Oct 27th, '17, 16:08
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Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by absence » Oct 27th, '17, 16:08

I understand that gongfu is a quite recent invention, and wasn't widely known or practiced until fairly modern times. How was black tea was prepared before that? Is it similar to "grandpa style" preparation of green tea, where leaves are kept all day in a bottle or glass, and topped up with water as needed? Or similar to western style?

Oct 27th, '17, 20:42
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Re: Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by LouPepe » Oct 27th, '17, 20:42

absence wrote: I understand that gongfu is a quite recent invention, and wasn't widely known or practiced until fairly modern times. How was black tea was prepared before that? Is it similar to "grandpa style" preparation of green tea, where leaves are kept all day in a bottle or glass, and topped up with water as needed? Or similar to western style?
There's a history here, and I'm sure someone more knowledgeable can explain it. But it boils down to the fact that black tea also does not have a great long history. Compared to gong fu I am not sure the timeline, but what is a big fact is that depending on what region of china (or the world for that matter) it was drunk, it was brewed differently. Northern China had a reputation of using big, fancy pots to brew tea whilst Southern China saw the birth of chazou/gongfu brewing and an appreciation for the more humble style of teaware. Many would boil the black tea but others may have used a grandpa method. Now I'm assuming you mean red by black, and not the black fermented types :-)

Oct 27th, '17, 22:42
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Re: Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by philiplee » Oct 27th, '17, 22:42

absence wrote: I understand that gongfu is a quite recent invention, and wasn't widely known or practiced until fairly modern times. How was black tea was prepared before that? Is it similar to "grandpa style" preparation of green tea, where leaves are kept all day in a bottle or glass, and topped up with water as needed? Or similar to western style?
Gongfu brewing is actually quite an old, traditional method but only practised by very wealthy families as the masses were not able to afford the cost, space or time.

In more recent times, even now, most families in China would used a mug with a lid, leaving the leaves at the bottom (generally not drinking below the bottom third), or nowadays, plastic or glass cup with top.

Oct 28th, '17, 04:50
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Re: Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by absence » Oct 28th, '17, 04:50

LouPepe wrote:Northern China had a reputation of using big, fancy pots to brew tea whilst Southern China saw the birth of chazou/gongfu brewing and an appreciation for the more humble style of teaware. Many would boil the black tea but others may have used a grandpa method.
Would the big pots of Northern China be similar to British tea brewing (except for the milk of course)? By boiling do you mean leaving the water on the heat to keep boiling after adding the leaves directly to the kettle? Sounds like a bitter drink! :)
philiplee wrote:Gongfu brewing is actually quite an old, traditional method but only practised by very wealthy families as the masses were not able to afford the cost, space or time.
How old are we talking? According to this article by Lawrence Zhang, gongfu wasn't written about until the 18th century, and was seen as something new and completely different at the time.

Oct 29th, '17, 00:14
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Re: Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by philiplee » Oct 29th, '17, 00:14

absence wrote:
LouPepe wrote:Northern China had a reputation of using big, fancy pots to brew tea whilst Southern China saw the birth of chazou/gongfu brewing and an appreciation for the more humble style of teaware. Many would boil the black tea but others may have used a grandpa method.
Would the big pots of Northern China be similar to British tea brewing (except for the milk of course)? By boiling do you mean leaving the water on the heat to keep boiling after adding the leaves directly to the kettle? Sounds like a bitter drink! :)
philiplee wrote:Gongfu brewing is actually quite an old, traditional method but only practised by very wealthy families as the masses were not able to afford the cost, space or time.
How old are we talking? According to this article by Lawrence Zhang, gongfu wasn't written about until the 18th century, and was seen as something new and completely different at the time.
My reference is to the point that gongfu tea is a relatively 'modern' invention and I wanted to point out that it not invented in recent times, but actually popularized to the masses in the 20th century. Thanks for linking to the article as it clarifies that 18th century is already much older. Also, although I'm not well-studied on the matter, looking at the antique teaware in museums, there was likely some form of whole-leaf tea-brewing with smaller teaware before the 18th century which suggests some form of gongfu-style brewing even earlier than that.

Oct 29th, '17, 11:08
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Re: Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by absence » Oct 29th, '17, 11:08

I think loose leaf started in the 14th century, so there was more than half a millennium of drinking tea from loose leaves before gongfu became popular. I'm curious how tea was prepared during that time.

Oct 30th, '17, 13:19
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Re: Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by HotLeafJuice » Oct 30th, '17, 13:19

This is a fascinating question and subject; please someone knowledgeable answer it! :-)
I too am in the dark regarding Chinese tea history...

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Nov 3rd, '17, 09:53
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Re: Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by jayinhk » Nov 3rd, '17, 09:53

Black tea started off in the Wuyi region (lapsang souchong is sometimes credited with being the first black tea, and the good stuff isn't the heavily smoked export crud). Small and larger pots were both in use during the Ming dynasty, so 'gongfu' at the time was just brewing tea well. That makes sense today, too, since brewing large pots of tea also takes some level of skill, or 'gongfu' to do just right.

Both small and large pots are fine, just don't add milk or sugar to your tea if you wanna brew it skillfully and Chinese style! I think the Europeans started adding miIk and sugar to tea because they were buying rough stuff that wasn't very palatable as is.

I believe one-person pots were also held in high regard in the later Ming period, so small pot brewing is also traditional.

http://www.viconyteas.com/directory/tea ... nking.html

Nov 4th, '17, 10:09
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Re: Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by absence » Nov 4th, '17, 10:09

jayinhk wrote:lapsang souchong is sometimes credited with being the first black tea, and the good stuff isn't the heavily smoked export crud
While I enjoy the smokiness of lapsang souchong, I've always wished it would be less intense, so that's very interesting. Do you know of online vendors that sell it? Does it have a particular name or other feature to distinguish it from "export crud"?

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Nov 4th, '17, 10:53
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Re: Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by jayinhk » Nov 4th, '17, 10:53

absence wrote:
jayinhk wrote:lapsang souchong is sometimes credited with being the first black tea, and the good stuff isn't the heavily smoked export crud
While I enjoy the smokiness of lapsang souchong, I've always wished it would be less intense, so that's very interesting. Do you know of online vendors that sell it? Does it have a particular name or other feature to distinguish it from "export crud"?
I've only ever been gifted the good stuff by my uncle, who does business with factories in Fujian. They keep giving him gongfucha stuff and he has NO interest in Chinese tea. LOL. There are quite a few online vendors that sell the unsmoked kind (no smoke at all), but I've never tried looking for it on the Western market as I get more than I can drink from my uncle!

Nov 4th, '17, 13:01
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Re: Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by absence » Nov 4th, '17, 13:01

jayinhk wrote:unsmoked kind (no smoke at all)
I misunderstood and thought you meant lightly smoked rather than unsmoked. Still, I'm curious to try it now! Found some at Yunnan Sourcing, will order some day.

I envy you to have such an uncle :lol:

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Nov 4th, '17, 17:25
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Re: Traditional way to brew Chinese black tea

by jayinhk » Nov 4th, '17, 17:25

Give the YS stuff a try for sure! And yes I'm very lucky. My uncle actually looks happy to give the tea away as he has no clue what to do with it! lol. I offered to brew him some once and he didn't even want any! :lol:

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