Tea (rec.drink.tea) Discussion relating to tea, the world's second most consumed beverage (after water), made by infusing or boiling the leaves of the tea plant (C. sinensis or close relatives) in water.

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Default To gong-fu or not to gong-fu?

I usually make oolongs in a regular way,
using a large 3-cup pot and 1-2 steeps, in
fact, mostly just one steep, exactly like
I prepare greens and whites. It's far more
convenient for me because my kitchen
is not very suitable for elaborate gong-fuing
and even if I use an electric kettle the whole
thing takes a long time, about an hour, give
or take.

When I do oolongs in a regular way, though,
I feel a little like I'm wasting part of their
potential, especially with more expensive
oolongs.

Does everybody use gong-fu to prepare
oolongs, for the most part? What's the
split for you? If you do gong-fu daily or
almost daily, do you get used to it so
much that it becomes much quicker
and easier?


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On Jul 3, 6:28 pm, Rainy > wrote:
> I usually make oolongs in a regular way,
> using a large 3-cup pot and 1-2 steeps, in
> fact, mostly just one steep, exactly like
> I prepare greens and whites. It's far more
> convenient for me because my kitchen
> is not very suitable for elaborate gong-fuing
> and even if I use an electric kettle the whole
> thing takes a long time, about an hour, give
> or take.
>
> When I do oolongs in a regular way, though,
> I feel a little like I'm wasting part of their
> potential, especially with more expensive
> oolongs.
>
> Does everybody use gong-fu to prepare
> oolongs, for the most part? What's the
> split for you? If you do gong-fu daily or
> almost daily, do you get used to it so
> much that it becomes much quicker
> and easier?


I used to handle it the way you are now, but I slowly (kicking and
screaming) learned to change. My second step was to the three-piece
ceramic tea infuser mugs which I thought was as far as I'd go, but I
was wrong. I learned that a gaiwan is actually easier to use daily and
that you get through more infusions which can be some of the best
which would go wasted otherwise. It may not be full-on gong-fu, but it
is a great way to handle it. The other benefit is that while it may
not be full of grace and pomp/circumstance or truly slow and
methodical, it does actually slow me down enough and is a great stress
relief and break to my day which is highly welcomed. It becomes
quicker and informal though which is nice because it seems like it
would be a hassle at first, the tough part now is forcing myself to
slow down properly when I *do* have the time.

- Dominic
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On Jul 3, 8:52*pm, "Dominic T." > wrote:
> On Jul 3, 6:28 pm, Rainy > wrote:
>
>
>
> > I usually make oolongs in a regular way,
> > using a large 3-cup pot and 1-2 steeps, in
> > fact, mostly just one steep, exactly like
> > I prepare greens and whites. It's far more
> > convenient for me because my kitchen
> > is not very suitable for elaborate gong-fuing
> > and even if I use an electric kettle the whole
> > thing takes a long time, about an hour, give
> > or take.

>
> > When I do oolongs in a regular way, though,
> > I feel a little like I'm wasting part of their
> > potential, especially with more expensive
> > oolongs.

>
> > Does everybody use gong-fu to prepare
> > oolongs, for the most part? What's the
> > split for you? If you do gong-fu daily or
> > almost daily, do you get used to it so
> > much that it becomes much quicker
> > and easier?

>
> I used to handle it the way you are now, but I slowly (kicking and
> screaming) learned to change. My second step was to the three-piece
> ceramic tea infuser mugs which I thought was as far as I'd go, but I
> was wrong. I learned that a gaiwan is actually easier to use daily and
> that you get through more infusions which can be some of the best


I did use gaiwan many, many times but I think
part of the problem is that I have to use
electric kettle (zojirushi 2.2L) and tea made
with electric heating has a different taste and
I experimented many times with this but it
always tastes flatter to me than gas-range
heated water. It's most pronounced with
greens and whites, which are 80% of teas
I drink.

Soon I will get a portable burner and I will
try to do gong-fu with that, maybe it will
taste better to me.

In regard to multiple infusions, it depends
on whether it's pu-erh or oolong. With
pu-erhs, first ~6 infusions don't taste good
to me - too muddy and harsh, even with
some good puerhs. Infusions ~7,8,9,10 taste
really great. With oolongs there isn't that
much difference, but later infusions do taste
better. So far, the difference vs. regular
method of brewing isn't big enough to go
through the hassle.

I don't want to make impression that I just
started gong-fu - I began maybe around 5
years ago and did about 50-60 gong-fu
preparations over the years using either
gaiwans or small pots. I count both
methods as gong-fu although with pots
it's more official.

> which would go wasted otherwise. It may not be full-on gong-fu, but it
> is a great way to handle it. The other benefit is that while it may
> not be full of grace and pomp/circumstance or truly slow and
> methodical, it does actually slow me down enough and is a great stress
> relief and break to my day which is highly welcomed. It becomes


That's another interesting point - I find that I can
slow down better if I make a large pot and sit
down and drink it slowly and deliberately.
With gong-fu I have to constantly bother
about making another infusion and keeping track
of time.

I'm also very sensitive to stale taste of leaf. If a
gaiwan or zisha pot are filled with expanded leaf
to the top, it doesn't go stale for a fairly
long time, but then I end up with too much tea
and have to forego the last, best infusions. If
a gaiwan is not filled to the top, and I let it stand
for ~15 minutes without making a new infusion,
I can feel that it starts to get a very tiny almost
imperceptible stale aftertaste.

I think part of it is that I'm so used to taste of
good greens and whites as they're made in
big pot, a somewhat different taste of gaiwan
infusions, whether for greens, whites or oolongs,
feels a bit wrong to me.

I did try once to do gaiwan only tea for a few
weeks, but I only had medium-grade oolongs
from Ten Ren. They are good for the price
and availability but obviously not top grade
tea... -ak

> quicker and informal though which is nice because it seems like it
> would be a hassle at first, the tough part now is forcing myself to
> slow down properly when I *do* have the time.
>
> - Dominic


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Default To gong-fu or not to gong-fu?


> Does everybody use gong-fu to prepare
> oolongs, for the most part? What's the
> split for you? If you do gong-fu daily or
> almost daily, do you get used to it so
> much that it becomes much quicker
> and easier?


Gongfu is the only way to do oolongs. That's if you want to drink a
decent cup of tea. If you don't mind wasting good tea, and having a
crappy cup, then gongfu is optional. Just for fun, and to compare, I
tried the same tea made 3 ways: gongfu, in large gaiwan, in large
teapot. Gongfu by far made the best infusions. Large gaiwan didn't
even come close.

Gongfu is not hard if you have the set-up in 1 dedicated place.
Except, the clean-up afterwards takes a long time. Lots of small cups
to wash.

But yeah, when you have the set-up for gongfu, it does become the much
quicker and easier method. And also best-tasting method. And most-
enjoyable method.
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"Dominic T." > writes:

> On Jul 3, 6:28 pm, Rainy > wrote:
> > [...]
> > Does everybody use gong-fu to prepare oolongs, for the most part?
> > What's the split for you? If you do gong-fu daily or almost daily,
> > do you get used to it so much that it becomes much quicker and
> > easier?

>
> I used to handle it the way you are now, but I slowly (kicking and
> screaming) learned to change. My second step was to the three-piece
> ceramic tea infuser mugs which I thought was as far as I'd go, but I
> was wrong. I learned that a gaiwan is actually easier to use daily and
> that you get through more infusions which can be some of the best
> which would go wasted otherwise. It may not be full-on gong-fu, but it
> is a great way to handle it. The other benefit is that while it may
> not be full of grace and pomp/circumstance or truly slow and
> methodical, it does actually slow me down enough and is a great stress
> relief and break to my day which is highly welcomed. It becomes
> quicker and informal though which is nice because it seems like it
> would be a hassle at first, the tough part now is forcing myself to
> slow down properly when I *do* have the time.


This was *exactly* my experience. I'm drinking gaiwan-brewed 1970s
Guangyungong today. All day, unless something very unexpected happens.

/Lew
---
Lew Perin /
http://www.panix.com/~perin/babelcarp.html


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On Jul 4, 4:05*am, niisonge > wrote:
> > Does everybody use gong-fu to prepare
> > oolongs, for the most part? What's the
> > split for you? If you do gong-fu daily or
> > almost daily, do you get used to it so
> > much that it becomes much quicker
> > and easier?

>
> Gongfu is the only way to do oolongs. That's if you want to drink a
> decent cup of tea. If you don't mind wasting good tea, and having a
> crappy cup, then gongfu is optional. Just for fun, and to compare, I
> tried the same tea made 3 ways: gongfu, in large gaiwan, in large
> teapot. Gongfu by far made the best infusions. Large gaiwan didn't
> even come close.
>
> Gongfu is not hard if you have the set-up in 1 dedicated place.
> Except, the clean-up afterwards takes a long time. Lots of small cups
> to wash.
>
> But yeah, when you have the set-up for gongfu, it does become the much
> quicker and easier method. And also best-tasting method. And most-
> enjoyable method.


What do you use to heat water for gong-fu?
And, in fact, what does everyone here use? -
let's make this a poll question.. -ak
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On Jul 4, 1:46 pm, Rainy > wrote:
> What do you use to heat water for gong-fu?
> And, in fact, what does everyone here use? -
> let's make this a poll question.. -ak


At work I usually go for the water cooler (heater). We have two in our
office and I ramped the one's heater dial up to max which gets me
almost boiling water, while the other is perfect for greens. I also
have a "Hot Shot" which is a personal water heater that I sometimes
use if I want a puerh or something like that.

At home I have almost exclusively switched over to an electric kettle.
I actually prefer my real kettle on the stove but it is just to
inefficient in comparison. I find that the 4 stage filter on my tap
(and really good tap water to begin with) and the electric kettle are
a very close second.

- Dominic
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> What do you use to heat water for gong-fu?
> And, in fact, what does everyone here use? -


I always use a cordless eletric kettle. In China, I use a little
Kamjove kettle; 0.8 liter capacity. In China, I have also used one of
those hotplate burner thingys and a small stainless steel kettle. That
works too. But the Kamjove is the easiest, simplest, and cheapest
option. A small Kamjove kettle costs about 80 yuan here - depending on
where you buy it. And that's what everyone in Fujian uses for gongfu
too - either a Kamjove or the hotplate burner thing. (The relatively
few use a plastic jug kettle - but that's kind of a step backwards -
they produce an off-taste to the water).

Now, in Canada, it's another story. Stupid kettles commonly available
everywhere are really big, hulking monstrosities. The stainless steel
eletric kettle I had in Canada (Hamilton Beach) holds 1.7 L. But the
switch burnt out on that one. Used it too much. Now I can get a new
one. But 1.7 liters is really too big. A 1 liter kettle is just about
right - whether eletric or plain old stovetop kettle.

The problem with kettles is the spout - those jug-type eletric kettles
are not really ideal for gongfu. I usually prefer a long, flowing
spout - and that's ideal for zisha teapots. But those jug-type spouts
are ok for gaiwan - still not ideal, though.

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> Does everybody use gong-fu to prepare
> oolongs, for the most part?


Um, hell no. Too much time. I like a big mug of tea, not dainty little
cups that give two sips and you're done.

I drink tea when I'm doing other stuff, because I'm always doing other
stuff. Sitting around pouring tea over and over again would bore the
stuffin' outta me.


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