My tea drinking habits have definitely changed over the past year.
During the early days of social distancing, thanks to the increased amount of time I was spending at home, I embarked on a gong-fu rampage, indulging in multiple long sessions every day.
Looking back, that degree of intense tea drinking was hardly likely to be sustainable. If anything, it was the sheer volume of tea I was necking that became problematic, a bit off-putting.
Nowadays, though, I’ve kind of flipped that habit on its head.
Gong-fu sessions are now few and far between, and take place at the weekend, if at all. Even then, more often than not I’ll be using the smaller, 100 ml gaiwan that came with my first travel tea set.
For fun and games with daily drinkers I’ve settled on a kind of hybrid technique, that takes a Western style approach and drops it into gong-fu sized teaware. In practical terms this means I might use, say, 3 grams of leaf in a 200 ml pot, and typically perform three infusions, usually with durations around the 1, 2, and 3 minute mark.
I pour the finished tea into a bowl I found several years ago at a charity shop, which has a volume that comfortably accommodates the liquor with room to spare for the tea to sploosh around inside without spilling out and scalding me in nasty and embarrassing ways.
The only action that bowl had ever seen until recently was the time I wrote a guest post for Chessers Tea on a similar method of tea preparation. Since then, it had lain, semi forgotten, at the back of my third string teaware drawer. At a guess, I don’t think this was ever its intended use, but it’s nevertheless a real pleasure to use it as a surrogate tea bowl.
In the session shown here, I’m using 3 grams of Moychay’s Thai Sheng in a 200 ml unglazed clay pot that has seen nowt but sheng inside of it since the day it was purchased. Water was at 95°C, and I was more than happy with 3 steepings of 1½, 2½, and 4 minutes.
If I want to steep another type of tea, then I simply use the same pot as I would have gong-fu’ed those leaves with, but switch to the 3g/200 ml leaf/water ratio, and the longer infusion times.
This technique also has the advantage of being a stash extender, with it needing less than half the weight of leaf I would have used when gong-fu-ing.
So, yes, I can see this being my default, go-to steeping method for the foreseeable future.
It’s true y’know, sometimes less really is more…