I've been buying some teas from IPOT recently and there's a funny
thing I noticed.. I noticed that I like full-bodied teas an order of
magnitude better than other good teas. But first let me make sure that
I understand this right.. Full bodied means that it tastes smooth,
full, silky, and in fact the texture of tea changes from being like
water to being somewhat comparable to milk or coffee or something else
entirely. To go from the opposite, you could say that teas that are
not full-bodied are like water flavored with tea. Full bodied teas are
never astringent, bright or sparkly. They are no longer flavored
water, they were transfused into some new beast entirely.
Their golden yunnan and silver needles are full-bodied, while their
keemun mao feng and honey oolong and first flush darjeeling (of
course) are not. So, there is something that unites two teas, one
white and one black, that should be very different (and are in fact),
and yet they stand apart from almost all other teas. How come?
What other teas are completely full-bodied? I tried many offerings
from upton, special teas, a few from IPOT and adagio, and none of them
were full bodied anywhere near these two teas. Are there "totally"
full-bodied oolongs? Greens? Pu-erhs?
In fact, I seriously need a good recommendation on a pu-erh, I bought
a really good one a few years back and can't remember where I got it
from or which one it was or anything about it, except that it was a
black pu-erh and it wasn't in a cake or a tuo-cha. It was probably a
bit on expensive side but not very much so. It was probably around
$15-20 for 1/4lb. I bought some cheaper pu-ehrs from IPOT and either
upton or special teas and none were worth brewing.
I'd like an earthy and aromatic pu-erh, like the first one I liked,
but I guess that's how all good pu-erhs are. How are green ones
different from blacks?
By the way, I'm pretty disappointed in both the keemun and the oolong
from this recent batch. Darjeeling is pretty nice, any darj that is
almost entirely free of astringency after a 20 minute (20 with a
zero!) brew is worth something. But the keemun seems lacking after the
golden yunnan. Is it just a matter of the yunnan being that good
rather? Keemun was the first tea that introduced me to tasty loose
leaf teas and I always remembered it to be better, I guess, than it
really is in itself, because the shock of going from lipton to upton's
sampler keemun was so big. Later keemun never made such impression, is
keemun by itself a bit of a lesser tea than best yunnans?
With oolong, it may be just a matter of me having no taste at all for
green-like oolongs. (or for astringent, 'sharp' greens). It's
interesting that it does taste like honey but that's about all. It's
not a bad tea though, but from my point of view, it's overpriced. It's
smell is amazing, though, when it's made gong-fu style. I did that
only once so far and I'm leaning to entirely spending whole package on
gong-fu making, and I want to try pouring it out right after the water
is added, not even wasting a second to close the lid, because then it
comes out too astringent, even after a few seconds!
My idea of full body is multiple whole leaf on a stem. In other
words something you couldn't swallow without chewing. It should clog
your pot. Its the nature of oolong and black tea processing the leaf
will break versus a white or green. I think a good British breafast
tea has a more full body taste because of the blend than single whole
leaf. I don't see any connection betweeen tea taste and leaf size. I
like sucking brew from whole leaf because I choke on fines. I'm
currently drinkg a flat pressed green whole leaf which was done by a
roller that left tire marks. Hell maybe they used a tractor. There
are weak tasting teas of the whole and pekoe sizes. Just add more
Do you see any connection between full-bodiedness and
ability to brew a tea for a very long time (20-30min) without
it getting bitter or astringent? I find that very appealing
because you're not racing against time when drinking
that kind of tea..
I've got an Assam fannings I consider full bodied, but the first mug
infuser, brewed in boiling water, MUST be taken out in less than a
minute. A good, heavy, tea is produced. The second mug can be brewed
three minutes to all morning and comes out strong, although I suspect
most of the caffeine has gone to the first cup. Both cups strong and
malty, not bitter nor astringent, but I look for nuance later in the
day with other tea. Toci
Sorry, but I don't understand why this would be important to you. The
problem goes away if you can separate the liquor from the leaves when
the liquor reaches the flavor and texture you want.
You're right, it's party because my glass infuser broke and I did not
it and that I find it more practical and easier to use less leaves,
infuse longer and not bother with an infuser. I also find that teas
require an infuser also have better taste; and it appeals to me to use
as few parts as possible in tea-making (I have a minimalistic streak).
Also I must note that most infusers limit leaves to a tight area which
bad for tea taste, there are a few infusers that occupy all of the
a pot, but that limits your choices of a pot, they're expensive and
ones I've seen are metallic and that means they will impart metallic
to white and mild green teas.
I don't know maybe it's just my failure as a tea brewer but I could
manage a good tasting cup with a gaiwan. I have three of them and
I like to use them as simple cups. It may be because of the size..
I have a smaller tea pot and the tea also doesn't taste as good out of
it. My largest glass pot makes the best tea. I eventually interpolated
all of this to mean that good tea needs large volume, possibly because
it then keeps itself at good temperature for long enough to be brewed
properly. My two smaller gaiwans are about 5oz, larger one is about 7,
largest pot is ~3 cups, 2nd is 2.5 cups and 3rd is 1.5 cups. I did
the gaiwans when i tried using them..
Incidentally I like to drink coffee out of gaiwans, especially the one
is untreated clay on the outside, it seems to fit coffee very well.
I respect and appreciate your preferences, but l join Lew in encouraging you to revisit your gaiwan. Finding the right amount of tea that allows relatively short steeping times is, I think, the secret you're yet to uncover. I don't want to bore you with all kinds of details, but I believe it will be worth your effort to have a go again. Perhaps though there are other issues. Perhaps you want several cups of "normal" size for your efforts. If that's so, a gaiwan is usually associated with little cups or single -- let's say 5 ounce -- cups, so in that case I see your point better. In any event, please don't encase the leaves in a metal jail; it's cruel and deprives you of their beauty.
I totally agree about metal jail bit. Small size of Gaiwans
is also a consideration for me. I will try them again, though,
as you suggest. However.. are you suggesting using more
leaves but brewing for a shorter time? In that case, does it
make sense to use a more expensive tea, less leaves and
let it brew longer? Then your expense is about the same,
you don't have to worry about timing the point where leaves
have to be separated, you're more flexible with pots you can
use, etc. Except for darjeelings that seems to work good
for me.. But I always wanted to go back to gaiwans and
try them again anyway! thanks..
In my opinion, it depends on the tea. There aren't many teas I like
to brew for as much as 3 minutes on the initial steep these days.
Or use a more expensive - or, if you're luck, just a better - tea,
lots of leaves, and brew it with short steeps all day long.
I think you'll find that the taste and aroma and body of the tea will be different if you take the shorter steep, more leaf approach. Most teafolk will tell you that stinting on leaf is a mistake in that it brings down the tea's potential. Even a moderately good tea will benefit from a gaiwan approach, IMHO. Again, as Lew suggested elsewhere, not many teas truly benefit from three minutes of steeping. For many teas brewed in a gaiwan, 15 seconds ought to do it. We normally range from 5 seconds to half a minute, more or less, by degrees.
Of course, you can also put in some green tea leaf, some not-too-hot water, and drink as is, using the lid to keep the tea leaves out of your mouth; then, you can refill with water whenever you like. I'm shorthanding, and I hope I'm not confusing youi more than ever.
Now I understand it comes down to the way
it's practical for me to brew tea. I have a
kettle on a gas stove and I brew a large pot
in the kitchen and then take it wherever I need.
If I had an electric kettle I'd be more willing to
try brewing small quantities in a gaiwan and
using multiple steeps. As it were I never steep
more than once because with the amount of
leaf I like to use second steep is never satisfying.
Even if i use less water and higher temp. Actually
sometimes it's as flavorful as the first steep but
it always seems like some essential part of
flavor is missing, although it's impossible to
identify. The tea is more watery even though
the flavor is as strong as before. So, I always
steep just once.. I don't really like to go to
the kitchen for a second steeping anyway.
I have to try gaiwans again if only to figure
out if it's possible to make tasty tea with
gaiwan at all.
I do that with Darjeelings, in fact with good darj's (well ok I only
had one really good..), I try both ways and generally I still like
less leaves and longer steep. But thanks for the direction.. I shall
Even a moderately good tea will benefit from a gaiwan approach, IMHO.
Again, as Lew suggested elsewhere, not many teas truly benefit from
three minutes of steeping. For many teas brewed in a gaiwan, 15
seconds ought to do it. We normally range from 5 seconds to half a
minute, more or less, by degrees.
But that's going into gong-fu territory! Why not whip out a gong-fu
teapot then? I always felt that if you're using so much leaf you might
as well use that little pot too. Rather than smooth-fired gaiwan.. It
kills me to use so much leaf though. I must be a cheapskate. I should
get an electric pot then I'd do gong-fu more often with some teas that
are not that good otherwise. Maybe you think that gaiwan is as good
for gong-fu brewing as the pot? I always got much better results from
the pot but at the same time I have to say I didn't do it enough times
to claim any amount of mastery. My pot isn't even red zisha. I had a
very cute green pot and broke it, and now I have a really amazing
khaki pot from ten ren, but eventually I should get a red zisha for
oolongs - I've heard only red ones are the 'real deal'.
I don't use zisha pots because I don't really have the room for a
collection of them in my tiny apartment. The tea occupies enough
space! I can say with confidence, though, that if you're stingy you
don't want to start using zisha pots. And using enough leaf to brew
short steeps all day long in a gaiwan is economical.
I also love gaiwan, especially for tasting a new tea. They are
beautiful, perfect size for a tasting, and you can observe the leaves
nicely. Now I have heard horror stories about thermal burns, broken
lids and all, yikes, things I wont curse myself by talking about, but
I have been fortunate.
What a nice little tea vessel it is. Does anyone remember "Love is a
many spendored thing",(movie) Where there were gaiwans at all the
table settings in the dinner room of the big home ( of the doctors
I wonder if they use these all the time in China? Peolple from China?
Please tell me what is your favorite brewing vessel?
When I was in Yunnan in May, I drank tea on maybe two dozen
different occasions with people who grow, manufacture, or sell Pu'er,
and the tea was brewed in a gaiwan each time. But that's a skewed
sample of Chinese tea drinkers, to be sure, and even these people
would probably just throw some leaves in a jar if they were going to
drink tea in the park.
I love gaiwans, I like drinking from them, but I could never manage to
make good tea with them. Ok tea. Decent tea - yes. Never really great
tea. For stupendously excellent tea I use Jenaer glass pot, about
3-3.5 cups capacity. I use it without an infuser. It looks great, too,
and has a perfect shape in my opinion. HTH!