A Tea Addict's Journal

Grandpa style of tea making

April 23, 2007 · 4 Comments

I drank tea the grandpa way today.  That’s because my grandfather drinks his tea this way.  Essentially, it is the simplest way a Chinese person makes tea — throw leaves in mug, add water, drink.  Add tea leaves when the tea gets watery.  Repeat.

This is also how most people in China drink their tea throughout the day.  Whether a cab driver, an office worker, or a house guest — tea is served simply, in a cup and with no other teaware.  Most of the time even a pot is not used.  Drinking the tea using your teeth as a leaf-filter is a skill that everybody learns quite early on.

Since I have no gaiwan with me yet, not having bought one here, I brewed tea this way today.  Even though it sounds simple, there are some things one must watch out, or risk getting a nasty tea.

One must first watch what kind of tea is being brewed… and add the leaves accordingly.  It is always a temptation to add too much leaves, especially when it’s a rolled oolong, such as a tieguanyin or a Taiwan tea.  They expand greatly, and while they look like not a lot of tea when dried… it gets big, very fast.  Since the tea sits in the cup while drinking and is therefore brewed all the time it sits there, too much leaves yields a very bitter cup very quickly.  Therefore, low amount of leaves is essential.

Water temperature… it depends.  If green, not too hot is fine, but if you’re adding water to existing tea, then it must be hotter to compensate.  For all other types of tea, I think the hotter the better.  It won’t keep warm very long in this sort of arrangement.

Also… I like to keep some tea remaining in the cup and refill before I drink it all.  This keeps the flavour stronger brew after brew.  Otherwise… after one or two cups the leaves will lose all their flavour.

Then it’s just a matter of taste… how strong you want your tea, how long before you add new leaves, etc… a cup will last a day.  After a while, it just becomes flavoured water, but if the tea is good, the flavour goes pretty far.  I’ve seen people using very big (1L) water bottles with about 2g of green tea leaves in them.  I’ve also seen people using maybe a 350ml bottle with 1/3 full of leaves… it’s all about personal tastes.

I drank a Dahongpao today doing this, and even after many infusions, the tea remains sweet.  I added leaves once, but not a whole lot.  It was just easy drinking… and much less work than gongfu.

Definitely a different style, but nonetheless, enjoyable.

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