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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Gaiwan Tea Brewing: Timing




I promised in my last post that I would write down how long I brew tea for in a Gaiwan.

I timed myself and found it very distracting to have to pay attention to a timer while brewing tea. I failed a couple of times when customers were coming in and out of the tea shop. It was very frustrating!

Then a tea friend came to visit and I asked him to time me while we drank some tea. I asked him not to let me see the timer.

We shared a pot of ShanLinXi and here is the result:

Gaiwan: 120ml

Amount of ShanLinXi I used that day: 7.7grams (I put the usual amount of dry leaves I put in the Gaiwan and then took the tea out to measure the weight. I don't time my brewing and I don't measure my tea either, I just eyeball it.)

Water Temperature: Boiling water. I heated it back up again for the forth infusion. I did a quick rinse(about 5 seconds).

1st infusion: 25 seconds (a good indication to pour out the first infusion is when the leaves are half open. Please see the picture below):
2nd infusion: 20 seconds
3rd infusion: 17 seconds
4th infusion: 20 seconds
5th infusion: 35 seconds
6th infusion: 55 seconds

leaves that are slightly open: a good time to pour out the first infusion


I know some people don't like to use as much tea as I do, so I did one timing with just a thin layer of dry leaves to cover the bottom of the Gaiwan. I took the leaves out and weighed it. It's 5.8 grams. My friend secretly timed me again and here are the results:

1st infusion: 30 seconds
2nd infusion: 23 seconds
3rd infusion: 30 seconds
4th infusion: 30 seconds
5th infusion: 45 seconds

I have included the above experiments and times as a response to the many questions I get about brewing times; these are not meant as rules for anyone to have to follow. I'd bet that my timing changes a bit when I brew the same tea. This is for people who are new to Gongfu tea brewing to give them a frame of reference.

My suggestion is still the same. After you brew Gongfu tea for a while, stop using a timer or measuring the "exact amount" of tea. Start to pay attention to your tea rather than your timer. Trust me, you will build a good internal clock for your own tea brewing. Without the exact timing, the best cup of tea will show up when you least expect it. Without exact timing, you will reach a deeper understanding of the tea. Why limit yourself and your tea with a timer, be open and your tea will give you the best surprise ever. Happy tea brewing!

*first photography by Douglas King.

2 comments:

Ainee Beland said...

all tea is lovely; while some are loveliest when made the right way for drinking and to enjoy.

Gord Henry said...

Timing tea with a timer lacks the kind of feel you need get for the tea. With a new tea that you have no feel for pay close attention to timing, temperatures and other measures. Once in the know then get into the flow of the style of brewing, the atmosphere and occasion. Using a timer says to me you don't know this tea and create the atmosphere of a science experiment. 😊