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#1 OnigiriFB

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 09:33 AM

Hi,

I just bought some loosed leaf tea from Gong Fu Tea here in Des Moines (see my blog for a review) and the 2 teas I've purchased I've like the second brewing better than the first. This is my first real foray into gourmet teas and I was wondering if this is a common thing? I purchased a white tea called silver needle and a earl grey darjeeling. Both teas have a slightly acrid aftertaste. The white tea was grassy and gave me a slight headache (i'm allergic to grasses) the first time around but the second and third time it mellowed out into a wonderul if subtle tasting tea. The earl grey was similiar but actually seemed to devolop more of the bergamont scent each time. What causes that anyone know? I'm I just crazy? I am using the time frames giving to me by the tea store. It brewing in a pot loosely. What do you think?

#2 JasonTrue

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 09:42 AM

I can't speak to the Earl Grey's stronger second showing, since most of the bergamot flavor is likely to come out very early on, but most gongfu style tea service, with its several short infusions with small amounts of liquid, expects to bring out different qualities of the tea on each infusion.

So for oolongs, whites, puerh and greens not accented by aromas or oils, you shoud find the first infusion is very light, unless you are steeping it too long. Some people even discard this "first infusion", or use a lower temperature water to "wash the leaves" and discard that.

The first infusion should bring out the aroma, and the second usually brings out the flavor. Subsequent infusions will usually be less flavorful and more visual.
Jason Truesdell
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Take me to your ryokan, please

#3 jpr54_

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 02:48 PM

you might enjoy trying an oolong which is prepared gong fu style(hence the name of shop)
be careful that the water is not too hot-never boiling
i always rinse my oolong teas-it allows leaves to open a bit

you may also want to try tea from online shops
they have small sample size packets

www.thefragrantleaf.com
www.upton.com
www.specialteas.com
www.harney.com

#4 OnigiriFB

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 08:57 PM

What does gong fu style mean? Thank you for the suggestions.

#5 jokhm

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 11:53 PM

I would say that MOST quality oolongs will bring out their best flavour in the second or third infusion. I also find that pu'er teas show a more balanced taste the second time around.
As for gongfu brewing.. this is quite a loose term. I've broken down a step by step process on my site here:
goldenteahouse Tea steeping

I should revise it, simply because it makes gongfu brewing sound like an extremely elaborate process. For instance, the cups used to smell the tea fragrance are rarely used day to day. Gongfu style brewing can best be described as a way of making tea with more leaves than usual, and a smaller amount of water than usual. What this does is turn the process of tea steeping into more of a skill than it would be if you just threw in a teabag, or a spoonful of tea leaves. By concentrating the process with more leaves and less water, you also have to use a lot less time! The skill ends up coming from knowing how hot the water should be, how delicately the water must be poured in, and how long to steep the leaves for. Someone experienced in this can yield great tea with each infusion until the leaves are no longer worth making new tea from.

As for suggestions... Experiment! You can let me know what tea you have exactly and I'll see what I think is my prefered way of making it.

joel

#6 jpr54_

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 12:21 PM

i have somewhere bookmarked an excellent explanation of gong fu with video-i will post it when i find it-
found it-
it is from his blog
most of blog is in french
http://teamasters.bl...ea-masters.html

Edited by jpr54_, 27 December 2005 - 12:38 PM.


#7 JasonTrue

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 12:42 PM

One of my tea vendors in Seattle, a fellow importer, also makes a nice alternative to the small gaiwan brewing cups used for gongfu tea service if you want to be less preoccupied with watching the brewing time.

He basically designed a drip brewer that, with proper brewing temperature, reliably makes decent tea for at least three, and sometimes more, infusions. It works best for Chinese teas like oolong, puerh, and maofeng.

(Apologies for the self-serving link)
http://www.yuzumura....ea-brewers.aspx
Jason Truesdell
Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

#8 OnigiriFB

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 09:09 PM

Thank you for all the information. Wow I never knew tea was that complex and I grew up drinking some decent stuff!

Joel - I have three different teas I purchased from GongFu Tea store. One is a white tea called silver needle, an Earl Grey Darjeeling, and a blend called Ancient Happiness. The last one is very floral and I think mixed with a green tea. The brew if fairly light. So far I've found that I like the second brewing better. I tried rinsing it (poured a small amount of water in and let sit for 20 second pour out) and really like all of them now. Can you OD on tea? God I hope not!

#9 jokhm

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 10:26 PM

Sounds nice..
Yes, it can be complex.. but I encourage people to look past that which seems overly inundated with complexities and snobbery. You drink tea because it tastes and feels good. I look at gongfu brewing as a way to enjoy the character of many teas in their best form. When you have a truly amazing tea, it is best to taste it in a way that assures you that you are getting the best of it. As for teas like baihao silver needle, the one you mentioned, I would say you don't really have to rinse it, since it is such a light tea. Also a tea like that one is brewed to appeal to many senses. Very light flavour, and very beautiful and interesting sight to behold - so I always use a 5-6 inch glass when making it.
And OD'ing on tea... you definitely can. I find too much Tieguanyin has weird effects on me, but its worth it! Also a lot of green tea can sometimes make your head spin. I can drink unlimited amounts of wuyi oolongs and pu'ers though; so who knows how it works.

#10 OnigiriFB

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 10:44 PM

The problem I had with the first brewing of the white tea is that as it tasted a bit grassy to me and gave me a headache. Do you think I just brewed it too long? I'm still getting the hang of temp and timing my brewing.

Oooo new terms.

<-- tea dummy. I know I've had good tea. I can at least recognize good tea when I taste it but don't ask me to name any of them or know what kind of leaves are used.

Could you translate?

#11 jokhm

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 11:22 PM

Well luckily if you are talking about tea, as opposed to a herbal, it is always from the same leaves. It is only what is done to them after really that identifies them uniquely. As for the teas I mentioned, Tieguanyin and Wuyi oolongs.. they are two specific classes of oolongs. TGY is actually a very typical but unique tasting oolong from fujian; very common in those parts. It has large, often bruised, slightly red-tipped leaves and a very bright floral flavour - usually. I find they are unbelievably different from one another depending on grade AND where they were harvested. The most popular high-end TGY comes from Anxi region in Fujian province. As for Wuyi teas. They are sometimes all classed together as 'Wuyi Yan Cha', but this usually refers to a much lower quality 'export-only' grade. Whereas in China, Wuyi tea can be broken down into at least 15 sub-varieties. 4 of which are very famous in China: Dahongpao, Tieluohan, Baijiguan and Shuijingui. The ones you will see most often are usually the cheaper Shuixian and Rougui. As you can see many many types. And I'd imagine that upon trying any of the teas I mentioned, you most easily fall in love with the Tieguanyin teas. The Wuyi teas take a lot longer to appreciate as a whole and exponentially longer to appreciate individually from one another. Of those, my favorites (at the moment) are Dahongpao (and Qidan) and Tieluohan. They are unbelievable. Deep red, roasted, and extremely complex floral flavours.
The last one I mentioned was Pu'er tea, which is a whole class of tea, just as green is another. In China they are considered the Black teas actually. And to risk going on forever, I'll just explain that they are aged 3 years minimum, and come in a cooked and raw variety, either loose or in the form of compressed discs or bricks suitable for storage and transportation. They deserve a thread of their own. In fact all these teas do. Hope I didn't push the headache in even deeper!

#12 OnigiriFB

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 11:56 PM

No no this is great! I tried googling chinese teas and that did give me a headache! Seems like most of the sites just wanted to sell me something so I gave up. I'm finding this incredible interesting so thank you. I love eGullet.

Well I'm definately going to put your teas on my list and see if my store has them. To backtrack a bit what makes an oolong an oolong again? Is that the one where it is a mix of black tea and green tea? I know white tea not oxidized and black tea is fully oxidized. What green tea again? I've heard of pu'er but I've never seen it nor tasted it I believe. That isn't the one that comes in balls is it? Umm... dragon balls ? dragon pearls? It was either pu'er or dragon whatever that my friend was telling me about he used for his chinese wedding. All I know is that its incredible expensive and the highest quality he could get in LA.

#13 jokhm

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 06:58 AM

Green tea is not oxidized, just like White tea except that green tea requires a few more steps during production. In the process the leaves can become minorly oxidized but nothing close to a baozhong oolong, which one of the lesser oxidized oolongs. And there you have it, oolongs are any tea that is partially oxidized. I would also say that this allows oolong teas to have the greatest range in flavours, by far. Going from a Dongding to a Tieluohan and then to Tieguanyin... there is hardly anything comparable between them, other than the species of leaves used. Pu'er is the one that often is seen in giant hunks of compressed balls/bricks/discs etc. The average weight of one of the discs is about 350g. They are usually packed in 7's and labeled accordingly. Dragon pearls is one english naming convention for a generic Fujian green tea. But those names get thrown around a lot, so it is hard for me to specifically say what they will always show up as. And as for the price of pu'er... it can be cheap, like $10 for a whole disc.. and I've seen as high as $10,000 for an 80 year old untouched piece. Pu'er teas are very strange indeed. When they are released from the factory they are almost always already aged 3 years. The cooked variety have a very dark, muddy, medicinal flavour; but it grows on you. They are consumed for many health properties including weight loss. The raw variety produces a cup that ranges from pale green to light orange in colour and can produce a wide range of slightly medicinal flavours. I've tried some that were intensely sweet, and others equally sour or bitter. The thing with pu'er teas is that they are still alive and fermenting. Each tea, similar to wine, has a ripening period. I wouldn't say that they deteriorate..just change.. but some shouldn't be consumed all that early. Raw cakes have a much later ripening period, say 10 years minimum. I have a few 17 and 18 year old ones here with me, some raw and some cooked. Quite an interesting range of flavours! OK, that's quite enough for now...... (!!?)