I recently (a month ago?) bought a brick of some 2000 sheng from Hou De, after having bought a sample of the same tea and loving it.
With the sample, I found that the first 8 steeps or so were all short
(10-20 seconds at most), resulting in dark, sweet, flavorful brews.
Now that I have a brick (some of which I included in the box pass, before trying it from the same brick), I'm drinking a pot of it and finding different results. Basically, I am having to steep for far longer. At least a minute, to get a brew of the same color, and even then it doesn't pack the same punch as the sample I had.
The variables that I'm keeping the same are: teapot, water temp, amount of tea.
The variables that may have changed are:
storage (I keep the brick loosely wrapped in its paper wrapper, in my pumidor; the sample came in an airtight ziploc)
compression (the brick is probably denser than the flaked-off sample, so I might have less leaf surface exposed to water in the first few steeps)
??? anything else??? sheesh, I dunno.
Anyway, I emailed Hou De today and am awaiting a response. Hopefully they have a magic answer. I'll keep you all posted.
Fatman2 suggested that I air out a chunk of the brick for a couple weeks, to match how the sample was probably stored previous to its arrival with me.
Any other thoughts?
p.s. box pass folks, keep this in mind when trying the 2000 stuff I included in the box.... maybe try to break up the chunk sufficiently before brewing it?