Wednesday, September 05, 2018

2 stress free brewing methods

No, I'm not always brewing tea in gongfu cha style! This summer, I experimented with the simplest method I can think of: a big vessel, a layer of tea leaves, boiling water, wait and pour! In terms of preparation, it doesn't get faster than that. What takes several minutes is the brewing. With this simple method, I keep the tea leaves brewing in the water all the time. That's why it's important not to use too many leaves, otherwise the brew will become too concentrated (if that happens you dilute your cup with more water).

Fully oxidized red teas and high oxidized Oolongs are the teas that gave the best results. That's why I found this method very suitable for breakast or for the afternoon (with some cake). This method also works better in summer when you'll also enjoy tea when it's at room temperature (or you can even put it in the fridge at that point). There's one tea that I found even better with this method than in a gaiwan: the red ruby tea (Hong Yu no 18)!

Aged Hung Shui Oolong from Dong Ding
This second stress free method has only one thing in common with the previous: the use of high quality leaves from my selection! The reason for using high quality leaves with the first method is that you don't want the brew to turn bitter and undrinkable when you over brew your tea. With the gongfu cha method, there are techniques that can help make low quality drinkable, but such teas don't have the potential to make this moment perfect or unforgettable. The more time you invest and the higher your expectations, the less likely you are to waste this moment on trying to turn average leaves into gold!
If you've been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I started to brew using the Chaxi method in 2008. 10 years ago, we were pioneers in Taiwan. Now, this method has spread to China and to the West.
For many, a Chaxi is like a ceremony or a show that professionals do to catch the attention of consumers. There's this feeling that it's not very natural and that the brewer would brew differently, with more simplicity, if he or she were to brew the same tea by himself (maybe using my first method?!) This is probably very true with most Chaxi that you see at tea trade shows or in the Internet. My Chaxi, however, are the way I brew tea most of the time, by myself or with others.
10 years ago, I thought it's cumbersome and extra work to prepare a different setup for each tea. Pairing the leaves with the tea ware wasn't easy and I would feel nervous using an antique teapot like here. But thanks to regular practice, I've come to enjoy the whole process. It starts with a desire to spend time with interesting tea leaves that will transport my senses. Then it's choosing a mood in harmony with the present moment and the tea thanks to a Chabu and a plant. Then I select the teapot and tea cups that will help me get the most out of the leaves... Then comes the brewing process. I sit down comfortably and I prepare the tea in a concentrated and happy, satisfied manner. Smelling the dry leaves, listening to the water coming to a boil, pouring the water slowly and carefully in the teapot... With every movement, I try to slow down. Even before drinking, I feel a sense of gratitude to experience such a moment of beauty and calm. And this may be the key to the perfect cup: the tea happiness I feel while I pour the boiling water on the leaves helps me to get the brewing right!     
And if you are brewing your tea differently, don't change unless you want to. There should be no pressure and no stress when preparing tea!

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