Do you guys use scales?


Discussion on virtually any teaware related item.

Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby ethan » Oct 9th, '12, 00:05

I'm a good cook & don't use a lot of gadgets etc., but I've cooked for a few decades & my mom taught me a few things....
For tea I haven't had a teacher, nor much else to help prepare tea properly & found that I have not gotten so much better at it that I never prepare some tea that is drastically far from ideal. I may be getting a feel for tea-preparation but as w/ many activities, sometimes one is in good form while other times one is off his game. Fine, but good tea costs too much for me to waste it.
Now in possession of some expensive tea, which I bought but really could not afford; I wouldn't be shy to use whatever I could-- measuring cup, etc. to ensure it is not wasted, & I think about acquiring a scale & variable temperature kettle.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby theredbaron » Oct 9th, '12, 01:23

debunix wrote:
theredbaron wrote:Each tea is different, and needs its own adjustments, which cannot be measured, but have to be done according to taste.


Yes, always to taste. But to make things more reproducible for sharing with other people, I like to give some starting parameter, and weight is the simplest, easiest way to let people know my starting conditions for a brewing session. Unless I'm doing a comparative tasting, I always adjust to taste, infusion by infusion, going longer or shorter or even diluting a completed infusion to get tea I like. But your 'scales get in the way' is my 'scales help me to calibrate my eyeballs'.



I read your comment, that you mostly use scales for writing a review. Another way to make things more reproducible, and even maybe easier to follow, would be to say to which degree you fill any given teapot - a third, half, less, or more.
This is the way how i learned it initially, long before the internet made a dent in the tea world.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby debunix » Oct 9th, '12, 03:18

The eyeballing of filling a teapot is more variable than if I measure grams of tea and mL of water. I do resort to that sometimes when I forget the scale and try to estimate later from the wet leaves in the pot, but it's a heck of a lot more variable than a simple measurement of grams of tea, and grams (mL) of water capacity in the pot.

I've been a using scales a lot longer than I've been drinking tea, and to me there is nothing unnatural or disruptive about them--it doesn't inhibit my enjoyment in the least.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby Alex » Oct 9th, '12, 03:38

MarshalN wrote:I never use a scale unless there's a good reason to - sending things to others, mainly. I find scales to be very distracting.



I'm the same. Don't use timers either. Never felt the need.

I think subconsciously I probably always vary the amount based on my inner most mood and end up with the perfect cup for that moment in time :mrgreen:

Having said that I use the same scoop so its very easy for me to know roughly what tea should look like on the scoop.

I do also use a temp control\display kettle though and I'm very precise with my temps.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby theredbaron » Oct 9th, '12, 03:56

debunix wrote:The eyeballing of filling a teapot is more variable than if I measure grams of tea and mL of water. I do resort to that sometimes when I forget the scale and try to estimate later from the wet leaves in the pot, but it's a heck of a lot more variable than a simple measurement of grams of tea, and grams (mL) of water capacity in the pot.

I've been a using scales a lot longer than I've been drinking tea, and to me there is nothing unnatural or disruptive about them--it doesn't inhibit my enjoyment in the least.


But does tea and tea drinking not consist of a multitude of variables anyhow, which cannot, and should not be deleted? Water, kettle, heat source, mood, skill, etc?
An attempt of standardizing through exact measurement of just one variable, or two variables (when you take the use of a thermometer for water temperature - which, surprisingly :wink: ,i also reject), will not change all the other variables. On the opposite, mastership of tea comes from fine tuning all variables together and bringing them into harmony, instinctively and out of experience. Relying on scales and thermometer, as MarshalN has stated, is a distraction, and i believe that it inhibits the development of instinct.
IMHO - scales and such may appear a shortcut, but it cannot replace experience, and may quite possibly turn into a hindrance. Look at this article, for what should be paid attention to:

Gung Fu Tea Tips with Master Lim Ping Xiang

http://the-leaf.org/Issue1/wp-content/u ... a-tips.pdf
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby MarshalN » Oct 9th, '12, 04:25

Agreed - controlling only one or two variables doesn't really standardize anything. You need to control all of them, which, eventually, relies on instinct and feedback (from the mouth)

Grams do serve a useful function of giving people an idea, but for example 7g of tea in a round pot is not the same as 7g of tea in a tall pot for rolled oolongs. There are just too many variables to worry about.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 08:24

All this comes under the heading of IMHO.

It is quite humorous how this topic is often one of the forum's most bipolar. Back in 2005/6 it was whether to sweeten or not. :mrgreen:

Something I adopted and often modify from a wiser member than me named Phyl ... "brew how you like, like how you brew!"

Doing what works for the individual often takes into account one's personality, etc. and how one enjoys their personal tea experience is really quite ... personal. What is important or distracting to one person may not be so for another.

It is simply important to not judge anothers techniques ... as long as he/she is enjoying their tea ... their journey. Someone who uses a scale is not dysfunctional or inferior, just different from one who does not.

I find I can brew quite well with or without a scale, thermometer, timer ... but to be honest, they can often create a better cup of tea for me ... especially if I do not want to be uber focused on such things as how much leaf, what is the water temp, how long have I brewed. It is actually less stressful at times.

Plus I have always felt there is a bit of a scientist inside me trying to get out. :mrgreen:
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby MarshalN » Oct 9th, '12, 08:35

Chip, I think we are fully within our rights to disagree. I don't think anyone said "dysfunctional" or "inferior", so let's not blow this up when it hasn't, eh? If you are inferring from posts that that's the intent, then, applying your own logic in the Verdant thread - ask, rather than presume, please.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby theredbaron » Oct 9th, '12, 09:07

Chip wrote:All this comes under the heading of IMHO.

It is quite humorous how this topic is often one of the forum's most bipolar. Back in 2005/6 it was whether to sweeten or not. :mrgreen:

Something I adopted and often modify from a wiser member than me named Phyl ... "brew how you like, like how you brew!"

Doing what works for the individual often takes into account one's personality, etc. and how one enjoys their personal tea experience is really quite ... personal. What is important or distracting to one person may not be so for another.

It is simply important to not judge anothers techniques ... as long as he/she is enjoying their tea ... their journey. Someone who uses a scale is not dysfunctional or inferior, just different from one who does not.

I find I can brew quite well with or without a scale, thermometer, timer ... but to be honest, they can often create a better cup of tea for me ... especially if I do not want to be uber focused on such things as how much leaf, what is the water temp, how long have I brewed. It is actually less stressful at times.

Plus I have always felt there is a bit of a scientist inside me trying to get out. :mrgreen:



I think "inferior" and "dysfunctional" are too strong words, and also convey the wrong connotations. Could experience be the right word?

I have no problem that my tea teacher will always be far more knowledgeable in all things tea than i will ever hope to achieve. That is why he is a tea teacher, and i just love tea. I am glad when my teacher gives me advice out of his vast experience on how i can improve in my endeavors in tea.
Judging from MarshalN's posts - i will never know a fraction of what he knows about Yixing pots, or Pu Erh tea, in particular. But that's not a problem either, because i can benefit from his knowledge.
I have been dabbling (more amateurish in love than reaching proper expert status) in Chinese and Japanese teas for more than 20 years, the past 15 with a now quite respected teacher (unfortunately i see him far to rarely nowadays), so i had the chance to accumulate a bit of experience as well.

The tea world i am used to, here in Asia, is not really competitive, in that sense, it more harmonious. Kind of a get away from an otherwise extraordinarily competitive world (yes, i am aware that many aspects of the tea business here are quite harsh, but i chose to ignore this :wink: ).

In this way, i would like to convey some friendly advice, some of what was given to me, to others who may not have the opportunity to meet a good tea teacher.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby theredbaron » Oct 9th, '12, 09:25

Oh, and by the way...
Mentioning sweetening tea or not - i do love a nice sweet Earl Grey, Assam or Darjeeling as well, and when i traveled through Iran and Turkey a looong time ago, i loved the sweet black tea in their tea houses. When i stayed in Quetta (one of these places nowadays very dangerous for non-Muslims, unfortunately), waiting several days for the weekly train to the Iran border i loved the sweet green tea in the Pashtun tea houses.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 09:57

MarshalN wrote:Chip, I think we are fully within our rights to disagree. I don't think anyone said "dysfunctional" or "inferior", so let's not blow this up when it hasn't, eh? If you are inferring from posts that that's the intent, then, applying your own logic in the Verdant thread - ask, rather than presume, please.

Certainly. Perhaps this is my years of experience with tea and on TeaChat. Over the years, members were often made to feel inferior, even somewhat mocked if they used a scale. And those who used a scale were made to feel they had to defend themselves.

I did not state that this was occurring in this topic, so it perhaps seems you are taking one line of my post, taking it out of context, and presuming as well. I would stand behind my last post, and I feel it clearly states my thoughts, feelings over years of experience on this subject.

My main point being, mutual respect and acceptance is critical ... IMHO. It is OK to disagree and discuss, it is not OK to judge in this subject. This is simply stating an opinion, which in my last post I began with, "All this comes under the heading of IMHO."
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 10:09

I might add, that although many Japanese tea drinkers do not use scales, Japanese tea which obviously is my "specialTea" seems to lend itself more so than other teas to the use of scales (and other digital accouterments) :mrgreen:

This could be borne in its manufacturing methods which is so "precise" that it is mind boggling. Temperatures are exact, steaming length is often down to the exact second, machinery used is built for precision.

Then there is the final product. Chinese greens are often incredibly handcrafted whole leaves, buds, etc. where as by design Japanese greens are most often broken leaves. Both beautiful in their own ways.

Often I have thought, Chinese tea is to art as Japanese tea is to precision.

So, IMHO, Japanese tea lends itself to the use of accouterments made for precision. It seems natural that the enjoyment of Chinese tea and Japanese tea could and would be quite different.

IMHO :mrgreen:
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby MarshalN » Oct 9th, '12, 10:12

Chip wrote:I did not state that this was occurring in this topic, so it seems you are taking one line of my post, taking it out of context, and presuming as well. I would stand behind my last post, and I feel it clearly states my thoughts, feelings over years of experience on this subject.


Uh.... let me remind you?

Chip wrote:It is simply important to not judge anothers techniques ... as long as he/she is enjoying their tea ... their journey. Someone who uses a scale is not dysfunctional or inferior, just different from one who does not.


Nobody used those words in this thread. You're the first one to bring them up, while clearly talking about this thread (note your reference to "distracting" one sentence earlier). If you are referring to some distant thread way back when, well, you were pretty subtle about it since you didn't mention those threads. Nobody judged anybody's technique. I simply stated that the practice of using a scale is one that I find distracting, period, and I agree with redbaron that controlling only one variable (out of so many) is not really that precise anyway. I think I am entitled to say that without needing a lecture from you about respecting others. Because of your "distracting" reference, I did take your post to be directed at me, because that's a word I did use in my first post in this thread. I don't think I'm reading too much into things here.

You told dzrogers to back off when Verdant made those rather unfriendly remarks that can easily be taken as threatening. I'd expect the same practice from you unless an actual act of disrespect has occurred, rather than the mere possibility of it. That hasn't happened here yet, I believe. Thanks.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby sriracha » Oct 9th, '12, 10:27

Chip wrote:I might add, that although many Japanese tea drinkers do not use scales, Japanese tea which obviously is my "specialTea" seems to lend itself more so than other teas to the use of scales (and other digital accouterments) :mrgreen:

This could be borne in its manufacturing methods which is so "precise" that it is mind boggling. Temperatures are exact, steaming length is often down to the exact second, machinery used is built for precision.

Then there is the final product. Chinese greens are often incredibly handcrafted whole leaves, buds, etc. where as by design Japanese greens are most often broken leaves. Both beautiful in their own ways.

Often I have thought, Chinese tea is to art as Japanese tea is to precision.

So, IMHO, Japanese tea lends itself to the use of accouterments made for precision. It seems natural that the enjoyment of Chinese tea and Japanese tea could and would be quite different.

IMHO :mrgreen:


Also it's harder eyeballing something that's 50/50 leaves and small particles. At least I feel that way.

For me-apart from being a bit of a control freak-using scales is part of the fun. A little part of the whole tea making experience. :)
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 10:33

theredbaron wrote:I think "inferior" and "dysfunctional" are too strong words, and also convey the wrong connotations. Could experience be the right word?

I have no problem that my tea teacher will always be far more knowledgeable in all things tea than i will ever hope to achieve. That is why he is a tea teacher, and i just love tea. I am glad when my teacher gives me advice out of his vast experience on how i can improve in my endeavors in tea.
Judging from MarshalN's posts - i will never know a fraction of what he knows about Yixing pots, or Pu Erh tea, in particular. But that's not a problem either, because i can benefit from his knowledge.
I have been dabbling (more amateurish in love than reaching proper expert status) in Chinese and Japanese teas for more than 20 years, the past 15 with a now quite respected teacher (unfortunately i see him far to rarely nowadays), so i had the chance to accumulate a bit of experience as well.

The tea world i am used to, here in Asia, is not really competitive, in that sense, it more harmonious. Kind of a get away from an otherwise extraordinarily competitive world (yes, i am aware that many aspects of the tea business here are quite harsh, but i chose to ignore this :wink: ).

In this way, i would like to convey some friendly advice, some of what was given to me, to others who may not have the opportunity to meet a good tea teacher.

Experience? Hm, not really as I feel I am quite experienced within the realm of Japanese greens.

And sometimes enjoying tea is simply about enjoying tea. It is not always about gaining the ultimate level of knowledge from a "master." No disrespect intended!!! It is simply different schools of thought.

I truly respect the likes of MarshalN and many others on TeaChat and beyond in their areas of expertise. If ever I venture into their areas of expertise, I will be all ears.

However sometimes it is simply OK to be comfortable in the teas we enjoy.
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