Slightly OT, but what about the pouring distance? More often than not I add water from quite a distance, 1ft or more above the pot. I've rarely seen this in China but quite often in north-east India and elsewhere. I've never actually measured the changes in temperature or gas concentration
but it definitely gets those leaves moving.
(My old tea mentor from Darjeeling is a bit of a messy boy himself and used to enjoy the same technique with his teas here and there.)
reminded me of an old article that i had written in my previous computer and forgot all about it.
the pouring distance matters a lot!
A darn lot!
actually water is decently superheated, depending on the structure/arrangement of the water molecule, and how you disrupt it, energy can be liberated rather intensely and quickly.
I'm coming from a scientific/engineering background - quite an interesting topic.
take for example, if you microwave water gently and for a long duration, it may look calm, but if you were to shake that cup of water.. you'll be in trouble, the water will splash out explosively
if you want a "safer" experiment, you can buy a nice flask, fill it half with hot water, close and open the cover repeatedly, you will find that nothing much goes on, but when you close the cover/seal the flask, give the flask a good intense shake, and open the flask slowly, you will feel/hear the "pop" sound from the steam escaping.
My trusty japanese thermos flask agrees 100%, walls and ceiling too
long story short, if you pour boiling water intensely from a height, it creates steam within the pot, and the steam penetrates leaves easily. (take for example in pu-erh tea cake compression, 12-13 seconds of steam is enough to soften a deep stack of dry maocha for compression into cakes). this will speed up tea leaf unfurling and unrolling. this will also cause the aromatics to quickly come to the surface of the leaf (due to the steam) and into the brew and also the surrounding air
Back in the day I did a lot of experiments with all sorts of teas and tea gear, blind tastings, you name it. Back then you'd rarely catch me without my digital scale and thermometer, (stop)watch and my notebooks, but these days everything happens more spontaneously and intuitively. I don't jot everything down anymore but I'm still a huge fan of blind tests and tastings (and Himalayan chameleon leaves
but there is another down side to this.. in recent experiments, I've observed that teas of the jinxuan cultivar, sijichun cultivar, they are very thin flimsy leaves with a very fragile waxy cuticle, if water is dispensed from a height, and the subsequent tea is dispensed from a height as well, plus the filtering etc, it largely reduces the "buttery" texture of the tea. also, dispensing water from a height, the steam generated easily kills and cooks these flimsy leaves. this is a reason why these teas wont do well in some yixing pot designs and in pots that retain too much heat, all the fragile notes are lost.
Sounds familiar. I have some Moleskines full of observations mainly centered around leaves from Darjeeling and neighbouring Nepali estates -
I've never found any other teas to be that challenging.
(Side note: once we're at it I'd really like to discuss the aspect of cha qi with regards to Himalayan and other teas at some time. Yet another can of worms but with some know-how and the right instruments some of the phenomena could possibly be objectified).
but since both cultivars have the highest growth rates, it is unfortunate that countless taiwanese teas are made from these cultivars in place of the original cultivars.
Slightly OT (so what?) but well worth another thread IMO - the bl..dy clones
Some years ago I had the dubious honor to work with Tukdah 78 (T78) clones, now almost forgotten but even back then not exactly my favorite stuff to start with. Ke garne - what to do ? T78 as well as some other clones were all the rage for some folks and lovers of old china jat can be more than happy today that a good number of old bushes survived those waves of madness and haven't been entirely replaced with their questionable offsprings. I better stop it here.
been working through green heart cultivar, green heart da mao, no.17, 18 cultivars recently.. these leaves are thicker, stronger and more leathery, they are quite resistant to all sorts of dispensing styles and even water off the boil! but of course one will need good tea sources and connections to get access to the more correct and unblended cultivars for each of the different taiwanese teas
I received 5 shipments of tea during the last two... weeks, all from 'reputable' sellers, about 30 different teas/samples total. Around 15! bags went right into the trash (after some sips), sold 4 packs to a friend who seemed to like some of that stuff, leaves 3 noteworthy DJs and Nepali teas, one nice Keemun and some samples to look forward to.
My next shipments will again come straight from the places where the magic stuff grows (and where I used to get my leaves from back in the day) - no more experiments here.
Back OT ... Pot shape. After all the effects of this variable seem a bit too ephemeral to put my finger on or ... objectify but I still have it somewhere on my list. Now, if I remember correctly there are two large boxes somewhere hidden in the garage, filled to the brim with all sorts of lab glass - a good starting point for future experiments.