Countless ways to steep a Sheng?
I’m a noob to Sheng. I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of temperatures, times, leaf amount water amounts, even changing temperature from steep to steep. (I’m using W2T’s Often and Midwest Nice to experiment.) I’ve heard some people say to initially soak the leaves for 5 minutes, or just do a flash rinse.
To all the Sheng lovers out there: How do you steep yours? And why? What different flavors do you get out of it because of the way that you steep it? What undesirable flavors do you get when you mess up? Do you vary technique with different Shengs? Theories on why the way you brew it works for you?
Im still not entirely used to the bitterness that can come from sheng. Also, not used to the storing of teas in general so my sheng falls into the ‘drink it now’ category as I dont have a lot of choice & I’m not evaluating what it will be like in 5-10 years time (although this is changing, thanks steepster). So I try to reduce the bitterness as much as possible:
I use 90c water.
Flash steep a rinse, let the leaves sit for 5-10 minutes.
Then flash steep a lot, like 1/1/2/3/5 seconds
Another method is AllanKs one which is something like 5/7/10/15/20..etc which is good for getting a real taste of a new tea, but sometimes it can be a bitter brew which isnt what I like for day-to-day drinking.
Oh, and I use 5g or a bit more in a 90ml gaiwan. I too would like to learn brewing better for less bitterness & maximum flavour.
I am better used to brewing FF Darjeeling, although they can be hard too!
Thank you for the response.
When you say let the leaves sit for 5-10 minutes, does that mean that they’re soaking in water the whole time or just sitting in the Gaiwan damp after the rinse has been poured out?
Also, what sort of temperature are you using?
no, not leave, I rinse.
I like the idea of Dr Jim below who uses less leaf with more time – I will try that next, anything to use less leaf! – I use the same temp as him, 90c :)
I don’t rinse sheng. I use 2 grams of tea in 2 oz of water. This is about half as much tea as most people use, so I double the steep times to 10, 10, 20, 30, 40 sec. This lets me do a full session while only drinking about 16 oz of tea, and means I can try several teas in one day. 200 deg water.
The text book way to try new sheng would be to – use 1 gram per 15 ml in a small gaiwan, rinse the sheng once with boiling water, start with an immediate flash steep and increase timings of further steeps by 5 seconds each. Increase or decrease these time intervals depending on how astringent the tea is and how strong you want it to taste.
The process evolves with about anything you try. If you have a baseline that you normally follow the tea will help you along. Each can be very different and I will adjust on the fly with temp and time to get what I want.
90 C, wow ive been going at 99 C cus i thought puerh needed that..
I like using boiling water myself, 205-212°F. I like the bitterness of high quality young sheng, and aged tea definitely needs boiling water in my opinion. In general I feel 205°+ brings out more complexity and depth
I tend to varie my parameters depending on the Tea but generally use flash steeping for Sheng with my first steeps being 2-5 s using boiling water.
However your question made me think of a lecture I heard where the speaker spoke of people boiling the “*” out of it then adding water and sugar before serving. This was for people who appreciate the bitter elements of it.
Also it can be used in other ways with additives such as described here:
Or the Tibetan butter Tea recipe here: http://www.happyherbalist.com/royaltibetanpuerh.aspx
The famous Tibetan Yak butter tea! Where am I going to get Yak butter in the US!? But, you never know… I once brought in some Tibetan Yak cheese as buyer for a cheese shop in the early 00’s
If you read the recipe, they call for regular dairy product while noting that the recipe isn’t quite authentic. Still, I’m not tempted to try.