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Well, I didn't make it to the market today, but I'm going to try to make tonight the "phase 2" of online shopping. Edit the Tea Spring cart and get that ball rolling, and also hunt for a mini pot.
It's surprisingly hard to find a ~200 mL ceramic/porcelain teapot, and nearly impossible to find one with either a very large basket or some other built-in strainer. And everything that does fit that criteria is either way outside the budget or would take the slow boat from China.
What I can find are cheap glass or clay pots. On the one hand, glass would make for easy pu'er steeping and kinda fun to watch "evolve." Plus, it can easily be used for all types of tea. On the other hand, glass tends to be fragile (some reviews actually complain about it arriving broken) and these ones use a removable stainless steel filter which might clog and will probably rust over time.
The unglazed clay has the fixed hole-type strainer, which I like in theory. It's probably sturdier and better insulated than glass, though eyeballing the steeping would be trickier in it. I doubt that a sub-$20 pot is really a true "yixing pot" but even so I bet you wouldn't want to brew a green tea in it right after a shu. . .
I made it to the Oriental market several days ago. Wow! So many things in there that I did not recognize. I spent a decent amount of time just wandering through, getting an idea of what was in stock. I walked out with my precious mochi ice cream and two oolongs: a "dong ding" and a "tung-ting", which I think are actually the same type of tea. The loose-leaf selection wasn't all that amazing but overall the tea selection was much more impressive than Walmart. The one thing that bothered me was that there was a label in the isle for LS but I couldn't find any containers of it and there wasn't any open space left for it to be "sold out." Side note: has anyone tried barley "tea?" I saw it in the market and I'm a little curious, though maybe not curious enough to buy a 2 lb bag of it!
I tried the two new teas in my new 250 mL glass teapot and I gotta say the teapot is far more convenient; I don't expect that I'll be pulling out the gaiwan very often. Unsurprisingly, the two teas taste quite similar. It's the best plain tea I've had so far, though I'm still hoping to find something tasty enough that I truly look forward to drinking it.
Perhaps something in the sampler will strike my fancy? It shipped last Saturday so it should be here by Friday. Of course, my fingers are crossed for Monday.