Editorial Conversation: AMA #4

Jason M Cohen
Jason M Cohen

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our Fourth AMA with the editorial team! You can listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or on Spotify. Listen in and hear thoughts from the team on the term “tea ceremony”, optimal tea leaf to water ratio, the patina myth, challenging tea identification stories and more!

You can listen to the podcast here:

A full transcript is included on the episode page and below: (questions in bold)

[00:00:06] Jason Cohen: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Tea Technique AMA, our first of 2024. We're just waiting for live attendees to come in and join. And we are right here at the top of the hour at eight o'clock. With me are Pat Penny.

[00:00:28] Pat Penny: Hey, hey.

[00:00:29] Jason Cohen: And Zongjun Li.

[00:00:30] Zongjun Li: Hello.

[00:00:57] Pat Penny: You want me to get kicked off with questions or are you going to admit people?

[00:01:00] Jason Cohen: Oh, let me admit people.

All right, let's get this started. Before we begin, I want to share something that we made for the Tea Technique community. Oh, here we go. Someone's joining.

Let's see. Awesome. Right as we begin, I wanted to share something we made for the Tea Technique community. Let's see if this works.

[00:01:57] AI: …wanna be the very best tea master there ever was, to brew them is my real test, to taste them is my cause, I'll travel across the land, searching far and wide, to find great tea and understand the flavor that's inside. Gong Fu Cha! Gotta taste them all, it's true, I know it's my destiny, Gong Fu Cha, Oh you're my best brew, in a praxis we must progress, you teach me, and I'll teach you, Gong Fu Cha, gotta taste them all.

[00:02:49] Pat Penny: I…think we got the, I think we got the picture.

[00:02:59] AI: Every teapot along the way, with skill I will wield, I will practice everyday, to become a cha shi fu, it's not a dream, our gong fu will pull us through. Gong Fu Cha! Gotta taste 'em

[00:03:19] Jason Cohen: Well, I just thought,

[00:03:19] Pat Penny: My God, what the hell was that?

So was that some, some fun AI edited music for just, for the AMA?

[00:03:27] Jason Cohen: I thought that that was the right time to unveil this versus having Nancy splice it in at the beginning of the next podcast.

[00:03:34] Pat Penny: Yeah. All in favor of that not being our next intro music.

[00:03:39] Zongjun Li: It's time to announce this new band that we're having here. Gong Fu Bros, Gong Fu Choppers,

[00:03:46] Jason Cohen: the Gong Fu Bros.

[00:03:47] Zongjun Li: Gong Fu, Gong Fu Ge Men.

[00:03:50] Pat Penny: Oh, man. Alright, well, I think we want to say thank you to everyone who's joining us for today. That was a fun way to kick off. Let's never do it again. We're here today to answer some questions.

And I guess it's going to be nice to see a peek behind the curtain, because I would say that's usually how a lot of these recordings go until we actually hit record. So, I mean, we do have, we do have some people here joining Zongjun, Jason, and I. We definitely will take your questions in the chat and then we've received some questions from Instagram as well, and I believe some email questions so we'll go through and answer as many of those as possible, but of course, live attendees, feel free to use the chat and submit your questions, we'll prioritize your questions over the ones that we've received so far.

So Jason, you want me to just get it spinning? Okay, we do always like to start off and understand since normally when we're recording and talking, we're drinking tea, it's 8 p. m. on the East Coast for you, Jason, Zongjun, what are you guys drinking? What are you up to right now?

[00:04:56] Jason Cohen: Zongjun, it looks like you have a tea bowl.

[00:04:58] Zongjun Li: Yeah, I'm just bowl tea-ing with this Dancong from our beloved tea friend from Feng Huang.

Not adding too much dosage, unlike what I normally do nowadays, really pack the teapot with all Chaozhou gongfu style because it's getting late right now, so just a little bit of a tea flavored water in my bowl.

[00:05:22] Pat Penny: Nice.

[00:05:24] Jason Cohen:  I did five rounds of tea with a childhood friend who's hanging out here in New York before this. So I'm flying. We had a jigger of Laird's apple brandy while cooking. So I got a pot of coq au vin on the stove. And I am drinking an aged 2019 Christian Ducroux,  Beaujolais, 100 percent Gamay.

[00:05:57] Pat Penny: Well, the jealousy is real right now, because I'm drinking water, because I'm still at work, because in Seattle it's 5pm, and I haven't had a chance to dip out of the office yet. So maybe a little bit of tea for me once I get home.

Awesome. All right, we're going to kick right into the questions. We had a question from Instagram.

As long as you manage your leaf to water ratio, what's your favorite amount, or I guess what, what kind of gram weight of tea do you usually use to brew? What do you think suffers, going up or down in brewing vessel size? Jason or Zongjun, either of you want to take that first?

[00:06:34] Jason Cohen: Yeah, well, I think I'm probably the most different from Pat and Zongjun. Excluding Dancong I generally down dose. And I down dose both because my wares are quite small, the majority of my wares are between 80 and 100 mls, and I'm frequently using between 3 to 4 grams of tea.

And the human palate is generally more sensitive at lower intensities. I think you can taste subtlety quite a bit more. My first brew is generally longer, hovering around 30 seconds or so. And all of my subsequent brews, I'm usually doing about 4 or 5 brews of most teas. The exception to that is of course Dancong tea, where I'm updosing 4, 5, 6 grams.

I sometimes feel pretty bad about that, since that's a lot of good, expensive tea. But, so a little bit painful, but definitely the Dancong deserves an updose. The other area that I'm updosing more is an aged sheng, where the age has really mellowed it, and I think that I need a higher dose to taste.

And then Chaozhou gong fu, if I'm doing something with yan cha, like a crush on Chaozhou gong fu, and 40 mil or 50 mil teapot like that, then, then it's a pretty big updose.

But yeah,

[00:08:07] Pat Penny: What's the average gram weight you think you're doing for a Chaozhou gong fu session with a 50 mil teapot?

[00:08:12] Jason Cohen: With a 50 mil teapot and crush, I'm still only probably doing like four grams.

[00:08:17] Pat Penny: Down dosing.

[00:08:19] Jason Cohen: Yeah, it's a down dose.

[00:08:19] Pat Penny: For me.

[00:08:22] Pat Penny: Zongjun?

[00:08:24] Zongjun Li: Yeah. I don't know. I used to be having, having approximately a similar dosage to Jason's, but ever since our trip to Chaozhou, I have been a forever damaged and traumatized by all the Chaozhou gong fu laoshi. And right now I'm like pretty much updosing my tea for everything.

Like, Chaozhou, like Dancong frequently, like eight grams. And for other teas, like easily 6 or 7 grams that would, would be packed into my teapot usually ranging from 80 to 120 mils. But generally updosing all of my, my teas.

[00:09:09] Jason Cohen: You can, you can bring the tea next time. We'll, we'll drink eight grams of your tea.

[00:09:14] Zongjun Li: And more crush too. Like, I used to do like a third or less of a crush for like Dancong or Wuyi. Right now I'm doing like more than, more of a half and half.

[00:09:26] Jason Cohen: You're crushing your Dancong?

[00:09:28] Zongjun Li: Sometimes.

[00:09:30] Jason Cohen: Interesting.

[00:09:31] Zongjun Li: Yeah, because remember how we literally drink tea dust from a Yang Laoshi?

That was an interesting experience!

[00:09:41] Jason Cohen: That didn't seem so purposeful. It didn't seem like, he didn't sit there and say, excuse me, let me create some dust. [crushing motion]

[00:09:47] Pat Penny: Excuse me, I gotta crush this tea.

[00:09:49] Zongjun Li: But the effect is phenomenal. So I've been experimenting that.

[00:09:54] Jason Cohen: Yeah, the effect is pretty interesting. I still crush, not all cultivars of Wuyi tea, but a lot of cultivars of Wuyi tea I still do a crush.

I'm probably doing about 30% crush on Wuyi, but I've never sat there and purposely crushed Dancong. I've never done a cha dan filter, you know, built, built a, a packed teapot with Dancong. Usually I just up dose enough that the teapot naturally is packed.

[00:10:24] Pat Penny: Yeah, that, that's where I've been at on Dancong as well.

So Zongjun, I'm going to give that a try because yeah, when we had Yang Laoshi's crushed just tea dust, that was amazing. But to say it was crushed actually is probably incorrect, right? Because I think it was just bottom of the bag. I think he probably had a bag of tea that's been sitting around for a while.

It was an amazing high quality tea. But yeah, it's just, I think what was sitting at the bottom and maybe as he bicycled to Zoey's place, I think as he bicycled there, it might've been in his back pocket. And yeah, so it's both getting crushed and warmed up a little bit at the same time. So yeah I definitely have been updosing on Dancongs.

I've been doing, probably similar to you, 8 to 10 gram. Sometimes in a gaiwan, I'm doing 10 gram. I have been having a lot of fun going back and forth between gaiwan and Chaozhou clay pot, so Zhijian's pot, and versus ceramic gaiwan, and just seeing the differences that show up.

I would say my usual dosage, though, for most teas, is about 3 grams in a 100 milliliter gaiwan.  And I carry that ratio between three and four grams. I carry that around for most of my tea brewing. I would agree that Jason, I'm pretty close to you on sheng. For older sheng, I definitely do updose.

I think the only place I purposely down dose is fresh green tea and a wet, wet stored sheng and shou.

[00:11:49] Jason Cohen: What are you doing? What are you doing for say like pre-qing Ming Longjing.

[00:11:54] Pat Penny: That's somewhere where I would down dose, I would do two grams for a hundred milliliters. 'Cause I really, I agree that as you kind of reduce the amount of tea, you're reducing the total saturation, your tongue can pick up a lot more of the nuances.

I think as you start to really saturate the, the liquid that you're brewing, there's only so much your tongue can really identify and pull apart. And just from a value standpoint, I feel like I'd rather have some slightly more diluted, but fully experienced brews using less tea than just have one session, right, where I use all my tea and I'm just kind of blasted in the face with it.

[00:12:30] Zongjun Li: Or for green tea, definitely makes sense. Updosing green tea can be very painful. Can really taste like the astringency from the, from the leaf. I saw a very interesting technique in my recent trip to Shanghai. In one of our tea friend’s tea house and she was brewing Tai Ping Hou Kui. And she up dosed the tea. But instead of submerging the tea in the gaiwan, she used a kind of like a Chemex filter, and then she laid down the tea on top of the filter and use kind of the, the water to kind of a Chemex the, the Hou Kui into, into a gongdaobei.

So I found the technique very interesting and the effect was great. It was delicious tea.

[00:13:22] Jason Cohen: That, that I've never seen.

[00:13:24] Pat Penny: I've had that in Japan for some gyokuro before where they basically take like filter coffee setups, like a Hario V60 with a little filter and they'll do like a really high temperature actually for gyokuro, like sometimes they'll do close to boiling and it'll be pour over.

And so it'll run through the tea really quickly. So it's not in contact for a long time, but they're usually using a lot of tea. So it's an interesting technique and it was actually pretty good. I haven't had it for Chinese tea before, but I feel like it would actually work better for Chinese tea.

But yeah, it's unique. It's not what I'm going to do with my own tea though. Cause what I saw was like at least 10, 15 grams in this V60 setup, which for really high quality tea just feels like a waste.

[00:14:08] Jason Cohen: I, the closest thing I've seen, so I haven't seen that, closest thing that I've seen is where you have those bundles of really long, straight leaves.

And I've seen that for the Buddha hand. And I've seen that for both green tea. With, with the, the, the, the bundle where it's the stem and the leaf. And I've also seen it for various indigenous forms of sheng puer. And you don't want to break the leaves, but it's not going to fit in a gaiwan or in a Yixing. And so what I've seen is they take a, a chahai, the tea caddy, the tea holder, and they actually wet the leaves in the holder until they soften, and then stuff it into either a gaiwan or something.

But then they pour that out as the first brew. Or they dilute, or they pour it into the vessel, and then they dilute it down and do a flash with it. That's the closest thing I've ever seen in my life.

[00:15:06] Pat Penny: So I, I think this, these answers kind of touched upon another question we got. So changing tea habits, either from writing about Yixing over the last year or from the visits that we had to China.

So we went to Yixing, we went to Chaozhou together, we went to Yunnan together. So over the last year how have your tea habits changed? And we all heard our Dancong brewing habits changed after going to Chaozhou. If anyone wants to elaborate on that, you can, but any other habits as well that have changed?

[00:15:33] Jason Cohen: Well, I think I can answer very clearly for all three of us that we're now all drinking a lot more Dancong and we're doing a lot more up dose. Yeah, yeah beyond that other changes wrought by the, the trip, I would say, I would say maybe if anything, that some of the teapot sizes that I'm using have actually increased versus decreased. Pat, you and I bought a couple of teapots that were 130 to 150, that are going the opposite direction. And we've had some really wonderful experiences with that. Zongjun and I were just using a Baiyu Duan, white jade Duanni teapot with a bunch of aged sheng puer. And I, I thought it was a very nice pairing. Zongjun, I don't know, did you enjoy that?

[00:16:34] Zongjun Li: Yeah, totally agree. Totally agree.

[00:16:36] Jason Cohen: So, so yeah, going, going back up to slightly larger teapots with some, some clays. That, that I would say is a change and I'm not ready to declare victory or say like, oh, this is, this is a new great pairing, because it's still relatively new. I feel like I've spent my entire, tea life from Institute days going like smaller and smaller and smaller until we're at like comically small teapots. Like, you have, what, a 40 ml pot? And I have

[00:17:08] Pat Penny: I have a 30 ml teapot that I actually use, yeah.

[00:17:11] Jason Cohen: Yeah, I think my smallest I actually use is like 40, between 40 and 45 mil depending on how much tea I pack into it.

[00:17:18] Zongjun Li: I'll still pack 10 grams into that teapot, man.

[00:17:22] Pat Penny: 10 grams of dust, for sure. Yeah, I think on changing tea habits, definitely ditto to the Dancong. I've never had so much Dancong in my life. Certainly on the teapots too, like you were saying, not, not just using larger size teapots, but in the last, I'd say, year and a half, since we started really focusing on Yixing, my teapot collection in and of itself, has maybe tripled and I usually would just take out Yixings maybe on the weekends, just when I was really going to have a very focused session.

And now I just reach for Yixing no matter what I'm doing. Like I, I had to force myself to start using gaiwans again recently with Dancongs because I wanted to have this comparison. But I was just reaching for Yixing no matter what, whereas it used to be something a little special. I think the trip to Yixing really hit home for me just how much of a utilitarian ware it had always been and just how much utility the wares do really have.

So I'm just trying to use them. I'm not even trying anymore. I am just using them all the time. So, so much more Yixing.

[00:18:26] Jason Cohen: And how much more Yixing versus Chaozhou? You have the one Chaozhou teapot or maybe two Chaozhou teapots.

[00:18:36] Pat Penny: I, I would say that I'm probably doing two or three Chaozhou gong fu style sessions a week.

Usually that's the weekend. Sometimes it's like twice on a Saturday, once on a Sunday, whereas Monday through Friday, it's kind of like reach for whatever Yixing I have, brew whatever tea I want to brew in it. And it's not a lazy session, per se. I'm still paying attention to the tea but it's certainly not the focus, nor is it the kind of up dose that I'm doing on my Chaozhou sessions.

[00:19:03] Jason Cohen: But it'd become your driver. Are you using Yixings for, for any Dancongs?

[00:19:08] Pat Penny: I've tried, but I've still had much better results with the gaiwan or with the Chaozhou clay pots.

[00:19:15] Jason Cohen: Sorry, Zongjun, we cut you off before you could answer the changing tea habits in the last year and a half.

[00:19:22] Zongjun Li: Actually very similar cases for me, similar to Pat, a lot more teapot usage.

I have not touched my gaiwan for God knows how long. I don't even remember where my gaiwan is. But it's really teapots and sometimes if I really want to save time, I bowl tea but, and also, like a lot of experiment with different types of tea versus different types of clay. Cause  since we are doing a lot of vertical comparison and we did a lot of commission with our tea pot collections, my tea pot collections also expanded greatly. So now that I have a lot of these,  capacity to experience different types of tea with different types of types of clay which are all very interesting. And also if I'm in my home base in Changsha, I have this whole Chaozhou gong fu set up with a clay stove and Shadiao to brew my, my water.

And then use my Chaozhou to, of course, brew Dancong. The whole thing is just like, like the satisfaction fixate into your, your habit that you really want to do it when you brew tea. It's, it's really quite a lovely experience and lovely set of equipment to have.

[00:20:58] Pat Penny: The Shadiao is another new piece of equipment for me this past year.

And so I was, I, I only just bought my own Tetsubin maybe two years ago now. I was going Tetsubinless for the longest time after leaving the Institute, which felt tough. But now getting this Shadiao, it's been kind of a really fun way to just experiment and see how the lighter water from the Shadiao affects certainties versus the heavier water from the Tetsubin.

So that's been another area that I've been experimenting a lot this past year. Yeah.

[00:21:29] Zongjun Li: For our audience, Shadiao is a kind of like a clay kettle that people use to brew water in Chaozhou. It's a very, very thin body clay kettle, usually side handled. The pronunciation might sound very weird to some of the Chinese speakers.

It's synonym to like dum dum or dummy. But, but it's, it's spelled san, sha, and diao, which is like to carry, but the, the radical, instead of the, the hand radical is the metal radical.

[00:22:09] Pat Penny: Jason, do you have one near you that you can, I know this is an audio medium for those who are going to be listening later, but for those who are online right now, if you were able to reach for one. All right, Jason's going for it.

[00:22:22] Jason Cohen: I'm going for it.

[00:22:24] Pat Penny: Okay. Well, I think in the interim I did want to just mention talking about changing tea habits. Emily, who is our newest member of the podcast was not able to join us. Unfortunately, she's not feeling well, but she's also getting into Chinese New Year. So I hope she's feeling better for her celebrations later today.

It would have been interesting to hear her changing tea habits because she wasn't on the trip with us, but hopefully she'll be able to give a little bit of color later on.

Well, there's water in your Shadiao.

[00:22:53] Jason Cohen: Yeah. There's not supposed to be water in there.

[00:22:56] Pat Penny: All right. So for those of us online who are getting to watch Jason spill on himself, that's some real gong fu.

Well, he's holding it in his hand as a shot. Yeah. So being a Shadiao while holding a Shadiao. Yeah. Okay.

[00:23:13] Jason Cohen: I think it's fine.

[00:23:16] Pat Penny: One more time. There you go. There we go. So it kind of looks like a Japanese Kyusu, right? I mean, it's, it's not meant for brewing tea in, it's meant for boiling water in but this is made with Chaozhou clay.

And both, I think Jason, you and I have the same exact one. Zongjun, do you have a different one?

[00:23:38] Zongjun Li: I do, but it's not here in DC.

[00:23:40] Pat Penny: Okay.

[00:23:41] Zongjun Li: Sitting in my, in my house in Changsha.

[00:23:43] Pat Penny: Yeah. So Jason and I have the same Shadiao and it's made by a cousin of Chen Zhijian, who is a potter who we have some teapots from as well.

Okay. We're going to jump onto the next question. I think we hit that one enough. Here's one that we've got so often on forums or online discussions when tea technique is mentioned, there's concern about the label and implications of calling Chinese tea culture a ceremony. Do you regret using the term ceremony in the title of the books?

Jason, I'm going to pass that right over to you.

[00:24:16] Jason Cohen: Oh, that's a great question. Okay. So, kind of, the definition of ceremony that we use is so specific and so academic. We define ceremony as “the anthropological ritualization of a goal” and it's a definition that we've been using since the Institute days and it serves a very distinct purpose of discussing the codification of Chinese tea culture, the evolution, the living art, the, the idea that it's a living culture.

And I love that definition. I love the implications of it. The problem is, is that the, the, the problem is that when people see that the title of the book is The Art and Science of Chinese Tea Ceremony, they're like, Tea Ceremony? These must be spiritualists. These people don't, these must be anti historical revivalist, new wave, tea people telling you that you have to wear robes and, and do three bows to the Buddha.

[00:25:33] Pat Penny: I'm not supposed to do those things?

[00:25:34] Jason Cohen: And burn incense. Well, we, we do, Pat, we do, but that's not part of the tea ceremony. And so, so it, the, the, the, the, the problem is that it just becomes this lexical debate, the worst type of debate to have, where I go, oh, Chinese tea ceremony is a ceremony. Well, what definition of ceremony are you using and why are you using that definition?

And why can't we say and why don't you say it's not a ceremony? It's tradition. Why it's, it's just, it's the, it draws out the worst possible debate from the widest possible audience, using that term ceremony, and I wrote that whole blog post, right? Chinese tea ceremony is a ceremony on Cult of Quality blog.

And maybe it helped a little bit. But yeah, I, I would say that, that, that, that term has not been well received by the larger community.

[00:26:32] Zongjun Li: Yeah, there's just a kind of a semantic difference or understanding of how the word ceremony is perceived. For a lot of English speakers, I mean. Like the definition that you are offering, Jason, I think it's closer to how maybe a lot of Chinese people, we interpreted what a tea ceremony is in China.

But I guess that doesn't necessarily translate to, to a lot of readers.

[00:27:05] Pat Penny: I won't, I won't add anything on here. I think Jason, you, you chose the wording and you, you get to pay for the consequences, but I believe, I believe that not only the blog post, but you wrote, but as, as mentioned in the chat here, I think in the first book, you really hammer home why the word makes sense for what we're writing about.

So I'll just direct anyone who still disagrees with the, the wording to subscribe and read the first book. And if you don't like it, well, no money back guarantees, I guess. Jason this isn't a question, but you, you had posted recently about a bi monthly tea gathering. So I just wanted to take this space here during the AMA to, to get a chance to hear more about what your plans are for this bi monthly tea gathering for subscribers.

[00:27:54] Jason Cohen: Yeah, my, my hope is twofold or maybe threefold. One is that subscribers or people considering subscribing who want to have tea and see the gong fu in action before they pull the trigger can come to my tea room here in Manhattan and hang out for a bit and drink some tea. The other thing is for long time subscribers. I hope that they'll bring either tea they're having trouble with using, trouble getting a good flavor out, and we can triage and diagnose the issue and see if we can get something to taste good.

Same thing for teapots, and then if they have a tea that they, they don't know what it is, or they don't think that it matches the label, they can, they can come back and they can, we, we can work and try to work it out as a group, find either the right pairing, the right dosage, or the, we can do some identification on it.

I think that I am, maybe medium good, maybe maybe more than medium good at identification. So now

[00:28:58] Pat Penny: I've seen it in action. I'll, I'll give you some confidence on that. At least medium plus good.

[00:29:02] Jason Cohen: Yeah. Now maybe everyone's gonna come out with their hardest to identify tea, like this is Wuyi tea, but done in a indigenous people's community, Miao environment on the border of Laos.

[00:29:16] Pat Penny: Duh why couldn't you identify that?

[00:29:21] Zongjun Li: Who processed Wuyi on the border of Laos?

[00:29:24] Jason Cohen: No, no, no, sheng, sheng, Zongjun, sheng.

[00:29:27] Zongjun Li: Oh, oh.

[00:29:28] Jason Cohen: Yiwu, Yiwu!

[00:29:30] Pat Penny: You did say Wuyi but yeah.

[00:29:31] Jason Cohen: I mean, I totally meant Yiwu.

[00:29:33] Pat Penny: Well, there you go. That's the real identification issue.

[00:29:35] Zongjun Li: Yeah.

[00:29:37] Pat Penny:  So that, that sounds awesome. So it sounds like you're going to have the first one later this month, right? Or was it next month?

[00:29:43] Jason Cohen: Like two weeks, two weeks from today?

[00:29:45] Pat Penny: Okay. Yeah. And so you'll report back maybe in a future podcast three or four weeks from now on how that went and whether or not you're going to keep doing it.

[00:29:53] Jason Cohen: Yeah, they're, they're tentatively scheduled for being actually two a month. We'll see if we, we stick to that, but definitely we're going to try to do at least one a month.

[00:30:03] Pat Penny: Awesome. And I think just to follow up a little bit after you're doing these sessions in another few months, you're going to be going back to China as well as I think you had some plans for maybe Taiwan. Did you want to talk about your plans a little bit?

[00:30:18] Jason Cohen: Yep. So I'll be a month in Taiwan.

I'm gonna take back my old motorcycle and ride up to the tea mountains and visit a bunch of people I haven't seen in a long time. I still do love Taiwanese teas. I think that a lot of the Taiwanese high mountain oolongs and mid mountain roasted oolongs and a lot of the work that's been going on in improving quality and everything there is, really is, is, they're fun to drink.

They're really nice teas. And so I'm excited about that. I'm perhaps even more excited about the food and just general quality of life and getting a chance to be back on a, on a motorcycle zooming around some dangerous blind corners with poisonous caterpillars hanging down from silken threads, invisible until they smack into your helmet, and or worse.

[00:31:12] Zongjun Li: Right into your grill.

[00:31:15] Pat Penny: Not speaking from experience.

[00:31:17] Jason Cohen: That's why you wear the full face mask helmet. I'll take, I'll take road rash over poisonous caterpillars on me any day. Yeah, I'm, I'm super excited about this. I'll be there for, right now, the tentative plan is it'll be a month in Taiwan. And it'll be in mainland China for 3 weeks.

Part of that is going to be non tea work. I’ll be there for the new company Simulacra work.  but yeah, we're, we're not exactly sure where we're going to go yet. We're trying to decide if we go to Wuyi, if we do more work in Chaozhou, if we do more work in Yunnan. It's not really going to be harvest season, so it'll probably be more tasting work and work with tea makers.

But there is a nice thing of visiting when it's not harvest season in that they're not in the fields and like, can you get out of my way attitude, it's much more relaxed and you can taste with them and you can walk the fields and everything. So I, I do love visiting in harvest, but I also know that we're researchers with a notebook and a camera can be a serious nuisance in the middle of a harvest season.

[00:32:28] Zongjun Li: Yeah, that's got to be fun.

I can't wait to go back to all those places or finally be able to venture into Wuyi.

[00:32:36] Pat Penny: Yeah Wuyi is on my list too, so I'm hoping, Jason, that I get to join you for at least part of the trip. The Wuyi part would be awesome. But thinking that at least the Taiwan part we're going to make happen.

Zongjun, I know, are you having any plans to go back home or to join up on this research trip?

[00:32:51] Zongjun Li: Yeah, most likely.

[00:32:52] Jason Cohen: He's going to be in mainland with us.

[00:32:55] Pat Penny: Awesome.

[00:32:55] Zongjun Li: I'll be in mainland for the time.

[00:32:57] Pat Penny: Hell yeah. Okay. All right. I'm going to jump back to the real questions then. That was just wanted to, to dig a little deeper on the update log.

Let me take a look through here. All right. So these are on tea and teaware identification so Jason, you were just talking about being medium plus good at identifying teas and teawares. What teaware or tea identification has stumped you recently?

[00:33:23] Jason Cohen: Oh, that's a great question. And I'm actually going to do the total tea mastery thing of answering an entirely different question.

I just had two side by side experiences. Twice, people showed up to have tea, and both times they brought what was allegedly Lao Ban Zhang. And the first time this happened I was skeptical. It was from a merchant who I had heard of, I didn't use myself, I didn't buy things from, I wasn't really sure they knew what they were doing. And Lao Ban Zhang, tons of fraud. There's lots of reasons why it might not be what it claims to be. And I was just ready to trash the tea, and trash the merchant, and rib the tea-person who brought it -  there was a bit of  ego there for me. someone showing up, like “I brought you Lao Ban Zhang”.

It was very much a question of supposedly, allegedly, this might be Lao Ban Zhang, right? Like, do you think it is? And I was just absolutely ready to trash this. And we start brewing, and the very first note is pure, straight camphor. Very monotonal, very distinct, very punchy. But it very much matched my prior experiences with more verifiable Lao Ban Zhang.

And three, four brews in, I kept thinking, this can't be, this can't be, this can't be, I don't know, like, where, where did that guy, that is not the guy I would have assumed has the real stuff, right? And at the end of the session, I was like, I think this is it, I can't find any faults in it.I think this actually is Lao Ban Zhang.

And the second time was from someone with a much more reputable vendor with a much more expensive tea, with a more reputable tea and he says, I'm like, I had just had that experience with pure camphor note and I was primed for it and he starts brewing and it's light, it's ethereal and it has all the, it was great, complex, very interesting tea.

But if I had to do a blind identification on it, I would've said it's Bo He, maybe Gaoshan Yiwu  but it tastes like Bohe. I mean, the predominant note in it was, I feel, it was mint, it was minty, it had menthol, and it was light, and it had absolutely no camphor and I think the, the point and why it's related to this question is, is because identification is really a bit about being willing and able to question your assumption.

And trust your palate and know what your references are and where your references are verified and where your references are alleged and where your references are loose and weak. And so if I had to trust my palate on both of those, I would have said the one, the 1st one that I didn't trust, I didn't think was going to be Ban Zhang, was, and the 2nd one that I did trust and thought would be Ban Zhang, was not.

[00:36:21] Pat Penny: Nice. Zongjun, same question over to you.

[00:36:25] Zongjun Li: Yeah. So, I would say that, especially for all the recent Dancong tastings, you just have to be ready to be surprised all the time. Definitely agree. Never make too many assumptions. Because even if something is labeled as Huang Zhi Xiang or Gui Hua Xiang, it might not taste anything like all the tea you have drank before.

It's like your first exposure to Italian wine with like 2000 different indigenous grapes. Same thing happens to a Dancong. Like, cause for, for most of the Dancong cultivation, it's not clone cultivated. They're all seed breed. So you end up having all these kinds of genetic drifts, all kinds of variations from generations to generation, from plantation to plantations.

So one thing that gets labeled as Gui Hua Xiang might not even taste like Gui Hua. One of our recent experience drinking, drinking with, with a tea friend, sharing a Dancong. It was labeled as Gui Hua Xiang, but it tastes like juniper. Like it tastes like gin. It's nothing like Gui Hua.

And I would never would have guessed it's Gui Hua Xiang, but it was labeled at least as Gui Hua Xiang.

[00:37:54] Jason Cohen: We're putting this as a identification fail on your checklist, right?

[00:38:00] Zongjun Li: Identification discovery, I would say.

[00:38:06] Pat Penny: And for, for listeners who are not familiar with Gui Hua Xiang, so Gui Hua is osmanthus. If you haven't had it in, in tea, then I don't know where you were gonna run across it. I only know it because it had grown where I lived in Japan in the fall. But yeah, not sure where readers are going to commonly come across it.

[00:38:25] Zongjun Li: Oh, I don't know, like for all the specialty coffee with osmanthus, osmanthus flavored.

[00:38:31] Jason Cohen: Osmanthus latte right now is real big.

[00:38:33] Pat Penny: That's, that's all in China though. I think for our western based listeners, finding osmanthus flavors is a little harder.

[00:38:40] Jason Cohen: Yeah, it shows up in Japanese gin from time to time.

[00:38:45] Pat Penny: Yeah, how would you, how would you describe the flavor?

Because you, you expected the flavor of Gui Hua, Zongjun and you've gotten it before in other Gui Hua Dancongs, Gui Hua Xiang. And you didn't get it here. What, what did you feel like was the gap?

[00:39:01] Zongjun Li: Good question.

I, are you asking like the, the flavor of Gui Hua or the tea?

[00:39:07] Pat Penny: If you could describe the flavor of Gui Hua without saying Gui Hua.

[00:39:11] Zongjun Li: Yeah, that's hard.

[00:39:12] Pat Penny: Osmanthus without calling it Osmanthus.

[00:39:14] Zongjun Li: It's like noble rot. It's like its own flower.

[00:39:17] Jason Cohen: Floral flower.

[00:39:18] Zongjun Li: Yeah. It's a, it's a very tiny yellow flower. If I would have really described it, it's like dry honey, cinnamon and apricot.

[00:39:32] Pat Penny: That was a really good description actually.

[00:39:37] Zongjun Li: I had it a lot as a kid.

[00:39:39] Jason Cohen: Jasmine, Jasmine with an apricot note.

[00:39:41] Zongjun Li: Yeah.

[00:39:43] Jason Cohen: Well, so Pat, Zongjun and I both did that team mastery thing where we were asked a direct question and both made ourselves look really good. Where was a situation where you had a real identification fail?

[00:39:57] Pat Penny: Yeah, I, I was just at the Art Institute of Chicago two weeks ago, three weeks ago.

And when I go to museums, I think Jason, you do the same thing. I like to not look at the plaques and just try and take a guess. It was really easy when we were in Shanghai. You guys didn't get to go, but when I went to the ceramics exhibit the plaques are all in Mandarin, and I just attempted not to read, it's much easier. 

When you go to Western museums, it's a little harder. You kind of just have to do this. So I, I was in a section where it was all Chinese ceramics. It was all imperial kilns, so mostly Jingdezhen wares. And I had come across an area where I was looking at glaze that I believe was a cobalt oxide, like a very solid, basacid blue.

And so I was thinking that these are Qing wares. And based on the kind of motifs that I was seeing, dragon claws, and everything, I was thinking that this is probably somewhere within the scholar emperor kind of lineage of either Kangxi. I, I was thinking it was Kangxi, but it, it was, sorry, what'd you say, Zongjun?

[00:41:05] Zongjun Li: Yuan dynasty?

[00:41:06] Pat Penny: What's that?

[00:41:07] Zongjun Li: Is it from Yuan dynasty?

[00:41:08] Pat Penny: No, it was not Yuan. It was not Yuan, but it was this very clear, distinct blue. And I was just really thinking like, this has to be Qing. And it was a Ming and it was, I think it was a Wan Li piece, right? So very high quality, extremely high quality Ming piece. And I had known that in the Ming they had used some copper. They had used some other available oxides before consistently landing on cobalt. But just because of the quality and the craftsmanship as well as a few other small details, I really was so sure that it was Qing and I was pretty sure it was Kangxi and I was off by 200 years.

[00:41:46] Zongjun Li: Yeah. Ming qinghua can be very, very elaborate and beautiful. Yeah.

[00:41:51] Pat Penny: Oh, no. And it was, it was.

[00:41:53] Zongjun Li: And also Yuan qinghua can be also very cool. Yuan dynasty qinghua got sold for like, astronomical prices in auction houses.

[00:42:09] Pat Penny: Jason?

[00:42:10] Jason Cohen: I was, I was saying that the Yuan dynasty are usually very different shapes.

So I find them pretty and the motifs are just, drastically different to the eye. So I usually don't get Yuan wrong, but Wanli qinghua from time to time, I think I'll misidentify as Qing  and particularly if it's behind glass, you can't touch it.

[00:42:36] Pat Penny: That makes things a little harder. So yeah, they did have a really cool exhibit right near as well where they showed basically a few different blue glazes through time and how different blue glazes were much more sensitive to firing temperature.

So they had some copper, which would have originally shown up as blue, but because the firing range was so much tighter, often you ended up with reddish brown plates and bowls. When they were using what they wanted this dye show up as blue. Yeah whereas this cobalt oxide, which became more and more popular, right?

Consistently fired within a larger range as the bright, beautiful Ming and Qing blue that we're all familiar with. So yeah, that was my real fail, not to make me look good.

Okay. We'll jump to another question here.

Okay. I like this one a lot. Okay.  How do you envision the book contributing to the broader understanding and appreciation of Yixing teapots and Chinese tea tradition? Jason, throw that your way.

[00:43:39] Jason Cohen: Ooh, I don't know who's going to read a thousand pages about Yixing.

Someone, someone's going to get something out of this book. I don't know if it's going to be me.

[00:43:53] Pat Penny: Broader, think broader. How, how do you think,

[00:43:56] Jason Cohen:  I do think, I do think that the book will be more than a reference book.  I think that particularly as we get into the later chapters around tea and pairing, around historical attributes, around identification, I think that it will be quite a good conversation. A lot of people still reference Early Yixing Teapots Volume 1 from Dr. Lou in Taiwan. And that, that, that book focused very heavily on F1 and started part of the F1 craze and the ability to identify F1.

And I don't think that my book will start a craze for any specific period. I think I've done quite a bit to dissuade people from thinking in terms of the greatness of any one period, but I think it will start a new, a renewed interest potentially in down draft wood fired kilns.

If anyone can find it, a dragon kiln, let me know if you find it. And in the use of Yixing again for very specific pairings. And the exploration of Yixings across multiple pairings and not allowing a patina to build. So I do hope that it will have an impact less amongst collectors and more amongst practitioners, I hope that people really purchase teapots to use and to explore with.

And are not too caught up if it's Zhuni so I should use it with the high mountains, duanni and someone online said that I should use it with, with Sheng puer and that kind of thing.

[00:45:41] Pat Penny: I think I'll just add on. I, I hope that whether people read the entire book or they read a section where they listen to a few podcast episodes, I think what they, what I really want people to take home is to really experiment with what they have.

Right? So hopefully through reading and listening, they're able to obtain a good quality teapot. Doesn't matter what that clay is, as long as it's high quality clay, right? And I hope that they just try it with everything and they don't listen to all the myths that I would say are still prevalent today.

And they don't just try and pair it with one tea. I hope they try to really use that as a tool to learn, right? And to use these pots as tools for them to learn and build their gong fu and maybe eventually one day build a collection and come hang out and drink tea with us. Zongjun, anything else you hope the book achieves?

[00:46:31] Zongjun Li: Yeah, so when we were in Yixing, we do see this this very clear segment of  tea, teapot users, teapot buyers and teapot builders for the purpose of aesthetics. And for the purpose of usage and I think in our book, we are really leaning towards like teapot being a utilitarian tool instead of something that you sealed in a glass cage to appreciate its  outer beauty.

And I think this theory really intertwines with a lot of the arguments and contents that we are writing in this book,  that teapots area living art. It's a tool meant to be used. It's a tool meant to have interaction with your tea and with your feelings. And I think that's something that I feel very inspired of.

[00:47:43] Jason Cohen: Oh, you're muted.

[00:47:46] Pat Penny:  I was going to say, we appreciate in the chat, we're getting some comments about the no patina argument. Jason, I think that for a lot of people, that was a new learning and a takeaway. Do you want to talk a little bit more, like if, if that's something, hopefully you feel like people pick up on more or you're okay if you keep hearing people talk about the patina myth, what do you want to come from that?

[00:48:07] Jason Cohen: No… well, if the patina is on the outside the people can, people can do what they want. They want to have a cha chong covered in, in tea grime on their tea table. They can, they can do whatever they want. But inside of the teapot that I'm drinking it out of, like either A, the clay is special and the clay needs to touch and interact with the tea.

Or, B, the clay is not special, and you're building up a mountain of tea grime to interact with the tea. The whole idea that you could, should, be able to pour boiling water into a Yixing and get tea with no tea in it, right, is just, is just not realistic or healthy.

Yeah, it's realistic, but not healthy.

[00:48:54] Pat Penny: We don't get to have both is what you're telling me. I can't have special clay that also is full of tea grime that makes my tea taste good.

[00:49:00] Jason Cohen: No, no. If, if the whole point, if the patina is on the inside, then the tea is not interacting with the clay.

[00:49:07] Pat Penny: Yeah, thank you to our listeners joining for reminding us of that.

I actually forgot about that section of the book. So it's always good to be reminded of things that people really felt like they learned and took away.

[00:49:21] Zongjun Li: When you are in China and talk to a lot of these old timer tea drinkers, like they're all into this building cha shan, they call it tea mountain in their not just teapots, but also like thermoses that they tend not to clean after brewing tea.

Yeah. Some of the cha shans are like, dude, I'm getting like low oxygen effects standing around those teapots. It's like so high, so thick.

[00:49:50] Jason Cohen: Yeah.

[00:49:51] Zongjun Li: It's crazy.

[00:49:54] Pat Penny: Yeah, I'm gonna keep just rinsing out my teapot nicely with boiling water after every session. That's gonna be my go to.

[00:50:00] Jason Cohen: But you don't wash your cha chong.

[00:50:03] Pat Penny: No, my cha chong is kind of gross, actually. I'm not gonna lie. I mean, Jason, you were here with me in October. You saw Pi Xiu, my cha chong. How was his patina looking after, I don't know, when's the last time you saw him? Like, four years before that?

[00:50:17] Jason Cohen: Yeah.

[00:50:18] Pat Penny: Was it looking thick?

[00:50:19] Jason Cohen: There's a little bit of a tea mountain going on.

[00:50:21] Pat Penny: Yeah.

[00:50:22] Zongjun Li: I really bought that.

[00:50:24] Pat Penny: Yeah, I know. I know when I need to wash it when it starts to smell on its own. And that's the thing that you don't want your teapot to do. So occasionally my cha chong smelling a little ripe. If I had that happening with a teapot, I'd be pretty worried.

All right, I'm going to jump to another question.

We have time maybe for two more or so. Okay. So I love this question. I want to plan a trip to China and visit some major tea regions. Any advice? So yeah, yeah, broad one.

[00:50:53] Jason Cohen: Broad one, if you are new at this, if you do not speak pretty good Mandarin and you haven't been to China before, do not start with Yunnan. Stick to the coast.

You could basically go anywhere on the coast, but some places are harder than others. Right? I mean, if you, if you wanted to do a tea trip, you can walk the mountains of Wuyi. Just don't try to buy anything in Wuyi. Because it's it's a really difficult insular place. If you have contacts or somewhere in, in Hangzhou, or if you could walk around West Lake, there's lots of tea related things there. If anyone in, in Chaozhou, that's not a terrible place and actually the entire mountainside is covered in, in tea fields and you can kind of walk in and maybe they'll let you taste things. That's not that bad.

Really the easiest place to do a tea trip is Taiwan. They're open, they're happy, they'll welcome you, they'll taste with you. There's 5 to 10 good tea shops in Taipei, and then there's a couple of famous tea houses in the other cities. There's Lugu Farmer's Association, which is open and welcome to visitors.

And they'll even connect you with farmer. You can go see their fields. That's definitely easiest that, but my advice is, absolutely do not under any circumstances, think that as a non Chinese native speaker, you're going to be able to wander into Yunnan and go find some tea.

[00:52:26] Zongjun Li: Yeah, Yunnan is not for beginners. I mean, like, even if you speak Chinese, it's pretty, pretty difficult to get around.

[00:52:32] Jason Cohen: Yunnan is barely for experts. Zongjun and I barely survived both the cars and the poisonous snakes and the moldy tofu and

[00:52:45] Zongjun Li: Occasional drug smugglers crossing the border.

[00:52:49] Jason Cohen: Yeah, getting held up in by, by border guards, making sure that I wasn't an arms dealer, being separated from the group and interrogated in accented Mandarin.

This is not the spot to go like live out your tea mountain fantasy. I say that I love Yunnan. Definitely will go back. With Zongjun.

[00:53:21] Pat Penny: That's coming from someone who's been by themselves before as well.

[00:53:25] Jason Cohen: Yeah. I took a long walk across Yunnan previously. Although the majority of my walk was not across Xishuangbanna.

I was much further north than that. So I wasn't generally in danger of those types of border guard, drug smuggling at that time. And I would also say that China was in a, in a different spot at that time. That was 2007 that I took and 2009 that I took.

[00:53:49] Zongjun Li: Much less regulated.

[00:53:51] Jason Cohen: Yeah, much less regulated. It was still a very much a mountain hinterlands at that time.

Now it's much more of a, of a known place.

[00:54:02] Pat Penny: Yeah, I would, I would definitely double down on Taiwan. China is not so easy to get to in general, like getting a visa and everything. It's just not the easiest thing in the world. Taiwan is just easier to access, easier to access the tea mountains, in my opinion.

The tea mountains feel a little less like, at least the accessible ones, feel a little less like a tourist destination in Taiwan. The very accessible ones in China feel like a tourist trap. .

[00:54:31] Zongjun Li: Yeah.

[00:54:31] Pat Penny: So I think in China, if you're with somebody who can help get you around, Zongjun, thank you, then and, and of course, if you have some tea knowledge and all that, you, you'll probably do okay. But Taiwan is, if you're, if we're going on beginner mode, that's, that's where I would go.

[00:54:47] Zongjun Li: Yeah, and if you end up making some friends in Taiwan, maybe you can use that as a pivot point to ask them to intro you some friends in mainland.

And that that will be a good, good way to get, get, get you more prepared and planned in advance.

[00:55:06] Pat Penny: Or, you could just instead of developing and just snowballing into a Chinese tea habit, you could get into Japanese tea, and it's much easier to visit farms in Japan.  You can, you can get to most of them with a train ride and a rental car.

Pretty easy.

[00:55:22] Jason Cohen: Just wander around Uji.

[00:55:23] Pat Penny: Yeah, we all, we all just went down the wrong path. So much harder.

All right, got another one here. What other art forms associated with the literati have been popularized again alongside tea?

[00:55:40] Jason Cohen: I'm giving this to Zongjun, our resident guzheng player.

[00:55:46] Zongjun Li: Guzheng, wow.

All sorts of art that you can see, not, not just like thrive alongside, but also, having interactions with like calligraphies and traditional ink paintings, you see tea or tea ceremony being a theme in those art forms and, or you see them being inscribed onto, like, let's say teapots or teawares.

So they, they are really, a ecosystem, so to speak in traditional literati's lifestyle that you, you cannot just have yourself know one thing and not touch upon the others. Like, it's almost impossible.

[00:56:43] Jason Cohen: I like your answer and I agree with your answer, but I don't know if it answers the full question, which is where, where do we see revivalism? Where do we see new interests or revived interest? Because I would say things like seal carving is a bit of a revived interest, right? I have my, Xin Shi Cao Tang seal and your father graciously offered to, to, to carve my seal for me, that I, that I chop things on.

But I think seal carving is one that's kind of a revivalist moment right now. Japan never really lost it. You still need your, your

[00:57:18] Pat Penny: hako

[00:57:19] Jason Cohen: hako. Yeah.

[00:57:20] Pat Penny: Hako, yeah.

[00:57:22] Jason Cohen: To sign.

[00:57:22] Pat Penny: Yeah. I had to, I had to hako all of my bank statements and everything when I lived in Japan. I had to use it to like stamp into work and stamp out of work.

So yeah, it was definitely still a big thing. I would build on that. I think at least in a western facing and commodified way, incense has come back hugely for, I think, particularly with its association with TNT practice.

[00:57:44] Zongjun Li: Yeah, I totally agree. Incense and also like traditional Chinese instruments like guqin and guzheng.

You see all these they call it Ya Ji. Elegant gathering or elegance gath gathering that happens a lot in China nowadays where a bunch of tea lovers, incense lovers, traditional musicians still gather with a theme and then they will do like a tea tasting, incense appreciation and play musics along the way and do poetries, do calligraphies.

You see this much, much more often in the past decades with the popularization of tea culture.

[00:58:33] Jason Cohen: I have 2 questions based on that. One is that you think this is a good thing or you think this is just, you think this is generally a positive development?

[00:58:39] Zongjun Li: Oh, yeah, of course. Of course.

[00:58:41] Jason Cohen: And then the 2nd question is, do you think that these things are seen as, in any way, as effeminate? in the comments, someone asked about floral arrangements. So Danny, I'm going in the same mental route as you are. Is this seen as effeminate at all? Or is it, there's no hint of effeminacy? That's really interesting to me because I do, I do some ikebana, I really enjoy the practice; closer really to chabana. Right, just grabbing a couple of flower stems and having the flowers and some nice bowls with the frogs and stuff in my tea room. And for the same reason that, particularly that in poetry in Western world, can frequently be seen as effeminate. And it's, it's interesting that, that, in Asian culture, there's, there's, there's no hint of that being a feminine thing.

[00:59:36] Zongjun Li: Yeah, no, actually the, the gender ratio is pretty, pretty much 50 to 50. And the frequently use, I, I, I like end up seeing more like male flower arrangement practitioner in Shanghai versus female. Two of the more famous flower arrangement laoshi that I know are both males. So there's no, I don't think there's any social context on, on that in China, or I don't know if Japan is also the case.

[01:00:12] Pat Penny: Yeah. A lot, a lot of male teachers for ikebana. But I would say when you look at things like tea ceremony, particularly at the, at the highest level, you do see a lot of male practitioners for Japanese tea ceremony, but for a lot of the kind of middle level, a lot, where a lot of the teachers are, huge majority are women.

[01:00:34] Jason Cohen: for sado in Japan.

[01:00:36] Pat Penny: Yes. Yeah.

[01:00:37] Zongjun Li: I guess this really like a masculine and a feminine balance has always been very important in Chinese culture. Because you have the old saying xin you meng hu, xi xiu qiang wei.

You have a tiger in your heart, and you are able to smell the rose. I think that has always been a very a core value personality value for literati in China.

[01:01:08] Pat Penny: That's very poetic. I love that. I, I think we probably don't want to end there. Jason, is there one question you really love that you want us to ask from the Instagram questions we have here?

[01:01:18] Jason Cohen: Ooh, one great question. Any plans or recent changes to your daily tea space? Well, Pat, I don't know if you want to announce it on this AMA.

[01:01:29] Pat Penny: Yeah. I bought a house like four months ago. Our subscribership is not that good. Tea Technique did not pay for it. My, my work paid for that for sure. But yeah, I bought a house. The, the downside is that I, in the place I was renting before, I had a tea room, I had to downsize a little bit. I no longer have a tea room.

So my tea space is now my living room, which is also where my video games, my TV, my cats, everything are. So it has made it a little harder to collect myself. Feel a little separated from the rest of what's going on and kind of be centered and focused on my tea. So that, that's been a little bit of a challenge and just things moving and things being in boxes and all that.

My, my pumidor, I'm not quite happy with where it is in my house right now too. So there's a lot of little things that have been changing for my tea habits based on just the space. But happy to have my own place.

[01:02:28] Jason Cohen: I, I do have a radical idea. You can, you can do what all of the other Chinese tea masters do and just rent an external efficiency, a little one unit, make it your private tea room.

[01:02:40] Pat Penny: Yeah, let me, let me get a few raises first.

[01:02:43] Jason Cohen: Yeah, it's not that expensive. You can do it.

[01:02:47] Pat Penny: It's not New York, but it's pretty pricey.

[01:02:49] Zongjun Li: Just get one in Chaozhou and come to China.

[01:02:52] Pat Penny: That's a good point. That's a really good point.

[01:02:56] Zongjun Li: And rotate. I'll share the electricity.

[01:03:01] Jason Cohen: Well, Zongjun, you have only three or four houses and two or three dedicated tea spaces.

So what are the recent changes to your tea spaces?

[01:03:11] Zongjun Li: Around the world, and it's really hard to to, to have like a fixed theme to, to, to set up a tea space. I do end up getting a more permanent setup in Changsha, in my house in Changsha. And with the all Chaozhou setups and there is a, a very nice hook on my ceiling on my top floor.

And I'm thinking about maybe do a hanging stove at that position.

[01:03:46] Jason Cohen: Oh, that's a great idea. I thought, I thought of doing that at one point somewhere of doing the Japanese extending rod.

[01:03:54] Zongjun Li: Yeah.

[01:03:55] Jason Cohen: With the hanging Tetsubin.

[01:03:56] Pat Penny: I love that so much.

[01:03:58] Zongjun Li: Yeah, so that's, that's probably going to be my near future plan. I need to go back.

[01:04:07] Jason Cohen: That's cool.

Well, this room that you see in the background. This was, will go through a major shake up at some point. I have been working on pumidor designs, late Ming dynasty inspired cabinetry with full pullout drawers made out of American cherry wood.

That design is going to take an eternity to come to fruition, so I've temporarily purchased an old colonial wood kimono cabinet that has slide out shelving that'll work pretty well for holding humidity and holding puer. So I think I'm going to downsize to two tatami mat room instead of a three tatami mat room.

In some of the old AMAs, that writing desk over there was directly behind me and I think I'm just going to have to do, like, a full shuffle of this space. It'll, it'll, I'm really not looking forward to that, because actually I tried to pull out a bunch of puer and re inventory and stuff, and I was like, it was so tightly tetris-ed before.

And then I did, and I was like, why did I do this? I have nowhere to fix this. I had to put it all back together. So I'm really not looking forward to that.

[01:05:27] Pat Penny: But you, you spoke about pumidor. We did get one last question from a live audience member. So I want to make sure we answer that before we close off for the night.

So they're asking can you say some good words about shou puer? Jason, you, you recently, I think, I don't know if we were recording or not. It might've been our last recording right before we started. You were saying that you've just been drinking a lot of shou. Actually, it was the last experiment session you and I did, so not recording, but you wanted to do a shou.

[01:05:53] Zongjun Li: Under my wonderful influence, everyone.

[01:05:55] Jason Cohen: Its Zongjun who drinks shou puer morning till night, every day. We'll, we'll get back to you, Zongjun. So I have two things to say about that. One is I do enjoy shou puer, particularly if it's cold and wet and raining, I will frequently brew shou puer as my final tea of the day. But the 2nd thing that I'll say, and I've spoken about this a couple of times on on many different podcasts is that, we, we had, I was writing in the 1st book about history of tea and the emergence of tea ceremony and all of that. And, I did a survey, I came across this idea of why are we biased against scented teas? Why are so many high level tea practitioners biased against scented teas? Why don't, particularly in the Western world, why don't we drink more osmanthus oolong, or jasmine green or gardenia flower roasted teas?

Why, why, why are we biased against this idea of these floral teas? And so I went out and I surveyed the editorial team and a bunch of other tea people we know and it came back where that's the majority, 80 plus percent, 90 percent were biased against these scented teas. And I started to write this chapter about this, about how jasmine flower has been in China since the late Tang dynasty.

It moved along the Silk Road from Central Asia and actually, well, predates the Silk Road, future Silk Road route through Central Asia, and it very quickly caught on and almost immediately spread across China. And it was taken as one of the, the scenting herbs and flowers that were already indigenous to China, including gardenia and osmanthus, and it was originally used in hot wines and actually tea adopted it from infusing hot wines, yellow wines, not grape wines, with these scented flowers. And so when you think about what is traditional, what does tradition mean? Well, floral scent teas predate whole leaf, loose leaf tea that we drink today. Floral scent teas predate teapots.

And, and so, fear not, I'm gonna bring this around to shou puer. So the shou puer that I love most and drink most of is actually Xin Hui mandarin stuffed shou puer, when it's cold and wet and rainy I used to feel a qualm about this. Like, why do I like this? Is, what, what is, what is good about this? Right? Now I just love it. Taking the shou puer that's been stuffed into this dried orange peel and breaking off a little bit of the orange peel and it's medicinal and it's citric and it's kind of like having a virgin hot toddy.

Yeah. Anyway, so writing that chapter got me over my, my bias against scented teas. And that opened the doorway for me not to feel guilty about drinking mandarin stuff, shou puer.

[01:08:59] Pat Penny: The bias thing is interesting though, because I do think there is this interesting curve where people, when they get into tea, shou puer is one of the first teas that I think a lot of people gravitate towards because it's different, it's interesting. It's maybe familiar in a way that coffee feels familiar. So they can, they can kind of latch on quickly.

And then there's this curve of like, as you start to feel like you know something about tea, you're kind of like, oh, shou puer, I heard, I heard people who really know their stuff don't like shou puer and so then maybe you kind of avoid it for a little while.

And then you learn a little bit more about tea and you're like, I don't give a fuck what everyone else thinks, I really like shou puer. So I think there's, there's always this kind of cycle with shou puer really interestingly enough. I, I would say I don't drink a ton of it. My wife really loves shou puer, and so, like, she's just kind of drinking through the whole collection.

And so when, when the weather is right, usually on a really cold and wet and rainy day and I ask her, like, hey, what do you want to drink tonight? Inevitably, it's going to be shou puer, and so I probably drink shou at least two or three times a week. But if I'm, if I'm sick, I want to drink shou.

[01:09:59] Jason Cohen: Pat, the problem is that Seattle is always cold and wet and rainy. So

[01:10:05] Pat Penny: And that's why I'm always drinking shou puer. I, I do, I do bowl tea or laoren cha shou puer a lot. So I will have it at work pretty frequently.

[01:10:13] Jason Cohen: So you're just, you're just, you're just acclimated. It's never cold enough, rainy enough and wet enough in now, in Seattle against baseline for you to want shou.

[01:10:23] Pat Penny: That, that might be true, actually.

[01:10:25] Zongjun Li: Just past really, really weird way of saying that I drink shou puer every day.

[01:10:32] Pat Penny: Yeah. It was a really weird flex, but you, you got it.

[01:10:37] Zongjun Li: Yeah. I don't know. I grew up drinking shou puer. I was born in Guangzhou and shou puer is like the pairing to Guangzhou dim sum yum cha.

So like this is very much my childhood taste and not ashamed about it.

[01:10:54] Jason Cohen: What you were going to say something about the mandarin stuffed shou puer.

[01:10:57] Zongjun Li: Oh yeah.  I really enjoyed that too. And also different versions of mandarin, like Xinhui orange or like those little green, like calamansi size, little green citrus.

And also some of the larger mandarin oranges. People age them in different sizes for different flavors for a different time frame. They can taste really good. Like it's, it's really like, I don't know, like a mulled wine in, in winter. It's very heartwarming, gives you a lot of this calming kind of feeling and energy.

I do very enjoy drinking them as well.

[01:11:38] Pat Penny: Nice. So I think we're, we're a little over time today. So I think before we cut out, we just want to give a big thanks to everyone who joined us online today.  big thank you to all of our future listeners. We're going to be either listening or watching this AMA.

Thank you to our subscribers and Jason, to close it out. I'm going to pass it right back to you.

[01:11:55] Jason Cohen: No, thank you everyone so much for joining. Thank you to the readers. We hope to, to gather more of you. We'll probably do a little recast cut of this and talk about the word ceremony on Instagram. So if you double tap that like button and share it, I think that's the one and only time I'll ever say that.

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for being here.

[01:12:21] Audience: Thank you.


Jason M Cohen

Master of Ceremonies at Tea Technique. Founder & CEO of Simulacra Synthetic Data Studio. Previously: Founder of Analytical Flavor Systems & Founder of the Tea Institute at Penn State (defunct).