Results of Tea Dogma


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Results of Tea Dogma

Postby bambooforest » Apr 17th, '13, 19:19

I suspect we all have a bit of tea dogma: That is, we believe a tea should be brewed a specific way and do so with all those styles of tea.

Recently I was brewing medium roasted 2nd place competition dong ding and some Wu Ling oolong from Tea from Taiwan.

To make a longer story short: I went from brewing these teas at 5 grams/100 ml water at around 1 minute for the first steep to 5 grams per 5 ounces at around 1.5 to 2 minutes for the first steep. It should be noted I've also tried 7 grams per 100 ml at an even shorter steep time.

What I found is that for the dong ding, when I used less tea and extended the brewing time the peach flavor that dong ding's known for pops out more than with using more lea and less brewing time parameters. The taste is broader, more enjoyable and more complex with less tea and longer brew time.

I noticed the same phenomenon with the high mountain green oolong... When I go 5g/100 ml the flavors are far less satisfying and less interesting than with less leaf and an extended steeping time. The flavor when I used less leaf and an extended steeping time has much more balance, and buttery notes and again, I find it more complex and deep.

The above goes against what it would seem much of the conventional wisdom is for oolong tea: That more of it, with less steeping time, will always render the best results. Granted, taste is subjective, but my experience shows that less leaf, longer steeping time has far superior results: The tea goes from enjoyable to wow. The aforementioned observation is specifically for some Taiwanese oolongs.

I have also been the "victim" of tea dogma. I used to shun brewing sencha at 1g/1oz, but when experimenting with it more, discovered with many Japanese greens using more leaf per oz creates the best flavor profile. I'm also sure I could experiment more with even more leaf per oz because I've done so rarely. An open mind is the best policy when brewing tea.

The point I'm trying to make is that I think we tea drinkers can get caught up in what we think should be the parameters at the expense of what actually produces the most enjoyable cup.

All this said... obviously if you want as many steeps as possible from one session you will use more tea. But that's a different priority than striving for the best flavor profile you can get.

Edit: To be clear.. I've found 4 Seasons from Tea from Taiwan to perform best at more leaf and less steeping time and this is a less expensive tea than the two cited above.
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Re: Results of Tea Dogma

Postby ethan » Apr 17th, '13, 20:07

It's kind of you to share your experience & thoughts about it.

I imagine many people have done the same as you, though some of us may have limited ourselves by "habit" more than "dogma".

At the moment I am drinking some green jin xuan, that had been total disappointment. Trying less leaf & more time is giving me better flavor (thank you). It's okay.

Thanks for the reminder that we should not get overly attached to how we prepare our tea. And I remind you that not every tea can please us all. Experimentation may not always result in eventual success. (I don't like spiced tea: w/ milk, w/ sugar, w/ milk & sugar .... I don't like spiced tea!)
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Re: Results of Tea Dogma

Postby Evan Draper » Apr 17th, '13, 23:13

Very cool that you should post this, BF, as I've had a similar experience recently. I think I will be using a little less leaf from now on, steeping a little longer, and for another infusion or two. I was at a tea event last week, and while I disagreed with the presenter on many fronts, I resolved to be more patient with tea. My local tea klatch tends to pile it in pretty thick, and I was astounded to see how little tea was used by this presenter. It was pretty much Western style brewing, really. And while I missed some of the extreme flavors, I did not die of tea withdrawal, and maybe wound up paying more attention. Hey, if this guy is brewing like this, tea manufacturers in his area may well be manufacturing their teas to be drunk like this. And just like you mentioned, I am going to push myself to brew a higher ratio of green tea too; I keep making the mistake of trying to save it too long!
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Re: Results of Tea Dogma

Postby MEversbergII » Apr 18th, '13, 11:04

I tend to use a 500ml earthenware pot with 5g of leaves - satisfying and flavorful, to me at least. These are infused for 5-6 minutes. I think this is the essence of "Western" brewing.

If so, how's it done elsewhere? Obviously, not everyone in China does gongfu every time they want tea (historically or otherwise). Japan's an even bigger mystery.

M.
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Re: Results of Tea Dogma

Postby tenuki » Apr 18th, '13, 12:00

Since we are all opening our minds and sh$! here's an idea - you can add and/or remove tea or even change vessels _after_ you have started. I often adjust my tea this way. You can also let your water cool a bit the next time, or only fill the vessel half way with water - wow! Other radical notions like not using a scale or thermometer should also be mentioned.

Brew with love and attention and the tea will reward you!
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Re: Results of Tea Dogma

Postby MEversbergII » Apr 18th, '13, 12:14

I cannot separate myself from my scale :(

Thermometer, I could do without...for high temp teas >.>

M.
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Re: Results of Tea Dogma

Postby saxon75 » Apr 18th, '13, 12:34

MEversbergII wrote:I tend to use a 500ml earthenware pot with 5g of leaves - satisfying and flavorful, to me at least. These are infused for 5-6 minutes. I think this is the essence of "Western" brewing.

If so, how's it done elsewhere? Obviously, not everyone in China does gongfu every time they want tea (historically or otherwise). Japan's an even bigger mystery.


I work for a Chinese company and have a lot of co-workers from China and Taiwan. I'm also Japanese-American, and thus have a lot of relatives from Japan. I've never seen any of them do anything even close to gongfu when making their tea. Generally they either Western brew or drink "grandpa style." None of them measure the leaf or water volume or temperature, it's all just sort of eyeballed. Many of them use teabags and boiling water. Most of them drink fairly inexpensive tea.

Mind you, all of my observations have taken place in the US, but I sort of doubt that most of them do differently when they're back in their home countries.
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Re: Results of Tea Dogma

Postby MEversbergII » Apr 18th, '13, 12:51

That's been what my acquaintances in Hong Kong have said. Steeping mugs, if any filter at all. I've seen photos on teablogs done by tea tourists (I want to be a tea tourist...) where farmers have a gaiwan style cup with leaves just sitting in it, no lid, nothing to keep the leaves back.

99% of the time, if I'm using a gaiwan for tea, the leaves stay in and are just strained with the lid.

I wonder then if "Western" brewing is a misuse of words.

M.
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Re: Results of Tea Dogma

Postby saxon75 » Apr 18th, '13, 13:19

The impression I have is that it's a lot like coffee in the US. Most people over here drink coffee, but very few people pay much attention to how they make it, or go to the trouble and expense of finding high-quality beans, getting the grind exactly right, and so on. They just buy coffee at the grocery store, dump a bit into the machine, and press go.
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Re: Results of Tea Dogma

Postby MEversbergII » Apr 18th, '13, 13:37

True, that. I recently tried to learn how to make coffee (got some of the pricier, fresh ground type from the local health food store). Being a tea guy, I was looking for water:grounds ratio. Didn't find one.

M.
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Re: Results of Tea Dogma

Postby hopeofdawn » Apr 18th, '13, 14:38

I would have to agree with Saxon75--I've never been to Asia (more's the pity), but I would imagine the ubiquitous nature of tea means that it's treated a lot like wine or coffee is here in the States. Almost everyone drinks it, but most people are happy with their particular pre-packaged roast or two buck chuck from the local store, for casual drinking while doing other things. The folks have the time and/or inclination to really seek out the higher end vintages and pay real attention to aroma, brew, etcetera, are probably in the minority, no matter what country (or beverage) you're talking about.
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