Does size really matter?

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OCTO
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:44 am

Well, since most of us globally are on a lockdown or asked to work from home, let me open up a can of worms....

Does the size (capacity) of your teapot really matter when it comes to brewing a perfect cup that is heaven to your senses?

Here we go..... buckle up!! :D :D :D
carogust
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:18 am

Depends on what you're looking for. I tend to like tea that is brewed for longer and with less leaf. So bigger teapots are obviously better for me.
Though I've had enjoyable sessions with smaller teapots so I guess to answer your question, no. But I find larger pots to be much more consistent at giving me good results, so in some ways yes.
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Bok
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:23 am

I think with enough brewing skill, size, or even brewing vessel in general matters little...

As a smart man once said, if the pot is too big, nothing is keeping you from only filling it a little bit.
carogust
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:29 am

Bok wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:23 am
I think with enough brewing skill, size, or even brewing vessel in general matters little...

As a smart man once said, if the pot is too big, nothing is keeping you from only filling it a little bit.
I do think that you have to change your brewing approach depending on the vessel though. Low ratios don't work with small pots because they lose heat way too fast.
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Youzi
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:50 am

Larger teapots cool slower, so their heat dissipation curves are different. And usually, but not always, depending on spout design, larger pots are slower to empty out. Therefore it's easier to overbrew tea in them.

However teas which need heat would fare batter in larger pots.

Another thing to consider with larger teapots is cost. What tea / water ratio do you like to use?

It can be a deciding factor in consuming 2x as much tea, which if you drink premium yancha, is a lot of money.
carogust
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:17 am

If you want to be economical with your tea, I'd argue that larger pots are better. They have much more better extraction of flavors, so you can use way less. Example: 3g/200ml/3-whatever minutes. You might think that this is a waste for good tea, but the best sessions I've had have been with very low ratios like this! And even cheapo roasted oolong manages 3 steeps this style (with the later brewings being very long).

I don't worry that much about burning my tea either. I steep green tea with boiling water (I can't bother to mess around with trying to cool the water down to "optimal" temp) and those are considered the worst with hot water. And yes, I've tried with the right water temp etc but I prefer the version with boiling water. Sure, some teas might be a little astringent or bitter but so far I've not had anything too bad. Though the bitterness/astringency might be unpalatable with low quality greens.
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Youzi
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:17 am

carogust wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:17 am
If you want to be economical with your tea, I'd argue that larger pots are better. They have much more better extraction of flavors, so you can use way less. Example: 3g/200ml/3-whatever minutes. You might think that this is a waste for good tea, but the best sessions I've had have been with very low ratios like this! And even cheapo roasted oolong manages 3 steeps this style (with the later brewings being very long).

I don't worry that much about burning my tea either. I steep green tea with boiling water (I can't bother to mess around with trying to cool the water down to "optimal" temp) and those are considered the worst with hot water. And yes, I've tried with the right water temp etc but I prefer the version with boiling water. Sure, some teas might be a little astringent or bitter but so far I've not had anything too bad. Though the bitterness/astringency might be unpalatable with low quality greens.
That's interesting. I guess you can get better extractions. Because the larger pot thus sustained heat, and more "space" in the water, allows for more to be extracted?

In that case, maybe a smaller silver teapot would be the best for extraction, in the size of maybe 150ml. 🤔
faj
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:54 am

Youzi wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:17 am
That's interesting. I guess you can get better extractions. Because the larger pot thus sustained heat, and more "space" in the water, allows for more to be extracted?
Scientific measurements would be required to see if there is actually more "extracted", and if so, what.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that our senses work on logarithmic curves. When concentration of a substance is doubled, the sensory effect is less than doubled. Higher dilution will therefore not dilute the enjoyment to the same degree as it dilutes the tea.

The other thing to keep in mind is that not all compounds in the tea will dissolve at the same rate. There is a lot of potential variation when combined with other parameters. One might prefer the "balance" of compounds when using lower leaf ratios and longer steeps.

Experiments that might be worth trying...

Experiment 1 : with the same tea and amount of leaf, infuse one portion with a small amount of water (say, 100ml) for 3 minutes, and another portion with a higher amount of water for three minutes 300ml. Then, dilute the first infusion to 300ml with hot water and compare. Sure, the temperature will not be the same, but still interesting.

Experiment 2 : infuse 100ml for three successive infusions of the same leaves, 1-minute each, and mix them together. Compare with a single, three-minute, 300ml infusion of the same amount of leaf.
carogust
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 9:18 am

When I brewed my tea with higher ratios I would move the tea to a mug and brew it grampa style after the gongfu session.
If I continued to brew the tea in the small pot/gaiwan it wouldn't produce more flavor, but with the grampa technique I could extract a few more mild but enjoyable steepings.
So based on that I would say that larger vessels are way better at extracting flavor due to the greater heat retention.

Funnily enough, most of the time I enjoyed the grampa steeps more than the gongfu ones. That is how I came to prefer larger pots.
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debunix
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:11 am

Bigger pots and grandpa style in large chawans when I need to hydrate; littler pots and smaller cups when I have more time for concentrated enjoyment, and am not brewing giant-leaved teas.
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OCTO
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:13 am

faj wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:54 am
Experiments that might be worth trying...

Experiment 1 : with the same tea and amount of leaf, infuse one portion with a small amount of water (say, 100ml) for 3 minutes, and another portion with a higher amount of water for three minutes 300ml. Then, dilute the first infusion to 300ml with hot water and compare. Sure, the temperature will not be the same, but still interesting.

Experiment 2 : infuse 100ml for three successive infusions of the same leaves, 1-minute each, and mix them together. Compare with a single, three-minute, 300ml infusion of the same amount of leaf.
@faj

Looking forward to your findings....
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OCTO
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:17 am

Youzi wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:50 am
Larger teapots cool slower, so their heat dissipation curves are different. And usually, but not always, depending on spout design, larger pots are slower to empty out. Therefore it's easier to overbrew tea in them.

However teas which need heat would fare batter in larger pots.
Do share your in-depth experience in this.... very interesting....
faj
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:18 am

OCTO wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:13 am
Looking forward to your findings....
I specified the experiment, never said I was to perform it myself. Heard about division of labour? :mrgreen:
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OCTO
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:30 am

faj wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:18 am
OCTO wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:13 am
Looking forward to your findings....
I specified the experiment, never said I was to perform it myself. Heard about division of labour? :mrgreen:
LOL.... :lol:
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Youzi
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:23 pm

OCTO wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:17 am
Youzi wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:50 am
Larger teapots cool slower, so their heat dissipation curves are different. And usually, but not always, depending on spout design, larger pots are slower to empty out. Therefore it's easier to overbrew tea in them.

However teas which need heat would fare batter in larger pots.
Do share your in-depth experience in this.... very interesting....
I'm not sure what do you mean exactly. This is just basic physics. A bigger not overly thin or overly tall pot of hot water cools down slower, then a smaller pot of water of the same dimensions.

The bigger your pot is, the bigger a spout and more holes you need to keep the pour out time the same. It's usually not the case.
So your minimum steep time is: POt / 2
(assuming you start pouring as soon as you filled the pot, which you should also consider, bigger pots need more time to fill, which starts your infusion timer, and extracting tea)
If you don't preheat your pot (which you can only do once, if you don't drink quickly enough), then a bigger pot will bring down your initial temperature from where you start brewing. (clay is not a good conductor, and has a relatively high Specific Heat, which means it needs lots of energy, aka heat from water, to heat up the pot)

These are just some of the things about heat, which you should consider, when using a bigger claypot.
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