26 June 2009

Tenacious Tea

At the moment I have Menghai Factory's 2005 "Ba Ji Pu Bing" (Grade 8 Pu'er Cake) in my cup. I'm on my second day of drinking this good, mild shu pu'er.

Yesterday marked 48 hours spent brewing many infusions from the same pot of gao shan leaves before I tossed them out. They probably could have continued juicing, but two days was enough.

8 days ago, I ended a 3 day brewing session of a pot of a Taiwanese oolong, an inexpensive Alishan from a local store.

In attempting to place the reason why one pot of leaves could go so long, the idea that these teas were better than those I encountered previously crossed my mind. These teas, though, were relatively inexpensive, except for the Ba Ji Pu Bing (which is no longer available from online vendors). The oolongs taste good, but have textures and aftertastes that are only acceptable. Better leaf appeared an incomplete answer.

Next I suspected that perhaps my brewing improved. Also not the answer.

Today I realize I am using more leaf and initially brewing faster, in a kind of reverse Grandpa-style, or a hyper gongfu. Later infusions I brew longer, and what I discover is that, with the additional leaf, the teas brew some flavor for at least 2 work days full of drinking, often longer. For about a third more leaves, I get another day of brewing, saving me that other 2/3 that would have been in the next day's pot.

This frugality is truly ridiculous for someone with as much tea on hand as I am grateful to have. I may go back to my old style, simply to make the leaf cycle of jar-teapot-compost move faster. But when I'm lazy and wanting to pay little attention to my tea at the office, this method works great.

Thought I'd pass it on, and I'm curious if anyone else does something similar or to the same end.


Will said...

Yesterday I really stuffed my little 2 oz gaiwan with Shan Lin Xi and brewed it all morning. I brought it to lunch with me and stuck it in a big restaurant teapot -- the tea still brewed fairly strong, even after brewing a good 7+ infusions before.

Nick said...

The other benefit of this method is you get a lot more sense of how the tea changes over subsequent brews--gradations are smaller this way. IMHO it's worth doing just for this.

MarshalN said...

My usual is always this "reverse grandpa style" (seems like I've coined a term that is now in wide usage...). What I do these days is that when I'm about two kettles worth of water through the tea -- depending on the pot, 15-20 infusions in, I dump the leaves into a mug and drink it for the rest of the day. It usually lasts me till the night or even the next day.