Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Unsuccessful brewing of Hung Shui Oolong

On a cold winter day, I like the warmth and sweetness of my winter Feng Huang Hung Shui Oolong. Unfortunately, despite the beauty of my Cha Xi and suitable teaware (Qing dynasty qinghua cups, my zhuni teapot and a Japanese tetsubin), I fail to get the best out of my tea. If the problem is not the tea (which tasted delicious before) and not the teaware, then it's the brewing.

How did I brew? I did preheat the teapot. I was careful to first pour some boiling water on the outside before filling the teapot. On a cold day like this, a big change in temperature could cause a zhuni teapot to crack. I put the tetsubin on my empty Nilu (no time for charcoal heating today). Then, I preheated the cups by emptying the zhuni teapot's water. I put one layer of dry leaves on the bottom of the teapot. And, I poured the water from the tetsubin slowly on the leaves (as I advised here at the end of the post). The brewing lasted approximately a minute.

How do I know there's a problem? The tea didn't taste fully concentrated and harmonious. There is some weakness and the flavors don't seem to bind well. Visually, the leaves have failed to open up well and are siding close to the mouth of the pot.

Rolled Oolong has to open up after its first brew. So, the problem is that with my slow pour, the leaves didn't get enough energy to open up. When the weather is warm, I have no problem with pouring slowly. But, with today's low temperatures, the tetsubin must have lost a degree or two while I was preheating the teapot and teacups. And water also cools faster in the teapot with a slow pour than with a fast one.

The solution is to reheat the tetsubin, to pour with a little more strength and speed, and to let the tea brew a little longer. With these small adjustments, I can again taste the fine full body of my Hung Shui Oolong during these winter days.

I wasn't the only one to feel cold. The tea leaves also felt cold and needed more heat to give their best!

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