brewing Oolong in glass
I’m new to tea. Been a coffee wacko for many years and I thought I’d give tea a try. I seem to be gravitating to the oolongs. Been enjoying a “milk oolong” from American tea room. I’m kind of freaked out about lead and other poisons in clay pots. Am I missing out a lot by brewing my oolongs in glass? I have 5-6 more oolongs coming and I thought I’d get people’s advice. Thanks.
Get a very thick walled glazed ceramic. I think glass doesnt do right by oolong. But that is just me.
I often steep oolong in a glass teapot. I think I do better in ceramic, but only because I do gong-fu in ceramic, while I do a modified western style in glass (twice as much tea, 1/3 the steep time). Gong-fu is definitely better, especially for the darker oolongs, but I don’t think the material makes a difference.
You can steep oolongs in either ceramic or clay. The advantage of clay is it absorbs the flavor of the tea over time, smoothing out any roughness and enhances the taste of the tea. Porcelain though lets you taste the tea unfiltered, retains more aroma, and can be used with any kind of tea.
Glass works fine if you’re grandpa steeping but has poor heat retention and may cause burnt fingers more easily.
It is a good idea to have a variety of pots of different sizes in glass, thin porcelain and thick ceramic. You will not miss out a lot by skipping clay.
I think the better Yixing teapots can be counted on to be lead free. Wouldn’t be sure about the cheap ones. It is possible to test for lead. This requires submerging the pot in a solution though so if you try this test the lid not the pot.
The main error of glass is heat retention. Losing heat = less effective infusion = less flavor and body. They are also harder to handle and break easier.
Glass is good for low temperature teas like green teas. Or to show off at a party.
Thank you for the replies. Very helpful! I hadn’t considered the heat retention issue. Maybe I’ll break down and get a few clay pots from a safe source and test them.
I don’t worry about heat retention. the more important issue in my opinion is specific heat. You don’t want a heavy teapot that will suck the heat out of the water. My glass teapot is much lighter than the water it contains, so it doesn’t draw much heat from the tea. I bought a heavy glass gaiwan that I never use because it DOES draw the heat from the tea.
Also, see picture to left. They look cool.
You don’t need to buy unglazed clay-ware for heat retention anyway. A ceramic glaze will do fine for that. Prewarm your teaware before use if you wish. Also as you primarily appear to brew unroasted oolongs, porcelain and ceramic and even glass could be preferable to clay.
Well a few seem against the idea of glass gaiwans for oolong or even other tea’s brewed hot. I am of a different opinion.
Personally I have all sorts of pots and gaiwans, and I actually prefer using glass for some of my oolongs over any yixing, clay or porcelain pot. Glass will taste lighter, less astringent and well it just has a characteristic taste of its own just like the other materials. Its just very easy going.
Glass is my go-to gaiwan for for silver needle and bai mu dan white tea also.
I do like my yixings, but they offer a completely different taste profile, much darker and sometimes more bitter. For i.e a da hong pao you get a lot more of those darker bitter tones in the after taste with a yixing compared to glass. Glass will also reveal more of the highnotes (although porcelain seem to reveal more).
My suggestion is get some different gaiwans, also get some cups of different materials (yes they impact the taste a lot!) and play around see what you prefer.