Now that some of my readers have received tea from me, it may be a good thing to remind you how to taste a tea for the first time.
It's summer time now, a time when many people go the beaches to sunbath, play, swim and date. The beach is indeed a good place for dating and meeting your partner. (When young, I ... OK, I'll spare you!!) The advantage of the beach is that boys and girls go there without any makeup and hardly any clothes. The little which is covered is straightforward to guess. Under the natural light of the sun, we show ourselves as we are. It's often amazing to see how the same girl, in the evening, can have a totally different impact on you depending on what she wears, the lipstick she uses, and the scent she wears. Depending on her skills and your taste (or lack of!), you may fall for her or not.
With tea, the beach is the porcelain gaiwan (gaibei in Taiwan) and the bar is the clay teapot.
For your first tastings, I recommend that you use the most scientific, rational and neutral tool: the gaibei. This is what professionals do and how Teaparker taught me to study a tea. The advantages are:
- the taste is not very much influenced by the gaiwan,
- it's easy to open the lid of the gaiwan and smell the lid to evaluate if the tea is ready,
- you can also look at the color of the tea that floats over the lid. The color will darken as the tea brews,
- the leaves open under your eyes and are easier to see and study.
- the gaiwan is easy to empty and clean.
The drawbacks are:
- Making good tasting tea in a gaiwan is harder than in a good teapot.
- It's easier to burn your fingers or make a big mess when pouring the tea out.
Here my little advices on how to make good tea with the gaiwan:
1. Pre-heat your gaiwan and its lid with hot water. Then the cups.
2. Make sure it's well pre-heated. Don't wait too long before making the tea now.
3. Use just boiled water,
4. Pour the first water with a strength in harmony with the tea you're making. It goes from very soft at a small distance from the gaiwan in case of green tea, to a up and down movement for oolong.
5. For the next brews, once the tea has opened up, pour the water in a circle on the rim of the gaiwan. Not on the leaves directly. Like this, all the leaves will receive water that has the same temperature.
You'll know you have a good brew when the leaves fill the gaiwan in harmony like the oolong below. (But you don't necessarily need so many, especially for pu er).
And later, once you know your tea, then you can brew it in a teapot and enjoy it thoroughly!