A Tea Addict's Journal


December 3, 2014 · 11 Comments

One of the consequences of having a child who is physically mobile is that having tea the usual way, which means with a piping hot stove, with various breakable teaware, is becoming a bit less practical. I could close the door and drink to my heart’s content, but I prefer not to do that. What it means is many more teas that are drunk grandpa style than ever before.

Doing so has affected the choice of tea I drink. One of the things I reach for most frequently now is actually the cheap tuo that I bought a lot of – one reason, of course, is that I have kilos of this tea, but it’s also because it does very well in a grandpa setting. Tea, as we know, is sensitive to preparation methods. When the tuo is drunk with a gongfu setup, it is mediocre – not very interesting, a bit boring, a bit bland. It doesn’t quite have the punch of better teas, and while it has 10 years of age, it’s not particularly exciting. In a grandpa setup, however, it actually brings out some nuances that are easy to miss in a gongfu setting. I would in fact say that the tea has improved doing so – I am rather happy drinking it day in, day out. It’s a joy.

Another tea I’ve been reaching for a lot is a 2002 Mengku cake that I bought years ago in Beijing, back when this blog was first starting. I have two tongs of this tea, and can get more at reasonable prices simply because there isn’t a huge demand for this tea. It’s not the best either – but certainly quite decent.

One type of tea that I do not grandpa, almost as a rule now, is newly made puerh. They are, by and large, terrible in that context. That is partly because most of the teas that I would subject to grandpa drinking tend to be on the cheaper side, and cheaper newly made tea is usually just horrible things. It’s also because without any aging, the rough edges are still, well, rough. You end up with really astringent, bitter, and unpalatable teas. If you add just a bit, then it’s nice and soft, but not as nice and soft as a fine green tea, which I would infinitely prefer to a new puerh as a grandpa option. In other words, they are never picked first.

This may also go some ways to explain why puerh has always been considered an inferior tea – when new they are simply not very good. When aged they are fine, but with prices now astronomical, they are no longer practical drinks for most people. Already, aged and new puerh tea of decent quality are being priced out of the market for regular tea drinkers. That is really a tragedy.

Categories: Teas
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11 responses so far ↓

  • Emmett // December 3, 2014 at 11:49 pm | Reply

    I remember when my son was around one or two, I lost a couple pots by his hand.
    And now we just found we have another on the way.
    Back to the security measures.

    • MarshalN // December 4, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Reply

      Yeah, I am not about to test that out with my pots. I also have a friend who told me she poured tea over herself trying to imitate her dad brewing tea when she was young. Don’t really want that to happen either, so basically just staying away from the more dangerous variety of tea drinking at the moment.

  • Jake // // December 3, 2014 at 11:52 pm | Reply

    Ah, was wondering if young Sheng would be a viable option for grandpa style. Thanks for clearing that up.

    I need to try grandpa style with some of my aged pu’erh. i found that grandpa style improved a few of my aged oolongs significantly, reducing sourness and increasing positive notes (earthiness, sweetness, etc.) Perhaps I’ll try it with some of my more mediocre pu’erh.

    • MarshalN // December 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Reply

      I think certain styles of young sheng could be drinkable in a grandpa style setting, but those would probably tend to be teas that I wouldn’t recommend for longer term storage. On the other hand, grandpa style absolutely does wonders for aged oolong. Aged oolong often come out sour if you brew them normally, but the sourness is often less obvious if you drink it grandpa style, as you’ve noticed. For somewhat aged puerh I think it performs similarly.

      • Jake // // December 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm | Reply

        Alright, I’ll try grandpa style with some 80s loose sheng I have, as well with more mid-aged stuff.

        Drinking a 1978 (or 1967) oolong grandpa style right now. Not sour like it usually is – instead the herbal notes are much stronger than usual. I think I’ll reserve gongfu brewing for the less sour stuff and keep the sour stuff in a thermos.

    • Jake // // December 18, 2014 at 7:44 pm | Reply

      Having some aged pu’erh grandpa style right now. Used the remains of a few traditionally stored samples (both are tuos) and it tastes great. Brings out the sweetness and smoothness of these teas, even getting a pastry-like flavor out of it. Wonderful.

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  • MadameN // December 4, 2014 at 4:46 am | Reply

    Thanks for being a good sport about our Mini N. I hoped that creating a separate “tea room” for you would give you literal space to enjoy tea, but kudos for choosing to prioritize time with your daughter instead. I hope that in the future, you can both have tea together.

  • Dragoran // December 4, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Reply

    I apparently like to do it wrong, since I drink young sheng at work grandpa style pretty regularly. That being said, I’m not sure how hot my water actually is (it comes out of the industrial grade coffee maker, so it’s something of a crapshoot) and I have a high bitterness threshold (I’m a fan of IPAs and barleywines, for instance).

    • MarshalN // December 9, 2014 at 2:03 am | Reply

      I wouldn’t say it’s wrong per se, but just from personal experience I guess the younger teas can be hit or miss, with misses more than hit. There are ones that work, but many don’t. If your water is cooler it certainly helps tamper down the unpleasantness of some of the teas.

  • K-Cup Tea in Chicago // December 19, 2014 at 9:04 am | Reply

    Yup. I had to do the same thing when I had my daughters.

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