Floating Leaves Tea Home ---Shiuwen's Blog!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Brewing Tea in a Gaiwan VS Yixing Pot

A customer came in and asked me if I had any Lishan Tea this season. I told him yes, and he said he would like to try some. I took out a gaiwan and started to make tea. I usually brew my oolongs in a porcelain gaiwan. He asked me why I didn't brew tea in a yixing pot (he saw there were at least five of them on the tea table).

I told him I love yixing pots, but when I let people taste a tea for the first time, I prefer to use a gaiwan. I believe a gaiwan will give a tea a more "orginal" taste than a yixing pot. After he sampled the Lishan, he was quite satisfied with the quality.

After I receive a new season's Oolong, I am normally busy comparing them and then offering tea tastings to customers. After I have finished my initial round of tasting and sampling, I can spend time to try out some teas in various yixing pots.

I was about to test out Lishan tea in a gaiwan and a yixing pot today when my tea friend, Doug, came to help me take some tea photos. I invited him to taste the teas with me.
After I rinsed the tea, we both agreed that the smells from the lids were different. The one from the yixing lid was more creamy, and the one from the gaiwan lid was bolder. We did three rounds of tastings to compare the difference. The Lishan brewed in the yixing pot was full bodied and well balanced, but I thought it lost a lot of high notes. The Lishan brewed in the gaiwan had more flavors and was smoother. I liked the tea that was brewed using both methods, and had a hard time deciding which one I preferred. Doug liked it from both methods, too, and he preferred it from the gaiwan.

Everyone should be free to experiment with their teas and their brewing methods until they find something they like. When you do, please let me know!

Friday, January 15, 2010

2009 Winter Dong Ding

This season's Dong Ding has arrived for close to one month, and it's very interesting to see how the tea has changed.

When I write tasting notes, I usually taste by using gaiwans to brew the tea (I assume most people drink my Taiwan oolongs this way, too). Today is my second time using the bowl method to compare these three new Dong Dings (from left to right: Dong Ding Special Roast, Dong Ding Traditional, and Dong Ding Green).

The first time I did the bowl method with my tea friends, Jason and Alice. We were all very surprised by the differences when a tea is brewed in a bowl versus a gaiwan. With a gaiwan, the Dong Ding Green is light and floral. If you brew it too long, the astringency can show up. The Dong Ding traditional is not as roasted as the previous season's. The liquid is smooth, fruity and grainy. Sometimes it reminds me of soy milk. The Dong Ding Special Roast is robust, roasted, and fruity. I find that this tea can be finicky to brew, but if done right, you will have an excellent cup of tea.

With the bowl method, the most surprising result is from the Dong Ding traditional. It didn't taste as roasted as we expected. After two rounds of hot water, I found the Dong Ding Green to be the lightest one. Dong Ding Traditional is the smoothest one, and Dong Ding Special Roast carries the fullest body.

After at least 20 minutes of soaking the tea today, I tasted the three Dong Dings again. I feel the true characters of these teas are showing up and they might stay like this for the next several months and more (I often notice when a new tea arrives, it takes about two weeks to settle down). Dong Ding Green is very pleasant now. It's bright and floral, and even after 20 minutes of soaking, it's not as bitter as when I first tasted it. Dong Ding Traditional is still fruity and grainy. I think it's the most balanced tea out of these three. Dong Ding Special Roast is bold with a ripe fruit and honey taste to it. I think that this tea might be especially good with age.

Try tasting your teas with different brewing styles and see what you notice!