Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Adapt your tea to winter

Heavily roasted Dong Ding Oolong of 1999
This was the subject of a class I made 10 days ago and that you can see here on YouTube. I wanted to make an additional observation that just struck me recently.

During the class, I explained that in winter one is rather looking for quality tea, teas with strong aftertaste that have a warming impact on the body, rather than teas that are simply fragrant and light and that have little impact on the body (or a cooling impact). The reason is that the weather is cold, and therefore we are looking for a powerful and warming effect on our body during winter.

And, what do you usually do when you want a stronger, more powerful cup of tea? You use more leaves, right? Well, this doesn't always work well. I actually had a better brew when using fewer leaves of my 2006 spring gushu puerh from Lincang than when I used more! With roasted Oolong, especially younger ones, there can also a point when more leaves means less enjoyment. With some teas, a too strong cup will feel awkward and saturated. You loose the details and the harmony.

So, what's the solution? Shorter brews will lots of leaves? This is the emergency solution after you have identified the problem and you are already brewing with too many leaves in your teapot. However, short brews tend to focus on the scents and reduce the taste of the tea. This is still not what we are aiming for in winter. So, the best solution to get your winter brew right is to use the same amount of leaves than in summer and increase the brewing time in order to get more taste and aftertaste out of the leaves. Of course, there are exceptions. Some teas can be brewed longer and with more leaves in winter. But in general, I feel that the key to adapting your tea to the winter season is to use longer brews, not more leaves. And use an Yixing teapot over porcelain! This will also help get more aftertaste.


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