Our Tea Blog | Camellia Sinensis

Blog

Searching for balance!

25 May 2016

at 15:48 by Seb

DSC_0013

A simple yet fundamental idea when preparing tea is that of how to make a good infusion. Clearly the main factors are the water and leaves, but besides the quality of these, three other parameters need to be carefully considered to get the best of our tea, this is why we have written on the bags: quantity of leaf, brewing temperature and time. For preparation in a teapot, around 2.5 grams (1 to 2 tsp) of tea per cup of water are submerged at the desired temperature, depending on the type of tea, and left to infuse a few minutes before removing leaves with the filter when the infusion has reached its balance! But what about the renowned sweet spot …

Each tea has its own chemical composition depending on a multiplicity of factors, and the rate at which its various constituents are released during the  infusion is also extremely varied. A minute too short can result in an infusion which gives the impression of  tasting a fragrant hot water, be very careful when infusing your tea since the tannins, which cause the sensation of astringency or dryness in the mouth, are progressively adding body to the liquor, and this happens more rapidly when the water is hotter. Those who prefer light and fine teas can therefore benefit from lowering the water temperature or shortening their infusion. It is useful to follow the evolution of the infusion by periodically tasting the liquor (every 15 seconds towards the end!), until the balance is what I call the nose and mouth, i.e. between the aromatic profile and the tastes and sensations (body, volume and texture). Too long an infusion and astringency may overwhelm the flavour, limiting the perception of more subtle nuances. Too short, and it offers too little texture and a lack of body. It is also good to know that the liquor changes even after having removed the leaves, becoming more full-bodied with time. A good reason to make small quantities at a time!

The three parameters are closely related, varying any one affects the others. A stronger dosage provides a  greater concentration of aromatic oils, but also more caffeine and tannins, sometimes resulting in a more pronounced bitterness. In this case it is necessary to  shorten the infusion to maintain the ideal balance. The techniques of infusions in small volumes (gong fu cha, gaiwan, sencha do) correspond with this idea.

Each tea merits being preparing according to a variety of different recipes in order to understand its multiple aspects.  A good knowledge of the infusion also enables adapting it to suit the moment, for a solo morning lunch,  a winter evening in good company or a family afternoon on the hot sand.

Happy experiments.

CELADON GREEN

11 May 2016

at 11:15 by Seb

TheVert_018-077_CHINE-31

Located in the southwest of Zhejiang Province, the city of Longquan is one of the most important centres of Chinese ceramics. It is also the cradle of celadon. According to recent archeological research, which has uncovered more than five hundred ancient kilns, it’s history goes back
to the fifth century. His locally developed glazing technique makes it possible to create objects in tones of jade, the sacred stone so highly prized in Asia. Popular today for their light and pleasing hues, celadon bowls are ideal for tea drinking.

AN INTERVIEW WITH MR. YEN WEI EN,
 A POTTER FROM LONGQUAN
 

TheVert_018-077_CHINE-32

In his workshop, which is surrounded by a magnificent garden decorated with artwork, we met Mr. Yen, a potter and calligrapher. During this encounter, we found out a great deal about this artist and his mindset and were able to discover the place that brings him inspiration and tranquility.

Mr. Yen, how did you become a potter?

I came from a family of potters and was therefore born into this milieu. From 1988 to 1992, I was a student in the fine arts department of the Celadon Institute in Jingdezheng. I have worked as a potter ever since.

In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good potter?

A good potter must have good technical skills. He must also know philosophy, aesthetics, history, culture, and traditional ceramics. The Chinese greatly respect artisans that possess knowledge and virtue, for benevolence is the soul of art. In my view, morality and know-how are important qualities for a potter.

Do you do research and experimentation?

I am always researching and experimenting because I am curious and I like to learn new techniques. My ambition is to create pottery that suits today’s tastes while still including ele- ments of traditional culture. I hope one day to have my own store and my own line of pottery so that my works may be appreciated throughout the world.

Do you think there are elements or conditions that escape the potter?

No matter how skilled or experienced a potter is, several elements influence the completion of a work: the materials, temperature, and water quality. These uncontrollable factors are part of the pleasure of creating.

What is your view of the art of ceramics in contemporary China?

In China, the skill level amongst potters is uneven. There aren’t many impressive works. Far too many potters are more concerned with short-term profit. For several years, I wavered on this point. I now create my works with the heart of an artisan. 

 
 

special collection

Welcome to the Special Collection
Here you will both find Teaware and Teas created by some of Asia’s most talented craftsmen.

Visit