In this, my first Tea Geek blog post, I want to tell a story about how brewing matters. I have a part-time “day job” at the Perennial Tea Room in Seattle’s Pike Place market. People ask all the time if it really matters what kind of pot you brew in, or how hot the water is. This is my story about why the answer to this question is “yes.”
We got samples of the spring 2007 pickings of Baozhong (包種) and Jinxuan (‘golden lily’). Four days ago, I weighed a pennyweight of each tea and brewed it in the standard tea industry brewing cups for five minutes each at 175 degree water. The result was extremely light and not very interesting at all. I left the Baozhong in the water for another five minutes to see if that would make a difference. It didn’t much–although it did develop a slightly more typical baozhong flavor, it was still VERY light.
Next, I brewed them in a small Chatsford pot with water at 175 degrees, again for five minutes. The result? Same as the first time. So we called our vendor and asked “what’s up?” (Tea does take some time to “settle in” when it gets to a new home, so we asked if it might be brewing light because our samples had just touched down the day before.) We were told to try brewing in a gaiwan (Chinese lidded tea bowl/cup) with hotter water.
Yesterday, we tried the Jinxuan with the recommended vessel and water temperature (4 grams of tea for 4 ounces of 195-degree water, 5 minutes). The difference was huge–the flavor was wonderful and we were able to give 4 or 5 serviceable brewings out of it.
My theory (since the international standard brewing cup, the Chatsford pot, and the gaiwan are all glazed porcelain) is that the primary difference was the water temperature in the vast difference between the Monday and Thursday brewings.
…and welcome to the Tea Geek blog!