newbie question, please help


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newbie question, please help

Postby newtotea » Nov 22nd, '11, 18:54

I've been drinking tea casually for many years but only recently got serious about it (ordering loose tea from Canton Tea Co. + brewing in glass teapot=serious, for me, LOL), but as I'm tempted by more and more expensive tea, I'm wondering if I need to start taking things even more seriously. Let me explain.

I like to brew a large cup (12 oz) to drink while doing school work, this is how I drink 90% of the time. sometimes I brew 18 oz and bring to school in a Kleen Kanteen thermos. I started out drinking green tea, but now I seem to prefer oolong, but would like to continue to be able to drink any tea and therefore dont want to be limited by my equipment (ie, would LOVE to get a yixing but i am still sampling all the varieties of tea).

The more I research, the more it seems that the "correct" way to drink tea is multiple, quick, small infusions, from a tiny teapot, with tiny cups. I seriously love this idea but it simply does not fit my schedule at this time in my life. So, would I be wasting money on nicer teas (anything costing more than $30/100g is expensive for me) if I brew it in a 18 oz glass teapot and only drink one or two large glasses? I rarely take the time to re-infuse unless I'm brewing an oolong, then i'll infuse twice, but since i brew so much at once I usually feel satisfied after my 12 oz. i realize this is kind of wasteful so i started using less leaves but brewing for slightly longer (5-7 minutes for oolong, 1 tsp per 6 oz) ... I dont know what I'm asking really, LOL ... I just dont want to be one of those guys that buys really fancy stuff without knowing how to use it.

I would be willing to brew with a gaiwan, but instead of drinking each infusion, i'd just pour each one into a glass mug and drink the mixture (which seems silly, but maybe its not?) ...

I just dont want to spend more on tea if i wont be able to taste the difference due to my equipment/need for convenience.

Any advice, comments, or suggestions would be appreciated. I realize my question is really unclear, but if you think you can understand what i'm rambling about, by all means chime in!
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Re: newbie question, please help

Postby Chip » Nov 22nd, '11, 19:06

Welcome to tea and to TeaChat!

One part of the charm of the smaller infusion is to enjoy each infusion and to appreciate the change from steep to steep ... the evolution.

So blending the steeps would defeat the purpose of the smaller steep. You might just as well do a large steep.

It is best to enjoy each steep seperately. Try it and see ... :mrgreen:
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Re: newbie question, please help

Postby entropyembrace » Nov 22nd, '11, 22:48

You don´t need to spend a lot of money on teaware in order to try drinking tea "gongfu" style.

Just get a gaiwan and a small cup, it´ll only cost a few dollars.

When you´re in a hurry I understand wanting to take a big canteen with you and go...and that´s fine. Try the gongfu with some of your better tea when you have a little bit of time to relax....it´s a great way to reduce stress :)
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Re: newbie question, please help

Postby Chip » Nov 22nd, '11, 22:54

... many members do what we call a "semi gong fu" which is a more relaxed version ... not quite so hard core. Usually a bit less leaf is used as well and the brew times are a bit longer and not quite so critical.
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Re: newbie question, please help

Postby newtotea » Nov 23rd, '11, 13:13

Thanks for the replies! I think I will get a gaiwan and try this gong fu style. In general do people think gong fu wastes leaves or conserves them? It seems like it uses many more leaves but I guess evens out with the many infusions?
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Re: newbie question, please help

Postby msurads06 » Nov 23rd, '11, 14:08

I think its probably about the same interms of leaf. There is only so much "flavor" you can get out of a set amount of tea leaf. So theoretically you could get the same amount of tea from both ways of brewing. however with very long western style steeps water temperature would drop and probably not extract all the flavor, but then you could steep a second time. With gongfu you could run the risk of getting tired of the tea before the leaves are spent, esp if you use very high leaf to water ratios. There is always the option of setting it aside and coming back the next day and finishing off the remaining infusions.

I generaly brew semi gongfu for oolong and pu (5-6 infusions), and western for green, white, and black (1-3 infusions). But the most important thing is what works for you and what you like, everyone has their own style.
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Re: newbie question, please help

Postby MIKE_B » Nov 23rd, '11, 22:52

msurads06 wrote:I generaly brew semi gongfu for oolong and pu (5-6 infusions), and western for green, white, and black (1-3 infusions). But the most important thing is what works for you and what you like, everyone has their own style.


+1

Get a few samples of the pricier stuff. Brew up a big mug and see if YOU think it is worth it. And like E.E. said, you can save the higher grade leaf for when you have the time to savor and gongfu.
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Re: newbie question, please help

Postby Drae » Nov 24th, '11, 01:31

Some very special teas I reserve until a time I can sit down and appreciate individual resteepings. I still drink nice teas during the day, but not my *best* ones.

Here is how it usually goes for me. I'm a stay at home mom of twin 2 year olds. If I make a single cup of tea, I don't get to drink it before it's cold again. I have a smallish yixing pot (say between 150-180ml), and I put about 5g tea in it. I've pretty much gotten down to drinking just oolongs. I get the water up to temp in a sauce pot on my stove. I have a small 14oz steel thermos (from Teavana, go figure). I rinse, then pour the first two steepings into the heated thermos. The third, which is unscientifically my favorite in general, I put into my "active" cup, and then I steep a 4th and fill the thermos. Cap it off until I'm ready for it. I do this in the morning, and again with the same pot of leaves after lunch, and that usually gets me through the day just perfectly. Goofy? Yup. But it works for me. :) Plus it balances out some of the more astringent first steeps with sweeter later ones.
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