A treasure of a pot with a lyrical and playful character. Fully handmade by Master She from Chaozhou red clay.
As you probably know, we love our Master Wu and Master Zhang pots - but there is always room for more artists at Mei Leaf and we are always searching.
When I first saw Master She's work, I was mesmerised by the rounded and smooth contours of his creations. If Wu is the master of shifting angles and transformations from curved to pointed, then Master She is the champion of rounded elegance and voluptuousness. Every contour is soft, smooth and substantial and is irresistible in the hands.
Master She achieves this style by using more clay and building the spout directly out of the body rather than applying a separate spout piece to the body - it makes the pot more lyrical and playful.
As with all of our teaware, I have been testing this pot out privately for many months, and I have noticed a difference in Master She's approach. The finish of the pot has a slightly more matt with a more 'raw' appearance but changes more rapidly than other pots to form a glorious patina. The inside of the pot is not polished but shows handcrafted workings similar to expensive Japanese teaware. I spoke with Master She, who confirmed that he intentionally produces a pot which has the greatest potential for transformation so that his clients can take pleasure in nurturing the pot.
This pot is fully handmade from authentic Chaozhou red clay. This means that no moulds were used but instead, this is designed by eye and crafted using hands and manual tools for the ultimate level of detail. Each pot has been made individually for the pinnacle of clay pot brewing. They will all have their own unique character. Please be advised that any gun-metal black colours are a natural part of the clay firing process and is not a fault in the clay or production.
The teaware comes with a bag and box.
Chaozhou red clay is suitable for brewing all types of tea but particularly teas which are a little more delicate and which have more transient top notes. Clay, in general, has three factors which determine its suitability for tea brewing:
Chaozhou red clay has a different set of minerals compared with the more famous Yixing Zisha clay. It contains higher levels of Iron Oxide and Quartz amongst many other minerals, making the pot particularly crystalline in structure with a bell sounding timbre when tapped.
This minerality is well known to be suited to Dan Cong tea (which is produced in the same area) but works excellently with brighter teas in general.
Clay is like a sponge in that it actually is porous in itself. This is called primary porosity. The amount of air surrounding these porous clay particles is determined mostly by the potter. They can fold the clay to add more air or bash the clay to work the air out of the clay. This amount of air is called secondary porosity.
The firing temperature will have an effect on porosity too. Higher temperature firing will make harder and less porous pots.
The porosity essentially determines how much the tea will be affected by the minerals in the clay. Yixing clay is very porous and so has a very pronounced effect but Chaozhou red clay seems to be less porous (perhaps because of higher temperature firing rather than primary porosity). This means that the mineral effect is more subtle which can be a good thing for brighter and lighter tea.
3. Temperature Retention
Clay has better heat retention than porcelain or glass and so it can brew stronger and richer extractions. Because Chaozhou red clay does not shrink as much as Yixing Zisha clay, the master potters can make the walls of the pots and lids thinner. This reduces the heat retention slightly which makes this clay suited to more fragile teas.
Which tea is best with Chaozhou Clay?
In very general terms, the minerals in clay catalyse a redox reaction with the tea in the same way that cutting an apple with a metal knife will cause the apple to go brown more than if you cut it with a ceramic one.
The effect of this reaction on the taste and texture of tea depends on the minerals in the clay but as a basic rule, it causes the tea to be smoother with less astringency. However, it does round out the top notes. This is one of the reasons why we do not recommend using Yixing to brew bright Green teas as it will dampen its light aromatics.
The beauty of Chaozhou, with its slightly reduced porosity and temperature retention, is that it can protect more of these lively flavours whilst softening out astringency. This makes it the perfect choice for Dan Cong Oolongs, Raw and Cooked PuErh and you can even experiment with Green teas.
Preparing your Chaozhou Red Clay Pot
When you receive your pot follow these instructions:
1. Fill the pot up with warm water and put in a heatproof bowl (glass or metal).
2. Bring a pan of water to the boil and SWITCH OFF the heat completely.
3. Remove the lid of the pot and place next to it then very carefully pour the hot water over the clay pot and lid until submerged fully.
4. Leave for about 30 minutes.
5. Remove and allow to dry. The pot should not smell excessively of clay but if it does you can repeat this process.
Your pot is ready to use but if you want to speed up the seasoning then you can submerge in very strong hot tea for an hour or so and repeat if you desire. We are less interested in the seasoning of a pot and more excited by its minerals affecting the tea.
Due to the thinness of these pots, it is important to avoid temperature shocks which could cause the pot to crack. We recommend that you always fill the pot with 60c/140F water before adding boiling water (especially if the environment is chilly).