As some of you know I’m new to tea and learning a great deal for you guys. I’ve been brewing green, oolong, and black tea gongfu style, and have a question. While the gongfu method tastes great it takes too long. Most of the time I just want to drink a whole cup or so of tea at once, and don’t want to go through all the infusions. Is there a method around where I can get the taste gongfu brewing brings out but just make one large cup of tea ? I guess a western and gongfu combo.
To be honest with you, as much as I know everyone says gong fu is the “better” way to prepare tea, I’m right with you; I don’t have the time to go through all the infusions of a session, and usually feel uncomfortably “water heavy” from that much tea, so my preference is to brew western style, even if it is considered more “crude” or “wrong” by the “high-class tea-drinkers”. I also like seeing the difference or the flavors that can be brought out in gong fu, but I just don’t have the time in my schedule, I can’t drink gong fu style at all with my work setup, after work I can only drink herbal tea, so that pretty much leaves weekends and by then it usually feels like more of a hassle than relaxing, and I rarely want as much tea as it produces.
My only guess would be to do a gong fu setup where you take a sip/small sample from each infusion to get the different flavors/note the changes but don’t drink the full infusion and instead “stack” them all into a single cup? Once the infusions are stacked, however, the taste is going to be pretty much how it would be if you had produced it western style from the start, I’d imagine…
Sure, you can compound all of the infusions into one mug and drink them together. I do this all the time and with some teas like TGY, the combined steeps sometimes taste better. It can also be faster than western steeping.
I like to use a small teapot, usually my 65ml mini kyusu or 80ml gaiwan, and pour each steep directly into the cup. About 5-6 steeps are enough to fill a regular American mug or 10 oz tea tumbler.
When I brew gong fu style I will also keep a mug for the extra, but recently I’ve started using a quart jar and then cooling it in the refrigerator. When the tea has had good body hot/fresh I have liked it when drunk cold. So if you save the excess when you do have time for gong fu, you could still drink it later. (I don’t reheat tea, but perhaps that could work?)
Also, I do more or less a hybrid Western/gong fu steep of green/white/yellow teas most mornings. I’ll use 5-10 g for 500 mL of water, and have a first steep for a minute at 60 °C or so. A second steep – which may be the next day! – will be at 5 or 10 degrees higher. Some teas will still be good for a third or fourth steep, increasing temperature or time each time.
The details are not particularly important and it makes sense to experiment to get what you want. For some tea 60 °C is too low to get anything, for others even at low temperatures 30 seconds is enough to get a flavorful liquor.
It’s not going to be the same as a gong fu approach, but it takes far less time. I’m not going to do this with my favorite teas, but average teas (where gong fu won’t necessarily even bring out that much) can still be nice like this.
I drink a lot of greens and I find greens usually are better brewed western or grandpa style. I am not interested in all the variations of flavour for a green. I like the BEST and the BEST is usually the first and second infusions. If I find I don’t like a green tea brewed western or grandpa, I’ll try gongfu. You never know so you have to try out each method to see what works for you.As for other teas types I mostly do gongfu (with blacks and whites being a mix of western or gongfu). I never make it past 8 or 9 infusions with pu’erh. That’s just too much tea for me so I will take a few sips on each infusion. If I don’t like, I throw out and go on to the next one until I hit an infusion I like. Then I Know next time on which infusion to start drinking.
I also try to minimize dishes when brewing gongfu. I make my cup the same size as the brewing vessel. That way I eliminate the pouring vessel. It’s just easier. I really hate all the dishes.