Gong fu Brewing: What are your best tips for beginners?

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klepto
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:55 am

I made all the mistakes that are humanly possible while learning to brew tea gong fu style. Though I did take the time to read a lot of blogs and even a book on gong fu brewing and different teas. I saved myself some torture by getting a tea scale from Amazon because I might never be able to eyeball an amount of tea without the scale. When you put in the right amount of tea in your vessel, you are already on your way to success :P.

I use an app on my android phone called Gong fu tea timer and it has preset times for most types of tea but you can create your own. One of the best tips I can give is that you should enjoy your tea drinking time. If you have a tea session once a day or multiple it will give you a chance to slow things down and relax. Once you become a tea connoisseur, you can drink the teas that have the best effect on your mind and body. I'm enjoying my tea noobness, as there is so much to discover. What would you tell gong fu brewing beginners?

Btw the book I mentioned is The Tea Enthusiast's Handbook, it is a small handbook and perfect for beginners.
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debunix
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:03 am

Use a cup that holds a generous quantity of tea compared to the vessel you are infusing the tea in. This allows for easy dilution when you find a particular infusion is too strong.
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Bok
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:20 am

klepto wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:55 am
When you put in the right amount of tea in your vessel, you are already on your way to success :P.
That is where the trouble starts – what is the right amount? I do not think there is one answer for it.

I always tell people an easy eye-ball-technique for gongfu:

Rolled tea leaves – cover the bottom of your vessel, so you can barely see it. If you did it right, the leaves will come up to the brim at the time of the 1-2nd infusion. Adjust to taste.

Open leaf teas – fill to the top, or even popping out. Adding hot water will bring it down anyways. Adjust to taste.
carogust
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:50 am

Exact amounts of tea and exact timings are not important. Even if you use let's say, 6g per session, the integrity of the leaf will vary day to day. Meaning some days you might be brewing a lot of leaves, some days each will be unbroken. This affects infusion speed quite a lot.

There are other factors, that change day to day, which affect parameters as well. I find that the way you pour the water can have a large impact, maybe larger than the leaf quantity! Not to mention mood :)

So lately I've thrown away the scale and timer. It's more relaxed that way and you trust your preferences more. It is not a science and it doesn't matter if your sessions vary day to day. The tea will be fine.
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klepto
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:50 am

Bok wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:20 am
klepto wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:55 am
When you put in the right amount of tea in your vessel, you are already on your way to success :P.
That is where the trouble starts – what is the right amount? I do not think there is one answer for it.

I always tell people an easy eye-ball-technique for gongfu:

Rolled tea leaves – cover the bottom of your vessel, so you can barely see it. If you did it right, the leaves will come up to the brim at the time of the 1-2nd infusion. Adjust to taste.

Open leaf teas – fill to the top, or even popping out. Adding hot water will bring it down anyways. Adjust to taste.
:+1: :+1: :astonished: There are no rules in fight club but don't talk about fight club. You have a valid point, there was no gong fu brewing guide laid down in stone and passed around cause I never got mine :(. I'll try your method tomorrow morning.
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klepto
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:53 am

carogust wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:50 am
Exact amounts of tea and exact timings are not important. Even if you use let's say, 6g per session, the integrity of the leaf will vary day to day. Meaning some days you might be brewing a lot of leaves, some days each will be unbroken. This affects infusion speed quite a lot.

There are other factors, that change day to day, which affect parameters as well. I find that the way you pour the water can have a large impact, maybe larger than the leaf quantity! Not to mention mood :)

So lately I've thrown away the scale and timer. It's more relaxed that way and you trust your preferences more. It is not a science and it doesn't matter if your sessions vary day to day. The tea will be fine.
There are other factors like when I don't seal the bag up properly and the tea tastes bland :broken_heart:
carogust
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:58 am

To give a few tips:
1.
If using a teapot you can pour just a tiny bit of the tea into your pitcher/cup to check how it is brewing. Unlike others, I find that color does give a good estimation for the steep. The trick is to watch the stream, and not the tea in the cup/pitcher. Same can be done with the gaiwan but without pouring (using the lid to push the leaves to the side).

2.
Experiment! You won't be breaking any laws, unless your follow overly prescriptive tea masters :lol:

3.
Don't worry about aesthetics. Think like an engineer. So do whatever needs to be done to get the job done.
Not saying you shouldn't pursue aesthetics, but that if you're just after a better brew you shouldn't let that get in your way.
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klepto
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:12 am

@carogust @Bok Any tips on getting the leaves to open up quicker? I brew at 190-195F and generally with a 100ml gaiwan after 5 steepings usually I want to stop drinking tea lool. My leaves will open with 9+ steepings but generally I don't do that many unless trying out a new tea.
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Bok
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:24 am

That’s a weird question... why wouldn’t your tea leaves open up? My tea is usually fully opened at 2-3rd infusion... What kind of tea are we talking about here?
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Bok
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:26 am

@carogust watching the brews colour is indeed a very important clue! Do people not agree on that???
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klepto
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:34 am

Bok wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:24 am
That’s a weird question... why wouldn’t your tea leaves open up? My tea is usually fully opened at 2-3rd infusion... What kind of tea are we talking about here?
Regular oolongs, they open up a bit but not fully.
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Bok
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:56 am

What is a regular Oolong? Regular will a different thing for different people, depending on where they are based and what they drink.

Rolled oolong I assume of some sorts... the only ones I know of that don’t open fully are aged ones. What’s your temp in Celsius? Oolong usually likes very hot water.
carogust
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:15 am

@Bok Nope! Some even say it is a terrible method. I guess they're looking at the tea in the CUP but not the stream. The stream is more consistent in my opinion.
And I tend to look for the general "structure" of the liquor as well and not just the color. Like is it dense/full. Hard to describe.

@klepto If you don't like drinking so many steeps try using less tea and a larger pot. 80ml pots lose heat way faster than 100ml pots and 100ml pots lose heat faster than 125ml etc. Even small differences in size have great heat retention differences.
And the greater heat retention allows you to brew longer with less leaves but still get just as good results as with lots and small vessel. (At least in my experience!)
And using less tea with smaller teapots doesn't work out too great because of heat loss (again, in my experience).
And another important thing is using freshly boiled water. Chinese style teas like HEAT. Even green teas can be brewed with freshly boiled water, if the quality is not terrible. Not to say that lower temp water wouldn't sometimes work better, but it is that boiling works OK pretty much always.
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OCTO
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:16 am

klepto wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:12 am
Any tips on getting the leaves to open up quicker? I brew at 190-195F and generally with a 100ml gaiwan after 5 steepings usually I want to stop drinking tea lool. My leaves will open with 9+ steepings but generally I don't do that many unless trying out a new tea.
As a rule of thumb.... (after rinsing the first brew), you should achieve the best brew when you are at Brew #3 and #4....

You will need to adjust and align your steeping time, pour method, water temperature, brew method and tea to water ratio towards that benchmark.

Cheers!!
carogust
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Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:17 am

Another benefit of larger pot + less tea is that it gives the leaves more space to open
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