Tead Off wrote:Horses for courses. Gongfu cha is about packing the vessel and flash brewing. Is it better than filling 1/3-1/2 of the vessel and brewing longer? I think there are different answers to this question and many variables.
Gongfu cha is about brewing with skill and finesse out all that the tea can offer; too much, too little, too hot, too cold, etc. etc. and certain nuances will be missing or overpowered. The exact parameters are going to vary with each tea, but it's about your skill in brewing.
Joel Byron wrote:I have been quietly trying to learn about oolong teas. After all I like puerh, so I have the tools and skills for brewing it. So when I order 3-4 types of puerh I'll throw in a oolong now and then to see what's what.
But my first tries did not go well. I tried a vacuumed packed kind of tea with very bright green curly leaves called "Chinese tea gift" -- it tasted like the water from making collared greens. I mean, what are they thinking with this "gift" ?
Blech. Maybe I don't know how to brew it correctly? (very possible)
Then I thought I should aim for higher quality and got some "Bain Tian Yao, 2008" -- it was ok, not great, but it just made me long for the earthy and musty and greenish bitterness of puerh -- it was just too much like flowers. It was a nice taste, but it overwhelmed me.
So now I know what I like, but I still don't know how to identify it. What are the general categories of types of tea that I should look for to explore more of this last kind of oolong?
1. Brewing puerh and oolong aren't exactly the same, and different oolongs need different parameters. As Tim said, it takes time to learn to brew well.
2. Beware "gift teas." Those are often pretty low-quality. It's also silly to try a low-quality tea and judge an entire type of tea by it.
3. Teas straight out of a vacuum pack aren't going to taste right; they're going to need to acclimate. Letting leaf breathe for some time (day or days) helps almost any oolong, but I often find that something vacuum packed at the farm needs a bit more.
4. Puerh people often like Wuyi yancha because it will have many of the same 'dimensions,' but you shouldn't limit yourself. It's likely that you'll like others too, once you've had good ones brewed well, but the longer you wait the harder it will be to learn to brew different teas as habits become entrenched. It'll also help your palatte.
Oolong offers a huge variety of characteristics, and it will just take time and experience to get there. Be patient and understand that as soon as you come to any solid conclusions or judgements, it will probably be summarily contradicted.