Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2 grams of tea

I had just purchased a electronic weighing scale.

Why did I buy it? I had purchased this scale in Guangzhou from my earlier trip in Mar' 10 at less than US$10......and I wanted to know how much tea I am brewing during my tea sessions. I subsequently used it to measure the weight of tea leaves to check my visual guessing of small amount of tea leaves. I found it useful in my subsequent visit to Guangzhou, where a couple of tea dealers there used more tea leaves in their tea sampling.

There is absolutely nothing wrong (in my opinion) in using more tea leaves in a tea sampling exercise. Whether its oolong, pu erh or green tea, using varying amount of tea leaves could be a personal preference or that the particular tea being sampled would taste better with a stronger or lighter brew.

The ripe pu erh tea brick which I had purchased in Hong Kong (4 feb '11) was very impressive when more tea leaves was used for brewing. I had to increase the tea leaves to 9g instead of the average 7g of ripe pu that I used for my 160ml teapot (a 28% increase in tea). However I had to point out that there were instances where I had to reduce the amount of tea used. The Menghai '07 lotus/needle ripe (8 jan '10) and the Haiwan '06 marvin (3 dec '10) are examples where I had to reduced the tea leaves used for brewing. These tea brew fast and strong. I suppose many loose gongting ripe pu erh need less leaves and reduced infusion times as well.

I had noticed that in a couple of tea forums I had visited, some tea drinkers had given their findings on the tea they have brewed. Some of these tea drinkers seem to adhere to a fixed set of brewing technique like fixed amount of tea leaves used and fixed infusion times. An example of a pu erh tasting session ( I am taking a example from a tea forum) would be 6g of tea for a brewing vessel of 140ml, 2 flash rinse followed by 1st brew - 15 sec infusion, 2nd -15sec, 3rd-30s, 4th - 30s, 5th & 6th - 45s.

What am I trying to say? Simply this, you cannot simply just use the above times as a 'finding' or 'review' of a tea. You do not do justice to the tea. The particular tea may be better with a different amount of tea or with different infusion times. I myself had to go through at least 8-10 brews before I find the right brew (to my liking) for that tea.
While I was in Hong Kong, the teamaster, Mr Lau of Lau Yu Fat Tea Shop, uses about 8-9 g of tea in a medium size gaiwan and does a triple flash rinse, with the 1st 4 infusions at less than 5 seconds for the tea being sampled. This pu erh tea which I sampled and bought really require more tea leaves than what I would normally brew. The taste and tea sensations from drinking this tea was good.

Mr Chan Kam Pong (aka cloud) in his book "First Steps to Chinese Pu erh Tea" says "Actually, the infusion time for each interval depends on several factors such as grades of the tea leaves, aging years of your Pu erh tea and the degree of integrity of the tea leaves. There is no fixed brewing time for each infusion. Different Pu erh tea of different ages should have their own brewing time table." For Mr Chan, "The amount of tea leaves required for brewing depends on the size of your teapot or brewing container........that is to say about 8 grams of pu erh tea is enough for a tea ware with 150cc volume while 10 grams of pu erh tea is suitable for 200cc gaiwan."

Thats my 2 cents worth of thoughts on tea......make that 2g of tea.

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