As mentioned earlier in Know thy spoon and cup (Part A) different spoons will give different smells due to their shapes and material.
This is very much the story with the cup.
However, different cups in addition to smell (the bottom of the cup after drinking) will give different - COLOUR
The different colours will enhance the experience of a perfect cup, but all this is nothing compared to the my astonishment every time I try the same brewed tea with different cups.
Some cups will give more body to the tea, others will make it more bitter/sweet/fruity/sour/etc. Moreover, some cups will make it smoother but almost tasteless as they seemingly absorb the taste, others will enhance both smell body and taste.
The other day while discussing this topic with a friend he suggested to me that older cups are "better". Having tasted tea from different periods and styles, I disagreed with him completely.
I suggested to him that usually the older cups MIGHT enhance the taste because at the past there was much more attention put into each cup as it was not so mass produced. Is it true? of course I don't know for sure, so if you have any other ideas please let me know :-)
I believe there are many reasons for this amazing contrast between cups.
But in general its due to the method of production, the soil used (minerals and hence location etc), storage, heating temperature, glazing (if used), size and shape, the master and all the little nuances that take place during the production. As if this is not enough, the tea's own chemicals, a function of the way the leafs were grown, and prepared will interacts differently with each cup - so I believe.
How do these exactly affect the taste if at all? I don't know (too many parameters to keep 'ceteris paribus')! Again, any help is appreciated here so just leave a comment.
The Experiment (Part 1)
In the second experiment I used different teas to check if I still preferred the same cups, will post in the future.
Hypothesis: I will keep choosing the same order of cup preference each time.
Different cups (with two cups the same - 'testing cup')
The same brewed tea used in all cups.
Close your eyes.
Don't touch the cup as this might affect your judgment (use a friend, you might not have any after this :-)
Sip (try while hot and cold).
Give marks and comments.
Some of the cups used:
The result was astonishing, out of three trials, I favoured the cups each time in the same order!
My friend looking at this amazed, tried her self, we had similar results.
This by it self is a very interesting test/result, as I am not sure everyone will favour the same cup.
No conclusion as there are still lots of questions unanswered, but the moral of this story is similar to that of the spoon. When testing tea, always bring a cup and a spoon you know!
For enhancing your tea experience always search for a better cup.
As for me, I am constantly on the search for the perfect cup.
When I search for a tea/wine cup I always bring my favorite cup and test it against the new one in sight.
Kind of sad really, but when I get back home I won't have the pleasure of choosing cups so 'easily'.
Antique cups from a private collection.
Twelve cups in Wucai styles representing the flowers of the months (Qing dynasty, mark and period of Kangxi (1662-1722)
Bowl with bird and lotus design in under glaze blue and red enamels (Ming dynasty, Longqing period (1567-1572)
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