Continuing on the theme of heat for this week's Gongfoolery! I decided to take the clay experimentation a step farther, comparing a tea brewed in my Petr Novak clay pot and the same tea brewed in my Duanni gaiwan. For the sake of clarity, the gaiwan was gifted to me as a Duanni clay gaiwan, I have my doubts, in my experience the vibrantly yellow Duanni clay tends to cost a small fortune and is very smooth, where the darker yellow clay darkens with use and has larger grains. The texture of this gaiwan says to me that this clay was either mixed with a mineral to give it its vibrant color, or was 'glazed' with a clay slip to give it the vibrant color. It behaves the same as my other Duanni pots except it did not get darker with age and use like they did, of course I am no expert. The tea I decided to go with is of course one I looked at before, Quantitea's Hong Jin Luo, I will start with both pieces of teagear being cold and finish with both of them being pre-heated, for contrast though I am not pre-heating the cups, they will be left alone, but to make sure the difference in taste comes from the teaware I am using similar cups, the blue line and red line hat cups from Teaware.house.
First up is the 'dry' run, three steeps each with the gaiwan and the teapot fresh out of my teaware stash with no pre-warming. Since this is the control, it is mostly to compare how the gaiwan compares to the teapot, and of course to wake my senses up and re-familiarize myself to the tea, controls are a tasty part of science. The biggest differences between the gaiwan and teapot comes from the first and last steep, the first steep from the gaiwan brings a maltier tone to the tea, where the teapot brings out more sweetness and yam notes. The last steep I found the opposite was the case, the tea from the teapot was malty and rich and the gaiwan was sweet and light.
This time around I pre-heat both the gaiwan and the teapot, the aroma of the leaves in their respective warmed brewing devices is lovely, almost effervescent and I could linger with my nose in the tea sniffing it, but by the time I finish all the good the warming did will be cooled. Ok, I will admit, the results of the first steep surprised me immensely, they are identical. Completely no difference, both light and sweet with the same notes, maybe if I concentrate really hard I can say the tea from the teapot is a minuscule amount stronger, but at this point I cannot tell you if I am just imagining it. The second steep brings some change, the teapot has more richness, stronger notes of yam and peanuts and underlying sweetness, the gaiwan is maltier and has pine and cocoa notes that are stronger. The third steep, oddly enough, was like the first and mostly identical, with the teapot being a bit more piney in nature.
This was so fascinating! I was expecting a stronger difference between the two, even though they are both clay being brewed in different devices and being different types of clay should have made more of a difference. This not being the case confuses me, and alas I do not really know the reason as to why, perhaps the thing to take away from this is that it is not the shape that matters when pre-heating but more the material, and even though they are different clays once they are heated the difference vanishes. Next week I plan on looking at the effect of heat, but in a different way, I want to test the myth that leaving a lid off the gaiwan when brewing green tea will make for a better session.