Porcelain and Hongni

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Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:56 am

Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:55 pm

I have been doing a lot of tastings and comparisons lately between porcelain and decent hongnis (mostly natural green label clay). I did this in order to examine the claim that unless one has those rare ROC or pre-1977 red clay pots, there is really no advantage in using a hongni over porcelain, besides the pot’s aesthetic value, a cha dan, or just the fun. (That said, there is certainly an advantage in using brown/dark clays with teas that can use it over porcelain).

I must first say that it’s a very difficult comparison as the gaiwan’s quick pour will almost always lead to a different brew than a pot, even if the pot pours fast. I find this very hard to control. Besides that, the tea brewed in the hongni felt somewhat thicker and heavier, perhaps more concentrated, and having a slightly stronger body. I guess some of this might be explained by the relatively slow pour of the pot comparing to the gaiwan. I was mostly experimenting with yancha, and for now concluded that if there is another advantage for a hongni, perhaps it is the ability to make a relatively strong brew with less leaf but the clarity porcelain provides is certainly something I like very much.

Do you find a decent hongni preferable to porcelain for other reasons? Would be glad to hear your opinion
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Location: Austin, TX

Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:08 am

In my experience there is no comparison between porcelain and hongni (or any other quality clays). I have yet to find a porcelain teapot that made tea the same as an unglazed teapot. Further, my experience is that a gaiwan produces a less aromatic liquor. This is just my own experience and I imagine others may have different experiences with the above.

I won’t make a value judgement regarding which one is best because this is a matter of personal taste.

I second your descriptions. I find that fine quality unglazed teapots, having a generally spherical shape, produce a more focused liquor than anything I have experienced with porcelain teaware. I don’t think this is just a function of the clay but also of the shape and conductive properties of teapots.

Porcelain has obvious attributes that make it ideal for making tea. To be specific, it doesn’t color the character of tea like a seasoned unglazed teapot would.

We might compare this to audio and the notion of high fidelity: porcelain tends to be like a modern hi-fi system that renders music as close to how it was recorded (fidelity), whereas vintage hi-hi systems of the early 70s tend to color music with more warmth (less fidelity). Which one you like depends entirely upon personal preferences. I tend to prefer the tube-like warmth of vintage systems because I find the sounds less tiring. I can enjoy a modern hi-hi system for about an hour before I get overwhelmed by the details extracted from the music; however, I can listen to a good vintage system, having its own richness, with the same level of enjoyment all day and never get tired if it.

While not a perfect analogy I think it works. In the end, it’s entirely a matter of personal preference.
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Location: Hong Kong

Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:30 pm

I like thick porcelain as a middle ground as well. :)
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