Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Porous clay


This is an interesting discovery unintended. I put all the new pots in a big stainless steel cooking pot and boil with tap water, medium high on an electric stove. After 20 minutes or so, I check on the pots and discover how much it differs from clay to clay.

It's quite visible that both of the zisha pots have more bubbles, particularly the 5 o'clock cherry blossom zisha pot , many large bubbles. The center zhisha pot has large number of smaller bubbles, meaning clay is more compact. 2 o'clock Zhuni pot also has quite a few bubbles in medium size, most likely due to the grainy mixture of clay. The rest of the zhuni pots have few bubbles cling to the side, that shows the clay is less porous, less breathing through. 3 zhuni pots from 7 to 10 o'clock are made of the same clay, same person, very thin wall, extremely light weight, good craftsmanship, but clay quality is not good. I seasoned 2 of them previously and the tea still tasted alkaline, detergent, tea soup feels too smooth, soapy, not pleasant. Maybe I am not seasoning it right. Any suggestions?

4 comments:

Jérôme D said...

Imen,

As we discussed a few days ago, I use a "softer" method, which consists in rincing the pot alternately with cold/boiling water (not too hot at first time, if the pot is new) until the earthly / mineral smell disappears.

As you say, it's enough for good teapots, which are ok after a few rince, but not for lowest qualities. There are some cheap teapots I'm keeping for decoration only, these one will probably never loose their bad smell.

I used the method you describe when I began but heard it could damage the teapots.
Plus, seeing your photograph I wonder if it's good to mix different clays. I would be affraid the good ones would get the bad ones' taste.

What I would do with this is rincing each pot individually and check which ones are ok and which ones need a little more care.

Imen said...

Jerome,

You might be right about mixing clay can transfer the smell. All of these pots are of lower grade. The most expensive is $25. I am wondering how well they will come out.

In what way will this method damage the teapots? I sure would like to find out before I do any more damages. As for now, they are sitting in an ooglong bath tub and soaking, in cool temperature after I brought it to boil.

Thanks for the advise!

Jérôme D said...

Imen,

Hope I translate it right, here's what I heard to be dangerous :

The ones who boil teapots this way here say they "open" it. The heated air bubbles in the clay get out "opening" pores by the pression.
Fore some people this is good and prepares the pot to enhance and memorize the tea you brew, others say these pores should remain closed for the clay to act as expected.

Anyway the pots I had seasonned that way are useable and I don't know if I would notice the difference. I would never do this again for good quality teapots, but maybe it's sometimes the only solution for cheaper ones.

Imen said...

Jerome,

I would think these pores are not closed to begin with. Boiling it forces the water run through the pores and take out the smell. As if you brew tea without boiling in water first, the smell will come out to the tea slowly.

It seems to work quite well with the more porous clay. But it's not obvious for the more compact zhuni. They still have a hint of metallic smell.