a metal filter fixed inside the teapot. My recent purchase of a Lin Ceramic Duanni (yellow clay) teapot has such a metal filter. I personally do not like such metal filters inside a teapot. I shall blog about it soon.
If you drink a lot of pu erh tea, do consider getting a purion teapot. Some tea drinker friends tell me the tea has been tempered with the use of such teapots. Others feel that one should try to enhance the tea with such tea ware like teapots and even tea cups. Let me know your thoughts.