Gaiwan for white teas


White and yellow teas are among the most subtle.

Gaiwan for white teas

Postby javyn » Jan 28th, '06, 13:20

I just got a Gaiwan from the asian grocery, and was wondering how you white tea drinkers use it. I am experimenting a bit, and am finding out that 5 minutes for a first infusion is way too long for my silver needles! How long do you go for the first time? Do you place the lid on top while you infuse, or do you only use the lid for pouring?


Thanks :)
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Postby jogrebe » Jan 28th, '06, 14:22

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Postby javyn » Jan 28th, '06, 16:08

thanks :) I saw those instructions, I was looking for differences specifically with white teas though
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white tea: gaiwan style

Postby WhiteTeaWizard » Feb 16th, '06, 11:03

Forgive me if some of this is old news to you.

White teas do very well with gaiwan preparation if you have the time to devote all of your attention to the process. This is a great way to get full enjoyment out of your tea. It allows you to experience the full range of flavors inherent in the leaf through multiple infusions.

First, use a water that will bring out the sweetness in your white tea if possible.
Temperature of your water: 160-180F. I have a Zojirushi hot water dispenser, so I have continual 175F water at my fingertips.

My first steeping is only around 15 seconds. This brings out a very sweet and aromatic first cup. Then my second is usually 30-45 seconds. Continue like this, increasing the time according to taste. Once you become familiar with your tea in this manner you will have it down to specifics. On my first two steepings I leave the lid off for a cooler temperature. As you ideally want to increase temperature along with steeping time, the lid stays on for later infusions.
I usually get 3-6 gaiwans out of one set of tea leaves. But with the gaiwan method you have to be attentive less you allow the leaves to oversteep. Also, since steeping times will be short, you will need to drink your previous cup rather quickly (having a serving pitcher on hand to decant into for temporary holding is recommended). Since I like to do things like reading a book while drinking tea, the gaiwan method is not always an option for me. But it is definately worth it if you take the time.

enjoy!
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Postby javyn » Feb 16th, '06, 18:44

Much obliged, Wizard! I have been steeping my Jasmine Silver Needles this way...(can't be sure of the temperature so I guesstimate)

For the first infusion I do 1 minute, the second infusion is 3 minutes. I use the water when it is starting to "grumble" in the kettle.

For the 3rd infusion I time it 5 mins, and fourth 7 minutes. Both of these get boiling water. I leave the lid off for these last two, because frankly, it burns my thumb when I pour it!

15 seconds seems awfully short for an infusion! I think I am allowed more room for error because of the Jasmine flavor. It seems it overpowers the tea itself. I am rather concerned about what to do when I receive my non-flavored/scented silver needles, shou mei longevity brow, white peony, and chunshan needles.

Any tips you could give me for those specific teas I mentioned would be greatly appreciated. I have 4 ounces of Jasmine left, but when I get all my others they will be very small sample bags. I don't want to get turned off to a possibly great white tea because I did not brew the sample correctly!
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Postby WhiteTeaWizard » Feb 16th, '06, 21:46

The teas you mentioned I believe are all very good, though I cannot really give specific instructions for them since lots are so different from year to year and by producer and region. I suggest that you carry on what you've been doing with the Jasmine Silver Needles to the new teas and go from there.
I do not recommend using boiling water for white or green teas, but it might be necessary anyway for those later infusions.

What will happen as you continue to enjoy these teas will likely be a subtle change in your palate towards them, and as a result you will also feel the need to adapt your steeping times accordingly.

If you have a tea that you think is not flavorful enough, try using more leaf instead of increasing the temperature. In your case with the new teas this is probably not feasable, but keep it in mind for later.

When I get my new tea in I sample them all one after the other (with some time in between of course) that same day. I prepare them as similar as possible. These initial impressions are important, and the ones that really stick out are usually going to be your favorites.



~drink tea, breathe tea, be tea~
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Postby javyn » Feb 16th, '06, 22:58

Thanks again Wizard :) I would try some now but it is too late; night time is for Rooibos !


I've toyed with the idea of getting a hot water dispenser but they seem really dangerous. I know a few people who have seriously burned themselves and done permanent damage to nerves in the hand with them...
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Postby WhiteTeaWizard » Feb 21st, '06, 21:57

I have not had a problem with scalding myself, yet. With the one I have, it seems I would need to go out of the way to burn myself (stick my hand under the spigot). I'm sure there are some dispensers that are pretty dangerous though.

Anyway, what kind of gaiwan do you own? Is it plain white, decorated, yixing, etc.? I have a yixing gaiwan, coated with white porcelean glaze on the insides of the vessel, lid, and saucer.
I've been meaning to pick up a second gaiwan of different make, but I lately haven't seen anything out there that really grabs at me.

Maybe it's time for one of those late night wanderings through the labrynthine search engines...
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Postby javyn » Feb 22nd, '06, 16:15

Here is a photo of mine steeping some Jasmine Silver Needles. It cost me 3 dollars at the Asian grocery store right by my house. I have been experimenting with different leaf amounts on those teas I mentioned previously. I don't know if it is just me or what, but it seems much more Junshan Yinzhen needles are needed than all the rest!

Image
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why do I worship tea?

Postby WhiteTeaWizard » Feb 22nd, '06, 22:33

That sounds about right that you feel the need to use more quantity of Yinzhen needles for a cup. This is common with teas that comprise solely of unopened downy buds. The flavors can be so subtle, but the complexities seem to be enhanced the more subtle a tea is. I'm not sure why this is. I've tried to figure it out but can't quite put a finger on it.

It's like, it's so subtle that it allows room for so many possibilites? For instance, with a hearty Assam the flavor blasts me with wholesome goodness. And quality Assams can be very complex. But they don't pull me in to reverie the way great whites and greens can. This is all possibly due to just personal preference though.

...I also forgot to mention earlier that if you're not having success with one of your teas via gaiwan method you can prepare the standard way and see how that goes. There are some teas that just do not lend themselves greatly to multiple steepings--they need all their essence captured within one steeping.
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Postby javyn » Feb 23rd, '06, 17:38

This is common with teas that comprise solely of unopened downy buds.


Yes, but 1 and a half teaspoons is perfect for Bai Hao or Jasmine Silver Needles. I started out stepping my Jasmine with a teaball, but found the gaiwan much better for it. My teapot with the basket is perfect for black Darjeelings in the morning, though.

How do you enjoy your Junshan?


BTW: Now that I have tasted Silver Needles on their own, it has enhanced my appreciation for the Jasmine scented ones greatly. Before tasting the plain Needles, I did not even notice the taste of the tea itself over the Jasmine flowers. Now, I am sipping the Jasmine and am aware of, and really enjoying the way the two tastes intertwine.
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Postby illium » Feb 24th, '06, 20:57

re: yixing gaiwan

while they are cool, and i fell into the trap of buying one also, i realized quickly that these aren't a very good idea. yi xing is just wrong for gaiwan. they don't handle heat the correct way and tend to colour the flavour of the tea.

i suggest a traditional gaiwan.

_illium
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Postby Warden Andy » Feb 24th, '06, 22:13

illium wrote:re: yixing gaiwan

while they are cool, and i fell into the trap of buying one also, i realized quickly that these aren't a very good idea. yi xing is just wrong for gaiwan. they don't handle heat the correct way and tend to colour the flavour of the tea.

i suggest a traditional gaiwan.

_illium


So I wasn't just being crazy thinking that yixing gaiwans won't work. I read about how yixing teapots should not be used for greens and whites since it insulates heat better, and can kill the delicate flavor of the teas. Then I saw on a site that there are yixing gaiwans, and thought that it kind of defeated the purpose of a gaiwan.

Although, it would work for wulongs.
Last edited by Warden Andy on Mar 31st, '06, 21:07, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby WhiteTeaWizard » Feb 27th, '06, 19:25

illium wrote:re: yixing gaiwan

while they are cool, and i fell into the trap of buying one also, i realized quickly that these aren't a very good idea. yixing is just wrong for gaiwan. they don't handle heat the correct way and tend to colour the flavour of the tea.

i suggest a traditional gaiwan.

_illium



I did state earlier that I own a yixing gaiwan, but you will see that I mentioned that it is glazed on the insides. Therefore I have no problems with it. The appeal of the yixing gaiwan is it's look, and it goes well with my other tea equippage.
You are correct though about (unglazed) yixing gaiwans. Plus, one of the attractions of gaiwans is to watch the tea as it steeps, and this would be defeated against a dark background.
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Postby illium » Feb 28th, '06, 20:07

well, my comment about yixing gaiwan's efficacy or lack thereof was in regards to thier ability to retain or disperse heat. those traits are the same regardless of the glazing. the one i have is the same to yours, glazed white and smooth on the inside.

there is still a noticable impact on the flavour of the tea, as well as a noticable difference in how the tea brews due to the heat retention of the clay.

Andy is right that it will handle certain oolongs or red teas (black teas), and pu ers well, but green, white, or yellow teas do not come out as nicely.

I have a cheap ceramic gaiwan (about $10) that works much better for that purpose, as well for oolongs, reds, pu ers, etc..

hope that helps,
Troy (aka Da Tong)
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