The most difficult tea

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Bok
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Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:19 am

What is the most difficult tea to brew? I thought this could be an interesting topic to discuss... ?

Please share thoughts and opinions.
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Bok
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Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:22 am

I’ll start.

Generally speaking, I’ve found in my personal experience that the better the quality of the tea is, the easier they are to brew. Treat them well, treat them bad and with negligence, they refuse to become unpleasant. Even water temperature can in many cases be neglected.

Having said that, from all the kinds of teas I have had, I do find Dancongs the most fickle to prepare. Much more so than my recent experiments with Gyokuru...
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Zenshin
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Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:37 am

I guess for me that would be young~semi old (5~10year) dry stored sheng.

Somehow these seem to be in an quite awkward stage most of the time, either spitting out too much astringency when forgotten just a few seconds too long or not having decided which aroma they want to express. Both are pretty hard to counteract for me. But that might just be the tea itself not being in a overall stage of maturation to be consumed yet.
Bok wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:22 am

Generally speaking, I’ve found in my personal experience that the better the quality of the tea is, the easier they are to brew. Treat them well, treat them bad and with negligence, they refuse to become unpleasant. Even water temperature can in many cases be neglected.
I have the same impression @Bok. Most really high end teas seem to be easy to handle and very forgiving even with inaccurate steeping parameters and not really suitable water qualities available. Especially with Sencha it struck me how good and pleasantly balanced they can be when (in the popular opinion) being mistreated with off the boil water :D
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OCTO
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Tue Nov 05, 2019 5:24 pm

Interesting topic....

I find it very pleasing and relatively very easy to brew any tea... but on the other hand, I find it extremely difficult to brew tea for misinformed or delusional "tea connoisseurs"... hahahahaha....

Another case where complexity is grossly misplaced and simplicity much needed.
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Bok
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Tue Nov 05, 2019 7:51 pm

OCTO wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 5:24 pm
Interesting topic....

I find it very pleasing and relatively very easy to brew any tea... but on the other hand, I find it extremely difficult to brew tea for misinformed or delusional "tea connoisseurs"... hahahahaha....

Another case where complexity is grossly misplaced and simplicity much needed.
I think I know what you mean. Maybe in many cases we sit in awe in front of a supposedly amazing, famous tea in fear of screwing it up, thus making simple things complicated :mrgreen:
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Baisao
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Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:10 pm

I don’t have a lot of experience with unaged sheng because I make it infrequently (it tastes great but my body finds it disagreeable). However, I have found it to be easy to steep if treated like a green tea.

I think I am lucky with phoenix oolongs. IDK why but they haven’t been too difficult. I did have one that became bitter rather quickly but I think it was a bad tea as it’s only happened once. I do like the green twig bitterness of phoenix oolongs, so maybe I am doing them wrong, but guests have liked them over the years.

This is no longer the case but sencha was the most difficult tea for me to get right for multiple reasons: the weight of tea is difficult to eyeball, it’s extremely sensitive to time, it’s somewhat sensitive to temperature.

I resolved the above problems by [sigh] using a gram scale every time, keeping the temp around 170° or below, and getting more adept at guessing the amount of time that has passed.

A trick for lowering water to a predictable temp is that the water drops approximately 10°F every time you move the water to a new container. So moving 185° water to the yuzamashi drops it to 175°, moving that to an unheated kyusu drops it to 165° in short order.
_Soggy_
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Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:04 pm

I'm going to have to agree with Japanese greens(primarily sencha/gyokuro) for reasons others mentioned. Hard to eyeball the weight(8g looks like 4), the leaf size, time sensitive, temperature sensitive, and I also don't have that much experience. I feel like i need to measure and time everything.....and i still don't get great steeps a lot of times.
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Baisao
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Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:50 pm

_Soggy_ wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:04 pm
I'm going to have to agree with Japanese greens(primarily sencha/gyokuro) for reasons others mentioned. Hard to eyeball the weight(8g looks like 4), the leaf size, time sensitive, temperature sensitive, and I also don't have that much experience. I feel like i need to measure and time everything.....and i still don't get great steeps a lot of times.
Additionally, I don’t find that it scales linearly. In other words, 4g/70ml will taste better than 8g/140ml, all other variables being the same.

If you’re like me and only make sencha for yourself in small steeps, it’s easy to get thrown off when serving multiple people.

The ceremony of senchado is itself a ruse for timing, but the majority of us are not making sencha this way so a timer or instinct must be used.
faj
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Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:34 pm

Baisao wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:50 pm
Additionally, I don’t find that it scales linearly. In other words, 4g/70ml will taste better than 8g/140ml, all other variables being the same.
Would you attribute that to the tea being especially sensitive to heat, and the smaller volume of tea causing a quicker drop in temperature?
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Baisao
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Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:07 pm

faj wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:34 pm
Baisao wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:50 pm
Additionally, I don’t find that it scales linearly. In other words, 4g/70ml will taste better than 8g/140ml, all other variables being the same.
Would you attribute that to the tea being especially sensitive to heat, and the smaller volume of tea causing a quicker drop in temperature?
A drop in temperature with sencha is not usually a bad thing, I even count on it to my advantage.

I think that it takes less tea to get almost the same flavor. I don’t make more that one serving at a time (actually it’s two servings that I drink myself) so I am out of practice making sencha in larger volumes.

4gr/70ml is usually my target. It may be that 3.15 grams is better but we only weigh in whole units. As such, 8g/140ml would taste too strong and 6.30g/140ml might taste about right. It’s a matter of precision of scale, IMO.
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