A Tea Addict's Journal

So…brewing parameters

October 4, 2007 · 6 Comments

This was meant for yesterday, but it’s good for any day.

Many blogs out there post their brewing parameters. I did once upon a time, and once in a long while, I still do. Generally though, I don’t. But I feel like I should explain how I actually brew my tea… in case it’s not always obvious.

I generally use a high amount of dry leaves, relatively speaking. I think for a young puerh, these days my gaiwan is about 1/3 full of dry leaves. For Wuyi, it’s 3/4, and for high roasted or aged oolongs, about 1/2. It of course depends on the day, and what I feel like, but those are generally the parameters. Infusions are kept extremely short… maybe a few seconds, and it barely lengthens — until I notice it can use a bit more time, which varies for the tea. Water temperature is generally very hot. I never use a timer, and generally don’t use a scale (although sometimes I do use one to prevent me from misjudging compressed tea and how much I’m actually drinking).

I find this works for me. Bitterness disappears in this way. I tried an experiment yesterday with the Baisui Chawang from Yangqing Hao. I used a smaller amount of leaf and longer infusion times, more typical, I think, of how many others brew their young puerh. I find it to be rougher, more bitter, and I didn’t get that incredibly interesting note early in the first few infusions. Instead, the tea is very non-interesting, at least compared to the last time I tried it. Perhaps I should’ve used cooler water, which would’ve helped with the bitterness and the roughness, but lower temperature would further dampen the complexity factor.

I’m not saying mine’s the best way. There are certainly merits to the other, but I do think that for me, this works well. I’ve recommended this to a few people, and I think, for example, that Hobbes found brewing one of the samples I sent him this way brought out much better results than otherwise. I think it brings out the nuances of different teas more clearly, and also their complexity better than otherwise. Using very few leaves and low temperatures can make almost anything taste decently good, but it is impossible to tell which one’s the better tea and which one’s worse when made that way.

There are, of course, teas that I don’t brew this way. I brew my greens (the few times I drink them, anyway) very light. I also tend to brew my light oolongs with a light hand. But since I don’t drink much of those anyway…. it almost doesn’t matter these days.

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6 responses so far ↓

  • lewperin // October 4, 2007 at 1:58 pm | Reply

    For Wuyi, it’s 3/4, and for high roasted or aged oolongs, about 1/2.

    I assume you’re talking about twisted, not fisted, teas, right? Because the latter are much more dense.

  • MarshalN // October 4, 2007 at 2:03 pm | Reply

    Uh…… when I said aged oolongs, I’m thinking fisted.

    Fisted can go even higher, if, say, it’s a Chaozhou gongfu cha…. then you’re going with the 3/4 rule WITH crushed leaves in the bottom.

  • pu_erhmy // October 4, 2007 at 6:52 pm | Reply

    Wah, the words you all use, sounds German to me. Fisted, what does it mean?? As for me, now I switch to the lazy way to drink puerh tea, I use the Piao I teapot, I usually steep my puerh in the most simplest way, according to the colour of the tea, I hope I am not too colour blind. But honestly, this way, to me, makes my puerh a much nicer tea to drink, steeping time can be controlled quite accurately, to me, that is.

  • MarshalN // October 4, 2007 at 10:14 pm | Reply

    I find using colour to judge whether or not a tea is ready to drink (infusion by infusion) is really not a very good way though…

    Like the baisui chawang — the first infusion it’s already a lot darker than some of the teas from the same year.  There’s a lot of difference between puerhs in the way they are processed, and consequently their colour.  What works for one tea might not work for another.

  • lewperin // October 5, 2007 at 5:18 pm | Reply

    Fisted, what does it mean??

    It means the tea was rolled into tight nuggets during manufacture (very common these days in Taiwan and southern Fujian.) Twisted, on the other hand, means a much looser rolling along the long axis of the leaf, so that the manufactured tea is much fluffier than fisted tea. This is what you see in Wuyi and Dancong oolongs, among others.

  • pu_erhmy // October 5, 2007 at 7:34 pm | Reply

    My thanks to Marshal and Lew for their replies. I will try to remember what both of you have said and try to improve on my drinking skills and knowledge on puerh. I am really excited over all this. I am new in drinking puerh and really loving every minute of it. Hope to learn more.

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