This question comes up again and again in the course of talking tea over the internet…. what’s your brewing parameters?
The same question, I find, is much less common in the Chinese online scene for tea. Either people all know it and don’t need to ask, or people don’t care.
I think the reason people keep asking this question is because of the belief that there’s an optimal brewing parameter for a particular tea, where the extraction of soluable things from the tea will be optimal (just right, not too bitter, etc). It might be 5/5/10/20/30/60, or it might be 5/5/5/5/5/5/5/10. I don’t know. Whatever it is, there’s a certain sense that there’s a “right” answer.
As my readers generally know, I am against timing infusions. I think if we start timing infusions, then one must also time the number of elapsed seconds between infusions — whether that is 10 seconds, a minute, or five. Leaves that have been infused three or four times will continue to cook in your pot/gaiwan until the next time you pour water in. As Dogma said to me, the water that you pour in does basically two things — bring the temperature up a little (it’s likely still very hot in the pot/gaiwan without the water) and it carries all the dissolved stuff out with it when you pour. The actual amount of time it spends in the pot/gaiwan isn’t that important.
For example, today when I made a rather commonplace wet stored loose puerh, I think my infusion parameters, as judged by time spent with water in the pot, runs something like 3/3/5/5/5/5/10/10/20. I guess I should tell you how big (in ml) my pot is, but I have no clue. Nor do I use a scale. I can tell you that my pot was about 1/3 full of dry leaves when I poured the wash in.
But that’s not the whole story. I spent considerably more time (proportionately) drinking the tea earlier than later. There was probably a minute or two of rest time in between infusions 4 and 5 (or was it 5 and 6?). Some infusions come out weaker than others. How do I account for all of these things?
I don’t, however, think I brewed this the “optimal” way, nor do I think there is an optimal way. I like my teas this way, because …. I find they come out just fine. I use similar parameters for almost all teas, unless they happen to be green or white, which I almost never drink these days anyway. So, the short answer is…. that’s how I brew my tea, and it applies to almost everything I post about here, which, oddly enough, seems to work remarkably well.
Scary thought, isn’t it?