This is a tea making technique I like to call Great Uncle style.
Although I make use of the same steeping vessel I normally use for Grandpa style infusion, this technique differs somewhat insofar as it has distinct, separate infusion rounds.
This method also shares some similarities with gong-fu style tea-making, having a higher tea leaves / water ratio and shorter infusion times than Western style brewing, but unlike gong-fu style the leaves are physically removed from the brewing vessel between rounds, and the tea then drunk directly from it.
With this method I use a lidded Chinese tea mug with an infuser insert. These mugs are very common, and can be easily picked up for a modest sum at most Chinese supermarkets.
The capacity of the mug is 300 ml, which I find perfect for casual, on-the-go tea drinking during the day, when you might not have the time, space, or equipment to hand to sit down and indulge in a gong-fu session.
It’s not quite as convenient as Grandpa style – whereas with Grandpa style you can sit put and continuously top up your mug from a Thermos of hot water, here you have to rinse out the mug between rounds, re-insert the leaves, steep them, and then take them out again at the appointed time.
Some teas, however, simply do not play nice with Grandpa style, the ones that refuse to drop to the bottom of the mug, the “floaters“.
Some folks don’t mind this, and will use their teeth and lips to strain off the leaves. It’s a technique I have never mastered for some reason, and so shy away from Grandpa-ing certain teas. With Great Uncle style, however, floaters are whisked out of the tea in the infuser insert.
The base technique is simplicity itself. I merely drop about 2 good pinches of leaves (somewhere in the vicinity of 3 grams or thereabouts) into the infuser insert, and then once the tea water is up to temperature I rinse / warm up the mug with a little water, drop the infuser into the mug, add water, cover with the lid, and then steep for about 40 seconds for the first round.
Once the tea has infused, I pop off the lid, and remove the infuser insert from the mug, and drop it into a small bowl – there will always be a bit of run-off from the tea leaves that needs to be dealt with.
Subsequent rounds are then as simple as rinse and repeat, although I usually bump the infusion time by 10 seconds or so for each round.
Depending on the leaves being used and personal taste you should get at least four rounds or so from the tea.
One point of note – the arrangement and size of the holes on my mug’s standard infuser insert allows small, fine tea leaves to slip through and remain in the mug even once the infuser insert has been removed.
I get around this when steeping such a tea in this style by substituting the mug’s own infuser insert with a stainless steel one that came with a larger teapot, which just happens to be a perfect fit for the mug!
To retain heat and aroma during infusion I cover this insert with a lid borrowed from one of my smaller gaiwans. Once the tea has steeped and the infuser insert has been removed, I use the mugs normal lid whilst drinking the tea.
This is currently my default early morning tea making technique. Heating just 300 ml of water combined with a 40 seconds infusion time means that I can have my brain boot brew super fast. Perfect.