Best Pot for Aged White Tea

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peterlista
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Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:26 pm

I am a big drinker of white teas, especially the more oxidized and aged whites. I would like to buy a dedicated 'white tea' pot (and to use with hongcha, to a lesser degree), but I'm not sure exactly what to get. From my experience and discussions with others, I think I want something similar to the thick clay pot Oolong Owl uses for white tea. In other words, I should be looking for something with a tall body shape and a large lid opening - for those big leaves and cake chunks to expand - thick walls - for better heat retention - and low muting - to keep some of the subtler notes intact.

I recently drank an aged white tea that I am very familiar with in a porcelain gaiwan, a Jianshui pot, and a Nixing pot. From this experience, I thought that the Nixing was too muting and the Jianshui and porcelain didn't hold enough heat. So I am not sure what clay best qualifies for what I'm looking for.

What do you think? Is there a clay that is better for these teas? Do you have any pots in mind that fill this roll?
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Victoria
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Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:53 pm

peterlista wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:26 pm
Best Pot for Aged White Tea:
I am a big drinker of white teas, especially the more oxidized and aged whites. I would like to buy a dedicated 'white tea' pot (and to use with hongcha, to a lesser degree), but I'm not sure exactly what to get. From my experience and discussions with others, I think I want something similar to the thick clay pot Oolong Owl uses for white tea. In other words, I should be looking for something with a tall body shape and a large lid opening - for those big leaves and cake chunks to expand - thick walls - for better heat retention - and low muting - to keep some of the subtler notes intact.

I recently drank an aged white tea that I am very familiar with in a porcelain gaiwan, a Jianshui pot, and a Nixing pot. From this experience, I thought that the Nixing was too muting and the Jianshui and porcelain didn't hold enough heat. So I am not sure what clay best qualifies for what I'm looking for.

What do you think? Is there a clay that is better for these teas? Do you have any pots in mind that fill this roll?
Welcome to TeaForum. I’ve enjoyed several aged white teas in the past few years, mostly at tastings here in LA. I think we just used porcelain gaiwans. @pedant shared a pairing with Yamada Sou white clay which I think is an interesting way to go. I’ve also seen aged whites boiled in kettles using less leaf:more water.
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Victoria
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Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:04 pm

The modern black teapot you referenced looks to me to be a doctored artificially colored clay made to look like Zisha black clay. Red clay can also become black in reduction firing due to lack of oxygen, but the referenced pot looks doctored to me, not like Heini. Manganese oxide, and other additives, have been used to darken clay. It seems what you are looking for is a high profile, high fired (not to mute flavors), thicker walled (retain heat) teapot. Possibly @Bok knows of a Taiwanese potter or merchant who can source you a pot like that.

For aged whites I think I’d personally prefer glazed inside, porcelain, or a thick walled Tokoname high fired kyusu. I’d also experiment with boiling the leaves in a semi-glazed kettle.
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Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:48 pm

peterlista wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:26 pm
... thick walls - for better heat retention ...
The idea of having thick walls is quite common but i find it confusing. Unless the walls act as an insulator, they won't slow down the cooling rate much - on the opposite they will initially absorb a lot of the heat when hot water is poured inside and decrease its temperature more than thin walls would. To have a better heat retention, you want to maximize the volume/surface ratio (rounder shape, larger volume). Insulating the pot, or decreasing the radiation from the surface would also work, but this would mean choosing a different material which is usually not practical solution. (Porcelain for example radiates almost as much heat as black body, but i'd choose it anytimes over styrofoam. Not sure where yixing stands in this regard.) Anyways, please excuse me if my comment is nitpicky and very much unhelpful.
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Youzi
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Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:38 pm

If you want the best heat retention and no preheating required, then there's nothing better than a silver teapot. It'll keep all the aroma for you.
Just make sure the silver pot is not in direct contact with another great conductor surface, and definitely not water.
mbanu
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Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:06 pm

I treat old white like a slightly flat Zhenghe congou black tea. A pot is helpful if it is dusty or broken grade, otherwise it seems to do fine in a gaiwan. Boiling water and earthenware or porcelain. Unglazed clay seems unnecessary as there is little bitterness.
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Bok
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Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:42 pm

mbanu wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:06 pm
Unglazed clay seems unnecessary as there is little bitterness.
Unglazed clay can be as impermeable as glazed one, depending on firing and type: Woodfired clay, Zhuni, Hongni, even other Yixing clays if high fired, Shudei, are all close to or completely non-absorbing. The reasons those are used is to enhance certain aspects of a tea, not always and not only to remove bitterness.

Also, this concerns aged white tea, which is a lot different to fresh one. Aged teas in general need a bit more of sustained heat to extract flavour out of long-rested leaves. Not for nothing many even boil their aged teas!

That said, I would probably still prefer a thin-walled hongni or Zhuni for aged white. Just make sure to bring the water to a boil each time you infuse and not to take too long of a pause in-between steeps.
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Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:44 pm

Youzi wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:38 pm
If you want the best heat retention and no preheating required, then there's nothing better than a silver teapot. It'll keep all the aroma for you.
Just make sure the silver pot is not in direct contact with another great conductor surface, and definitely not water.
Second that – but better make sure the tea is top notch! Silver amplifies everything in a tea in my experience, the good and the bad. If the tea is subpar, silver can be an atrocious affair.
peterlista
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Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:57 pm

.m. wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:48 pm
peterlista wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:26 pm
... thick walls - for better heat retention ...
The idea of having thick walls is quite common but i find it confusing. Unless the walls act as an insulator, they won't slow down the cooling rate much - on the opposite they will initially absorb a lot of the heat when hot water is poured inside and decrease its temperature more than thin walls would.
The idea is that once preheated – which, of course, is necessary to mitigate what you describe – a thicker walled pot will sustain a higher temperature for longer, which is useful for extracting all those nice flavors from those leaves. In my experience with my other pots (e.g., my go-to Nixing oolong pot), thicker walls are often necessary for holding onto heat during a longer infusion.

Thanks for all the thoughtful responses so far.
faj
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Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:24 am

peterlista wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:57 pm
The idea is that once preheated – which, of course, is necessary to mitigate what you describe – a thicker walled pot will sustain a higher temperature for longer
Given two vessels of the same shape, volume and material that differ in thickness only, a thicker material means more insulation, and more mass. More mass means more thermal inertia. Preheating fights that for the first infusion, but not for the following ones.

For the first infusion, if the teapot is preheated, thicker walls mean higher temperature, longer. But after the first infusion, this might no longer be true. If you let the teapot fully cool down before the next infusion, it is like not preheating the teapot for the first infusion. Typically you would not do that, and how much cooling occurs will determine if thicker walls help with maintaining high heat or not.

If infusing a tea that needs short infusions and high temperature, it might turn out that a very thin vessel might be better in practical terms for infusions other than the first one if the teapot waits a bit between infusions.

The leaves themselves also have thermal inertia, especially when they are fully expanded (and therefore wet). Due to their high surface-to-weight ratio, they will cool down fast between infusions, and will cool water almost on contact.

I know too little about tea to say what this means in terms of flavors for any specific tea, but from a logical standpoint, infusing at high temperature seems to me to be a lot more about reducing the time between infusions than having thinner or thicker walls.
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Baisao
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Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:03 pm

faj wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:24 am
peterlista wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:57 pm
The idea is that once preheated – which, of course, is necessary to mitigate what you describe – a thicker walled pot will sustain a higher temperature for longer
Given two vessels of the same shape, volume and material that differ in thickness only, a thicker material means more insulation, and more mass. More mass means more thermal inertia. Preheating fights that for the first infusion, but not for the following ones.

For the first infusion, if the teapot is preheated, thicker walls mean higher temperature, longer. But after the first infusion, this might no longer be true. If you let the teapot fully cool down before the next infusion, it is like not preheating the teapot for the first infusion. Typically you would not do that, and how much cooling occurs will determine if thicker walls help with maintaining high heat or not.

If infusing a tea that needs short infusions and high temperature, it might turn out that a very thin vessel might be better in practical terms for infusions other than the first one if the teapot waits a bit between infusions.

The leaves themselves also have thermal inertia, especially when they are fully expanded (and therefore wet). Due to their high surface-to-weight ratio, they will cool down fast between infusions, and will cool water almost on contact.

I know too little about tea to say what this means in terms of flavors for any specific tea, but from a logical standpoint, infusing at high temperature seems to me to be a lot more about reducing the time between infusions than having thinner or thicker walls.
Bingo!
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Victoria
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Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:12 pm

Baisao wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:03 pm
faj wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:24 am
peterlista wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:57 pm
The idea is that once preheated – which, of course, is necessary to mitigate what you describe – a thicker walled pot will sustain a higher temperature for longer
Given two vessels of the same shape, volume and material that differ in thickness only, a thicker material means more insulation, and more mass. More mass means more thermal inertia. Preheating fights that for the first infusion, but not for the following ones.

For the first infusion, if the teapot is preheated, thicker walls mean higher temperature, longer. But after the first infusion, this might no longer be true. If you let the teapot fully cool down before the next infusion, it is like not preheating the teapot for the first infusion. Typically you would not do that, and how much cooling occurs will determine if thicker walls help with maintaining high heat or not.

If infusing a tea that needs short infusions and high temperature, it might turn out that a very thin vessel might be better in practical terms for infusions other than the first one if the teapot waits a bit between infusions.

The leaves themselves also have thermal inertia, especially when they are fully expanded (and therefore wet). Due to their high surface-to-weight ratio, they will cool down fast between infusions, and will cool water almost on contact.

I know too little about tea to say what this means in terms of flavors for any specific tea, but from a logical standpoint, infusing at high temperature seems to me to be a lot more about reducing the time between infusions than having thinner or thicker walls.
Bingo!
Yes, I also enjoyed reading this, makes a lot of sense. For yancha, that likes a lot of heat, I like using a Yamada Sou moyake kyusu that is fairly thin bodied, as long as I keep steeps flowing it stays warm, if it gets cool I just place it in a bowl of heated water to warm the kyusu.
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