Bubba_tea wrote:Is there a way to generalize the difference in flavor when you reduce the amount of leaves per pot? It seems that you generally go for 1/4 - 1/3 for the leaves, but sometimes it's recommended to use less - does that seem to highlight certain aspects of the tea and minimize others?
Depends on the shape, quality (and type) of tea, and also whether you're increasing the steeping time when using less leaf. 1/4 of a pot of rolled leaf is a lot different from 1/4 a pot of a wiry leaf, especially if it's really long.
With wiry yan cha and dan cong, I tend to do between 3/4 full by volume and completely full or even overflowing. This is especially important if the leaves are really long. For rolled teas that aren't heavily roasted, I'll usually do ~ 1/4 of the pot by volume, but some rolled teas (especially more roasted ones, or ones that aren't super tightly rolled), I'll go to more, maybe 1/2 or 3/4 by volume.
I think sometimes you can get a nicer tasting brew out of a tea that's not stellar by brewing it for a longer time with less leaf. And with a really astringent or bitter tea, sometimes you can get a good brew by just brewing the tea a little lighter (a bit less tea but still a short infusion). But sometimes, even if you increase the brewing time, the tea will just come out kind of lacking in flavor (or thickness) if you don't use enough leaf.
I know it sounds like a cliche, but I honestly think that experimentation and personal preference are very important here (and, if you're brewing for others, the preferences of your tea drinking companions).
I tend to brew most teas with a pretty heavy hand - a lot of leaf, quick infusions.