Steeping leaves with extra space in the pot

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Ethan Kurland
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Thu May 16, 2019 9:14 pm

Recently Victoria mentioned preparing tea in a pot that had was not full. Bok often mentions that he likes round vessels that give leaves enough room to expand fully out (not up). For a few days I've combined their wisdom, preparing all of my teas in a typical pot from Taiwan (glazed outside only) that is round and fat around its middle. I like the results. With only air in the top third of the pot (by height, not volume) it seems leaves are releasing much more flavor; and, all that is involved in preparation is easier. I can move leaves around while still using them and remove them when steeping is finished so easily.

I also find myself encouraged to pay more attention to detail. For some teas I have found using less water for the final infusion to be beneficial; however, before when wet leaves had expanded all the way to the top of pots and gaiwans, I had assumed those leaves took up so much more space that I was using less water because there was no choice. With space at the top I was encouraged to be deliberate. A measured reduction in water, has improved the last infusions greatly. (The amount of water before was only slightly less for later infusions than earlier ones.)

Drinking oriental beauty tonight made me laugh at myself. I had recently posted that the O.B. that I have now is much more subdued than what I used to drink. It is more subtle and refined in what Bok might call an adult-tasting way; but, it is now showing a lot more fruitiness & a touch of spice.

Thankfully, I can put smaller teaware on the shelf. I am a bit clumsy for it anyway. Cheers
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Bok
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Thu May 16, 2019 10:13 pm

Interesting observations Ethan. I know of at least one person who pushes it even further and always leaves 1/3 of the pot empty, no matter the size.
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Victoria
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Fri May 17, 2019 1:09 pm

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 9:14 pm
.....Drinking oriental beauty tonight made me laugh at myself. I had recently posted that the O.B. that I have now is much more subdued than what I used to drink. It is more subtle and refined in what Bok might call an adult-tasting way; but, it is now showing a lot more fruitiness & a touch of spice.
Ethan, Are you saying that using a larger pot, and leaving 1/3 empty at the top, resulted in more fruitless and spice? Maybe you used slightly more leaf or less water overall, making the steep richer?

Lately, I’ve been stopping the pour on all my pots at below 1/8” from the rim, to avoid over spill. I also make sure hole in lid is clear of air pockets for better flow. With larger kyusu, I leave much more space inside when steeping sencha; faster pour, less spillage, calibrated to how much I want to drink. Since sencha uses cooler water than say yancha, or Taiwan roasted oolong, this works very well. Yancha and Taiwan roasted oolong that I steep though prefer being coddled in a very hot pot, allowing slower unfolding of flavors through subsequent steeps. The exception for me is very large leaf oolong like FuShouShan that likes a bigger pot with plenty of room to unfurl. I’ll try your method with Oriental Beauty to see how it goes.
Ethan Kurland
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Fri May 17, 2019 3:55 pm

Victoria wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 1:09 pm
, Are you saying that using a larger pot, and leaving 1/3 empty at the top, resulted in more fruitless and spice? Maybe you used slightly more leaf or less water overall, making the steep richer?.....
To answer your ?, Victoria, I have drunk a lot of 2 of the same teas. I find the space at the top of the pot is bringing out the array of flavors for the O.B. & does the same for Championship Black. I think this goes hand & hand with shorter steeping time as the only change in preparation. I am still using about 1 gram of tea for about 60 ml of water, except I switched to 2 oz. which is about 3.__ml less water to 1 gram of leaves. (Finding out that when I talk to people outside of the forum that most don't really think in milliliters. Took me quite a while also.)

I am guessing that space allows water to get to the leaves better; and, I guess that some flavors overwhelm others but they need more time to get that powerful. I want to taste a lot of fruit and a hint of spice. I guess those flavors get buried if an infusion is not quick.

I used glass to duplicate testing to be sure it is not just one pot that this is true for. (Do prefer the brews from the pot for tea from Taiwan. Don't think it is fooling myself because I know that the pot was made in Taiwan because the clay is from Japan.)

Besides considering flavor, I am tired of spilling and working to remove leaves tightly filling pots. Cheers
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