Mar 5, 2010

Gongfu vs. mug brewing (1) – Mt. Wu Dong Zhi Lan Dan Cong

Last year I did some recording of gongfu brewing of this tea here.

First mug brewing

In mug brewing that I did yesterday, I used about 20 long strip leaves of my High Mountain Zhi Lan (orchid) Dan Cong to cover 2/3 of the bottom of my glass mug, and brew the tea with boiling water.

The outcome was a nice surprise. Tea leaves “danced” for a couple of minutes and then all sank to the bottom of the mug. Initially the liquor was a very light honey brown color.

The first a few sips were rather light flavor. I guess I could have waited for longer to allow more infusion, and I could have used more leaves. By the time when I nearly finished the first infusion, the liquor started to yield very rich and interesting flavor. The flavor immediately made me think of lychee and sweet, juicy peach. The aroma rose all the way to nasal cavity and the sweet aftertaste lingered in the mouth.

The second and the third infusions were the best, fruity and sweet. After that, the fruity aroma became weaker, but still long lasting. I re-infused the same leaves in the mug again and again, for 10+ infusions. By the end, the flavor was much weaker, but never seemed to be exhausted. Some tea leaves were still half curled, not completely spent yet. That’s what’s great about high mountain dan cong – after a dozen infusions, some of their leaves still look very new. Another prominent feature of dan cong is the lingering sweet aftertaste. By the end, I couldn’t tell if the flavor was from the tea liquor, or from the sweet aftertaste in my mouth which resulted from previous infusion.

The main reasons I had rarely thought of mug brewing dan cong are, first I thought long infusion might cause bitterness; and secondly I thought diluted liquor would fail to bring out the unique fragrance of dan cong. But it turned out the diluted liquor just eliminated the possibility of bitterness. I wonder if it’s because some contents in the tea are fragrant and even sweet when diluted, but are bitter when highly concentrated. Besides, dan cong’s aggressive aroma can hardly be overshadowed by anything, not even when the tea is brewed in a diluted way. Overall, it was a very pleasant experience! For people who have heavy flavor on dan cong, probably mug brewing will be a little bland to them. But I guess if one likes green tea, s/he will find mug-brewed dan cong very flavorful.

Second mug brewing:
I brewed it again today. This time I put in more leaves, didn’t count, but let leaves almost cover the bottom of the mug. Still the leaf amount is not larger than my regular green tea brewing. This time, the first infusion yielded prominent flavor, very fruity. Near the end of the first infusion and near the end of the second infusion, the liquor got stronger and I could taste a hint of bitterness. But it was just a small bite of bitterness, dissolved very fast and left sweet aftertaste. I totally enjoyed it.

I guess what’s tricky in mug brewing of this tea is control of leaf amount. When there are fewer leaves, people with lighter taste may enjoy it more than people with heavier taste. When there are more leaves, the stronger tongue feeling may be favored by some people who likes sheng puerh, but may be too much for some people who naturally like green tea and very green oolong. For mug brewing, I believe today’s leaf amount is near the upper limit, although they don’t look like many leaves at all. 

Also I have to say, even when brewed in a relatively diluted level, dan cong is still very strong and lasts many infusions. The 20 something dan cong leaves kept me up long after the midnight yesterday. Today it’s keeping me up too.

If I arbitrarily assign gongfu brewing of this tea a grade A, then I would give mug brewing a B+

Will I mug brew it again? – I already did it twice in two days, enjoyed it very much and will do it again.

Will I recommend mug brewing of this tea to other people? – Definitely. And with a reminder against using too much leaves when mug brewing it.

No comments: