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Resteeping tea -- multiple infusions


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#1 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 09:33 AM

I've recently discovered that some of the higher quality teas I've been buying really can be reused for several cups of tea. This is working beautifully with oolongs, chinese green teas, and pu-erhs.

Some questions that have come up, and my apologies in advance if this is discussed elsewhere, but I can't figure out how to search for this topic without getting huge numbers of irrelevant hits:

Why does the resteeping not draw as much bitterness out of the leaves as does a longer primary steeping?

How long do the leaves need to rest, if at all, between steepings?

And a related but more general question: when served tea in a gaiwan, the handleless cup with shallow saucer and lid, how do you prevent oversteeping and bitterness and at the same time avoid a burnt tongue from drinking the tea too quickly?

#2 Beebs

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 01:03 PM

I've recently discovered that some of the higher quality teas I've been buying really can be reused for several cups of tea.  This is working beautifully with oolongs, chinese green teas, and pu-erhs.

Some questions that have come up, and my apologies in advance if this is discussed elsewhere, but I can't figure out how to search for this topic without getting huge numbers of irrelevant hits:

Why does the resteeping not draw as much bitterness out of the leaves as does a longer primary steeping?

How long do the leaves need to rest, if at all, between steepings?

And a related but more general question:  when served tea in a gaiwan, the handleless cup with shallow saucer and lid, how do you prevent oversteeping and bitterness and at the same time avoid a burnt tongue from drinking the tea too quickly?

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I love how high-quality leaves can resteep!

Bitterness in teas is from the tannins in the leaves. There's only a limited amount of tannins, so once they've been released in the first steep or a long steep, that's it.

The leaves do not need to rest between steepings. Although they shouldn't be let to dry out before resteeping.

Traditional gaiwan (and yixing teapot) sets come with a little decanter/pitcher thing(sorry I don't know what they're called!) plus the cups. You'd steep the tea for the proper number of minutes, then pour it into the decanter, then serve it in the cups.

Otherwise, you could also try using water that is slightly cooler (below boiling), around 70 C. Tannins take longer to leach out in cooler water, so the resulting tea will taste less bitter. Short of digging out the leaves, there's not a whole lot you can do for oversteeped tea in the gaiwan, other than diluting with more water.

#3 Katie Meadow

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 01:33 PM

I got a teapot for a gift two years ago that solved the bitterness or oversteeping problem. It is ceramic (nice Japanese look too, but on the heavy side like Heath ware) with a wire mesh strainer/basket that sits in the rim below the lid. The basket extends down about half-way or a little more into the pot, so when about half the tea has been drunk the water is no longer in contact with the leaves; it stays hot without getting stronger. This allows for a good second steeping, as well and it is easy to dump the leaves. Doubtless this is not an uncommon teapot design, but it seems like a smart one. I'm so protective of this teapot I won't let anyone else in the house wash it. My husband is an enthusiastic dish washer--sometimes too enthusiastic!

#4 gfron1

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 02:44 PM

In my store's tea room we tell folks to resteep based on what our supplier (Ming at Vital Tea Leaf in San Fran) suggests. We have no problems with this except some of the sweeter (naturally sweet) teas that lose most of their sweetness after the first steeping. The best example that is coming to mind is a jasmine pearl. It is so sweet on the first steep, but the second has very little sweetness, which is why most people buy it. This also plays into the teas that they need to rinse or decaf first, where much of that initial taste is washed away or reduced.

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#5 gfron1

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 02:53 PM

I did some deep digging and only found one post talking about it. THIS topic might be helpful, and reply #20 talks specifically about resteeping. I think the challenge with this search is that others may call it a "second steep" or a "subsequent steep," etc., so there are 41 pages of replies that contain "steep" but I'll let you dig through those in your free-time. Thanks for making a topic! :biggrin:

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#6 naguere

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Posted 29 November 2007 - 08:54 AM

I have a small tin of Hangzhou Pre-Chingming LONG GIN

brought to me from Hong Kong, it cost £15 and is a lovely green tea with very large leaves (when steeped).

The instructions that came with it was the first steeping for 2 mins
second steeping for 4 mins and third steeping for 5 mins.
There may have been a fourth steeping.

Anyway, using a Korean glass tea cup with a slotted inner i follow the instructions and each brew is very good.

I use it teaspoon by teaspoon , once a month. :biggrin:



edited to up the price.

Edited by naguere, 29 November 2007 - 08:56 AM.

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#7 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 29 November 2007 - 09:37 AM

The instructions that came with it was the first steeping for 2 mins
second steeping for 4 mins and third steeping for 5 mins.
There may have been a fourth steeping.

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So later steepings longer? Quite interesting. I've been stretching them a little too.

#8 Naftal

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 07:21 PM

I've recently discovered that some of the higher quality teas I've been buying really can be reused for several cups of tea.  This is working beautifully with oolongs, chinese green teas, and pu-erhs.

Some questions that have come up, and my apologies in advance if this is discussed elsewhere, but I can't figure out how to search for this topic without getting huge numbers of irrelevant hits:

Why does the resteeping not draw as much bitterness out of the leaves as does a longer primary steeping?

How long do the leaves need to rest, if at all, between steepings?

And a related but more general question:  when served tea in a gaiwan, the handleless cup with shallow saucer and lid, how do you prevent oversteeping and bitterness and at the same time avoid a burnt tongue from drinking the tea too quickly?

View Post


I love how high-quality leaves can resteep!

Bitterness in teas is from the tannins in the leaves. There's only a limited amount of tannins, so once they've been released in the first steep or a long steep, that's it.

The leaves do not need to rest between steepings. Although they shouldn't be let to dry out before resteeping.

Traditional gaiwan (and yixing teapot) sets come with a little decanter/pitcher thing(sorry I don't know what they're called!) plus the cups. You'd steep the tea for the proper number of minutes, then pour it into the decanter, then serve it in the cups.

Otherwise, you could also try using water that is slightly cooler (below boiling), around 70 C. Tannins take longer to leach out in cooler water, so the resulting tea will taste less bitter. Short of digging out the leaves, there's not a whole lot you can do for oversteeped tea in the gaiwan, other than diluting with more water.

View Post

Hello- The decanter is called a chahai in Chinese. The literal translation is"tea sea", but "faircup" or "serving vessel" would be a better translation. You can buy them alone at this site.

Edited by Naftal, 22 January 2008 - 07:34 PM.

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#9 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 10:02 AM

I think I get it now--following that link and googling a bit for chahai--the gaiwan is either used for brewing the tea for just a few seconds, then drunk quickly (hard to see how I would accomplish that without burning my tongue), then repeated, or for tea steeped in the other container then poured into it.

So if someone serves loose leaf tea in a gaiwan, you're to add the hot water, and toss it off quick before it gets bitter?

#10 jpr54_

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:30 PM

in making oolong tea-it is common to rinse leaves for a few seconds with water(agony of the leaves)-

shan shui teas has wonderful teas and other accessories-
you may also want to check out www.houdeasianart.com-

#11 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 06:01 PM

in making oolong tea-it is common to rinse leaves for a few seconds with water(agony of the leaves)-


Agony of the leaves sounds so evil!

And unfortunately for my budget, I've discovered several places that have lovely teas online and in person. Very dangerous. But much to my unexpected pleasure, I found that a tin of Ti Kuan Yin I bought fairly inexpensively some months ago held up very well next to the more expensive stuff I found online. But I've never rinsed it; I would need an extra container just to hold the rinse water when I make tea at work.

#12 maggiethecat

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 06:16 PM

I got a teapot for a gift two years ago that solved the bitterness or oversteeping problem. It is ceramic (nice Japanese look too, but on the heavy side like Heath ware) with a wire mesh strainer/basket that sits in the rim below the lid. The basket extends down about half-way or a little more into the pot, so when about half the tea has been drunk the water is no longer in contact with the leaves; it stays hot without getting stronger. This allows for a  good second steeping, as well and it is easy to dump the leaves. Doubtless this is not an uncommon teapot design, but it seems like a smart one. I'm so protective of this teapot I won't let anyone else in the house wash it. My husband is an enthusiastic dish washer--sometimes too enthusiastic!

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I have the same teapot, Katie, the latest in a lifetime of teapots. I l cherish it. I saw it at the Japanese-American History Museum gift shop in LA, with my tea-loving- son-in-law. We continued browsing (windup sushi!) and checked out separately. Back home we handed each other a package: he'd bought me one, and I'd bought him one. It was a sweet moment.

Resteeping: My English grandmother always had a pot of hot water handy to refill the teapot as levels sank. It was taken as a matter of course that the leaves would be steeped again. She was an oolong lover.

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#13 prasantrin

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 08:57 PM

I got a teapot for a gift two years ago that solved the bitterness or oversteeping problem. It is ceramic (nice Japanese look too, but on the heavy side like Heath ware) with a wire mesh strainer/basket that sits in the rim below the lid. The basket extends down about half-way or a little more into the pot, so when about half the tea has been drunk the water is no longer in contact with the leaves; it stays hot without getting stronger.

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You can buy the little basket-like things for steeping tea separately. They're available at any Y100 store, in different sizes, so I imagine if you're lucky enough to live in an area with a Daiso (Vancouver, Hawaii, Dubai, etc.) or Japanese grocery store (like Uwajimaya), you should be able to pick one up for a few dollars.

I have one for my mug, but I take it out after it finishes brewing, then put it back in when I want a second steeping. My mug also has a lid to help keep the contents warm (but it doesn't really work).

Edited by prasantrin, 23 January 2008 - 10:22 PM.


#14 racheld

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 10:36 PM

My six-cup McCormick Aladdin-style pot has a neat white ceramic "basket" with holes which drops down neatly to nestle beneath the lid, looking like a little clerical collar when the lid's on.

I've never thought of leaving it IN---I just remove it to a saucer as soon as steeping time is done. But the tea level would, indeed, fall low enough after a cup or two is poured. Neat.

This is a Forties model, and the ones with the inserts still intact are hard to find.
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#15 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 10:52 PM

I have been frustrated by a couple of teapots with inserts that are too high from the bottom of the pot, so that they do not efficiently brew a single cup of tea--if it's too high, the tea isn't covered unless the pot is nearly full.

I'm loving one I found in a chinatown shop that is actually from japan, very simple clear glass with a mesh basket insert. I like the glass to see the color variations in the brewed tea.


I can see that the teaware collecting can be as addicting as the teas themselves, however, and have to firmly remind myself that there is only so much room in the cupboards whenever I see another cute ceramic/cast iron/glass pot.....and I have a nice teapot for home and for work already.

As soon as the tea is brewed, I pour it off into a thermos, and resteep immediately, until the thermos is full. Then I can carry the thermos with me to the nearby offices of several other tea-loving colleagues, and to the clinic workroom where I can share more. One quart of tea can yield half a dozen happy campers.

#16 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 10:07 AM

I got a teapot for a gift two years ago that solved the bitterness or oversteeping problem. It is ceramic (nice Japanese look too, but on the heavy side like Heath ware) with a wire mesh strainer/basket that sits in the rim below the lid. The basket extends down about half-way or a little more into the pot, so when about half the tea has been drunk the water is no longer in contact with the leaves; it stays hot without getting stronger.

View Post


You can buy the little basket-like things for steeping tea separately. They're available at any Y100 store, in different sizes, so I imagine if you're lucky enough to live in an area with a Daiso (Vancouver, Hawaii, Dubai, etc.) or Japanese grocery store (like Uwajimaya), you should be able to pick one up for a few dollars.

I have one for my mug, but I take it out after it finishes brewing, then put it back in when I want a second steeping. My mug also has a lid to help keep the contents warm (but it doesn't really work).

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I have a similar basket that I got from The Cultured Cup. It has a plastic frame with a gold-plated wire basket and a plastic lid. It not only works well in a mug, but also in a small (3-4 cup) white French porcelein teapot. The lid also serves, upside down, as a saucer for the basket. (Edited to note that they have two sizes of these filters, one for a cup and one for a pot: clickety click.)

I routinely get two to three steepings out of oolongs and green teas.

Edited by Richard Kilgore, 31 January 2008 - 10:17 AM.


#17 Naftal

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 08:04 AM

I've recently discovered that some of the higher quality teas I've been buying really can be reused for several cups of tea.  This is working beautifully with oolongs, chinese green teas, and pu-erhs.

Some questions that have come up, and my apologies in advance if this is discussed elsewhere, but I can't figure out how to search for this topic without getting huge numbers of irrelevant hits:

Why does the resteeping not draw as much bitterness out of the leaves as does a longer primary steeping?

How long do the leaves need to rest, if at all, between steepings?

And a related but more general question:  when served tea in a gaiwan, the handleless cup with shallow saucer and lid, how do you prevent oversteeping and bitterness and at the same time avoid a burnt tongue from drinking the tea too quickly?

View Post

Hello- Tea :wub: is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. So,I was wondering if you have anything new to report. Have you been resteeping :huh: ? How is it turning out? Are you familiar with Gong Fu Cha?

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#18 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 01:26 PM

I'm bumping up this topic since the question of multiple infusions comes up in the Tea 101 topic.

#19 Naftal

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 10:25 AM

Hello-I know no one asked, but...One reason Tea can be resteeped is because most tea leaves are rolled.With each steeping, they unroll a little more.I know there are other reasons too, like the fact that all the oils and other goodies just don't come out after one steeping, but I thought this was interesting.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)


#20 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 09:46 PM

Hello-I know no one asked, but...One reason Tea can be resteeped is  because most tea leaves are rolled.With each steeping, they unroll a little more.I know there are other reasons too, like the fact that all the oils and other goodies just  don't come out after one steeping, but I thought this was interesting.

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interesting point. Some of my most-re-steepable teas are the most highly compressed, but some of the straight white teas which are nearly flat before steeping also do well. It makes sense to me that many teas don't give everything on the first steeping.

What I am very curious about, however, is whether there is a significant difference between tea steeped multiple times and tea steeped once for longer but with a larger volume of water--e.g.,

one teaspoon of tea steeped 4 times with 6 oz of water for 1 minute each

vs

one teaspoon of tea steeped 4 minutes with 24 oz of water

Do the multiple infusions have some additional agitating effect that helps to get more good flavor out of the leaves, or is the tradition of multiple infusions simply a practical way to make use of smaller vessels for brewing?

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 06 December 2008 - 09:47 PM.


#21 Naftal

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 12:01 PM

Hello-I know no one asked, but...One reason Tea can be resteeped is  because most tea leaves are rolled.With each steeping, they unroll a little more.I know there are other reasons too, like the fact that all the oils and other goodies just  don't come out after one steeping, but I thought this was interesting.

View Post


interesting point. Some of my most-re-steepable teas are the most highly compressed, but some of the straight white teas which are nearly flat before steeping also do well. It makes sense to me that many teas don't give everything on the first steeping.

What I am very curious about, however, is whether there is a significant difference between tea steeped multiple times and tea steeped once for longer but with a larger volume of water--e.g.,

one teaspoon of tea steeped 4 times with 6 oz of water for 1 minute each

vs

one teaspoon of tea steeped 4 minutes with 24 oz of water

Do the multiple infusions have some additional agitating effect that helps to get more good flavor out of the leaves, or is the tradition of multiple infusions simply a practical way to make use of smaller vessels for brewing?

View Post

Hello-Obviously, I can only speak from my own experience/opinions... I have noticed that the 2nd, 3rd,4th steepings actually taste different from one another. I enjoy comparing these differences.In my opinion, it is not a matter of more flavor, but of different flavors.A small pot allows one to finish one steep quickly and go on to the next. But, if I am brewing a tea that does not change much from one steeping to the next(or one in which the change is undesirable), I will get a bigger pot and use more tea and more water. I always brew pu'er in small pots (for multiple steepings), but I will brew a large pot of my rose-scented tea for long term enjoyment of its rosey goodness. Does this make any sense?

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)


#22 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 12:29 PM

Yes, that does make some sense.

What I have been doing is 3-4 infusions in a small pot, which are then combined into a large thermos that I drink throughout the day. So I don't really taste the different brewings one by one, nor have I tested whether the results are really different from a single larger pot brewed a little longer.

#23 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 05:30 PM

Yes, that does make some sense.

What I have been doing is 3-4 infusions in a small pot, which are then combined into a large thermos that I drink throughout the day.  So I don't really taste the different brewings one by one, nor have I tested whether the results are really different from a single larger pot brewed a little longer.

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Let us know what you discover if you try tasting each of the infusions separately.

#24 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 12:18 PM

Today finally did the experiment, round 1

Used Rishi Tea Pu-Erch Tuo Cha tablets

Rinsed each briefly, did not break them up

Brought water to about 185 degrees

Steeped tablet with 1 cup water, poured 1/3 to single cup and rest to thermos, then added another cup of water to the leaves for 2nd steeping.

Repeated 3 times, net 4 samples of different rounds of steeping and 1 sample of all mixed together

Then took a fresh tablet and, after rinsing, steeped it with 4 cups of 185 degree water, and let steep for 4 minutes.

Tasted the results with puffed rice to clear the palate in between.

Results? Not that surprising.

http://www.flickr.co...nix/3625463423/

The first 1 minute steeping was thin, light, hardly worth drinking.
2nd minute steeping was still thin, notably darker, and a bit more tannic.
The 3rd and 4th minute steepings were not really distinguishable, but very nice.

The mix was the most rounded flavor.

And the single brewing with 4 cups for 4 minutes was essentially indistinguishable from the mixed single steepings--equally delicious. The primary difference was that the mixed cup was a bit cooler by the time the larger volume brew was ready.

#25 Naftal

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 11:27 AM

Today finally did the experiment, round 1

Used Rishi Tea Pu-Erch Tuo Cha tablets

Rinsed each briefly, did not break them up

Brought water to about 185 degrees

Steeped tablet with 1 cup water, poured 1/3 to single cup and rest to thermos, then added another cup of water to the leaves for 2nd steeping.

Repeated 3 times, net 4 samples of different rounds of steeping and 1 sample of all mixed together

Then took a fresh tablet and, after rinsing, steeped it with 4 cups of 185 degree water, and let steep for 4 minutes.

Tasted the results with puffed rice to clear the palate in between.

Results?  Not that surprising.

http://www.flickr.co...nix/3625463423/

The first 1 minute steeping was thin, light, hardly worth drinking.
2nd minute steeping was still thin, notably darker, and a bit more tannic.
The 3rd and 4th minute steepings were not really distinguishable, but very nice.

The mix was the most rounded flavor.

And the single brewing with 4 cups for 4 minutes was essentially indistinguishable from the mixed single steepings--equally delicious.  The primary difference was that the mixed cup was a bit cooler by the time the larger volume brew was ready.

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Hello-I am a big fan of tuo cha, and I enjoyed reading your post. I have one question:Were you using a "raw" or a "burnt" tuo cha?

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)


#26 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 12:34 PM

Were you using a "raw" or a "burnt" tuo cha?

Not sure how to find that out.

This is a link to the Rishi Tea web site, with their description of the tea:

<http://www.rishi-tea...u-erh-tea.html>

#27 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 09:48 AM

I can't tell from the Rishi site whether this is a shu (cooked) pu-erh or a sheng (raw pu-erh) but these mini-tuos have a bad reputation and the few I tried before moving on were anywhere from barely tolerable to pretty awful. A number of tea merchants carry them because they appear to be an easy entry to trying Pu-erh, but they turn many people away from pu before they have the opportunity to drink a decent one. That said, it is of course possible that these are the exception.

A few comments and suggestions.

It appears you are brewing western style. When you were doing the split brewing, I can not tell if you brewed a cup of tea (in what?) and then poured 1/3 off to taste directly into a cup...or poured off all of it into a cup and then poured 1/3 to taste in another cup and 2/3 into the thermos. The former would result in different layers of the tea water being poured into the two vessels.

I notice you are brewing at 185 degrees. That is unusually low for pu-erh. Was that the Rishi direction? You may want to try brewing using water that is as hot as you can get it...full boil; that's the usual approach which should extract much, much better.

Most good pu-erhs can be steeped 10 - 20 times when brewing gongfu style, and 5 or more times western style. Like most teas, the better the quality of the leaf, the more infusions.

#28 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 10:25 AM

>these mini-tuos have a bad reputation

I have since tried a very expensive loose-leaf pu-erh and a more traditional large disc that I break bits off of, and these rishi mini-tuos are my favorite--the tea has a fruity sweetness that is missing from the others. When I work my way through the loose-leaf pu-erh I will not get more, but I look forward to trying more of the discs.  At this rate, however, I won't get to more than one a year, because the disks are large.

> I can not tell if you brewed a cup of tea (in what?) and then poured 1/3 off to taste directly into a cup..

I poured it off from the teapot into cups and into the thermos, but swirled it before pouring to mix the layers.

>I notice you are brewing at 185 degrees. That is unusually low for pu-erh.

That was my misremembering of what my tea book suggested--205 to 210 degrees.

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#29 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 11:00 AM

>these mini-tuos have a bad reputation


I have since tried a very expensive loose-leaf pu-erh and a more traditional large disc that I break bits off of, and these rishi mini-tuos are my favorite--the tea has a fruity sweetness that is missing from the others. When I work my way through the loose-leaf pu-erh I will not get more, but I look forward to trying more of the discs.  At this rate, however, I won't get to more than one a year, because the disks are large.

> I can not tell if you brewed a cup of tea (in what?) and then poured 1/3 off to taste directly into a cup..

I poured it off from the teapot into cups and into the thermos, but swirled it before pouring to mix the layers.

>I notice you are brewing at 185 degrees. That is unusually low for pu-erh.

That was my misremembering of what my tea book suggested--205 to 210 degrees.

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Yes, exploring Pu-erh is even more of an adventure than many other types of tea. I hope you'll share some of your pu explorations on the Pu-erh topic.

#30 Wholemeal Crank

Wholemeal Crank
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Posted 18 July 2009 - 12:08 PM

[ I hope you'll share some of your pu explorations on the Pu-erh topic.

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Didn't know there was a topic just for pu-erh. Will check it out.