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Posts Tagged ‘teapot’

I am amazed by the number of tea contests that are going on for the holidays! Not only are they fun and easy to enter… the prizes are amazing! Especially, the prize pack for The Ultimate Holiday Tea Contest sponsored by Steepster. There are two ways to enter: 1. Follow Steepster on Twitter and tweet the verbiage below; or 2. Post a reply to the Ultimate Holiday Tea Contest Discussion on Steepster.

Everyone who enters the The Ultimate Holiday Tea Contest has a chance to win.  The contest winner, selected by random drawing, will receive the complete prize bundle, which includes the Sorapot designed by Joey Roth along with other fantastic accoutrements to the modern tea experience.

Contest Rules & Eligibility

  • The contest is open to residents of U.S. or Canada, 18 years of age or older (sorry international friends, shipping costs and restrictions are a bummer).
  • The contest ends at 8PM EST on 12/18/09, after which we’ll select one winner at random and contact them through Twitter or email, depending on how they entered.
  • The winner must respond with their full name and a valid mailing address (no P.O. boxes) within 72 hours of notification in order to receive their prize, otherwise he/she will no longer be eligible and a new winner will be chosen.

Visit The Ultimate Holiday Tea Contest on Steepster to enter and win!

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During the holiday season, many people go to the mall in search of the perfect gift for their friends and loved ones. This year, I was pleasantly surprised when I received a Vivabox. I’m sure you are wondering, “what is a Vivabox?” The creators of Vivabox would say, “A vivabox is an exciting new product that combines the freedom of choice with the personal touch of a real gift.  This two layered gift can be the answer to all of your gift giving dilemmas.  The first layer is a gift inside the box that is intended to familiarize the recipient with the product.  The second layer is the gift card that can be redeemed for their gift selection from a menu of choices. ” You can check out their website for more details… I did.

So, translated into a real life experience, I received “The Gift of a Tea Experience” when I opened my “tea time” Vivabox. Contained within my Vivabox were seven different types of Numi Teas.  Numi is the vendor of a variety of  certified organic, Fair Trade, Kosher teas located in Oakland, California. There were five tea bags (two of each) – Aged Earl Grey,

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Italian Bergamot Black Tea; Temple of Heaven, Gunpowder Green Tea; Velvet Garden, White Rose – which I must say is a lovely cuppa tea. Very mild as is characteristic of white tea with an unexpectedly robust floral quality.; Ruby Chai, Spiced Rooibos; and Monkey King, Jasmine Green Tea.  Additionally, I was excited to see the inclusion of two blooming teas also known as art teas.

While I prefer loose teas there is something fun about receiving a box full of various flavors of tea. Like a kid in a candy store, I read each type of tea and immediately found myself looking up the websites for both Numi and Vivabox. As with Russian Nesting Dolls, where the opening of one contains yet another beautiful doll, I was excited to realize that the fun wasn’t over after opening the Vivabox. Found within the box was a plastic card, resembling a credit card with 16 digits printed on the front and further instructions on the back detailing how to redeem yet another gift.

After reviewing my gift options… isn’t that exciting?… I selected the Single Origins Tea Set.  Succinctly described as a beautiful tea gift that offers four Organic loose teas (my absolute favorite) from

img_10431India, Japan, China, and South Africa – Darjeeling, Genmaicha, White Rose, and Rooibis respectively. Eagerly, I anticipate my first cup of tea as I feel that each one was hand-picked especially for me.

Included in the set is a black ceramic teapot with matching cups all adorned with a floral design. A metal infuser (not shown in the picture) fits perfectly in the mouth of the pot for perfect straining every time.  It is simply not enough to describe this adorable set – the pictures speak for themselves. 

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Simply stated this was one of the best tea gifts I’ve ever received. A mixture of tea bags, blooming teas, loose teas, and teaware – a tea lover’s dream.

So, in nutshell, how does Vivabox work?

1.  You Pick The Theme. Do you have an idea as to what type of gift someone would like?  Select the Vivabox theme  you think they would enjoy the most.  

2.  Upon Receipt, The Recipient Will Try The Samples. They open the box and enjoy the gift inside.  The gift relates to the theme of the box.  

3.  The Recipient Chooses The Gift.  After enjoying the first gift, the recipient visits the Vivabox website to enter their card number found in the initial gift.    

Result:  You have given the perfect gift!  Ensuring that you have given the recipient exactly what he or she will most enjoy. 

My Vivabox provided me with a wonderfully unique tea experience. Other Vivabox gift experiences include: The Gift of Indulgence – gourmet to your door (the choice of a three-course gourmet meal for two… delivered directly to your door); The Gift of Massage – spa (enjoy a full body massage or facial); The Gift of Beauty – spa (enjoy a manicure and pedicure). Check out the Vivabox website to see all of their products.

Vivabox has taken the gift of tea to another level. If you haven’t experienced Vivabox for yourself now’s your opportunity. Then return to tell me about it. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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Its official, I have taken tea to another level. I was so in love with my new Yixing Teapots I decided to get really creative and use CafePress to make a Teapot Mousepad for my desk at work. This way, I can enjoy looking at my lovely teapot everyday, even if I am not making tea. Check out the picture in the post. I have received numerous laughs, complements, and jokes about my new mousepad.

For those who know me, I really like trying anything creative – from arts and crafts to writing to knitting to making cards, etc.. Additionally, I love taking photographs. Thus my latest creative idea – although creativity is obviously in the eye of the beholder – was to create tea related paraphernalia. Hopefully, this isn’t too cheesy, but I just wanted to share my newly created postcards, greeting cards (blank inside), calenders, mousepads, etc. with other tea lovers like myself.

If you have time take a look at Tea Escapade on CafePress and tell me what you think. Honest criticism is definitely appreciated. I’m a big girl… I can handle it.

Until we chat again… Happy Tea Drinking!

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I am quite embarrassed that it took me almost a month to post pictures of my beloved new Yixing Teapots. Nevertheless, I wanted to share pictures of these little gems. I must admit that at this time I think I am more enamored with how adorable they are than I probably should be. That is once I got over the initial shock of how small individual serve Yixing Teapots really are.

My teapots were purchased from Necessiteas, just click on the name to access the website. “Necessiteas is a small company that believes in the beauty of yixing teapots as well as the enjoyment and health benefits of tea.” I found the company very easy to work with and would certainly purchase more teapots from them in the future. I had such a difficult time deciding on a teapot considering there was a large variety to choose from. Once my decision was made, I even purchased the most delicate looking cups.

Take a look at my purchases:

Temple Teapot

To the left is the Temple Teapot. As seen in the picture, this teapot has a seperate infuser in addition to the strainer in the spout. A forest is etched into the front of this Yixing Teapot, while the back contains Chinese characters. This pot holds 7 ounces.

I have decided to use this pot for oolong teas. During the first brew, I noticed the lid dribbles down the spout when pouring.  As recommended, I tried to pour at slightly different angles with little success at curbing the dribble.

In the picture to the right, you can see the Chinese characters spoken about above more clearly. (I love the color of this teapot.)

I had so much fun during my first brewing experience. Feeling just like a kid in a candy store, this was the first teapot of the three that I decided to use. Too bad I didn’t have anyone to share this tea experience with.

I wanted to drink out of my little teacups with a friend who loves tea as much as I do. Okay, even half as much would do.

Now, on to my next Yixing Teapot…

Four Pictures Teapot

This little teapot was an unexpected find. It is the smallest of the three teapots, but so much fun to look at over and over again.

When brewing I did not experience any dribbles from the lid or spout. As the smallest of the pots, I dedicated its use to green tea. Of all the teas I drink, green tea is probably the one I drink the least. This is not to mean that I do not drink a significant amount – especially with my recent Green Tea Sampler purchase.

The Four Pictures Yixing Teapot holds 6 ounces.

Basket Teapot

The last teapot in my new Yixing Teapot “collection” is the Basket Teapot. I immediately loved the intricate design of this pot as seen in the picture to the right. While I have been duly 

warned that intricate designs impact the natural patina that occurs with continued use, I purchased this pot anyway.

After much deliberation, I decided to use this teapot when brewing white teas. I tend to brew more Oolong and White tea then all of the other teas I enjoy drinking, hence the bigger pot designations. This pot holds approximately 7.5 ounces.

When brewing and pouring, I found that this pot had no dribbles at all. It is such a fun teapot to brew my tea.

You’ve seen my fun purchases – what do you think?

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With great excitement last week, I purchased my first Yixing Teapot and teacups. After a great deal of research as well as conversations with Jo from YaYa House of Excellent Teas and Jason from Bearsblog, I discovered that I still have a lot to learn.

Jason sent me some great information to use as a guide when purchasing Yixing Teaware. In addition, he provided supplemental information for use as guidance to determine if previously purchased Yixing Teaware is fake or phony. I give Jason all of the credit for the remainder of this article. It is his wisdom and knowledge reflected below.

I asked the question… “How do I know if my Yixing Teaware is authentic?” To wit the response, while quite detailed, provided clear guidance…

Many pottery traditions exist in Taiwan, some homegrown, some imported from China and Japan. Beware of Taiwanese synthetic stoneware pots that resemble the classic shapes and colors of Yixing pots. These pots are not to be confused with shino/anagama pots (resemble Korean and Japanese stoneware), homegrown Taiwanese volcanic stoneware (which come in colors not similar to Yixing clay), or soft-glazed new long-quan-style celadon, which is usually sky blue, white, or green.

Taiwanese and Chaozhou clay teapots tend to look very similar. Rather than hand-building with stamp-cut patterns, most Taiwanese and nearly all Chaozhou potters wheel-throw the teapot body, resulting in many small concentric circles on the inside of the pot, much like the interior of clay kyuusu. This is probably the easiest way to tell that a pot is not yixing.

Additionally, most Chaozhou pots are heavily burnished/polished on the exterior; they look ultra-shiny, almost like they were shined with wax; this is sometimes the case with Taiwan pots, but they also come in a more matte finish. The walls of Taiwan/Chaozhou pots are much thinner than most yixing. Their red color is often similar to that of terracotta, rather than the purple-red or black-red of Yixing. Their green is darker and more synthetic in appearance than the natural green lu ni yixing clay. Often, Chaozhou pots are scraped into black relief, creating floral or dragon patterns.

Lastly, Taiwan/Chaozhou pots often have elaborate, machine-made company stamps on the bottom, often displaying small-font raised text in a big circle around the company chop, rather than the simple chinese chop stamp usually found on yixing. Yixing chops generally have sunken letters instead of raised type.

Yixing pots have thicker walls, often show signs of being scraped with wooden tools–but not concentric throwing lines–and when new contain a fine dust of quartz and mineral at the bottom of the pot. They’re generally not as burnished or shiny, but there are exceptions. Because they’re thicker-walled, they tend to weigh more.

To simplify the matter, a simple test can be conducted to aid in determining the authenticity of Yixing Teaware.

First, pour boiling water in the empty pot and then put the lid on. Next, pour boiling water over the pot. Finally, lift the pot to your nose and smell: sand clay teaware (Yixing and natural stoneware) should smell like hot rocks or hot sand. Chaozhou pots smell like earth. Taiwanese pots smell synthetic, unless made from natural stoneware clay.

This test can also be used to figure out the pour time and make other observations about the pot that can affect which tea you use it for and how you raise it. Is it airtight? Does it dribble? If it does dribble, does pouring slower or changing how you tip the pot (pour from the wrist or the elbow or both) stop the dribble? Does the water collect on the outside of the pot or lid? Dribbling can cause a seasoning stain line from the spout to the bottom of the pot. Where water collects, the seasoning will be heavier. If you want an even patina, wipe the dribble after you pour and wipe the areas where water collects over the pot with a tea-wetted towel after each use.

I am very thankful to Jason for providing this information. I officially have three new pots which I am dedicating one to my Puerhs, one to my white teas, and one to my oolongs. Or maybe one to my green teas. Definitely not my black teas as I don’t drink them as often. WOW! I can’t decided – perhaps I should order two more Yixing Teapots. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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I began this morning looking to purchase my first piece of Yixing teaware. Initially, I began my search looking for a pretty teapot.  Yes, I know that is the girl in me. Needless to say, my search led me to various websites where many advised purchasing Yixing teaware. Some of the reasons cited centered around the craftsmanship, the history, the beauty.

If you are not familiar with Yixing teaware (also called Purple Sand),  it is a traditional pot made from Yixing clay used to brew tea. Originating in China, Yixing clay is made from clay produced in the region of the town of Yixing, in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu. 

With great anticipation, I set out to find a Yixing teaware set. And was almost set on buying this particular set from Mrs. Lins Kitchen. That is until I began seeing warnings about fake Yixings coated with shoe polish to appear authentic and low quality clay imposters. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I found retail sellers with authentic Yixing teapots ranging from $200 to $1000 not including matching cups. Now I sit in front of my Mac in a quandry…

How do I discern an original from a fake? Do I have to tap into my inheritance in order to obtain a quality Yixing? Is a Yixing truly worth the hype? Especially when the experts recommend that you designate brewing one type of tea per Yixing pot due to the porous nature of the clay.

Consider this post a call to the Yixing experts. What advice would you give to a Yixing novice?

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