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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

There is no right way...

A lot of us Westerners who drink tea in more traditional Asian styles (or at least attempt to get close), often put a lot of emphasis in brewing with a teapot and cups, going through almost a nonstop pouring sequence. I mean pour water into the kettle, pour water from the kettle to the teapot, pour from teapot to cups, "pour" cups into our mouths, and repeat until deemed finished. Depending on which tea I make I could guess I pour the same water up to half a dozen times. But we go through this because of some belief that it makes an outstanding cup of tea, and bar any mistakes in brewing it typically does. But is this really the best way for all teas?

I am trying to head off at least a few comments right now, about how brewing like that is meant to bring out all the leaves can offer, and demonstrate how it evolves over a session. I brewed one tea "grandpa" style the other day, and it opened my eyes. When brewing it more traditionally it was mediocre, or slightly better than mediocre, at best, and that is even when I was really careful with the brewing. Its not that the tea wasn't interesting, it seemed a bit standard for its type, and seemed to lack substance. But I brewed that tea in a teabowl, how I would normally glass brew, and the tea was hardly recognizable as that same run of the mill tea. The tea had so much body, an almost velvety texture, and flavors that made you pay attention. In short the tea was quite outstanding.

I almost feel like I need to sort all of my teas into categories, those that are great casually, and those that are really something when you give them your full attention and go through the sequence of pours. While I will usually go through the rigorous brewing procedure to first test the tea, but sometimes I think a tea just needs to be brewed a little differently so it can better meet your taste preferences.

Another such example is I have a hard time standing Shu Puerh, but if I brew it with a little bit of leaf to a large amount of water for an extensive length of time ( 10+ minutes), I get something that I find incredibly comforting like an almost earthy cup of coffee.
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