hei cha brewing methods

Puerh and other heicha
Post Reply
User avatar
wave_code
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2018 2:10 pm
Location: Vienna

Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:34 am

I've been revisiting my ideas/methods of gong fu and how to best brew what I am drinking, and I think a lot of the discussion around brewing methods tends towards the side of what is favorable for things like sheng, oolongs, greens, and that many hei cha might not necessarily shine their brightest using similar methods. Part of what has been bringing me around to this was that I felt certain characteristics I would expect from particular teas was missing or more subtle than I expected, but also while on the never ending pot hunt that a lot of the clay that seems best for brewing dark teas tend to be a bit bigger, particularly compared to the typically desirable ever smaller and lightning fast pour shui ping.

The typical 5g/100ml and flash steeps with slowly rising times is the old tried and true, adjusting temps/times/leaf ratio form there to dial things in for a particular tea but probably not expecting a huge deviation from the norm. It makes sense particularly with sheng and oolongs that you don't want to stew your leaves, invite astringency, or just generally make things unpleasantly strong. And while some teas, particularly much older ones, like Liu Bao may brew up fine that way the average grade aren't going to necessarily go for 8-20 steeps - and if you try and stretch them that way you'll find the results pretty bland/disappointing. To my taste at least the main issue with brewing a lot of hei cha isn't accidental astringency/stewing, but rather that leaves can often be so compressed or so dry they can't really open up properly with flash steeping - missing out on the richer, sweeter, or more varied notes different styles have to offer. A 5 second steep won't offer much if a leaf needs a good 10-15 second boiling wash just to get going. Not to mention your probably want pots with a very different style of heat retention for such brewing.

My move lately has been going for slightly more leaf and upping my vessel size and brew time - say more like 5-8g depending on the tea for a thicker clay pot around 175ml and going for longer steeps, 20 seconds starting time and up from there with larger increments. There are of course always exceptions, but since trying this out with some teas I know fairly well I feel like I am starting to find more depth of flavor, more notes that were lacking or not even present before. An added bonus that it also seems a bit more favorable to semi-distracted or casual brewing.

So - how do you brew your liu bao, tian jian, liu an, etc? Do you treat it the same way you would an oolong, or do you approach it completely different?
User avatar
Stephen
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:26 pm
Location: Bay Area, California

Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:44 pm

wave_code wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:34 am
So - how do you brew your liu bao, tian jian, liu an, etc? Do you treat it the same way you would an oolong, or do you approach it completely different?
I usually brew those types of hei cha the same way that I brew pu er. I usually use 1g of tea per 15-20ml of teapot volume and do multiple steepings. As you mentioned I sometimes prefer to use a larger teapot, less tea per volume, longer steep times and fewer steepings. In particular I find this works well for some shu pu er, giving it a fuller body and more complex brew.
cherrybomb7
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 6:44 pm

Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:25 pm

What about going the opposite of what you said here: I do 1g/10ml and start steeps at 20-30 seconds. This usually rewards intense syrupy cups but because of the nature of the production process of hei cha the steeps are never bitter, astringent nor gross.
User avatar
Stephen
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:26 pm
Location: Bay Area, California

Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:33 pm

You mentioned, "To my taste at least the main issue with brewing a lot of hei cha isn't accidental astringency/stewing, but rather that leaves can often be so compressed or so dry they can't really open up properly with flash steeping." When I brew highly compressed tea I usually rinse the tea and then let it rest for a little while (10 to 30 minutes.) The compressed tea will open up and expand as the leaves rehydrate after the rinse.
User avatar
wave_code
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2018 2:10 pm
Location: Vienna

Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:22 am

hmm, I've never thought to let something rest so long after a rinse. A lot of stuff I brew isn't necessarily even pressed into cakes or is pretty loose, exception being some of the three cranes pucks or some maybe some tuo shu. If something is really tight I'll let it sit and steam for a minute or two with the lid on before getting on with brewing. But, as you mentioned maybe even for uncompressed teas trying a longer rest to let the leaves rehydrate a bit is worth a try.
User avatar
debunix
Posts: 543
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:27 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:24 am

I've only tried two or maybe three Hei Cha (can't remember if I bought more of the sample or a different one), and so far they are working beautifully in bulk brewing situations, mostly when I need a liter or two of tea, for me and to share, at work or on the road. That's what I bought them for. The sweet earthiness that brings to mind walking through an ancient forest

Image

Image

comes out beautifully in such bulk brewing, when I get it just right.
User avatar
tealifehk
Vendor
Posts: 443
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:58 am
Location: Hong Kong
Contact:

Sun May 05, 2019 8:51 pm

Hei cha is excellent boiled, as well, and this includes pu! Even young maocha is boiled in Yunnan. I am really not a fan of flash steeping hei cha or pu and tend to rinse twice and start infusing at 40 seconds. I tend to use 8-10g for a pot of 140-250ml, and adjust time based on darkness of liquor.
Post Reply