Duanni clay - underrated clay?

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Bok
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:48 am

My recent score on a ROC Duanni Julunzhu made me revisit preconceived opinions I had about this clay.

Until then I had always ignored this clay, as it is commonly described as being muting and I had no teas to match it with. Often paired with young sheng. Coming across one of my favourite teapot shapes, I could not pass, even though it is not my kind of clay, so to speak.

I have been using it for a week now and find it outstanding with Taiwanese High Mountain oolong! Much better than the normally suggested porcelain or thin walled hongni from the 60/70s. Does not quite reach the Kobiwako clay, but almost. What is lacks in flavour it makes up by its history and vintage though :mrgreen:

No trace of actually muting in the sense of taking something nice away, rather putting the good stuff forward.

Once again, Yixing clay eludes general statements on clay properties... I am at a loss why this clay is not more popular in Taiwan? I have seen a lot using Zini with Taiwan oolong, but rarely Duanni.

Anyone has experience to share with this clay?

Others, more knowledgeable than me in Yixing clay, have mentioned that Duanni is a notoriously difficult clay, to work with, both for potter and end-user, with lots of variations in terms of look and properties.

Now curious what I am going to find out with the other ROC julunzhu in Zini :mrgreen:
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steanze
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:00 am

I like ROC duanni, but for gaoshan oolong I definitely prefer zhuni and thin walled 60s/70s hongni (pre 1977), or thin walled porcelain. The duanni for my preference is too muting for gaoshan. Really cool clay though! I do agree that it does not deserve the bad reputation, it's beautiful and works very well for several teas. It is a good option to have in one's toolbox. I like to change things from time to time to highlight different aspects of a tea.

I have had some quite good results with autumn harvested gaoshan and duanni
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A great thing about the ROC julunzhus is how thin they are.
Last edited by steanze on Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:51 am, edited 7 times in total.
Kupuntu
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:02 am

I had heard that duanni was very muting and often used for teas that requires muting. That made me think if it'd work great for traditional storage puerh and I purchased a modern duanni pot (I'm more about the performance than collectability myself) and I've had great success with it. Would like to compare to a vintage duanni too but for now this is enough for me.

Storage notes seem subdued and I think it's really improving some of my teas.
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139ml modern duanni teapot
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Teachronicles
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:28 pm

To preface my question, I'm in the west, so my exposure to yixing is limited. But I see duanni much less frequently than other clays. Is there less of the clay available? Is it harder to work with/fire? Is it a similar situation to some other yixing clays, where the good stuff is less available today as it was in the past, or even maybe has been all mined out. Of all the clay pots I have, duanni is not one of them.
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OCTO
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:39 pm

Here's my 2cents.

I personally consider DuanNi as a very mysterious clay right next to DiCaoQing. Their character and performance with tea vastly varies across the different variants.... more so across the timeline and eras.

Though many find DuanNi muting, there are also DuanNi that are so refined, it actually performs similarly to a thin walled porcelain. On the other end of the spectrum, there are poorly fired DuanNi and they come our exactly like a sponge... absorbs everything you throw in it!

But one constant character across era and variant is how it smoothens tea that is brewed in it. Shaving off some high tannic nuances or astringency. If you are one who enjoys the kick of tannin or astringency, my opinion is DuanNi will not be your pot of choice. Comparing over the eras as early as early ROC to current Y2K DuanNi, this character remains steadfast. Some DuanNi only does that, leaving the other layers of flavours untouched. Making it a very nice clay to explore.

The general consensus over time was that DuanNi is only suitable for DanCong, but more and more tea connoisseurs have came to like pairing vintage DuanNi to shou PuErh and younger DuanNi to greener variants of Oolong. Not just confining to popular believes.

One more consideration is that this is a light coloured clay. Dark coloured tea will stain the pot unfavourably and will not appear aesthetically pleasing. That is true. There is an window or timeframe int he 80s where a batch of DuanNi literally develops patches of grey/black after use. Rendering it very unpleasing to the eyes. But doesn't affect the flavour profiles.

SweetCandy vs EyeCandy, it's up to oneself... hahahahaha...

Cheers!!
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Bok
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:06 pm

@OCTO cheers for this comprehensive reply! My pot seems to fall in the category of just shaving off a little pot and otherwise make the tea shine! Intriguing clay.

@steanze nice trio you got there! Curious how the slightly more yellowy one compares to the more greyish ones? Are you going to go Japanese, brew in one, pitch in the other?

Maybe my good results are due to also brewing autumn/winter harvest high mountain! Tried some green Shuixian yesterday with equally good results.

To be continued...
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OCTO
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:43 pm

Thanks @Bok .

I use a DuanNi variant called QingHuiDuan (mixture of QingHuiNi and DuanNi) from ROC period to brew my green/fresh ZhangPing Shui Xian. It shaves off the astringency that irritates my throat and makes the tea smooth without affecting the flavour. The blend of both clays explains the greyish hue on the pot.

Cheers!!
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Bok
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:00 pm

@OCTO Pictures please!
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Bok
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:02 pm

steanze wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:00 am
A great thing about the ROC julunzhus is how thin they are.
Yes, they samples we got seem to be very well done, the Zini JLZ I got has even better craftsmanship! Wish the light was better recently for me to take some decent shots of them...
Chadrinkincat
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:59 pm

I finally got my hands on a decent early 80’s duan ni pot. So far I’ve have good results with cheap canned 80’s oolong. It seem to accentuate the aged character while smoothing out the roughness. I’m gonna test it with a number of other teas before I dedicate to anything.

The clay probably pales in comparison to those ROC pots but likely better than many of the modern pots available which seems pretty limited in the West.
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tealifehk
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:06 pm

I use 70s duanni for traditional storage pu erh/hei cha, and modern duanni works well for the same. Smaller pots also seem to work well for high roast oolongs. I had a smaller 70ml modern duanni fanggu that I sold to someone in Moscow that worked a treat with high roast Wuyicha!

For good quality aromatic teas, I much prefer porcelain, hongni, Jianshui or Purion. Friend of mine got back from TW about a month ago with Shanlinxi and Alishan she purchased farm direct (she speaks incredible Mandarin, and travels for tea pretty much all year) and they were outstanding in Purion. I haven't found a non-muting duanni pot that I'd use with those teas!
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Bok
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:02 pm

Interesting to hear everyone's experience with this clay, really seems to be a controversial, difficult clay to categorise.

Basically, there seem to be people using it with almost any kind of tea with good results: Dancong, Green teas (recommended by Teamasters in his shop), Gaoshan to roasted teas, Puerh, Sheng and Shou. Of course impossible to verify who uses what kind of Duanni, so it all boils down to personal testing, tasting and preference.

An elusive clay to say the least. Other kinds seem to be more clear-cut in their ambiguity :mrgreen:

My specimen is really outstanding with green-ish quality teas and not muting in any (negative) way. Lucky coincidence it works that well with my staple teas and that I did not get one of the weirder flavour sucking ones :P
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Bok
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:05 pm

It also seems to me there is a huge difference in Duanni between Qing/ROC duanni and what came afterwards? I seem to remember Stephane from teamasters using a Qing Duanni for his high mountains (although I do not think he is too much of an expert in what clay and teaware is concerned).
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steanze
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:28 pm

@Bok the yellower duanni performs quite similarly to the greyer ones. I will do some more in-depth tests. First impression is that the greyish one is less absorptive/denser. Might be firing temperature though.

Here are a few more notes:
- One of the difficulties is that different drinkers have different preferences and brewing habits.

- Another difficulty is that there are a lot of different kinds of duanni. For example, in addition to the yellow kind, there is grey duanni and even brown duanni, that could be confused with qing shui ni by an untrained eye that did not notice the difference in texture.

- Modern duanni can be confusing: there are even more different kinds and even duanni pots with the same color can be quite different in other aspects like texture.

- I have only encountered one yellow duanni pot that seemed to be oddly non-muting (late Qing-early ROC). Very unusual pot. The texture and type of clay looks a bit different from the duanni of the small ju lun zhu pots.

@OCTO mixing duanni with ROC qinghuini should work well, ROC qinghuini is a surprisingly dense clay :D
Last edited by steanze on Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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steanze
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:34 pm

Bok wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:05 pm
It also seems to me there is a huge difference in Duanni between Qing/ROC duanni and what came afterwards? I seem to remember Stephane from teamasters using a Qing Duanni for his high mountains (although I do not think he is too much of an expert in what clay and teaware is concerned).
The thing is there are so many kind of duanni now. There still is very good quality modern duanni. But it's not so easy to find.
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