This was meant for yesterday, but it’s good for any day.
Many blogs out there post their brewing parameters. I did once upon a time, and once in a long while, I still do. Generally though, I don’t. But I feel like I should explain how I actually brew my tea… in case it’s not always obvious.
I generally use a high amount of dry leaves, relatively speaking. I think for a young puerh, these days my gaiwan is about 1/3 full of dry leaves. For Wuyi, it’s 3/4, and for high roasted or aged oolongs, about 1/2. It of course depends on the day, and what I feel like, but those are generally the parameters. Infusions are kept extremely short… maybe a few seconds, and it barely lengthens — until I notice it can use a bit more time, which varies for the tea. Water temperature is generally very hot. I never use a timer, and generally don’t use a scale (although sometimes I do use one to prevent me from misjudging compressed tea and how much I’m actually drinking).
I find this works for me. Bitterness disappears in this way. I tried an experiment yesterday with the Baisui Chawang from Yangqing Hao. I used a smaller amount of leaf and longer infusion times, more typical, I think, of how many others brew their young puerh. I find it to be rougher, more bitter, and I didn’t get that incredibly interesting note early in the first few infusions. Instead, the tea is very non-interesting, at least compared to the last time I tried it. Perhaps I should’ve used cooler water, which would’ve helped with the bitterness and the roughness, but lower temperature would further dampen the complexity factor.
I’m not saying mine’s the best way. There are certainly merits to the other, but I do think that for me, this works well. I’ve recommended this to a few people, and I think, for example, that Hobbes found brewing one of the samples I sent him this way brought out much better results than otherwise. I think it brings out the nuances of different teas more clearly, and also their complexity better than otherwise. Using very few leaves and low temperatures can make almost anything taste decently good, but it is impossible to tell which one’s the better tea and which one’s worse when made that way.
There are, of course, teas that I don’t brew this way. I brew my greens (the few times I drink them, anyway) very light. I also tend to brew my light oolongs with a light hand. But since I don’t drink much of those anyway…. it almost doesn’t matter these days.