Saturday, November 30, 2013
After I posted I realized I'd skipped over this one of Top Station, the most popular site in the area. There's another look off that's right above the clouds that make the spot famous, but I was content with this view across the tea field.
It was a two hour trip through the estate, from Munnar town to Top Station in the back of a rattling, sputtering tuk-tuk, but I enjoyed every minute of it!
Sunday, November 24, 2013
I used to admire this teapot often in the teashop, without ever really thinking to buy it, until one day, the owner told me if I want it, the price was about to go up. Obviously, I'm a sucker for a sales pitch...
What I like about it is that it's a pumpkin design but still retains an overall simplicity. The lid reminds me of a persimmon and I like the Gong Chun style spout. The clay is a nice dark-orange with small chunks of stone. Though the walls are quite thin, it's a highly porous clay, making it good pot for puer. The grooves it the lid tend to pool water, leaving marks but that's not such a big deal. The quality of the Yixing clay is very high. The chunky clay is actually very difficult to fire without the pot exploding in the kiln. These aren't nearly the largest chunks I've seen, but they do add to the pot's value. They also make the pot a little more interesting as the patina develops, creating a nice contrast and unique beauty.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Looking for a break from the city, my family and I spent 2012, bookended by a few months of 2011 and 2013 on each side, in a small town just outside of Daegu in the south-eastern corner of Korea.
Adjacent to Daegu's famous traditional medicine street, is a street with a surprising number of tea shops. One in particular caught my attention because the owner was a potter who'd studied in China and claimed to be the only Korean potter who makes Yixing teapots. He makes them in China, then brings them back to his shop to sell. He has a large variety of designs and they were all very well crafted. Some even had Korean themed images or poems written in hangeul, rather than the traditional Chinese subject matter that may usually adorn pots.
I ended up choosing a small Xi Shi pot, mostly for its size but also because of my weakness for Xi Shi pots. I've always liked how they sit firmly and balanced but appear as though they could roll over with the slightest nudge. I like how the lid fits (usually) flush with the contour of the pot, creating a continuous line. Then one day, in Seoul, I learned that the design was meant to resemble the breast of Xi Shi, the first of the historical four most beautiful women of China. The funny thing was, the tea master at Kkik Da Geo had just placed a newly arrived Xi Shi pot in my hands as he told me the story. I couldn't resist blushing when he got to the part about it being her breast and there I was, delicately cupping it in my palm, admiring its shape. I also had to pause a moment and wonder if that had anything to do with my natural attraction to them. I didn't arrive at any definitive conclusion...
Back to this pot, I was very impressed with the Korean potters skill. The lid fits perfectly and the lip is so smooth the lid slides on it like glass. The pour is quick and clean. Xi Shi pots should have a feminine sensitivity to them and the spout, which could be seen as phallic, is often kept very short, though I have a few Xi Shi pots with regular spouts. The handle is bottom-heavy, as though it was attached up side down, but adds to its charm. The top bead is relatively large but not awkward. Then, finally, on the bottom is a very unique stamp, the only Korean one I've ever seen on an Yixing pot.