Today, was my 2nd foray into Chinese Gongfu brewing.
Per Verdant http://verdanttea.com/teas/laoshan-black/#brewing:
“Gongfu Brewing: Use 5g brewing of leaves for a medium gaiwan or yixing pot. Heat the gaiwan or pot with boiling water and pour out. Add leaves, rinse leaves with boiling water for less than a second. Use this steeping to heat cups and pour over yixing. Steep each round for 2-3 seconds, increasing time by 3 seconds each steeping after the third steeping. Enjoy at least 15 infusions.”
Since neither the ounce capacity of the “medium gaiwan” nor the number of ounces of water per 5g of tea were specified, I reviewed the gaiwans currently offered for sale on Verdant’s website. They were all listed as 5oz. Thus, I chose 5oz. per steep.
I selected this tea as I’m very familiar with how it tastes brewing western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a Finum brew basket. I wanted to see how changing the brewing method would affect the flavor profile.
RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter
Butiki 6oz. Gaiwan http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39240-butiki-flower-gaiwan
TeaVivre’s Double-wall Glass Tea Cups http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39708-teavivre-double-wall-glass-tea-cups
A Teavana Perfect Preset Tea Timer http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39312-teavana-perfect-preset-tea-timer was used in the count-up mode to control the brewing time.
As this was my 2nd Gongfu brewing, I improvised with what we had on hand. I used a classic Revere Ware SS Copper-bottom stove-top kettle to boil water. A baking pan served as a tea tray/desk for collecting water.
In lieu of a tea pitcher & a matching tea strainer, a Noritake Bleufleur Creamer pitcher 11oz. (Japan) http://thumbs1.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/m7U_-XkLDGw6vqi0oOJrD1g.jpg with a Finum brew basket http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket placed in the pitcher were utilized. Every two steepings were combined in the Noritake pitcher then served. The lid on the Finum helped to retain the tea’s temperature in the pitcher between servings.
It’s much easier to visually appreciate the quality of the Laoshan Black leaves and their transformation from long twisted wiry dark chocolate brown leaves that unfurl significantly to become large long whole leaves when infused.
Surprisingly, the Gongfu method produced very similar results to Verdant’s recommend Western brewing instructions. Perhaps, if less than 5oz. per steep were used, additional nuances may have been more apparent?
I was also surprised that this tea could actually be steeped 15 times. While it’s a full-bodied tea, it’s not the most robust black tea I’ve experienced. Towards the end, the liquor became more golden-amber and the flavor took on a more mild character of the unique Laoshan Black profile. By the 15th steep, the color had become a light-golden. The obvious disadvantage to this method is the time necessary for 15 steeps.
Using a tea like Laoshan Black, that’s recommended to be brewed at 212 ℉, certainly simplifies gungfu brewing when one doesn’t have a thermo tea pot or kettle with a variable temperature control or presets.