|Sung, Ming, Qing dynaties and modern era tea methods|
|Sung and Ming styles|
After the Yuan dynasty, it's a peasant who became Emperor Hongwu of the Ming dynasty. Starting 1391, he only accepts gifts of loose leaves tea (instead of compressed). Green tea was then brewed in big teapots. This marks a return to nature, to simplicity. Loose green tea is the least processed tea. It's therefore also the cheapest to produce and the most affordable for the population. The big teapot helps dilute the light, but concentrated flavors of spring tea buds. Drinking green tea is all about the natural purity and freshness of its taste that connects us to nature. Nature is the spirit of Ming tea.
Oolong is invented during the Qing dynasty and the Chaoshan region prepares this complex, semi-oxidized and roasted tea in a small Yixing, preferably zhuni, teapot, (or a shantou teapot) with water boiled in a small Nilu and 3 small porcelain ruoshen cups. The small size of the teaware demonstrates a search for quality and refinement. The spirit of Gongfu cha is minimalism and elegance rooted in the Chinese culture.
|Qing and modern styles|
Each method, each era has its pros and cons. We are privileged to live at the beginning of a new era, the information age, and we can learn the best from each period. This will help us create or adapt our own new brewing style.
So, the competition brewing standard helps you quickly to get to know the basic character and qualities of your tea. (I also recommend that you use standard and rational methods to compare tea cups, teapots, various water, kettles...)
It's a good start to learn about tea, but there is no skill in following a 'recipe' like a robot (7 grams, 30 seconds....) Even in recipes, you're supposed to judge on your own when a dish is ready. The cookbook may say 30 minutes at 200 degrees, but you might shorten or lengthen the time if your eyes tell you the crust isn't as it should be, or if the smell isn't well done yet.
So, at some point, you'll have to start using your senses to brew. This is the second step on the path to a great cup of tea.