An experiment in cumulative brewing


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An experiment in cumulative brewing

Postby Muadeeb » Mar 6th, '13, 20:25

One analogy I use to explain the difference between gong fu and western style brewing is that gong fu is like taking multiple high speed snapshots vs a longer exposure where they all just blur into one flavor. Yes, I'm a photographer....

Lately, I've been wondering if this is accurate, and just how accurate. So I've thought up an experiment that I plan on trying out, but maybe the more experienced tea drinkers can tell me if I've missed something. I have two identical Bodum teapots, and I plan on using them like so:

Bodum Pot #1:

Put 5g of tea into a Gaiwan and bring water to a "boil" in my kettle set to the Oolong setting (approx 205 degrees). Pour the water into my carafe to keep it at a steady temperature and then use it to brew the tea. Let's say 10s steeps, repeat until the Bodum is full, counting the number of brews it takes. Let's say it takes 8 steeps. This would yield a total brewing time of 80s (8 steeps x 10 seconds per steep.

Bodum Pot #2:

Put 5g of tea into a strainer and then into the Bodum, pour the same temp water over them and fill this pot to the same level as the first one. Let the tea steep for 80s and then remove the strainer.

Taste tea from both pots. I don't think this needs to be a blind tasting since I'm not trying to judge which one i like better, just seeing if they taste the same.

I would expect that tea from both pots would taste the same, but then again, maybe they won't? I do plan on actually trying this, but I wanted to see if anyone had any suggestions about which kind of tea to use and if there is anything I've missed/should tweak before I sacrifice 10g of tea to this experiment? I was thinking about using something like a light green oolong, so that differences would show up easier.

Any comments or suggestions?
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Re: An experiment in cumulative brewing

Postby Evan Draper » Mar 6th, '13, 20:46

Two words: heat capacity. Or, you may prefer thermal mass. The smaller brewing vessel will lose heat faster than the larger one will. So that will make any attempt to make the two systems's temperatures equal really freaking difficult. But you should still try it.
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Re: An experiment in cumulative brewing

Postby Muadeeb » Mar 6th, '13, 21:04

Evan Draper wrote:Two words: heat capacity. Or, you may prefer thermal mass. The smaller brewing vessel will lose heat faster than the larger one will. So that will make any attempt to make the two systems's temperatures equal really freaking difficult. But you should still try it.


True, so I'll preheat the gaiwan. They'd be pretty short steeps, so hopefully thermal mass differences won't have too much of an effect.
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Re: An experiment in cumulative brewing

Postby TIM » Mar 6th, '13, 22:52

A you questioning the Art of Kung Foo brewing which is way older than Photography? :roll:
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Re: An experiment in cumulative brewing

Postby debunix » Mar 6th, '13, 23:03

The point of gongfu cha is not a cumulative brew, but the taste changing through the session, and brewing small enough quantities each infusion that the brewed tea can be drunk fresh.

I have effectively done this experiment--brewing up a thermos full of tea with the same pot and tea that I've used for gong fu sessions at other times. I enjoy the gong fu sessions more, because the tea in the thermos loses a lot by not being drunk quickly after each infusions. But still, it's better than plain water most of the time.
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Re: An experiment in cumulative brewing

Postby Muadeeb » Mar 7th, '13, 00:19

debunix wrote:The point of gongfu cha is not a cumulative brew, but the taste changing through the session, and brewing small enough quantities each infusion that the brewed tea can be drunk fresh.


Absolutely, and that's why I'm really enjoying learning about it. But it would add to my understanding of what it is by seeing if cumulative brews add up to something more than than the sum of their steeps.
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Re: An experiment in cumulative brewing

Postby teaisme » Mar 7th, '13, 14:35

Muadeeb wrote: Let's say 10s steeps, repeat until the Bodum is full


what you are doing is flash infusions, not gong fu
so any conclusions/insights should keep that in mind

'optimal' brewing doesn't always consist of a bunch of short infusions either.

I would still be interested to see if you enjoyed #2 over #1 though.
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Re: An experiment in cumulative brewing

Postby theredbaron » Mar 14th, '13, 06:30

Muadeeb wrote:One analogy I use to explain the difference between gong fu and western style brewing is that gong fu is like taking multiple high speed snapshots vs a longer exposure where they all just blur into one flavor. Yes, I'm a photographer....


Any comments or suggestions?


I think you forget the Schwarzschild effect here... :wink:
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Re: An experiment in cumulative brewing

Postby yalokinh » Mar 14th, '13, 10:44

hahaha first good laugh of the day,
thank you

TIM wrote:A you questioning the Art of Kung Foo brewing which is way older than Photography? :roll:
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Re: An experiment in cumulative brewing

Postby Muadeeb » Mar 14th, '13, 22:02

theredbaron wrote:
I think you forget the Schwarzschild effect here... :wink:


Ever since moving to digital, I don't have to worry about reciprocity law failure. I am learning how to compensate for it in my tea drinking though.... :)
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Re: An experiment in cumulative brewing

Postby javi_sanchez » Mar 28th, '13, 01:02

How did this work out? I'm curious. I've done something similar and the single long steep always tastes different than the multiple short steeps. I usually prefer the sum of the short steeps.
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