Less / more leaves per pot?


Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Less / more leaves per pot?

Postby Bubba_tea » Dec 14th, '08, 21:50

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?
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Re: Less / more leaves per pot?

Postby wyardley » Dec 14th, '08, 22:44

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.
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Postby ABx » Dec 15th, '08, 07:02

When it comes down to it you can usually brew just about any tea with just about any ratio of leaf:water by adjusting other parameters. Now you might not want to go filling a vessel 100% with tightly rolled leaf, but some will do so with much more than I ever would.

Each tea will have it's own "sweet spot" with the different parameters in combination with how you brew. With intuition and trial and error; how quickly you find it will usually depend on how forgiving a tea is and the experience you have to guide that intuition. This is also why I don't like to give general parameters for overall types of tea - there's no one set of parameters that works for everything for me, and how much leaf I use for any given infusion will depend heavily on my impression of the leaf and mood.

I definitely agree with wyardley that experimentation and personal taste is key. Although it is cliche at this point, when you consider just how much even small variables can affect things, it's really the only way to find the right set that works for you. With my environment and teaware, you and I may even end up using different parameters to achieve the same infusion from the same tea.

So I think that to generalize is really tough. There are all levels of density, oxidation, roast, and so on, and more or less leaf may affect individual teas differently. The only thing I can think to say is that with less leaf you're more likely to negatively affect whatever gives the tea complexity (whether the complexity is in taste, aroma, hui gan, or whatever), but then again you can sometimes find new layers that you didn't get before by using less leaf.
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Postby Bubba_tea » Dec 15th, '08, 23:57

So WYardley... when are you coming out with the book? :lol: Exactly what I was looking for, thanks.
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