Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?


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Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby spinmail » Aug 18th, '12, 14:14

I'd like your insight brewing DHP.

I've noticed that, with varying brands and qualities of DHP, brewing from an infuser basket always gives me a richer, fuller flavor. With even a larger amount of the same tea, infusions have a nice color, but the flavor can be a bit watery in comparison. I've noticed that the same thing happens with gongfu preparation.

Am I doing something wrong? Or, given the way this tea tastes, should I rely on a basket infuser for certain teas? :?:
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby debunix » Aug 18th, '12, 14:25

To get a better idea here, I'd want to know how much tea (ideally, in grams) you're using for how large a steep volume (ideally, in mL), and how long you're steeping it for: are you comparing a series of gongfu infusions in a small gaiwan to a single larger and longer infusion in the mug?
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby theredbaron » Aug 18th, '12, 14:34

You have to give more details in how you brew you tea - amount of leaves, time of steeping, etc.

Good Yancha has to be brewed Gong Fu Style. If the tea is of high quality, you should use between a bit more than one third, less than half of a pot filled with leaves (ideally of course a good quality Yixing pot). The pot i use is 80 cc when i drink alone (which also saves on the leaves).
Wash first, then very short steeping times (start with maybe 10 seconds - but i do not time it, i do it by intuition), and slowly prolonging steeping times when the taste starts to weaken.
Good Yancha gets better the more you steep, bad one just gets rough.
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby spinmail » Aug 18th, '12, 15:33

debunix wrote:To get a better idea here, I'd want to know how much tea (ideally, in grams) you're using for how large a steep volume (ideally, in mL), and how long you're steeping it for: are you comparing a series of gongfu infusions in a small gaiwan to a single larger and longer infusion in the mug?


Here are the info you requested.

With mug infusion, I would bring 300ml of water to about 190˚F, add 3.6g of yancha, and let it steep for four minutes or so.

With a gaiwan, I would bring water to a near boil. Then, I'd add about 3.8g of yancha, and let it steep initially for around thirty or seconds. I'll increase the infusion times by about a minute each infusion.

I've tried the tea gongfu style, but not at my house. A friend made the tea with his own yixing vessel. The infusion seemed pretty fast the first time - around ten or fifteen seconds. I don't know the volume the pot, but probably 80ml.

I realize the flavor won't be as full-bodied as, say, a black tea - but I want to optimize my DHP flavor.
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby theredbaron » Aug 18th, '12, 16:08

spinmail wrote:
I realize the flavor won't be as full-bodied as, say, a black tea - but I want to optimize my DHP flavor.



I believe that counting tea leaves by weight is very misleading as the size of the brewing vessel can lead to very different leaves vs water ratio.
If you want to optimize the flavor - you will not get around Gong Fu style, you will need good water, you will need to experiment with the exact leaves vs water ratio, and the timing of the steep.
As a general rule of thumb - use the ratio and the timing i have suggested in my previous post - as we do not know the size of your vessel, the weight of the leaves means nothing.
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby debunix » Aug 18th, '12, 16:16

So you're using about 3.6 grams for 300mL in the mug,

1.2 grams/100mL x 4 minutes

about 3.8 grams/80mL for the gaiwan,

or 4.75 grams/100mL x 30 seconds

4 times the tea to water ratio, and 1/8 the infusion time: I'd definitely expect it to taste lighter, especially in the first infusions, but a 2 minute infusion might be revealing of something closer to your mug.
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby spinmail » Aug 18th, '12, 18:59

debunix wrote:So you're using about 3.6 grams for 300mL in the mug,

1.2 grams/100mL x 4 minutes
about 3.8 grams/80mL for the gaiwan,
or 4.75 grams/100mL x 30 seconds

4 times the tea to water ratio, and 1/8 the infusion time: I'd definitely expect it to taste lighter, especially in the first infusions, but a 2 minute infusion might be revealing of something closer to your mug.


In other words, using a gaiwan, I'm guessing that I should increase the quantity of tea from 3.8 to 4.75g. I'll post the results after tea time tonight. Thanks for the help, so far.

I don't own a gongfu pot yet.
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby debunix » Aug 18th, '12, 19:32

Using a gaiwan for multiple infusions is brewing gongfu. It's not just about the pot!
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby brandon » Aug 18th, '12, 20:30

Please use at least 7 g / 100ml gaiwan and pour in a thin stream so as to not stir the leaves. Better yet, put the scale away and fill the gaiwan 80% full to start.
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby spinmail » Aug 18th, '12, 20:51

debunix wrote:Using a gaiwan for multiple infusions is brewing gongfu. It's not just about the pot!


Learning something new all the time. I'm not as familiar with the lexicon as I should. I'd thought that using a gaiwan (or covered cup) was one method of brewing tea, and gongfu involved using unglazed yixing ware was another. In any case, I'm going to double the amount of tea I'd been using before, and adjust from there.
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby debunix » Aug 18th, '12, 21:06

As I've read about it here and elsewhere, gongfu seems mostly to refer to multiple infusions with more tea in a smaller brewing vessel, rather than explicitly specifying the type of vessel. For example, the Kamjove brand plastic gadget I use for bulk-brewing of tea at work was labeled 'gongfu art' on the box, and it's about as un-yixing as you can get.
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby theredbaron » Aug 18th, '12, 23:27

spinmail wrote:
debunix wrote:Using a gaiwan for multiple infusions is brewing gongfu. It's not just about the pot!


Learning something new all the time. I'm not as familiar with the lexicon as I should. I'd thought that using a gaiwan (or covered cup) was one method of brewing tea, and gongfu involved using unglazed yixing ware was another. In any case, I'm going to double the amount of tea I'd been using before, and adjust from there.


Gongfu is the method, not the vessel. People ideally use Yixing pots for Pu Erh and semi-fermented teas as a good Yixing pot enhances the flavor. You can do the Gongfu method with a porcelain Gaiwan as well.
Last edited by theredbaron on Aug 18th, '12, 23:43, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby theredbaron » Aug 18th, '12, 23:41

brandon wrote:Please use at least 7 g / 100ml gaiwan and pour in a thin stream so as to not stir the leaves. Better yet, put the scale away and fill the gaiwan 80% full to start.


I agree that scales should be put away when enjoying tea as i i believe that one can go much further with intuition and experience.
Nevertheless, i believe that when one has high quality Yancha leaves the method of filling the pot to the brim reaching a very concentrated tea suppresses the subtleties of the flavor. It is more important and reaches better results by keeping the heat up by pouring hot water over the pot while the tea brews.
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby debunix » Aug 18th, '12, 23:50

theredbaron wrote:I agree that scales should be put away when enjoying tea


You shouldn't need a scale for every session, but when you're trying to compare tea brewing parameters, it's a lot more accurate than trying to eyeball the proportion of the tea vessel you're filling with a tea. Is 80% full meaning to 80% of the height of the vessel brim? for a gaiwan that gets wider as it gets taller, that measure isn't the same as 80% of the volume. Is 80% full to the rim where the lid fits, or the edge of the rim? A scale lets you weigh the tea and the water, the easiest way to be sure you're talking about the same thing.
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Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby spinmail » Aug 19th, '12, 00:00

Thanks to the information here, I had much better results by increasing the amount of dry tea - which also increased the "rock tea" flavor, as well. I could probably increase the total amount of dry tea, though I get the feeling that the proportion may depend on the type of tea.

I've since read the wikipedia article on gongfu tea preparation, and the suggestions mirror the information here. I was surprised that, depending on the vessel, one may use as much as 15g or dry tea.
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