Chaozhou style brewing: wet or dry?

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Bok
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Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:54 pm

Inspired by a chat with @phyllsheng and as not to further pollute the introduce yourself thread, here a new topic:

Chaozhou style brewing, to describe it in a simple and short way is: Three cups, no pitcher and a pot stuffed with leaves. The challenge is to produce even brews in each cup, achieved by a back and fourth pouring. 1, 2, 3, 2, 1(cup that is). Reducing here to a very basic concept of it.

Generally people brew this way either dry or wet. Wet involves loads of dousing the pot and cups in water and requires a container or suitable tea tray/table.

Dry brewing on the other hand, tries to avoid splashing water everywhere as much as possible. A simple flat dish usually is enough to contain the spills and acomodate the teapot. This method was used by many ancient tea scholars it seems, even mentioning specific clayware for each item, but this goes too far at the moment. Also quite en vogue in Taiwan, the huge water gurgling tea tables with ugly plastic tubes going into moldy buckets are mainly a thing of the older generation now. I never liked those.

The challenge and crucial point with this method is a well designed tea pot, that allows for good pour-stop-pour control, in order not to splash water/tea where it doesn't belong.

If one is mastering the CZ method, multiple cups can also be served, all with equal flavour. For me at the moment, I pass to use a pitcher if attendance is more than four people. Can't be bothered and with that many people too good a tea would also be a waste, further reducing the need for sophisticated brewing methods.

Please share your views!
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tjkdubya
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Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:10 pm

Counts to self: 1 2 3 3 2 1 1 2 3 3 2 1
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Victoria
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Thu Oct 03, 2019 1:03 am

Re-posting the original exchange;
phyllsheng wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:26 pm
Bok wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:00 am
I am trying to use Chaozhou brewing myself whenever possible. Even alone, I find it has a calming effect on me to concentrate on an even brew for three cups.

I do abandon it for the use of a pitcher for more people though, otherwise not practical.

Are you wet or dry brewing CZ style? I prefer dry now, but that hinges on the design of the teapot and how well one knows its perks. Pour-stop-control is quite essential to avoid splashing water everywhere. Another layer to the challenge!

From your name I would have guessed being mostly into Sheng :)

Hi Bok, Thank you!

I forego using fairness cup most of the time. For me, it depends on how far or close apart everyone is seated away from me, if I'm brewing. I use a fairness cup if I think it's inconvenient for my guests to have to stand and reach out for their cups.

Re: dry vs wet brewing, I'm not quite sure how to answer that. Do you define wet or dry brewing style by whether hot water is poured over the teapot (water sealing), or by how tea is poured into the cups, or both? (Asking in reference to your mention of pour-stop-control to avoid splashing water everywhere). If by the former (water sealing the pot), then I do wet style brewing. However, if it's by the latter (how tea is poured), then I always aim for dry brewing as best I can.

Anyway, I always "water seal" the pot after placing the lid back on, and before I pour the tea into the cups in continuous circular motion. I agree, it takes some practice to avoid splashing water, spilling tea, and also to control the rhythm, so every cup is even in both tea volume and concentration (sounds easy but not quite, I suppose :oops: ).

Btw, Bok, should we move our discussion elsewhere? Don't wish to be kicked out and blacklisted by the admin for spamming this thread :cry: . Not sure where, though. I'm still learning the ropes of TeaForum's discussion sections, subsections and rules.

My thanks again for your warm welcome!

Kind regards,

- Phyll
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phyllsheng
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Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:13 pm

Hi @Bok,

Thanks for starting a thread to continue where we left off.

Is there any online vid that fairly represents how dry CZ brewing method is done per your description? I'm honestly curious, and it's because I don't quite understand what you mean by:
  • "tries to avoid splashing water everywhere as much as possible"
  • "good pour-stop-pour", and
  • "1, 2, 3, 2, 1" pouring pattern
Perhaps you mean "dousing" gently? A simple flat dish works just as fine for wet brewing CZ style -- as long as a tea cloth and a waste water bowl are present nearby. Splashing a lot of hot water everywhere is unnecessary.

By "pour-stop-pour", do you lift the pot's spout up slightly in-between cups or it's done by blocking the teapot's airway on the finial?

And why in 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 pattern (reversing the direction of the pour)? I'm asking because a 3-cup setup is arranged in 品 pattern, and not in 口口口 linear pattern.

I don't mean to preach to the choir, but CZ brewing at its core is not ceremonial. Rather, its goal is simply and chiefly to brew and serve a tea at its optimum potential best: the teapot and the cups are pre-heated, the cups are primed, and temperature of the teapot and cups are kept as high as humanly possible before and during steeping, and tea is poured out timely and swiftly. I guess this is where I don't quite understand CZ style dry brewing as per your description.

The flow of the brewer's every move serves a purpose towards that goal; nothing is done for the mere sake of aesthetic presentation. If a brewer can achieve that goal (to brew and serve a tea at its optimum potential best) with much elegance and precision, it is a matter of practice and experience. It's very similar to doing a martial arts form (套路): understanding the form is more important than remembering the choreography of the form.

In any case, wet brewing does not have to involve lots of water splashing about everywhere. And I would venture to guess that dry brewing also does not mean skipping the pre-heating, priming, etc. steps for the sake of keeping things as dry as possible.

Would very much appreciate it If you could point me towards an online presentation to understand better how CZ dry brewing style is done in a way similar to your description. I mean no offense whatsoever, or worst, to preach to the choir. I have a feeling I just misunderstood your descriptions.

Thank you kindly, @Bok.

- P
Bok wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:54 pm
Inspired by a chat with phyllsheng and as not to further pollute the introduce yourself thread, here a new topic:

Chaozhou style brewing, to describe it in a simple and short way is: Three cups, no pitcher and a pot stuffed with leaves. The challenge is to produce even brews in each cup, achieved by a back and fourth pouring. 1, 2, 3, 2, 1(cup that is). Reducing here to a very basic concept of it.

Generally people brew this way either dry or wet. Wet involves loads of dousing the pot and cups in water and requires a container or suitable tea tray/table.

Dry brewing on the other hand, tries to avoid splashing water everywhere as much as possible. A simple flat dish usually is enough to contain the spills and acomodate the teapot. This method was used by many ancient tea scholars it seems, even mentioning specific clayware for each item, but this goes too far at the moment. Also quite en vogue in Taiwan, the huge water gurgling tea tables with ugly plastic tubes going into moldy buckets are mainly a thing of the older generation now. I never liked those.

The challenge and crucial point with this method is a well designed tea pot, that allows for good pour-stop-pour control, in order not to splash water/tea where it doesn't belong.

If one is mastering the CZ method, multiple cups can also be served, all with equal flavour. For me at the moment, I pass to use a pitcher if attendance is more than four people. Can't be bothered and with that many people too good a tea would also be a waste, further reducing the need for sophisticated brewing methods.

Please share your views!
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tjkdubya
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Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:01 pm

Re 1 2 3 3 2 1, I thought it was because it allows the first cup to take the first and last cuts of the brew, to be more or less even with the third cup which comes from the middle of the brew, and the second cup is somewhere in the middle.

1 2 3 1 2 3 pouring pattern on the other hand means the first cup is biased towards a shorter (i.e., lighter) brew, while the third cup is biased towards a longer brew.

Of course, with cups arranged in a 品, you can choose however you want to pour... Doesn't necessarily dictate you must go in a circle.

Anyway, I brew in a very famous style called ... student style :D and don't dare call it gongfu haha. I'm sure skilled brewers can pour in whatever order and have it come out perfect. If I'm pouring 3 cups, I do always count 1-3 3-1 in my head, with that double long pour in the middle for the third cup.
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tjkdubya
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Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:07 pm

In fact, when I pour two cups directly, which happens a lot more often than three cups, my pour timing is something like 1 2 2 1, not 1 2 1 2, for the same reason.
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Bok
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Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:07 pm

@phyllsheng

No offence taken! I’ll try to clarify what I mean. I do not have any videos, it is merely how I observed it at various gatherings over time.

I am also a big opponent of any ritualised tea preparation. I cringe when I even hear the word “ceremony” in connection to tea preparation… I just want to have good tea, nothing else. If it looks enjoyable, that is a by product, not a goal in itself. To stay with your analogy in the martial arts: If a movement is functional and serves its purpose, it will quite naturally look beautiful. Empty movements do not.

Splashing:
All the heating vessels preparation steps do of course need to be taken. Yet doing so in a way that does not leave the pot swimming in a lake. If water gets to much by accident, I will empty the small dish in a waste water container. Some like to splash water over their pot all the time, at each brew which is not necessary and if you live in a cooler climate, more likely to cool down the pot instead of adding heat (sweating-principle). One can also fill the pot in a way that takes the water sealing into account, to minimise the overflow of water when placing the lid.

Also concerns to take care when filling the cups. Some just pass in a line of pouring water over the cups, instead of having minuscule stops. Those stops are achieved by a slight backwards motion of the pot, thus stopping the flow long enough as not to spill. Some precision and control of one’s brewing vessel is necessary to do that. And a well designed pot.

I imagine, it can be done with the lid knob hole as well, but I mainly use old pots, where this often does not work due to looser fitting lids.

As for the pouring pattern, 123 stand for the cups served. How they are arranged doesn’t really matter as long as you remember the order. I mainly have them in a line. So a little bit in the first cup, a bit more than half in the second, full cup in the third then working backwards. If done right all three cups have same amount of tea.

The whole thing seems more difficult with a Gaiwan, but I have seen a tea seller from Chaozhou brewing without any spills at all!
Last edited by Bok on Fri Oct 04, 2019 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:39 am

CZ brewing is great, and I use a round pewter tray from Shantou vs a tray with hose at the office. CZ brewing is not really something that is done dry in the Taiwanese sense, since trays are used (I don't know about historically, but at least for the last century or so it's usually round trays that are used, including among the Teochew diaspora in Southeast Asia). The trays are much smaller than the ones you see at many tea stores nowadays, of course, since you only put the 15-25ml cups on the tray! ;)

Down here in HK, the Teochew are a significant minority and this method of brewing is strongly tied to tieguanyin. CZ-style gongfu with tieguanyin is what everyone here thinks of when gongfucha is brought up! It's also known to be a three infusion thing with three cups. The three cups in a circle thing is also traditional with CZ-style. I suppose it could be adapted to Taiwanese dry style if desired though!
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Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:40 am

@phyllsheng sorry if this is slightly off topic, but what's the idea behind pre heating the cups, why is keeping the tea as hot as possible important? Is there a reason other than its tradition? In my simple Western mind (lol) Ive always thought the quicker the tea cools down, the quicker I can drink it, so I never preheated my cups.
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Fri Oct 04, 2019 9:33 am

In a cold winter it makes a lot of sense, yet the Chaozhou region does not have cold weather worth mentioning.

Possibly hygienic in origin? Wash off possible dust and unwanted scents.

Also makes sense if switching between teas, while using the same cups.

Originally, slowly pre warming delicate cups was also probably in order as not to provoke cracking.
.m.
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Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:25 pm

Supposedly, pouring hot tea in cold cup will negatively affect the taste. I can't say much about that part, but philosophically speaking, there is something quite disharmonious and turbulent in mixing hot and cold together. And with cups around 20ml, there is no concern about the tea staying too hot for too long.
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Bok
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Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:00 am

It also depends a lot on the tea. Dancong I would not like to stay in the cup for too long, it has a tendency to turn bitter if left unattended.

Others become nicer when lukewarm or even cooled out.

As always, it depends.
carogust
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Sat Oct 05, 2019 6:19 am

Usually, the first cup I pour from the pitcher is different than the rest in the same brew, even if they're cooled down to the same level when I start drinking (I prefer my tea cool enough such that I can keep it in my mouth without any burning sensation, yet not any cooler). This also happens only with the first brew (or if the cup has cooled to room temperature).
So yes, I do believe there is a point to warming the teacups if you're not drinking many refills and pouring straight into them. Not a world of difference though.
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phyllsheng
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Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:59 pm

@Bok, thank you for the clarifications! Helps me tremendously to understand better.

That tea seller in CZ, pouring with a gaiwan without spilling...that’s quite a feat, isn’t it?

I hope one day we can meet. Very much love to learn dry brewing method in detail 🙏🏻
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Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:12 pm

Hi M! @Teachronicles

It’s tradition, yes, but one that was borne out of pragmatism. The only symbolism that’s infused into CZ brewing method is, afaik, the 3 cups used to signify the character 品 (and it’s meaning).

Will respond soon in detail to your other good questions!

For now, and in very general, it’s because CZ brewing utilizes small tea wares — heat dissipates rather quickly. Also, I echo @Bok’s comment re: hygiene reasons.

A step can have more than 1 purpose — like hitting 2 or 3 birds with a stone, so to speak.

Will be back! Thank you!
Teachronicles wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:40 am
phyllsheng sorry if this is slightly off topic, but what's the idea behind pre heating the cups, why is keeping the tea as hot as possible important? Is there a reason other than its tradition? In my simple Western mind (lol) Ive always thought the quicker the tea cools down, the quicker I can drink it, so I never preheated my cups.
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