David R. wrote:
tingjunkie wrote:By lowering the temp of the water, and using a larger pot, the tea will even out and be pleasant, but it will never be great.
It means that, for you, packing the pot/gaiwan will always give better results ?
I think of it more that it's giving yourself more rope to hang yourself. You have more chance of bringing out a good tea's full potential, but, even with a good tea, you also open up more possibility of screwing things up.
my $0.02, reposted from answering the same question on teadrunk
...to me, it's not so much as that one way is the "best" way, but more that different methods are appropriate for different times, places, and teas.
When you did a 2 minute brew, did you use a very small amount of tea (like the 1.5 tsp figure given in your example, which is probably only a few grams, even of a rolled tea like tieguanyin) and use a pot as large as the one described (12 oz)? If you're getting an undrinkable result, you're probably doing it wrong, or need to adjust the parameters somewhat, though some teas will taste better than others brewed this way.
I do think that brewing with cooler water, less leaf, and a long infusion gives a different result. In some cases, especially with low to medium quality tea, you will get a better result this way. I do prefer brewing tea in smaller amounts [and with more leaf], but I have tried brewing many of the same teas I drink "Western" style, and I don't think they taste undrinkable. Also, it is harder to mess up - even after brewing gongfu style tea for several years, I brew tea that isn't to my own taste (or to others' taste) occasionally - by brewing tea in such a concentrated way -- inferior tea, mistakes in brewing technique, etc. are all magnified somewhat. Knowing how a tea tastes brewed different ways (including Western style) is very useful, because you can make adjustments to maximize the potential of a particular tea. With a tea that's just Ok, often I will back off somewhat in terms of both temperature and leaf quantity, because I know that I am bringing out the best qualities that this tea has to offer.
Why don't people do it the way you describe? Probably a few reasons.
1. Lots of people don't even know about this method, and don't have, or couldn't easily get, the equipment needed
2. Vendors know that non tea people are often intimidated by brewing looseleaf tea. So their instructions are based on equipment and methods that are familiar to people, and likely to come up with a drinkable, if not amazing, brew
3. Many people, even in China, don't want a lot of fuss about their tea, and they don't want to keep boiling water, re-infusing tea -- they just want something hot and not-bad tasting to drink.
Try brewing competition style sometime -- using those little tasting sets... boiling water, 3 grams for 5 minutes or 5 grams for 3 minutes. To me, gongfu and competition style brewing are two sides of the same coin - they both stress the tea. Adherents of each method will tell you that their method is the best, but to me, it's more about sticking to a method long enough that it allows you to judge whether a tea is good or not -- like using familiar monitor speakers for a recording engineer - the speakers don't have to have the most accurate sound reproduction, as long as your ears are attuned to the way they shape the sound.