Do you guys use scales?


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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 10:35

sriracha wrote: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. :)

Yes, absolutely. I am a MAD TeaScientist ... :mrgreen: And enjoying it immensely.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby theredbaron » Oct 9th, '12, 10:42

Chip wrote: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."


I think discussing was exactly what we were doing here. I have stated my reasons why i feel that scales are misleading (and distracting), and to illustrate my point i have linked to an article describing a well known and respected tea master's views of what is important in brewing tea.

I am quite new to this forum, but not to drinking tea. I may be mistaken, but i was always under the impression that drinking tea is a long journey of learning, and not just a mutual appreciation society.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 11:04

theredbaron wrote:
Chip wrote: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."


I think discussing was exactly what we were doing here. I have stated my reasons why i feel that scales are misleading (and distracting), and to illustrate my point i have linked to an article describing a well known and respected tea master's views of what is important in brewing tea.

I am quite new to this forum, but not to drinking tea. I may be mistaken, but i was always under the impression that drinking tea is a long journey of learning, and not just a mutual appreciation society.

Sometimes, it is simply about accepting others PoVs. I am not disputing that tea is a journey and one can learn forever about tea. However this does not become the absolute for every individual. Sometimes it is simply about enjoying tea.

And one can learn using tools properly, such as a scale. However a scale does not transform someone into a master nor is a shortcut to knowledge and wisdom ... but it can often aide in brewing a better cup of tea for some individuals. It can be enlightening, it can be fun, it can help to solve brewing problems.

You can dispute this if you want, but then we will just have to agree to disagree.

Not sure about the "mutual appreciation society" comment ... I am not saying we have agree.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby theredbaron » Oct 9th, '12, 11:31

Chip wrote:Sometimes, it is simply about accepting others PoVs. I am not disputing that tea is a journey and one can learn forever about tea. However this does not become the absolute for every individual. Sometimes it is simply about enjoying tea.

And one can learn using tools properly, such as a scale. However a scale does not transform someone into a master nor is a shortcut to knowledge and wisdom ... but it can often aide in brewing a better cup of tea for some individuals. It can be enlightening, it can be fun, it can help to solve brewing problems.

You can dispute this if you want, but then we will just have to agree to disagree.

Not sure about the "mutual appreciation society" comment ... I am not saying we have agree.


Well, it is not just my view, but also my experience, that without scale or thermometer and similar contractions it won't take very long to be able to judge the right amount of tea and right water temperature, and that during the process of learning that, intuition is schooled, which in turn is very important for the many other variables that cannot be controlled by technical assists.

If you want to use a scale, then, please, be free to.
The topic of this discussion was: " Do you guys use scales?" and i answered that i don't, and why not. I have not disrespected anyone, and i am sorry, but i do feel that your comment on "gaining the ultimate level of knowledge from a "master" " was rather displeasing in its sarcasm, as well as the introduction of the terms "dysfunctional" and "inferior".
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby MarshalN » Oct 9th, '12, 11:41

theredbaron wrote:If you want to use a scale, then, please, be free to.
The topic of this discussion was: " Do you guys use scales?" and i answered that i don't, and why not. I have not disrespected anyone, and i am sorry, but i do feel that your comment on "gaining the ultimate level of knowledge from a "master" " was rather displeasing in its sarcasm, as well as the introduction of the terms "dysfunctional" and "inferior".


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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 13:33

MarshalN wrote:
theredbaron wrote:If you want to use a scale, then, please, be free to.
The topic of this discussion was: " Do you guys use scales?" and i answered that i don't, and why not. I have not disrespected anyone, and i am sorry, but i do feel that your comment on "gaining the ultimate level of knowledge from a "master" " was rather displeasing in its sarcasm, as well as the introduction of the terms "dysfunctional" and "inferior".


+1

Exactly, this is the topic. So, we are discussing. What is the point? I am not attacking anyone, I am however vigorously defending my point of view as others are defending theirs. Both sides are amping up the volume, so to speak. :mrgreen:

AND, there was no sarcasm in my post. It is dangerous to interpret tone in the written words on forums (redbaron, not being smart on this, but it is true and you have mentioned this is new to you). I was being sincere, as I have in this entire topic. However my counterpoints are being interpreted as hostile in intent which could not be further from the truth.

As I said, this subject is oft a hot topic, extremely bipolar. Not sure why.

I am all for mutual acceptance of PoV. I accept that for many the answer is absolute one way and for others it is absolute the other way. Then there is the gray zone.

Believe it or not, I am more in the gray zone than it appears. However I have had to defend the use of scales many times.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 14:06

RedBaron, I am sorry that the use of the terms inferior and dysfunctional upset you. But I do not apologize for their usage. I did not state nor imply or even direct the comment to anyone. It was simply a part of my argument based upon my years of experience.

I could point to several of your comments however as well. But I accept them as simply part of your argument and therefore just grin and bear it.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby teaisme » Oct 9th, '12, 16:01

havent used scales in a while, but I don't think they will hinder your 'development' if you take it for what it is. It could very well help as long as you don't let it turn into a crutch. It was definitely useful in getting a general feel of weights when reading other peoples reviews and brewing recommendations, or when trying out a new style of teas such as senchas.

If I did a lot of comparative tastings I would most definitely use scales, identical brewing vessels, multiple kettles, 4 hands :)

When my curiosity strikes on how much leaf is in the pot, it most always occurs after the session has ended. Something about weighing before putting in the pot seems unpleasant to me (not to mention an extra step). But I think one day it would be interesting to figure out roughly how much water is added to the weight of leaves after the brew, then subtract and weigh, or weigh after it has dried out on a dish to get a rough idea of how much was used that session. But by the time it dries for me to weigh it im pretty sure I would have already lost interest in how much it weighs :lol:
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby debunix » Oct 9th, '12, 16:52

The only thing that bothers me about this discussion, now and whenever it comes up, is the idea that useful tools like scales and thermometers somehow interfere with the development of one's tea brewing skills. For some people, that might be true, but for many of us who do not have the benefit of tea masters to learn from in person, these tools help to shorten the period of unpredictability in our tea brewing. For me personally, my brewing made great strides once I started using the scale and thermometer regularly. I do not need or want to use the scale every time any more, but it was a helpful tool to get me to the place I am now in my tea appreciation.

It saddens me to think of the potentially nice green teas, in particular, that I threw out because of bitter infusions that put me off. Since I started using scales and thermometers and measuring the volume of my brewing vessels, I start sessions with a new tea with a lot more confidence, getting it closer to 'right' from the start, I waste a lot less tea, and I've been able to 'calibrate' my eye so that I don't need the scales most of the time for my routine brewing.

I absolutely agree that scales aren't for everyone, but they are a great tool for many of us, and if you're new to loose teas, they might be great for you too.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby wyardley » Oct 9th, '12, 17:38

debunix wrote:The only thing that bothers me about this discussion, now and whenever it comes up, is the idea that useful tools like scales and thermometers somehow interfere with the development of one's tea brewing skills. For some people, that might be true, but for many of us who do not have the benefit of tea masters to learn from in person, these tools help to shorten the period of unpredictability in our tea brewing.


I think that developing a sense of what works and what doesn't is possible over time, whether or not one has a so-called tea master (and, as the saying goes, "beware the student of one master").

Brewing with, or for, other people, or getting to see people brew in person is definitely helpful in a lot of ways, but in terms of the things we're talking about here, I think they're skills that anyone can do at home, because we're mostly talking about your own taste and preferences.

And I think your point (that it makes brewing more predictable) is exactly the point -- using a scale, timer, etc. will produce a more consistent and drinkable result at the start, and if that is your goal, then this is definitely the way to go. It's the same as in cooking, or making cocktails. That doesn't mean that it doesn't also interfere with improving one's brewing skills.

Following a recipe and measuring things will get you very far, but I do think it also both makes the kind of "unpredictability" that results in happy, or sometimes unhappy, accidents (and therefore, in either case, learning), and reduces the chances that you're exercising those muscles to develop your own, more intuitive approach. But there's a point where, to progress, you need to try to get to the step beyond that. And, to be clear, I don't think that I'm at that step, but I do think it's something worth striving for.

But one thing that I did learn from a person who's been brewing since before I was in diapers, and that's that there are cases where it's still a good idea to pull out a scale. I'm glad I didn't use one exclusively when I started learning about tea, and I'm glad that I am not embarrassed to pull it out when I feel it's appropriate either.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 21:06

Pardon my self quoting ... :mrgreen:

Chip wrote:Hm, I have come to some conclusion that part of my more scientific approach has been borne of the need to translate to others on an internet forum (and the other part being I enjoy the approach for Japanese greens especially). The internet lacks 3 dimensions if you will, and lacks senses (though we joke about smellovision ... and perhaps 3-D is not far off :mrgreen: )

The biggest science about my brewing anymore tends to be focused on the right "ratio" which has become a cue word on TeaChat and other internet venues.

The funniest thing to me about ratios is how we mix measuring systems, grams per ounces, really??? We are really mad scientists here. :lol:

Since this is an oolong topic (my apologies, I somehow thought I was in Teaware and Accessories), I will say this here, I rarely device measure anything for oolong except for time since I am a bit ADD ... and assuming I am not brewing a brand new tea or a tea for tastings such as OTTI.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 21:17

Since I have already spoken too much already, what is a tiny bit more? 8)

Similarly to debunix, I did not always use a scale. Fact is for years I did not have one and did OK. However when I got the scale I experienced the biggest leap in improvement in my results.

Being in the middle of PA Dutch Country did nothing to help my progress to that point. It was all self learning and experimenting based upon the senses and intuition only. Certainly no tea masters to draw from, not even self proclaimed experts.

Those were different times, no TeaChat back then and basically endeavoring to learn from vendors ... which at the time included the likes of UTI (Upton Tea Imports) and RoT (Republic of Tea). Love the acronyms. 8)

Obviously, I quickly abandoned those sources for brewing help especially when RoT told me to brew my first Chinese green with boiling water for 5 minutes. :lol:
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby MarshalN » Oct 9th, '12, 21:47

See, I don't think scales should be forbidden, nor did I suggest that. I merely believe that, for me, scales are a distraction generally. I have one, because sometimes people (friends) want to use scales, or because I have other uses for it. It's also useful when, say, cupping teas, where you want to control the variables as much as possible, or encountering teas that are particularly weird (incredibly hard pressed cakes, super lengthy and broad leaves, etc) that makes estimation of amount more difficult.

I do think sometimes when one has too many instruments around them while brewing tea, it becomes a problem. This is not just scales - and scales is probably the least intrusive of them. I've seen people brewing tea with a scale, a thermometer, AND a timer. I started wondering why they didn't do it with a water dispenser that only spits out the same amount of water every time. I don't know what they're doing, but it sure looked like a science experiment. I guess dumping leaves in water is a sort of experiment, but that did cross a line to where I thought it became a bit ridiculous. But I'd be the first to say that that's a long way from just using a scale.
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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby dchew78 » Oct 9th, '12, 21:54

MarshalN wrote:See, I don't think scales should be forbidden, nor did I suggest that. I merely believe that, for me, scales are a distraction generally. I have one, because sometimes people (friends) want to use scales, or because I have other uses for it. It's also useful when, say, cupping teas, where you want to control the variables as much as possible, or encountering teas that are particularly weird (incredibly hard pressed cakes, super lengthy and broad leaves, etc) that makes estimation of amount more difficult.

I do think sometimes when one has too many instruments around them while brewing tea, it becomes a problem. This is not just scales - and scales is probably the least intrusive of them. I've seen people brewing tea with a scale, a thermometer, AND a timer. I started wondering why they didn't do it with a water dispenser that only spits out the same amount of water every time. I don't know what they're doing, but it sure looked like a science experiment. I guess dumping leaves in water is a sort of experiment, but that did cross a line to where I thought it became a bit ridiculous. But I'd be the first to say that that's a long way from just using a scale.


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Re: Do you guys use scales?

Postby theredbaron » Oct 10th, '12, 00:45

MarshalN wrote:I do think sometimes when one has too many instruments around them while brewing tea, it becomes a problem.



This reflects my thoughts. I am sort of a minimalist, when it comes to brewing tea. I like just the necessary amount of utensils, and no more, but those should be of as good quality as possible.
That means, for Oolong and Pu Erh, a pot, cups, a teaboat, a plate for the cups, a towel, a pincher for a stuffed spout, a tea spoon, and a waste water vessel, and a kettle. That's it, no presentation vessels, pitchers complex trays and whatever else can clutter the place without having an immediate use. I like simple standard design Yixing pots, not highly elaborate collectors pots, which are good for a shelve, but often not so good for drinking tea.
For Japanese greens i use a pot, a yusamashi, cups, a tray, wastewater vessel, spoon and kettle.
At times, when i feel like it, i also use a nice small tea caddy.

Aesthetics and tea go hand in hand, and i think that aesthetics of simplicity and frugality are very helpful and suitable. Tea, i believe, is not only what one can taste in the mouth, but ideally in the mind as well.
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