A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong


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A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong

Postby dr-ivan » Aug 23rd, '11, 15:43

Hello, good people!

I am an almost complete newbie - so please bear with me :)

I am trying to prepare an oolong tea and have a couple of (probably mundanely simple) questions to all you gurus ;) I am equipped with the following:

  • "Huang Jin Gui Superior" oolong tea (judging by the price tag it is certainly in the lower to mid-range of oolongs). It is advertized as a lightly oxidized oolong and instructions on the package state that 2.5g tea should be steeped for 2 minutes in 2dl of water at 100C (2nd time: 3 minutes and 3rd time 4 minutes)
  • I am using a 200ml Yixing teapot, newly bought.

My problem is that no matter how much I try I cannot seem to get the taste right. Being a newbie, however, I am still not quite sure how it is *actually* supposed to taste. What I can say however is that when following the brewing instructions on the package I get a VERY thin brew that has some aroma, but is almost completely devoid of taste. I have tried to increase amount of tea leaves - and at some point the brew gets slightly bitter (as expected). Are well-brewed oolongs supposed to have a slightly bitter taste?

I have seen several instructional videos on the net, and I think I am doing everything right: correct temperature (slightly under 100C), I pour the water from a certain hight to introduce oxygen into the brew, I discard the first "rinsing" pour, warm the pot etc. And still I can't get it quite right.

I am also confused about brewing times: In some videos they state that oolong should be steeped for about 20 seconds. I am aware of the fact that this is dependant on the type of oolong - but it seems to be way off the 2-4 minutes stated on the package. What gives?

Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated!

- Ivan
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Re: A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong

Postby Drax » Aug 23rd, '11, 16:16

Hello, and welcome!

I'm sure you'll hear lots of varying opinions on how to brew the tea, so take my recommendation with a grain of salt! :lol:

For a 200mL Yixing pot, I recommend using 7-8g of tea.

Do a 30s rinse with boiling water (with the tea in the pot, add boiling water, let sit 30 seconds and pour out). Let the tea leaves sit about 60 seconds after pouring out the water.

Then do your steeps all with boiling water:
60 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds, 120 seconds, etc.

I tend to start with this general method of attack and adjust the steep times as needed.

Best of luck!
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Re: A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong

Postby debunix » Aug 23rd, '11, 16:22

I recently weighed a bit of a balled green oolong for the first time in quite a while and realized I've upped my tea leaf quantities quite a bit without being aware of it. I put 3.4 grams in my 70mL teapot and was quite happy with the resulting brew, the first infusion about 30 seconds, gradually increasing times, and later infusions (up to 7 or 8) at 2-3 minutes.

So 2.5 grams in 100 mL seems quite low to me now that I've 'recalibrated' my eye.

One good way to tell it's going to be good, with a nice Huang Jin Gui, is simply to remove the lid a moment, and take a good sniff. It should smell overwhelming and rich when it's ready.
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Re: A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong

Postby wyardley » Aug 23rd, '11, 16:44

Try a smaller brewing vessel - 120 ml or smaller. Try using a bit more leaf. Try thin, glazed white porcelain (vs. the Yixing pot).
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Re: A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong

Postby Tao » Aug 23rd, '11, 17:05

I will suggest use about 7g teas, this is what usually i did.

Warm up the tea ware before steeping.

Rinse the leaves: Pour some hot water in the Gaiwan/Yixing Teapot, swish the leaves around a bit, and pour the water off. It really brings out the roasted smell and flavor of the tea.

Then begin your infusion using the recommended directions. Gaiwan/Yixing Teapot: Use about 7g (2-3 teaspoons) each time ; Steep at 93°c (200°F) to 100°c (212°F) water for 50 second to 30 second for the first three brewing; then the later is about 1 to 3 minutes. You can steep around 5 times.

You can change the steep time according to your personal favor.

If this way still not work well, i guess you need think about the quality of the tea.
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Re: A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong

Postby dr-ivan » Aug 23rd, '11, 17:51

Thank you so much for all the input and ideas! I will try it as soon as I get the chance tomorrow and report back :)
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Re: A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong

Postby David R. » Aug 24th, '11, 09:57

It is always important to warm up the teapot (/gaiwan). Rolled oolong need to unfurl to give their best, which is easier using hot water and a hot vessel.

With quantities given by others, I would go with a long first brew (I don't rinse the leaves), something like 1min 1/2, and then reduce the time for the second brew and onward. Something like : 1min30, 30", 45", 1', etc.

Once tea leaves have opened up, they will give stronger taste quicker. But that's without rinsing the tea leaves.

So first brew to open the leaves, and then start with shorter times.

That may not be the best way to do it, just the one I prefer. I am afraid you'll have to try a few to find what you like best.

Have fun ! :)
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Re: A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong

Postby dr-ivan » Aug 24th, '11, 15:25

Adding more tea leaves and reducing steeping time seems to have done the trick! I have not perfected my technique yet, but ~7.5g starting at 1 minute steeping time seems to be just about right (with the first wash being 30 seconds long).

Thank you all for your help! :)
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Re: A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong

Postby debunix » Aug 24th, '11, 20:03

So glad to have been of help.
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Re: A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong

Postby Oni » Sep 16th, '11, 15:52

Check Houde`s blog for brewing instructions, that site is the best in this matter.
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Re: A newbie in need of help on brewing an oolong

Postby sydfoxx » Sep 18th, '11, 18:09

ok!
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