I had a super fun chance to do a Gong Fu session with my mom and sister tonight. It was a rare opportunity since I typically only share tea with one of them at a time and it’s usually more informal but this time around I picked out one of the samples that Camellia Sinensis added into my giant teaware order and we made more of an occasion out of the experience.
In total, we did five infusions – six if you count the first though we discarded that one/used it to warm and heat all of the cups and Chahai. No one was a fan of the first infusion: it was far too strong and astringent tasting. In fact, I was the only person to finish their cup of the first infusion. Everyone else poured theirs back into the tea tray. The second and third still had some astringency, but were more palatable. My little sister isn’t a huge tea fan (mostly she just drinks sweet dessert rooibos blends) so even getting her to participate at all was a success for me, so we were all quite understanding about the fact she really disliked the first couple infusions. The fact she tried them at all was more than expected. Personally, while I wasn’t paying super close attention to the nuances of the tea (I was just enjoying the experience of drinking it with family) I did notice that these first infusions had a distinct smokiness and underlying sweetness.
The fourth steep seemed to be the sweet spot and everyone’s favourite. It was just so smooth and had a great balance between grassy tones and artichoke-like notes and sort of peachy sweetness. My mom has actually been to China, and participated in tea ceremonies there and compared this infusion to the tea she was served in China and holds as the ‘best tea she’s ever had’. And my sister finished the entire cup of tea; which was a BIG deal. The last cup had a lot of flavor deterioration, sadly, and so we decided not to push with any more infusions.
I should also mention, that during the entire session we were nibbling on broken chunks of DAVIDsTEA’s Red Velvet Cake infused milk chocolate bar. I thought having something to accompany the tea would be nice, and would also be a little more enticing for my sister. I also remembered from the Science of Taste module I did in my Tea Sommelier course that milk chocolate was a good pairing with some green teas. I think the combination did work well; as long as you took small nibbles of chocolate both flavours could be tasted on the palate and enjoyed instead of overwhelmed.