Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mystery Yancha Revealed

Thanks to Rob, who reminded me that I had not yet revealed the secret identities of those two yancha.

Sample A was... 2002 Rou Gui from Teacuppa (now out of stock, sadly)
Sample B was... 2007 "Exquisite" Da Hong Pao from Teacuppa

On another note, I have now passed the 100 posts mark! Wooooooo!

Anyway, sorry for the delayed absence. I haven't been in much of a tea mood (or a writing mood) lately. :/ I'll pick up the pace soon enough.

A random photo, taken on a hike with the girlfriend last week:

Tree trunk

Monday, July 07, 2008

Must-see Tea Tray Guide

If you are in the market for a tea tray, you simply must start your research at this new guide written by Lewis of the Multiple Infusions blog.

A Look At 32 Tea Tables

This is a compilation of a great deal of research, and even has size comparisons. Whether you are a newbie or a veteran teaware purchaser, I can almost guarantee that you will find something on this article that you hadn't seen before.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Tea, Pen, and Paper

Today I enjoyed some lovely Taiwanese "Wuyi" baozhong. My notes for this tea are already posted, so I won't bother repeating myself; instead, I wanted to talk a bit about stationery.

Teapot preheating
Pouring out the preheat rinse.

I've posted pictures of pens and paper before, but I haven't really written (typed?) much about either. Writing with a good pen on thick, smooth paper is really quite fun, and is the most enjoyable way I've found to take notes while tasting. It was Hobbes who originally gave me the idea to use pen and paper instead of a computer while drinking tea. I bought a Moleskine notebook, and started logging my notes with a regular ol' ballpoint. It was a nice change of pace from typing, which was the norm during my college career.

Waterman HemisphereAfter a long chain of unrelated events, I eventually picked up my first fountain pen. It was a pretty big change; most fountain pens don't lay down the razor-fine line that ballpoints do, and they require a bit of a learning curve. One thing I learned: Moleskines feather like mad, and most fountain pen users dislike them for their low-quality paper. As soon as my lovely new Waterman Hemisphere hit that paper, the ink spread out and left a muddled, ugly, thick line. Great. Some of this was related to the pen I was using; different pens, papers, and inks have unique interactions with each other. Still, I was committed to my new pen, so I abandoned the once-beloved Moleskine and looked for better options.

Rhodia pad and Lamy VistaMy current favorite pad is made by a French company named Rhodia. Rhodia pads come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and rulings, but most importantly, the paper is to die for. It is lusciously smooth— fountain pens glide on this stuff— and does not feather at all. Mmmm. Some other brands I like are Apica and Black and Red, but they don't make staple-bound, reporter-style notebooks with perforated pages (gosh I'm picky, aren't I?) like Rhodia does.

Lamy 2000 Nib
Lamy 2000Lamy 2000 close-up

My Lamy 2000; note the "hooded" (and messy) nib. Click on the bottom-right photo for a close-up of the makrolon texture.

But paper is only one part of the equation— what about the pen? I have a bunch of relatively cheap pens, but my two favorite pens are my Lamy 2000 (shown above) and my Lamy Vista (the clear one, two pictures up). The Vista is just a good pen, not a great one (though very good for the price), but it has an italic nib, which is a lot of fun. The 2000 is my "best" pen by far, though; it has a smooth, fine, semi-flex nib. Both italic and flexible nibs introduce attractive line variation in one's pen strokes (you can tell how they differ by the text shown with the two pens), which makes chicken scratches like mine look a little better and makes good penmanship look spectacular.

Rhodia pad
Close-up of my "improved" handwriting.

Lastly, there's ink. I have just begun to explore the immense variety of inks out there, so I don't have much to say. The two inks shown in the pictures here are Noodler brand; Ottoman Azure, the blue ink in my Vista, and Heart of Darkness, the deep black ink in my 2000. A great resource for checking out inks (not to mention pens, paper, etc.) is the Fountain Pen Network— there are tons of ink scans and reviews posted there.

Sorry for the long post! I suppose I should have split this up into a few posts, but as they say, strike while the iron's hot! Thanks for reading, this blog will return to its regular (tea) programming shortly.