"Eastern" infusion

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Jun 19th, '13, 12:15
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"Eastern" infusion

by MEversbergII » Jun 19th, '13, 12:15

So pretty generally I use the "Western" method of brewing. I recently picked up a small 1 cup (250ml) tea pot and some Japanese teas and, following the package's directions, became introduced to making tea with a higher leaf:water ratio than I was used to. This allows infusion time to be shorter, which is fantastic because that means I can make high quality tea at work now in the break room.

I have a variety of Chinese style teas and I have given a few some trials.

Bai Mao Hou green tea seems to do well when I go about 5 - 5.5g per 250ml, which is twice the traditional "Western" infusion.

Temp: 85 C
Time: 60 seconds for first infusion.

Results in something similar to as if I'd done it "Western" style. This is a nutty green tea.

The minhong I tried doesn't do so well at that ratio, though I think I've not enough left to try another experiment. Same ratio as above.

Temp: 95 C
Time: 60 seconds for first infusion

Results in something similar to how it is "Western", but weaker, as if I had done it at 1/2g per 100ml for the usual 5 minutes of western brewing. Too weak. Subsequent infusion at 30 seconds performed better, but still not up to snuff.

The Wuyi oolong I tried did well.

Temp: 90 C
Time: 60 seconds for first infusion.

Results in something similar to how I have it when done "Western".

SO my question is thus: What kind of parameters have you experienced good results with when trying to take Chinese teas and infuse them in manners usually called "Eastern"? That is to say, how do I make different teas with a high leaf:water ratio for the purpose of short infusion time?


Jun 19th, '13, 12:41
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Re: "Eastern" infusion

by saxon75 » Jun 19th, '13, 12:41

I've been doing a lot of experimenting with this as well, having only really gotten into quality tea about six months ago. What I've found is that it varies a lot from tea to tea, but in general where I like to start is about 1g of leaf per 30 ml/1 fl oz of water. For black tea, I use boiling water; for oolongs somewhere around 180-195F/80-90C, depending on the tea; and for greens usually somewhere between 160-180F/70-80C, again depending on the tea. And then I usually start a tea with a 30 second infusion, and see where that takes me.

But it all depends on the tea, of course. Some oolongs and very fresh greens can take very hot water, even boiling. For pu-erh I often use more leaf, as much as 2g per 30 ml. And steeping times can vary between 15 seconds and a minute or more for the first steep. I tried being systematic, but eventually I just resigned myself to having to experiment a lot every time I try a new tea, and keeping good notes.

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Jun 19th, '13, 12:44
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Re: "Eastern" infusion

by MIKE_B » Jun 19th, '13, 12:44

For Wuyi oolong

Use a pot under 100ml.
Fill pot with leaf.
Pour in boiling water and immediately pour out.
Discard this rinse steep.
Next steep 10 seconds or less. Add time for each infusion after to taste.

That's the jist of it.

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Jun 19th, '13, 14:35
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Re: "Eastern" infusion

by wyardley » Jun 19th, '13, 14:35

I don't think there's one so-called "Eastern" way of making tea. Even within China, there are a lot of ways of making tea. Many of the brewing methods are fairly similar (in terms of quantity of tea relative to water) to so-called "Western" brewing. Ultimately, I'd focus less about where the brewing method you employ comes from, and just focus on what parameters make tea that tastes good to you. Tea making is almost always based on taste - your taste, and the taste of anyone you're serving. Tastes too weak? Add more tea, or use less water.

So-called 'gongfu' tea is a (relatively) recent introduction (this is the subject of some dispute, but let's say it emerged in some form somewhere between late 1500s and late 1700s), and really hasn't been popular outside of certain areas / communities until the 20th century. Marshaln wrote about this here:
http://www.chinaheritagequarterly.org/f ... &issue=029
See also http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?p=191422, etc.

In Japan, there are some fairly specific methods for brewing certain types of teas. Some of these are based on practices common in China during earlier time periods. Not all of these methods necessarily involve short infusion times or large amounts of leaf compared to water.

In other words, be wary of anyone who tells you that gongfucha is the best or most "traditional" method of tea making, or refers to it as "[the] Chinese tea ceremony". That said, derivatives of that style are very popular here and among many serious tea drinkers.

If you search for that term on this forum, you will probably find more information about tea brewing methods.

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