This is the first article of the Methods of Tea Brewing series.
If you recall from my previous article the following image :
Tea brewing methods, procedures, steps, their refinement and mastery is the other major half of “Cha-Do”.
In the following few articles, I’ll cover several historical tea brewing methods, methods that had been developed in the past for brewing the teas available during the early days. In modern times, these brewing methods can be fused together, incorporating steps from each other to suit the tea types and qualities available now. The Yixing / Taiwanese Brewing method, Chaozhou brewing method, Shao An brewing method, Anxi Brewing method will be described in upcoming posts.
This write up is about the Yixing / Taiwanese Brewing Method
This method of brewing is often used for taiwanese oolong teas, rolled teas of high quality, delicate teas, many of lower oxidation. The method is seldom used for high oxidation or heavy roasted teas, and if need be, the steep durations are shortened. The unique feature about this brewing method is that it doesnt necessarily use water off the boil! Based on the tea types, the water temperature is varied to bring out the optimal of each tea, preventing leaves from being over cooked, and undesirable vegetal, green, excess bitter, astringency to appear. If one insists on using water off the boil, then special care is needed when dispensing from the kettle, from a height, a thin stream will allow sufficient cooling before the water enters the pot, and adding water around the rim of the pot or gaiwan will prevent scorching of the delicate leaves.
- Green tea – 70-80 degress celsius
- Low oxidation oolong or Baihao oolong – 80-85 degrees celsius
- TKY, wuyi tea 90-95 degrees Celsius
- Teapot, ceramic or yixing is usable. Volume is flexible, depending on the number of guests and cups
- Tea tools like a bamboo pick for unclogging, or a spatula for loading tea leaves into pot
- Kettle that has water heated to the right temperature
- Tea boat for pot to sit in
- Tea cups for guests
- Fairness pitcher for tea distribution
Step 1 – Inspection and admiration of the leaves
A special vessel is used to hold the tea leaves whilst presenting it visually to the guest.
Step 2 – Warm the pot with hot water and discard the water after that
Step 3- Load tea leaves into warmed pot with the use of a spatula. Load a sufficient amount based on your preference, if rolled oolong tea, a layer that covers the base of the pot can be suitable. If unrolled teas like Jin Xuan etc, 30-40% of the pot is fine. Its flexible!
Step 4 – Quickly douse in Hot water and fill the pot to the brim, and quickly dispense into the fairness pitcher. This minimizes hot water wastage, and pre-warms the Pitcher
The residual heat and water in the pot will “steam” the leaves within the pot for a short period of time. One can start brewing usually a minute after that. This is a method of “Damp Heat” awakening and refreshing of the tea, heightening the aromatics particularly if the tea is tightly rolled and compressed. It will also bring out the body in the first brew!
Step 5 – Brew as per normal! Add Hot water into the pot, put the lid on. Douse on more hot water on the outside, this will sustain the pot temperature at a higher level for tens of seconds, which can be integral for pushing out more aromatics and body into the brew. Wash the cups in the mean time by the side of the pot. Once steeping is done, usually a minute or so for the first steep, the tea is dispensed into the fairness pitcher before dispensing into cups for the guests. For this brewing style, the cups for the guest are usually filled to 80% full. This is different from Chao Zhou style where the cups for guests are filled to 70% full.
Increase the duration of each steep as required.
This is the first article of the Tea Brewing Method series.
The following articles are part of this series: