Brewing Oolongs Western Style


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Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby silversun » Nov 14th, '10, 20:35

I read somewhere that when brewing oolong western style (which is what I've been doing), they only last for about 2 steeps. I have found especially with roasted oolong that the taste gets totally different at about the 3rd steep - tastes less roasted, more astringent. Is this because of the way I'm brewing them? Does the original 1-2 steep taste remain longer if I brew them in a yixing? Thanks! =)
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby Herb_Master » Nov 14th, '10, 20:46

Some say that there is an approximate 8 minute infusion guideline.

When brewing a certain (optimum) weight of tea to a certain (optimum) quantity of water that you can get a 3 to 4 minute infusion followed by a 5 minute plus infusion and then the leaves are virtually exhausted.
My grandparents always started with a 5 minute brew then a 2nd 10 minute brew which was always a little bit weaker than the first.

When using a small yixing, the weight of tea to a given amount of water is usually a much higher ratio and the initial infusions are so very much shorter that many more infusions can be taken before you get anywhere near 8 minutes.

In a (yixing) gong fu session I tend to find that astringency decreases as the the infusions progress. I am not sure why you are getting more astringency in your 3rd steep, perhaps it is now no longer masked by the strong roast flavours of the first 2.
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby David R. » Nov 15th, '10, 04:42

Here is what I think. The more you brew a roasted oolong, the greener it gets. The roasting wears off after each steep. In the end, you get to the greener original stuff, more likely to be astringent, in opposition to the roasted notes which are more mellow.

During a gong fu session, as you'll have more steeps, the roasted notes will disappear bit by bit. This is the main thing about gong fu cha : tasting the evolution. It is even better with an age tea in my opinion.

Western style is still very enjoyable and handy in a work environment.
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby Victoria » Nov 15th, '10, 15:53

silversun wrote: Does the original 1-2 steep taste remain longer if I brew them in a yixing? Thanks! =)


No, if you are brewing English style in a large yixing, nothing will change. (Well it may have a subtle flavor enhancement) Two good steeps is probably all you will get no matter the vessel. Sometimes three.

As David says:
David R. wrote:Western style is still very enjoyable and handy in a work environment.


Do yourself a favor, buy a small yixing and try gong fu, especially for high quality oolongs. :)
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby TwoPynts » Nov 15th, '10, 17:23

I often brew Western style at work and am normally able to get an average of 4 infusions out of most oolongs. More if it is a good one. I do use a higher leaf to water ratio, and don't steep very long for the first couple of infusions.
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby gingkoseto » Nov 15th, '10, 18:04

By Western style, do you mean big pot or big mug? If I have to use something big, I prefer a topless vessel :D
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby entropyembrace » Nov 16th, '10, 13:50

TwoPynts wrote:I often brew Western style at work and am normally able to get an average of 4 infusions out of most oolongs. More if it is a good one. I do use a higher leaf to water ratio, and don't steep very long for the first couple of infusions.


I get pretty much the same results...but my "western style" has seen a gradual increase in the leaf to water ratio over the years I´ve been drinking loose leaf tea....to the point where I´m sure it´s not typical anymore.
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby debunix » Nov 16th, '10, 13:56

Victoria wrote:As David says:
David R. wrote:Western style is still very enjoyable and handy in a work environment.


Do yourself a favor, buy a small yixing and try gong fu, especially for high quality oolongs. :)


Exactly. I enjoy my thermos of tea at work (effectively one very large bulk brewing, since all the infusions are mixed together), and it does make friends for tea when I share it, but it is always a delight to come back to a really nice tea gong fu, and see just how marvelous it can be. And some teas, especially some spicy fruity fabulous yanchas and Dan Congs, just lose their interest when bulk-brewing melds the flavors.
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby silversun » Nov 16th, '10, 20:32

Thanks for the advice! I think I understand it better =) So I can try Gongfu style using, for example, a glass teapot?
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby Victoria » Nov 16th, '10, 21:51

Probably not unless it's small.
You would have to use too much leaf.
What size?
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby silversun » Nov 17th, '10, 21:42

I have teavana's perfect teamaker - I can really use any amount of water that I want. I think I will try this out.
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby entropyembrace » Nov 17th, '10, 23:48

silversun wrote:I have teavana's perfect teamaker - I can really use any amount of water that I want. I think I will try this out.


gongfu you use typically 120ml or less of water volume (for one person) with most of the brewing vessel filled with leaves...sometimes can see up to 200ml for the brewing vessel but this is usually when the tea is being shared among several people. And the infusion times are very short...measured in seconds.

Those teamakers look really huge for gongfu brewing...you´d only fill a small space at the bottom and end losing a lot of heat because of all the empty space and not get good flavour extraction from your tea...and it´d be quite clumsy positioning it over a small teacup... :?
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby brad4419 » Nov 18th, '10, 11:53

Victoria wrote:Do yourself a favor, buy a small yixing and try gong fu, especially for high quality oolongs. :)


+1

I can't give any advice on brewing oolongs western style because I only tried a few times with less than good results. I find gong fu more enjoyable if you have time for it and I think makes more flavorful tea.

plus- good oolongs can get expensive so using a large vessel for gong fu will get very expensive fast so as others have suggested go small sized.
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby entropyembrace » Nov 18th, '10, 14:45

I would suggest more a small porcelain teapot or gaiwan...that way you don´t have to worry about tea and clay pairings which can really complicate things...especially for a first gongfu size teapot.

yixings can be really confusing :?
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Re: Brewing Oolongs Western Style

Postby beecrofter » Nov 18th, '10, 15:26

Get yourself a 150ml glass pot which is slightly on the large end for gongfu cha but provides some advantages in learning tea.
1 You can see the color as the tea steeps.
2 The glass is inert and will not carry flavors from one use to the next.
A glass gaiwan would also allow this.
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