I have tried both the Western and Eastern method of brewing this tea, but neither of them were just right:
- Too many brewings became labor-intensive.
- I don’t typically drink ten cups of tea per day, so the last five or more brewings would go unused.
- Brewings were weaker. (I used a perfect amount for my gaiwan, any more would not have been possible.)
+ There was more evolution to the taste.
+ The stimulating and relaxing effects of the tea were more spaced out.
+ It allowed for more use of the tea.
- The relaxing and energizing effects were too condensed into one cup.
- The flavor was less complex and did not evolve since there was only one brewing.
+ There was more body to the brewing.
+ There were not so many brewings that it became labor-intensive.
As a result of this, I decided to find a compromise between the two. I reduced the brewings from ten to five and increased their duration. This was a perfect midway point between the two brewing methods and managed to space out the effect, create an evolution in the flavor, allow for stronger tea with more body, but was not so labor-intensive.
Here were my results:
Tea: 1 tsp
Water: 4 oz
:: Rinse ::
Time: approximately 8-10 seconds swirling the tea in 1-2 oz of boiling water, but more importantly, it was done until the scent shifted from mushroomy to sweet.
:: 1st Brew ::
Time: 2 minutes
Color: deep orange-red-brown
Scent: woody, fresh earth, like taking a shovel and digging in a healthy patch of land, woody like sanding a dark and sweet wood
Flavor: a bit sweet, the taste of fermentation is light and elusive, light dryness, there is a deepness to the flavor but not a lot of body
:: 2nd Brew ::
Time: 2 minutes, 45 seconds
Color: red-brown-orange with ripples dark reddish-brown and lighter orange color when straining the tea at the end, there are clearly clumps still breaking up
Scent: woody, deep, more ubiquitously like fresh earth, but gentle as if you had been working outside in the garden and it permeated the air lightly
Flavor: the sweetness is gone, the dry mouth feeling has become more intense, the earthiness and woodiness is light
:: 3rd Brew ::
Time: 3 minutes
Color: reddish-brown, it has clearly evened out now
Scent: autumn leaf pile, fermentation
Flavor: lightly mushroomy, fermentation, autumn leaf pile, a more ‘wet’ flavor, the dry mouth feeling has leveled off and become more consistent at this point
Note: This is where the relaxed/dazed feeling that pu-erh seems to be known for kicked in for me. If wanting to avoid this effect, this would be where to stop. If not, it would be best to begin sipping more slowly so that this effect is pleasant and light rather than troublesome and intrusive.
:: 4th Brew ::
Time: 4 minutes
Color: lighter reddish-brown
Scent: weaker, autumn leaf pile
Flavor: autumn leaf pile, shifting to a more ‘dry’ flavor
:: 5th Brew ::
Time: 6 minutes
Color: lighter reddish-brown (same as 4th brew)
Scent: autumn leaves
Flavor: autumn leaves, dry leaves, like being outside during a dry autumn day where old leaves are being picked up by the wind
Overall, this method seemed to be a happy medium between Western and Eastern methods:
+ Multiple brewings, but not so many that they became labor-intensive.
+ A progression of flavor notes.
+ Reasonable strength and body to each brew.
+ The relaxing/energizing effects were well spaced out.
I’m not sure if this would be to everybody’s taste, but it certainly worked for me. Feel free to give this method a try if you have had the same issues with Eastern and Western brewing methods as I have. :)
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dark Wood, Earth, Mushrooms, Sweet, Wet Earth, Wet wood, Wood