Chunks or leaves - how to brew?


One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

Chunks or leaves - how to brew?

Postby chabaka » Jan 7th, '13, 17:03

Hello everyone,

Please let me know if this question has been answered previously - my search didn't give any enlightening results.
The question is: When brewing shengcha, do you put an entire chunk pried off the bing into your pot/gaiwan, or do you break up the chunk into individual leaves prior to brewing?
Or perhaps I should rephrase the question: why do you use chunks or leaves?

Most descriptions found online speak of chunks - but I prefer to carefully break up the chunk into whole leaves. I feel that I get a better impression of the tea and how to brew it when I can gauge how broken the leaves are, how many buds or stalks are in the blend and so on. And of course I get the chance to play with my tea while waiting for the water to boil. :wink:

Whith modern 'boutique style' stonepressed shengcha, I often get bings (or rather: samples) which fall apart into individual leaves at first touch. But with some factory bings (am drinking some 2007 Fuhai 7536 while writing this) it is difficult to break a chunk apart without breaking too many leaves.

I understand that brewing a chunk will give more infusions of similar strength at the start of a session. But are there any other points in favor of brewing entire chunks?

Thanks for any advice,

Gero
chabaka
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Nov 28th, '
Location: Bonn, Central Europe

Re: Chunks or leaves - how to brew?

Postby wyardley » Jan 7th, '13, 17:38

I generally strive for some kind of mix of intact chunks and separated leaves. This will make the release of tea a little more even across infusions.

You don't have to get quite as scientific as this, or strive for exact proportions, but this gives a basic overview of the idea.
http://puerh-tea.livejournal.com/210491.html

Some of this also depends on your drinking / brewing habits, and, as you mentioned above, the compression level of the tea. If you rinse twice, use a lot of tea, and want the tea to release more evenly, try for more intact chunks. In other words, if the tea releases more slowly and evenly over time, you'll also probably get more infusions out of it, all else being equal.

With loosely pressed chunks, you're also more easily able to separate the leaves (though I don't recommend separating them fully) without breaking the leaf, whereas with a really tight tiebing or Xiaguan tuo, you will have a hard time separating without creating a whole lot of breakage.

I am not one of those people who believes in breaking up tea with an infinite amount of carefulness and patience, though. In most cases, a little bit of broken leaf isn't going to kill you.
User avatar
wyardley
 
Posts: 1926
Joined: Jan 11th, '
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: Chunks or leaves - how to brew?

Postby teaisme » Jan 7th, '13, 17:43

chunks expose the young sheng to the boiling water slower, perhaps helping cut out some astringency and prevent potential scalding. Increased steep times(due to chunks) as well as a more timed release due to slower unfolding of chunk could also play a role in the balance and body of a cup as you move infusion to infusion?

Also affords for a longer rinse, which in turn preheats everything better. (I sure do like a good thorough preheat)

I'm talking solid chunks though, not the chunks that fall apart very easily with just slightly moving your fingers like those boutique style fancy whole old tree leaves, or opposite end of spectrum, very finely chopped chunks that all fall apart after the rinse. With these styles, I don't see much difference between breaking up the chunk into individual leaves or leaving it whole.

Edit: I think that clouds proportions are a very good idea for sheng with a bit of age on it. For young sheng, tightly compressed though, I seem to enjoy one single chunk.
User avatar
teaisme
 
Posts: 1390
Joined: May 27th, '

Re: Chunks or leaves - how to brew?

Postby chabaka » Jan 7th, '13, 18:24

Thanks for your feedback!

@wyardley: that link to Clouds suggestions is great. Interesting that was going on there.

@teaisme: perhaps I should try that 'single chunk approach' for young Bulang - might cut down its acerbity to a more commonly agreeable level.

Another point I forgot to mention when starting this topic: how do you rinse (for the purpose of getting ridd of dust) your tea, if the chunk is still intact?
chabaka
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Nov 28th, '
Location: Bonn, Central Europe

Re: Chunks or leaves - how to brew?

Postby wyardley » Jan 7th, '13, 19:01

chabaka wrote:Another point I forgot to mention when starting this topic: how do you rinse (for the purpose of getting ridd of dust) your tea, if the chunk is still intact?

I will rinse most pu'er at least once, and often twice.

And, following what I've seen others do, I always rinse shu pu'er and liu'an basket tea or liu bao twice.
User avatar
wyardley
 
Posts: 1926
Joined: Jan 11th, '
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: Chunks or leaves - how to brew?

Postby apache » Jan 7th, '13, 19:21

chabaka wrote:Thanks for your feedback!

@wyardley: that link to Clouds suggestions is great. Interesting that was going on there.

@teaisme: perhaps I should try that 'single chunk approach' for young Bulang - might cut down its acerbity to a more commonly agreeable level.

Another point I forgot to mention when starting this topic: how do you rinse (for the purpose of getting ridd of dust) your tea, if the chunk is still intact?


Have a quick rinse once and keep the lid close while the chuck inside the gaiwan or pot for a couple of minutes, the chuck would be steamed inside the gaiwan or pot and open up more. Then have another quick rinse. For very tight iron cakes, you might have to rinse once of twice more. For shu, at least twice, if the shu is from minor factories, at least thrice!
User avatar
apache
 
Posts: 584
Joined: Apr 11th, '
Location: UK


Instant Messenger

Permissions
You cannot post new topics
You cannot reply to topics
You cannot edit your posts
You cannot delete your posts
You cannot post attachments
Navigation