Ever encounter teas that are only good with one specific brewing style?
Hi again everyone. This is something that I’ve noticed lately with some of my teas and wondering if any others have encountered this and what the circumstances were when you did.
Basically, I’m wondering if you’ve ever encountered teas that really only taste great when brewed a specific way, and don’t really translate well across different brewing styles (i.e. “Grandpa”/bowl style brewing, Western brewing, Gongfu cha, etc.)
Particularly I have had a few teas that when I tried them in a Gongfu style I didn’t really think they were very good, but only recently decided to just throw them in a bowl of water and let them continuously steep as I drink from it, and they became really enjoyable.
There’s this little nagging part of me that says “Well maybe you did the Gongfu brewing wrong and need to work on your approach to that tea,” but in some cases I’ve tried tweaking my Gongfu method for the tea in many ways and it never really got beyond a “eh, it’s alright” kind of flavor. On the other hand, just tossing some in a cup and drinking it was great. I’ve practiced Gongfu Cha for 2.5 years now and definitely have had my fair share of experiences with tea brewed that way that felt immaculate and made me swoon, so I generally feel confident with Gongfu style brewing and while I do still make errors, I can usually correct them by brewing adaptively. Some teas just do not let me do this, and some are teas that I consider to be from good, well-reviewed sources.
Does this happen to you sometimes? Are there some teas that are just like this? Or do you think that if a tea is impressive in one way (bowl/grandpa style or western style) it should be able to be made impressively in another (gongfu style)?
What do you think? I’m a little baffled as this is a pretty recent observation.
I find with some red teas that I prefer them Western style. Not that they’re bad with Gong Fu, but they seem to have more depth or impact when done Western. Examples are Imperial Mojiang Golden Bud and Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong (non-smoky), both from Yunnan Sourcing.
I understand where you’re coming from in regard to red tea and feel this is how green teas work for me. My gongfu brewing style tends to give out light, crisp sweet infusions, while a long-brewed cup of green tea is robust and brothy with a lot of richness and depth. With red tea, some are more nuanced brewed gongfu, but more deep and complex when brewed long.
Dongfang Meiren/Oriental Beauty I only like western style. Brew so it has the right amount of wood & spice, then let cool and sweetness comes out to balance it. And Darjeeling, an infuser or pot really is needed (and strict brewing for FF!)
I was going to say some Dan Cong need gongfu, but that isnt true, I can get a nice western cup out of them.
I used to think that Darjeeling wasn’t good in gongfu style but I have managed to pull some really nice gongfu sessions from it after some work on it. It probably tastes very different than what Darjeeling enthusiasts like their cup to taste like though (I am admittedly not one). Assam and Ceylon are two black tea types that I tend not to enjoy gongfu style, but are good brewed long.
ah, yeah, thinking about it – I reckon I could do gongfu style first flush… its a bit like sheng in that regard isnt it.. ok scratch what I said, i’ll give it a try sometime
I don’t gongfu any Indian teas, loose leaf Indian teas are primarily suited for western style.
I think that flavored teas are generally better western style. Flavorings often don’t resteep well anyway.
I have found that to be true for some of the traditionally flower scented teas I have, for sure. One example is the Cape Jasmine Oolong from Tea Ave, which uses Alishan Jin Xuan as the tea base. In Gongfu infusions I find it rather bland but grandpa style it is lush and flowery without being overpowering. On the other hand, some Tea Ave scented teas have held up great with gongfu style, like their Magnolia Oolong which uses the same tea leaf base but magnolia flowers instead. But, I would say that flavored or scented tea is usually better brewed long than short as well.
I think dancong is best suited gongfu. It doesn’t hold up well to long brews
I can imagine your experience of western/grandpa brewing being more satisfactory than gongfu for a black/red tea, but would find it surprising if that were the case for an oolong or pu’erh. I’m not very experienced however and haven’t experimented much with these scenarios. What were the types of tea you found this to be the case?
Strip oolongs work quite well when steeped grandpa style. That’s how I steep bao zhong and wuyi oolongs the majority of the time. I actually prefer bao zhongs this way. They give up their floral/fruity flavor much too quickly when gongfu’ed.
Psyck, the one tea that sticks out most in my memory is Autumn harvest Shan Lin Xi from Eco-Cha, which is a greener style rolled oolong. I used to have the spring harvest and it was incredibly good brewed Gongfu style, probably my favorite rolled oolong tea, but this autumn harvest one just doesn’t taste great to me no matter how I brew it in my gaiwan. If I just toss some into a cup with water (same temperature water I used for Gongfu style) and drink it grandpa style I find it to be very good.
At the moment this is the only tea I can recall that I’ve had this experience with. There are some teas that are definitely better when brewed grandpa style instead of gongfu, but this is the only one in recent memory that I just couldn’t get to taste right at all the gongfu way while it was great the other.
Definitely. For instance, both Whispering Pine’s Rivendell and Verdant’s Early Spring TGY are the best for me when I compound all the gong fu steeps into one mug. So not gong fu, not western, but the best of both worlds.
I believe that is still gongfu (and not western or even a mix of the two). Mixing several gongfu steeps into a fairness pitcher, from which it is poured into drinking cups is a part of the gongfu tea ceremony. You are of course pouring it straight into your drinking mug (same as say drinking from the fairness pitcher) – but the tea has still been brewed gongfu, which is what counts. I drink the same way too – gongfu mugs :)