Caffeine and Cha Qi in later steeps
I’ve read other puer drinkers comment about the effects of the tea still being noticeable 8, 10, 12, 15 steeps into a session. Some reviewers often note they stop a session due to reaching caffeine limit and Cywn notes coming back to a particularly good strong tea days later and still feeling the effects of cha qi (quite often on stoner teas).
I’m trying to get an idea of how common this is. I feel like if you have such reactions you will note it but you’ll say nothing if you don’t so it’s hard to know how common it is just from reading reviews. Personally while I enjoy the taste past 8 steeps on particularly nice teas, at that point I just feel like I’m drinking flavored water. There’s zero caffeine and very little cha qi. Steeps 3-7 are where 90% of those compounds or effects are. And I’m pretty caffeine sensitive.
The first 5 or so are the ones for me. Most tail off after this. The exception is Lao Cha that seems to steep forever.
depends on the tea for me. most young raw i dont brew out past 8-10 as they start to get that petroleum metallic taste. aged raw can get quite nice in later long steeps.
Ripe puerhs will keep brewing forever if you dont mind a slightly weaker tea. Raw and aged still long but not quite the incredible staying power of ripes. Oolongs also have long steeps, other than that 2-5 steeps for most tea.
That being aside certain teas have much reduced caffeine like japanese twig teas, some puerhs have much reduced caffiene as well.
For a person to feel cha qi depends on two things. The individual and the tea itself.
There’s a tendency to generalize a bit with number of steeps and between sheng and shou for puer but really it should always go back to the quality of that particular tea and the person.
I’ve experienced cha qi immediately after the first infusion of a 60 year old sheng puer. Other times I’ve experienced it happened to also be with older puers and it required relatively few steeps, 1-3. Then there are times I’ve experienced it after 5 to 6 steeps.
I’d say the cha qi effect should not be based on caffeine level. In reality, there are a number of things that contribute to the tea having cha qi:
- The composition of the tea leaves. One important thing is the tree that it comes from. This is where age of the tree comes into play among some other things
- Growing conditions such as soil, water, location, the air quality, exposure to natural elements all affect the composition of that tea
- Storage method
Then for an individual to feel it comes down to health and just natural sensitivity. Cha qi is related to qi, the energy that flows through our bodies (from a traditional chinese medicine perspective which is what a lot of these terms and explanations are based on). Some people are more sensitive than others. Additionally, it’s easier to feel it when your diet is cleaner and your health is good.
Finally back to your question, it isn’t uncommon at all to feel cha qi but I personally haven’t heard of anyone feeling it for days so that’s interesting.
Anyway, that was really long winded but my two cents.
“… I personally haven’t heard of anyone feeling it for days so that’s interesting…”
The OP meant that the tea was steeped over a period of several days, not that the qi was felt over days.
Thanks for the lengthy, thoughtful response. Like Psyck said, I meant that some people do another session with a tea the next day and still notice the effects (Cwyn wrote about this regarding either 2005 Naka or Last Thoughts)
Wow, 60 year old…I think the oldest I’ve had was 10 and I didn’t really notice any strong qi. I find that young sheng and shou has the most qi for me. I’d imagine the caffeine would dissipate over time but I’d have thought that would also happen to the other compounds that give qi. I also find that qi can be immediately apparent after 1 steep but also creep up after 5-6. Also noticed the same qi effecting me differently on diff days depending on how I’ve slept, my mood and whether I’ve exercised.
I definitely agree with the effects being easier to feel when on a clean diet and in good health. I eat very clean, look after myself and often feel effects in a tea that the other sharing with me doesn’t feel. It’s even more amplified if I take a week break from tea.
Yeah, I lucked out on that one. And yeah, it can definitely feel different on different days depending on the factors you mentioned. That’s basically what qi is, living and always changing :)
I have never reached a caffeine limit from tea based solely on the volume that I drank. But some teas make me jittery regardless of how much I consume. In those cases I make a note and toss the tea into the “bad pile”.
Chaqi I have felt from literally the first sip, while other teas take 2-3 steepings to develop. I don’t recall it taking more than 3 steepings to feel qi. If I haven’t felt it by then, then I don’t feel it during that session, is my experience.
If I did feel chaqi, then its usually worn off by the 4-5th steep as well. Only a few teas have I continued to feel the chaqi for any length of time but its only a specific type of chaqi I don’t feel like describing. But I speculate the feeling fades because my body has become accustomed to the chi, sort of like when you’re baking and 10 minutes later cannot smell what you’re cooking. But if you walk outside, then back indoors, you can smell it again. So I guess if there’s still some juice left, and if you came back to a tea at a later time/day, I guess you could still get some caffeine or chi. I rarely don’t use up my tea in one session so can’t say from experience. I have boiled used leaves and that pulled out some intense chi.
Other times I think the chaqi feeling goes away because my body’s energy has reached a balance with the chaqi so its no longer affecting me (in summary). Like if you’re hungry, you eat, then you’re not hungry…the food served its purpose.
Sometimes its difficult to grasp the chaqi experience with words. How can you convey the beauty of a sunset and pay it respects with words? To put it into words will restrict the experience and you can never do it justice. so I will just say “good chi” or something notable like heat, expansive, power, etc. But if its got good chi I think its worth noting and I try to include it in reviews.
I don’t think “stoner” effect from tea is the same as chaqi, to me they’re totally different. Theanine increases alpha brain waves relaxing you, bonds to GABA receptors and increases dopamine, etc. So the compounds make you feel stoned. Some people like to group all physical sensations as “chi” but I think that’s inaccurate. The effects of qi have been tried to be described by chemistry/science, but haven’t seen anything out there that describes it yet. So if a tea makes you “stoned” when you drink it the next day, there’s still theanine being extracted IMO.
Very interesting about not feeling the chi for very long. Re: the baking analogy, would that mean that you feel the chi again if you change your situation ? Because I’ve noticed not feeling anything while sitting and drinking but then if I get up I feel it (or even more so if I go for a walk…nature looks more beautiful). However, if I have a tea with powerful chi, I usually feel it for 3-4 hours. But I only started drinking caffeine somewhat regularly in the last year after mostly avoiding it most of my life.
Yes, it can be difficult to understand chi…that’s one of the things I like about it…the esoteric nature, the mystery :) Maybe I should stop trying.
Is GABA tea just another way of saying high theanine tea then ?
Cha qi for me is whether a tea makes me feel something. It could give me lots of energy, it could make me talkative, or really enjoy music. Tea drunk makes me very relaxed. But I’ve had a tea that had both cha qi AND tea drunk