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 Help with taste I call "hollow"

There is a slightly unpleasant taste that I get from time to time when
brewing a tea that I am struggling to describe. The only work that
comes to mind is "hollow".

It is usually when brewing on the light side and usually with shorter
steep times and if I brew the tea stronger, it almost always goes
away.

For that reason, I have assumed that it was an indication that the
liquor is too weak. But it also causes slight reaction in the back of
my mouth that is not quite astringent and not quite sour, but a little
like both.

Can anyone help me identify what this is and whether it is related to
brew strength or something else.
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On Dec 15, 7:39*pm, Prof Wonmug > wrote:
> There is a slightly unpleasant taste that I get from time to time when
> brewing a tea that I am struggling to describe. The only work that
> comes to mind is "hollow".
>
> It is usually when brewing on the light side and usually with shorter
> steep times and if I brew the tea stronger, it almost always goes
> away.
>
> For that reason, I have assumed that it was an indication that the
> liquor is too weak. But it also causes slight reaction in the back of
> my mouth that is not quite astringent and not quite sour, but a little
> like both.
>
> Can anyone help me identify what this is and whether it is related to
> brew strength or something else.


It could be a combination of things. If it only happens on the first
brewing of the leaf you might just be getting a very superficial
flavor from the processing/roasting and the subsequent brews start to
show the actual character of the tea. This often happens for me with
some of the heavier roasted teas, but I really like that first
"hollow" brew where I'm really just getting the fired flavor and very
little of the actual tea. It's like drinking the essence of charcoal
roasting, but not so much about the tea. Many would pour this "rinse"
off but on a few select teas I love the first brew more than the rest.
Like TGY that is really roasted. The floral notes don't come through
yet and I really like it, by the second it's flowery and I'm out.
Basically that means I don't actually like the tea at hand. That is
why a lot of teas benefit from a quick steep/rinse that is discarded.

- Dominic
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Default Help with taste I call "hollow"

On Wed, 16 Dec 2009 06:47:37 -0800 (PST), "Dominic T."
> wrote:

>On Dec 15, 7:39*pm, Prof Wonmug > wrote:
>> There is a slightly unpleasant taste that I get from time to time when
>> brewing a tea that I am struggling to describe. The only work that
>> comes to mind is "hollow".
>>
>> It is usually when brewing on the light side and usually with shorter
>> steep times and if I brew the tea stronger, it almost always goes
>> away.
>>
>> For that reason, I have assumed that it was an indication that the
>> liquor is too weak. But it also causes slight reaction in the back of
>> my mouth that is not quite astringent and not quite sour, but a little
>> like both.
>>
>> Can anyone help me identify what this is and whether it is related to
>> brew strength or something else.

>
>It could be a combination of things. If it only happens on the first
>brewing of the leaf you might just be getting a very superficial
>flavor from the processing/roasting and the subsequent brews start to
>show the actual character of the tea. This often happens for me with
>some of the heavier roasted teas, but I really like that first
>"hollow" brew where I'm really just getting the fired flavor and very
>little of the actual tea. It's like drinking the essence of charcoal
>roasting, but not so much about the tea. Many would pour this "rinse"
>off but on a few select teas I love the first brew more than the rest.
>Like TGY that is really roasted. The floral notes don't come through
>yet and I really like it, by the second it's flowery and I'm out.
>Basically that means I don't actually like the tea at hand. That is
>why a lot of teas benefit from a quick steep/rinse that is discarded.


Is "first brewing" the same as "first steep"? That is, using the same
leaves as opposed to the "first pot" from a new package?

I think you are saying that if I reuse the same leaves, I may get less
of that hollow taste -- at least if it's caused by what you describe.

I'll test that.

Is there are special (unpleasant) taste that results from a pot that
is somewhat too weak?

The "hollow" taste that I am trying to describe usually occurs when I
am experimenting with less leaf and shorter steep times. I don't think
I have ever experienced with stronger parameters.
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On Dec 17, 3:21*am, Prof Wonmug > wrote:
> On Wed, 16 Dec 2009 06:47:37 -0800 (PST), "Dominic T."
>
>
>
> > wrote:
> >On Dec 15, 7:39 pm, Prof Wonmug > wrote:
> >> There is a slightly unpleasant taste that I get from time to time when
> >> brewing a tea that I am struggling to describe. The only work that
> >> comes to mind is "hollow".

>
> >> It is usually when brewing on the light side and usually with shorter
> >> steep times and if I brew the tea stronger, it almost always goes
> >> away.

>
> >> For that reason, I have assumed that it was an indication that the
> >> liquor is too weak. But it also causes slight reaction in the back of
> >> my mouth that is not quite astringent and not quite sour, but a little
> >> like both.

>
> >> Can anyone help me identify what this is and whether it is related to
> >> brew strength or something else.

>
> >It could be a combination of things. If it only happens on the first
> >brewing of the leaf you might just be getting a very superficial
> >flavor from the processing/roasting and the subsequent brews start to
> >show the actual character of the tea. This often happens for me with
> >some of the heavier roasted teas, but I really like that first
> >"hollow" brew where I'm really just getting the fired flavor and very
> >little of the actual tea. It's like drinking the essence of charcoal
> >roasting, but not so much about the tea. Many would pour this "rinse"
> >off but on a few select teas I love the first brew more than the rest.
> >Like TGY that is really roasted. The floral notes don't come through
> >yet and I really like it, by the second it's flowery and I'm out.
> >Basically that means I don't actually like the tea at hand. That is
> >why a lot of teas benefit from a quick steep/rinse that is discarded.

>
> Is "first brewing" the same as "first steep"? That is, using the same
> leaves as opposed to the "first pot" from a new package?
>
> I think you are saying that if I reuse the same leaves, I may get less
> of that hollow taste -- at least if it's caused by what you describe.
>
> I'll test that.
>
> Is there are special (unpleasant) taste that results from a pot that
> is somewhat too weak?
>
> The "hollow" taste that I am trying to describe usually occurs when I
> am experimenting with less leaf and shorter steep times. I don't think
> I have ever experienced with stronger parameters.


I think we are actually saying the same thing... basically the short
steep and less tea will always produce a less strong cup. That is
assured almost every time and every tea. But short time and first brew/
steep you will be getting more of just that superficial processing/
roasting flavor since it is the "flavor" on the outermost of the leaf.
A longer first steep allows the leaf to begin to also give up some of
it's characteristics and that will bolster the flavor and move away
from that "hollow" taste.

With tea everything is so subjective that it's hard to say what is
unpleasant to you may be enjoyed by others, and other way round. Many
would probably want to discard that first rinse of TGY to get to the
flowery/perfumy real flavor... I'm the exact opposite. Really it means
that I'm just not a fan of that tea, but I really like that first
steep sometimes and will brew it just for that reason.

- Dominic
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Default Help with taste I call "hollow"

On Thu, 17 Dec 2009 05:45:19 -0800 (PST), "Dominic T."
> wrote:

>On Dec 17, 3:21*am, Prof Wonmug > wrote:
>> On Wed, 16 Dec 2009 06:47:37 -0800 (PST), "Dominic T."
>>
>>
>>
>> > wrote:
>> >On Dec 15, 7:39 pm, Prof Wonmug > wrote:
>> >> There is a slightly unpleasant taste that I get from time to time when
>> >> brewing a tea that I am struggling to describe. The only work that
>> >> comes to mind is "hollow".

>>
>> >> It is usually when brewing on the light side and usually with shorter
>> >> steep times and if I brew the tea stronger, it almost always goes
>> >> away.

>>
>> >> For that reason, I have assumed that it was an indication that the
>> >> liquor is too weak. But it also causes slight reaction in the back of
>> >> my mouth that is not quite astringent and not quite sour, but a little
>> >> like both.

>>
>> >> Can anyone help me identify what this is and whether it is related to
>> >> brew strength or something else.

>>
>> >It could be a combination of things. If it only happens on the first
>> >brewing of the leaf you might just be getting a very superficial
>> >flavor from the processing/roasting and the subsequent brews start to
>> >show the actual character of the tea. This often happens for me with
>> >some of the heavier roasted teas, but I really like that first
>> >"hollow" brew where I'm really just getting the fired flavor and very
>> >little of the actual tea. It's like drinking the essence of charcoal
>> >roasting, but not so much about the tea. Many would pour this "rinse"
>> >off but on a few select teas I love the first brew more than the rest.
>> >Like TGY that is really roasted. The floral notes don't come through
>> >yet and I really like it, by the second it's flowery and I'm out.
>> >Basically that means I don't actually like the tea at hand. That is
>> >why a lot of teas benefit from a quick steep/rinse that is discarded.

>>
>> Is "first brewing" the same as "first steep"? That is, using the same
>> leaves as opposed to the "first pot" from a new package?
>>
>> I think you are saying that if I reuse the same leaves, I may get less
>> of that hollow taste -- at least if it's caused by what you describe.
>>
>> I'll test that.
>>
>> Is there are special (unpleasant) taste that results from a pot that
>> is somewhat too weak?
>>
>> The "hollow" taste that I am trying to describe usually occurs when I
>> am experimenting with less leaf and shorter steep times. I don't think
>> I have ever experienced with stronger parameters.

>
>I think we are actually saying the same thing... basically the short
>steep and less tea will always produce a less strong cup. That is
>assured almost every time and every tea. But short time and first brew/
>steep you will be getting more of just that superficial processing/
>roasting flavor since it is the "flavor" on the outermost of the leaf.
>A longer first steep allows the leaf to begin to also give up some of
>it's characteristics and that will bolster the flavor and move away
>from that "hollow" taste.
>
>With tea everything is so subjective that it's hard to say what is
>unpleasant to you may be enjoyed by others, and other way round. Many
>would probably want to discard that first rinse of TGY to get to the
>flowery/perfumy real flavor... I'm the exact opposite. Really it means
>that I'm just not a fan of that tea, but I really like that first
>steep sometimes and will brew it just for that reason.


Here's a good example. I have a bag of Keemun Mao Feng from Upton,

http://www.uptontea.com/shopcart/ite...rom=search.asp

I had tried a couple of pots at 2.5 g/cup and did not like the
results. After I read your suggestion of less is more, I tried a pot
at 1.0 and 1.5 g/cup. The results were much better.

The best pot was at 1.5 g/cup, 212, 30 seconds.My comments were,
"Middle of very good range. A bit of a smoky character, but not
unpleasant. This is a hearty tea that would be a great pick-me-up."

This morning I tried another pot increasing the time to 45 seconds.
Big disappointment. The "hollow" taste was very strong. What's
puzzling is that a few days ago, I brewed this same tea exactly the
same way, but for just 30 seconds and is was very good. Can an extra
15 seconds make that much difference?

Here's my complete brew log table for this tea.

g/c F 0:15 0:30 0:45 1:00 1:30 2:00 3:00 4:00
0.75 212
1.00 212 14- 10? 12- -02? 10? 08?
1.50 212 22? 27! 05?
2.00 212 20?
2.50 212 03+

The ratings are 2 digits. The first number is the general rating:

3x = Excellent
2x = Very good
1x = Good
0x = OK
00 = Neutral
-0x = Slightly off
-1x = Bad
-2x = Very bad
-3x - Undrinkable

Within these general rating, the second digit provides more
granularity:

x0 = Low end
x5 = Mid range
x9 = High end

The symbol after the rating indicates the strength:

- = Too weak
+ = Too strong
? = Unsure
! = Perfect (or at least just right)


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On Dec 17, 12:24*pm, Prof Wonmug > wrote:
> On Thu, 17 Dec 2009 05:45:19 -0800 (PST), "Dominic T."
>
>
>
>
>
> > wrote:
> >On Dec 17, 3:21*am, Prof Wonmug > wrote:
> >> On Wed, 16 Dec 2009 06:47:37 -0800 (PST), "Dominic T."

>
> >> > wrote:
> >> >On Dec 15, 7:39 pm, Prof Wonmug > wrote:
> >> >> There is a slightly unpleasant taste that I get from time to time when
> >> >> brewing a tea that I am struggling to describe. The only work that
> >> >> comes to mind is "hollow".

>
> >> >> It is usually when brewing on the light side and usually with shorter
> >> >> steep times and if I brew the tea stronger, it almost always goes
> >> >> away.

>
> >> >> For that reason, I have assumed that it was an indication that the
> >> >> liquor is too weak. But it also causes slight reaction in the back of
> >> >> my mouth that is not quite astringent and not quite sour, but a little
> >> >> like both.

>
> >> >> Can anyone help me identify what this is and whether it is related to
> >> >> brew strength or something else.

>
> >> >It could be a combination of things. If it only happens on the first
> >> >brewing of the leaf you might just be getting a very superficial
> >> >flavor from the processing/roasting and the subsequent brews start to
> >> >show the actual character of the tea. This often happens for me with
> >> >some of the heavier roasted teas, but I really like that first
> >> >"hollow" brew where I'm really just getting the fired flavor and very
> >> >little of the actual tea. It's like drinking the essence of charcoal
> >> >roasting, but not so much about the tea. Many would pour this "rinse"
> >> >off but on a few select teas I love the first brew more than the rest..
> >> >Like TGY that is really roasted. The floral notes don't come through
> >> >yet and I really like it, by the second it's flowery and I'm out.
> >> >Basically that means I don't actually like the tea at hand. That is
> >> >why a lot of teas benefit from a quick steep/rinse that is discarded.

>
> >> Is "first brewing" the same as "first steep"? That is, using the same
> >> leaves as opposed to the "first pot" from a new package?

>
> >> I think you are saying that if I reuse the same leaves, I may get less
> >> of that hollow taste -- at least if it's caused by what you describe.

>
> >> I'll test that.

>
> >> Is there are special (unpleasant) taste that results from a pot that
> >> is somewhat too weak?

>
> >> The "hollow" taste that I am trying to describe usually occurs when I
> >> am experimenting with less leaf and shorter steep times. I don't think
> >> I have ever experienced with stronger parameters.

>
> >I think we are actually saying the same thing... basically the short
> >steep and less tea will always produce a less strong cup. That is
> >assured almost every time and every tea. But short time and first brew/
> >steep you will be getting more of just that superficial processing/
> >roasting flavor since it is the "flavor" on the outermost of the leaf.
> >A longer first steep allows the leaf to begin to also give up some of
> >it's characteristics and that will bolster the flavor and move away
> >from that "hollow" taste.

>
> >With tea everything is so subjective that it's hard to say what is
> >unpleasant to you may be enjoyed by others, and other way round. Many
> >would probably want to discard that first rinse of TGY to get to the
> >flowery/perfumy real flavor... I'm the exact opposite. Really it means
> >that I'm just not a fan of that tea, but I really like that first
> >steep sometimes and will brew it just for that reason.

>
> Here's a good example. I have a bag of Keemun Mao Feng from Upton,
>
> http://www.uptontea.com/shopcart/ite...rom=search.asp
>
> I had tried a couple of pots at 2.5 g/cup and did not like the
> results. After I read your suggestion of less is more, I tried a pot
> at 1.0 and 1.5 g/cup. The results were much better.
>
> The best pot was at 1.5 g/cup, 212, 30 seconds.My comments were,
> "Middle of very good range. A bit of a smoky character, but not
> unpleasant. This is a hearty tea that would be a great pick-me-up."
>
> This morning I tried another pot increasing the time to 45 seconds.
> Big disappointment. The "hollow" taste was very strong. What's
> puzzling is that a few days ago, I brewed this same tea exactly the
> same way, but for just 30 seconds and is was very good. Can an extra
> 15 seconds make that much difference?
>
> Here's my complete brew log table for this tea.
>
> * g/c *F *0:15 *0:30 *0:45 *1:00 *1:30 *2:00 *3:00 *4:00
> *0.75 212
> *1.00 212 * 14- * 10? * 12- *-02? * * * * 10? * * * * 08?
> *1.50 212 * 22? * 27! * 05?
> *2.00 212 * 20?
> *2.50 212 * 03+
>
> The ratings are 2 digits. The first number is the general rating:
>
> * *3x = Excellent
> * *2x = Very good
> * *1x = Good
> * *0x = OK
> * *00 = Neutral
> * -0x = Slightly off
> * -1x = Bad
> * -2x = Very bad
> * -3x - Undrinkable
>
> Within these general rating, the second digit provides more
> granularity:
>
> * x0 = Low end
> * x5 = Mid range
> * x9 = High end
>
> The symbol after the rating indicates the strength:
>
> * - = Too weak
> * + = Too strong
> * ? = Unsure
> * ! = Perfect (or at least just right)


That is quite detailed... I'd say that +/- 15 seconds is not very
often the difference between any major differences. The hotter the
water, the more short time differences make a difference. I think it
is more likely that you are probably in the upper range of what you
like and that whether it be 2 or 15 seconds more will start to get
into a range you don't like.

I was taught a long time ago to count breaths to determine steep time
with some teas, and due to variances I'd say that a +/- of 10-15
seconds could be quite normal and within tolerances of even pretty
demanding teas.

Not to sway you away from timing, but I'd say that when you find a tea
you really like start to pay attention to the liquor color, the aroma,
and the unfurling of the leaf at around the time you prefer. Learn
that, and then time is less of a factor to hit your own "sweet-spot".

- Dominic
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