These gaiwans were handmade by Mark Mohler using Lizella clay from the Appalachians in Georgia where he grew up. Making pottery with local clay is one key trademark of Buncheong, and of all great pottery of tea culture. Mark's relationship with Lizella allows him to fire the clay high and make strong durable teaware at any thickness. You’ll notice quite quickly how the clay interacts with the water and tea: texture changes, color changes, patterns of evaporation. The interactions of each use leave a lasting impression.
The Buncheong Aesthetic
They are made with Buncheong tools that Mark carved after receiving the transmission from a master in Korea. Instead of cutting clay away, Buncheong tools push and displace. You can see the interesting shapes the clay takes on in the knob and foot. I like how the knob rises from the lid like a landform.
The benefits of a handmade gaiwan by someone as attentive to detail as Mark go well beyond the aesthetic. The slope of the lip, the multiple conjoining angles at the edge of the lid, and the clay thickness all combine to give these gaiwans the best, easiest, cleanest pour possible.
Each Gaiwan is unique and handmade. No two are exactly alike. Let me know if you want one on the larger side or smaller side. They range in size from approximately 150-185 ml.
Old Tree Lapsang Souchong
The trees that grew this tea are over 100 years old, covered in moss, growing wild at 1200-1400 meters in the nature reserve in the heart of the Wuyi Mountains. The trees are large, but the output is low and there are very specific requirements for the growing conditions that make this tea incredibly precious.
The tea has an amazing refreshing feeling. Its long leaves look like rock oolong, but its flavor is completely unique. It is like no other red tea I’ve tasted, with a flavor I can best describe as papaya, red wine, a hint of fresh leather and potato, that lingers and transforms into the juicy and round sweetness of a green honeydew melon.
Whereas some red tea can be brewed 2,3, or 5 times. This tea can easily be enjoyed for 10 or more long infusions with boiling hot water, no problem. The century plus slow growth makes it resistant to high temperatures with a steady taste and energy that is mellow in vibe and strong in affect.
note: this is not a smoky lapsang.
I'm pairing this gaiwan with an amazing and rare tea, as a way to show my appreciation for the many good fortunes, and contributors seen and unseen, that make my life as a Tea Peddler possible. This is a tea that I have loved for years, and it is one that I always brew in a gaiwan. However, you can also get the gaiwan alone here if you prefer.