Brewing methods

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Oct 14th, '08, 15:28
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Brewing methods

by caligatia » Oct 14th, '08, 15:28

I saw a reference somewhere to using the gongfu technique to brew black teas, and I was wondering if anyone here does that. If so, what teas do you do it with? Are there taste differences between that and regular steeping? Can you do multiple infusions with black tea this way? Any advantages or disadvantages compared to other brewing techniques?

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Oct 14th, '08, 15:40
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by chad » Oct 14th, '08, 15:40

Good question. I found a nice description with pictures of gong fu tea prep at

The author addresses oolongs, black tea, and puerh.

I'm sure other, much more experienced, folks will chime in shortly.

I use the stainless steel infuser, 12 oz. ceramic mug, and water from the commercial coffee maker at the office method! :D

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Oct 14th, '08, 16:53
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by caligatia » Oct 14th, '08, 16:53

Thanks for the link, Chad! It would seem that gongfu calls for lower temps and shorter steeping times than Western ways. Personally I think I prefer stronger tea than that, but it still seems like it would be neat to watch the ceremony being done.

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Oct 14th, '08, 17:45
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by omegapd » Oct 14th, '08, 17:45

I never tried to gong-fu black teas. I've re-steeped many of them but have only gotten lucky with a few Chinese ones. The rest just turn into colored water for my tastes...

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Oct 14th, '08, 21:24
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by kymidwife » Oct 14th, '08, 21:24

I brew my blacks either Western or semi gongfu... but I always get 2 or 3 really good infusions out of my better quality leaf, especially pu, golden monkey and the good darjeelings... but partly this is because I never intentionally do a full 5 minute brew... I think that makes TOO strong a cup and kills the complexity of the flavor. I brewed strong cups for 5 minutes a few months ago when I was cream&sugaring everything to death, but now that I crave to really taste the tea itself without cream and with only pinch or no sugar at all, I like shorter brews, alittle more leaf, alittle less water, just off boil... I rarely brew a black for longer than 3 minutes, and usually more like 2 to 2 1/2.


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Oct 14th, '08, 21:43
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by caligatia » Oct 14th, '08, 21:43

So far I've always gone with what the tin said for time. I've tried three minutes on a couple and it wasn't enough... I'll go for four and see what happens. :)

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Oct 14th, '08, 21:54
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by Vulture » Oct 14th, '08, 21:54

I just started making tea and I always end up over brewing my first infusion. Planning on getting the utilitea kettle to get a more controlled temperature water. To me there are two ways of brewing. One is the quick and dirty method of just putting in an amount of leaves that look right. Then putting in hot or hotter water depending on light or dark tea. Wait for all the leaves to go to the bottom and then put into a mug.

Then there is the slow and controlled way. This is closer to gongfu style where you use some good mineral water, controlled water temperature, clean and warmed infuser/teapot, and patience.

Each tea has a different steeping time depending on:

Water Temperature
Amount of Tea Leaves
Type of Tea
(and significantly less so, Room Temperature)

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Oct 14th, '08, 23:30
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by Salsero » Oct 14th, '08, 23:30

I do a new black with 2.5 gr leaf to 6 oz boiling water in a preheated mug and infuse for 3 minutes. Subsequent infusions typically run something like 4 m, 6 m, 8 m, 10 m. I expect at least 3 good infusions from a good quality black -- whether China, Assam, Ceylon, Himalayan, Nilgiri, or Darjeeling. It it can't deliver a minimum of three infusions I wouldn't consider re-ordering. I am happier with five infusions, and most good blacks deliver that for me at least occasionally. Often, once I get to know a tea, I use more than 2.5 gr of leaf and almost always use more for the China blacks.

For gong fu blacks I will do something like: 3.5 grams in a 100 ml gaiwan, just off boil, infusions: 1 m, 90 s, 3 m, 5 m, 10 m, plus a couple long, untimed infusions. I think you might get better results with still more tea and shorter infusions, but I haven't played around too much lately.

For astringent, rough Assam, I like to make it in a large yixing pot a little stronger than my standard Western style. I find that the yixing helps take the nasty edge off. Proinsias taught me this trick.

Needless to say, I never use milk or sugar.

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Oct 15th, '08, 01:00
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by cerulean » Oct 15th, '08, 01:00

I just recently started experimenting with brewing black tea in a more gong fu style. So far, I've had good results with Keemun Mao Feng and Yunnan Black at 1 gram of leaf per ounce of water with infusions starting at around 25 seconds. I might try increasing the amount of leaf or the infusion times though, as the teas haven't become bitter or too astringent yet.

The flavors of the Yunnan seemed to change a bit over the different infusions, though it wasn't as pronounced as some other teas. I didn't notice much change in the Keemun, but it was still really good.

I tried brewing a first flush Darjeeling in the above gung fu style once, but it didn't turn out very well for some reason, which is strange because I could get at least a couple of good infusions from it using the Western method. It wasn't bad really... it just didn't taste right.

With the cheaper, broken leaf black teas, it might not be worth it to attempt different brewing methods. That sounds really interesting though to try brewing something like Assam in a gong fu style. I've never even thought about that before.

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by Maitre_Tea » Oct 15th, '08, 23:21

I usually gong fu Chinese black teas such as lapsang souchang or Keemun. I've gotten pretty good results, and the yixing clay helps "mellow" out the flavor. I don't like using gaiwan for Chinese black teas because once you start letting it steep for a while the gaiwan can't retain heat as well as yixing teapots.

I haven't tried any Indian or Ceylon black teas but for the ones I've tried so far I've gong fu'ed them with good results. It makes me feel cool for trying to use unorthodox brewing methods for a certain tea type.

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