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Monday, August 26, 2013

Just what I needed

Private Collection 102K Da Yu Ling

Alright August is almost over, and I have never been happier to say that.  Before I get too far, I would like to congratulate my brother and his new bride on their wonderful wedding, I can not imagine how tired you two are, but I am exhausted from just being the best man during the wedding week maddness.   So once I finally got home today I decided to have a great tea to celebrate.

Origin Tea Private collection 102K Da Yu Ling.  What a great tea, just what I needed in so many ways, a massive dose of energy, yet a relaxing effect.  Honestly I think I just needed time to myself, to listen to good music, and breath deeply.  After this whole month I really think I need to look into meditating again, holy smokes.

Private Collection 102K Da Yu Ling (1)

That is the first infusion above.  Incredible tea, might just crack my top 5 teas of all time, and yes all those leaves are sticking out of the pot a good inch or so after just the first infusion.  I know there is a method for brewing Gyokuro jokingly referred to as drip tea, I think that is honestly how I am brewing this Da Yu Ling and loving it.  Now somewhere past infusion number 8, there is no pour when I pour, only a stream of drips for a few minutes until even those stop. Though it is still going very strong with no sign of stopping in sight.

I hope to be back to updating more often now.  Congratulations Erik and Jackie, enjoy your honeymoon!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why to brew gong fu

shan lin shi in hong ni (1)

I have had quite a few friends look at me in amazement when I tell them that when I drink tea it can easily be an hour long event if not an afternoon long event (when I have an afternoon to spare).  They get this look in their eyes, and I feel they are all thinking the same thing though usually a bit too polite to ask it: "Doesn't your tea get cold before you finish it?"  This comes from the fact that a lot of people in the United States have no clue what gong fu is, and while some of them have heard about re-steeping tea they have written it off as impractical or not worth it due to how they brew their tea.  Honestly it does take some getting used to brewing in a gong fu-esque way as in the Western mind set a drink is a 12oz or greater container of liquid that we just keep next to us and sip when ever out hand happens to wander over to pick it up.

(start minor rant)
I mean honestly think about the beverages you see most people in the America's drinking, Beer, Wine, water, soda/ pop, coffee, tea, everything they pour it is almost how big of a cup can I get it in?  I think the only drink I see routinely served in small cups that people order somewhat frequently is a Shot of alcohol... but almost never does someone sit there and sip and savor a shot of alcohol, they down it in one gulp as if that amount of liquid can only be consumed in an instant.
(end minor rant)

It takes time to learn how to appreciate what is in your cup when you only have an ounce or so of that particular steep.  All too often when I was new, I threw them back in a hurry, only to then ask myself, wait what did I just experience?  Each and every single time that happened the answer was I don't have the faintest idea.  Not only is gong fu good to practice brewing precisely to try and get the very best possible series of brews out of a tea, it is also a practice in awareness the entire way through the session.  How long since the kettle has boiled, does it need to be brought back up to a boil?  If it doesn't need to be brought back up to a boil, how much should it have cooled off, should I add a little more time to the steep?  How did the last steep taste, and what did that tell me about how I should treat this next steep?  Do I even enjoy this tea?

All those questions can only properly be addressed when you sit down and put a concerted effort into each and every brew the whole way through the process.  I also feels it gives you a far more complete picture of what the tea is and is not than brewing in any other variety of ways.

What Gong Fu is not....

I have seen some references lately in which people think gong fu has more to do with the teaware than the actual brewing of the tea.  While I understand the mistake in my opinion that could not be farther from the truth.  It is hard and gets messy, but if you work on it you could gong fu with an infuser basket and a cup  ( likely small cup).   I know in the past I have mentioned both Grandpa Style and a style of brewing that I have seen referred to as stacking infusions, in which you steep a tea multiple times and decant them one after another into a larger cup, then walk off and absentmindedly sip while distracted not really tasting anything besides the boldest flavors in that tea.  

Grandpa Style Sencha Complete

So please at least once a week if you do not already try and sit down and work a tea through a series of small but more intense steeps paying full attention to each and every single one and note everything you notice about the tea.  Also this does not apply to just Chinese teas, while yes the term gong fu has Chinese origins, I feel the same practice applies even if slightly modified to most other teas.

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