07 January, 2008

Internet Pots

I recently had a conversation about teapots - "Internet pots", in particular. Aware that I have been singing the praises of the "non-Internet" pot for a while, I think that a few words are very much in order to redress the balance. Some of my best pots were obtained from Internet vendors, and I'd very much like to give them their due acclaim.

Specifically, from the old photograph below, pot #8 and pot #12 really are exceedingly good. (Iwii and Vlad may recognise #5 as "The Donkey".)

Here's why #8 and #12 are worth further attention...

Pot #12 is from Yunnan Sourcing, where it was priced at about $30. You might recognise it from the Half-Dipper banner at the top of the page - it's very photogenic:

This pot has provided a year-and-a-half of fine service, and is aging very well indeed. I'm fairly sure that Salsero owns one too, no less. It is made of quite light clay, but is very porous, and brews a lovely heavily-roasted wulong. It enriches the dark notes, and takes away any bitter edge that I otherwise obtain from brewing the same tea in a gaiwan. Furthermore, the wonderful texture of the skin holds the hot tea-rinses very well, and has developed a beautiful shine. I thoroughly recommend it.

For reasons that become obvious when you see it pour, my mother, during a visit last year, named it "Little Boy's Willy" (for "willy" read "peepee" if you're reading from the USA).

Pot #8 is a "Xishi" pot, from Teamasters, where it sold for around $50. Stories abound why this slightly erotic teapot style should be named after the famous Chinese beauty:

Again, while made of fairly light clay, the fit between lid and pot is absolutely perfect, and the skin is a joy to caress. Over the past 1-2 years, it has become richer and shinier with use, and pours magnificently: the pour is so precise, that it is like turning a tap on and off instantaneously. It makes a superb hongcha, amplifying the malty darkness, and smoothing out any nervous high-notes. I drink a great deal of hongcha in my office (in a gaiwan), and it never tastes as good as the same tea brewed at home with my Xishi.

So, then, two very good pots, at very reasonable prices, and easily obtainable. In the spirit of the occasion, I'd very much like to hear of any success stories that you have encountered - it's an absolute certainty that there are plenty of fine pots that I have yet to discover, and I welcome your guidance in unearthing them.


Salsero said...

Yes, in fact, I do have a #12, and it is a joy to use. Unfortunately, I think your mother has taken some of the pleasure out of handling it! Up until now I have thought of it as an Aladdin's lamp style.

Anonymous said...

Many of my finest pots are from Sebastien at Jing's teashop and from Lau Yue Fat in HK: http://www.teahouse.com.hk/.

I agree that net pots can be very good indeed and these dealers' recommendations are always well worth having.

Hobbes said...

Dear Salsero,

I know what you mean - now, it reminds me of the infamous urinating cherub statues...

Dear Yiwu,

Thanks for the link to Lau Yue Fat, I haven't come across them before! The pots sold my Jing always look pretty, 'tis true. I remember TeaLogic's VL had a Jing pot that was about 6cl? So tiny...

Toodlepip both,


Proinsias said...

I opted for the same pot from Teamasters as yourself. It really is growing on me with each use.

My source of 'real life' yixing has vanished and I now rely on the internet. I've gotten some nice pots online and I'm waiting on one from Scott as we speak.

I imagine it must be a little like mail order brides, everything looks right online but you don't really know until it arrives - Most return policies don't include "If you don't fall in love with it then..."

Anonymous said...

Dear Hobbes

I am new to the blogging arena but I share your passion for tea. I must congratulate on your interesting articles and reviews which I always find enjoyable and inspiring. I have recently returned back to the UK after a couple of years in HK where my tea infatuation began. I very much look forward to your new posts!

On the matter of this post, I am surprised to learn that Lau Yue Fat is providing good quality Yixing tea pots. When I was in HK I went to their shop in Lok Fu and I was not impressed. I thought Sun Sing http://www.sunsingtea.com/ provided better products (perhaps not outstanding but consistently above par). It is a pity that on their website they do not currently sell Yixing. What do you think about the tea pots offered by Hou De?



Michel said...

Hobbs what is your email?

all the best

小 約翰 said...

David .. always a pleasure reading your postings.
My hat’s off to those that can buy through the Internet.
I’ve been unable to cross that bridge (or is it a router?)
All the best in 08 .. john

xdustinx said...

Half of my four yixing pots are from JTS, the other half from Hou De. All of them are great.

Anonymous said...

LYF's stock levels, prices and quality tends to vary; over the last year they have become exclusive agents to a good quality workshop. My best 2 pots are from www.qj21.com but I have found they won't respond to emails in English any more. I still visit the site regularly because they have superb quality pictures and very artistic pots.

Tuo Cha Tea said...

I use this pot from Yunnan Sourcing and I'm very happy with it - it pours great, the lid fits and does not leak.

I also have some pots from Guang and Hou De (this one for example is awesome) and while they are much more expensive, they are great, indeed.

Unfortunately, here in Slovakia is a good yixing pot very hard to find.

Hobbes said...

Dear Proinsias,

I'm glad to hear that the Xishi pot is being similar enjoyed - there is a certain illicit tactile pleasure that comes from this pot... :)

Dear G,

I'm very glad that you've enjoyed the articles here; thanks muchly for the generous words.

Sunsing are certainly a famous name in Hong Kong; I am very much looking forward to finding out first hand at some point in the future. Are there any other spots that you can recommend?

Hou De pots are not something with which I've had much experience, but the testimonials on this comments page alone are very supportive of them! Guang's products are always of reliable quality, I've found.

Dear Michel,

Let me give you hobbesoxon@gmail.com, which is only my secondary address - I'll give you my proper address in a response to your e-mail. I've found that quoting your address on the web, even on a blog, is a surefire way to get onto spam lists!

Dear John,

Thanks for the wishes; I very much hope that 2008 will be treating you well, too. At least you'll get another Christmas this year. :)

Dear Dustin,

Any favourites? I'm keen to check out some of Jing's selection, which I'm not familiar with. Also, has your address changed lately? I've got something for you!

Dear Tuochatea,

The YS pot looks to have a pleasant skin; I love the smooth, slightly bumped texture. The Houde De pot looks fine - I was debating buying it myself! The price eventually beat me down. ;)



Anonymous said...

Hi Hobbes

let me know if you happen to go to HK and I will provide you with some additional details. Apart from Sun Sing, which I consider the safest option in terms of quality, I would recommend you to go to 'The Best Tea House' http://www.besttea.com.hk/. Master Chan is very amicable although he is not always around. The branch in Tai Koo Shing is small but you can find some interesting teas there. For more options (especially yixing) the branch in Lai Chi Kok is better.
A lower quality place, nevertheless interesting to explore, is the department store Yue Hwa. There are some branches in HK but the ones I find more interesting are in Jordan or Tsim Tsa Tsui. I bought a couple of teas and some Yixing there with mixed outcomes.
Finally if you feel adventurous, there is always the possibility (after getting a temporary visa to Mainland China) for a day trip to Shenzen where, if you are careful not to step into usual traps, you may end up with some hidden jewels which are very difficult to find otherwise. Let me know if you are interested in knowing more.
On a related matter, I have bought some shu pu cakes (fairly cheap at that time) from Yue Hwa a couple of months ago and after a couple of trials I still cannot figure out whether or not they are drinkable or they have been a clear rip off. I would like to seek for your opinion. If you are so kind to give it a try, let me know your 'public' email address so that I can reach your postal address in some way.



Hobbes said...

Dear G,

Thanks for the extra information; Best Tea House is certainly on the list, given its formidable reputation!

My e-mail address is hobbesoxon@gmail.com - I'll give you my proper e-mail address as a reply. ;)



Nada said...

I also purchased one of these 10cl Xishi pots from Teamasters (now $59.50).

This is amongst the best and most treasured tea purchases I have made. Everything is perfect about this pot, the fit of the lid, yes - the caressability of the warm skin, the filter, the pour... the feeling of simple quality that it glows with.

I can't recommend this enough.

The only fault I can find is that perhaps it shows too clearly the flaws of some of my other pots.