Full-bodied teas

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!
Reply to
andrei.avk
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 tea.
Jim
Reply to
Space Cowboy
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..
Reply to
andrei.avk
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
Reply to
toci
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com writes:
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.
/Lew
Reply to
Lewis Perin
You're right, it's party because my glass infuser broke and I did not replace it and that I find it more practical and easier to use less leaves, let them infuse longer and not bother with an infuser. I also find that teas that don't 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 is bad for tea taste, there are a few infusers that occupy all of the area of a pot, but that limits your choices of a pot, they're expensive and the ones I've seen are metallic and that means they will impart metallic taste to white and mild green teas.
Reply to
andrei.avk
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com writes:
Why not use a gaiwan? It's minimalistic and lets the leaves swim wherever the water will take them.
/Lew
Reply to
Lewis Perin
I don't know maybe it's just my failure as a tea brewer but I could never 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 preheat the gaiwans when i tried using them..
Incidentally I like to drink coffee out of gaiwans, especially the one that is untreated clay on the outside, it seems to fit coffee very well.
Reply to
andrei.avk
ndrei writes:
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. Michael
Reply to
Michael Plant
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..
Reply to
andrei.avk
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com writes:
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.
/Lew
Reply to
Lewis Perin
snip
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.
Michael
Reply to
Michael Plant
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.
Reply to
andrei.avk
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 experiment!
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'.
Happy brews!
Reply to
andrei.avk
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com writes:
Or you could dump the just-boiled into a vacuum bottle and take that wherever you need.
/Lew
Reply to
Lewis Perin

snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com writes:
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.
/Lew
Reply to
Lewis Perin
Hello, 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 family)? I wonder if they use these all the time in China? Peolple from China? Please tell me what is your favorite brewing vessel?
Reply to
Jenn

Jenn writes:
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.
/Lew
Reply to
Lewis Perin
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!
Reply to
andrei.avk

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