Drinking Tea with the Farmers

In buying directly from farmers, we were invited to drink tea with them.

Everybody has a different style of gong fu tea brewing, here is a version that is close to what we experienced in the tea mountains.

Below I will describe two distinguishing features of the way that our farmers drink tea gong fu style, which differ from trends in gong fu style that I have seen here in the West. It is a bit different from how I drink gong fu style as well.

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This is Chessers Tea’s Roasted Honey Black Tea
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The tea tray means that when pouring water and tea over the teapot, or when discarding any rinses, the water will flow into the tea tray. The teapot is made of yixing clay. Being made of porous clay, this teapot keeps heat very well, and the pattina on the outside improves over time as tea and water is poured over it. As a few seconds difference can change the strength of the tea, the serving jug on the left ensures that all the teacups have an equal concentration of flavour. The teacups are small as  there will be multiple infusions, each very short, often lasting under a minute.
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Pour in water to preheat the teapot.
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Preheat the serving jug, or chahai.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These cups are used to smell the aroma before drinking the tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Preheat the serving cups.
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Put some tea in the teapot. Here, I use much less than our farmers would have used but use the quantity that fits your taste. If in doubt, err on the side of less leaf, and build up as your taste changes. I actually ended up adding more a little later.
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Re-fill the teapot with a steady fine stream of hot but not boiling water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After the desired time, say 45 seconds for this tea, pour out the tea into the chahai.
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Serve the tea into the smelling cups, and then pour into each serving cup. Before drinking, smell from the smelling cups. I find waving the cup in the air helps to bring out the aroma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For subsequent infusions, pour directly into the serving cups, increasing the steeping time by a few seconds or so.

Farmers are highly experienced tea drinkers and so use very high quantities of leaf. As people become more experienced, they gradually like tea stronger, and as our farmers have been drinking tea for 20-30 years, their tea is brewed powerfully. Added to this is the consideration that when brewing tea with a lot of leaf, it takes much more skill to make all the leaves open at the same rate, which is one of the objectives in gong fu style tea brewing. This takes a lot of practice to achieve.

Some people like to use scales to measure a certain amount of tea leaves, and timers to measure steeping times so as to get consistent results, or to try to hone down brewing parameters until the tea tastes at its best. Our farmers use approximate measurements of tea leaves and approximate timings. Personally I also prefer to do things approximately because it feels more natural.

What do you think is the ideal way to drink tea? Do you ever drink tea gong fu style?

Author: chesserstea

Chessers Tea is a company selling high quality Taiwanese loose leaf tea, and teaware. Have a look at chessers-tea.com. If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to contact us, we love to talk about tea, and we are very happy to help you - chesserstea@outlook.com

6 thoughts on “Drinking Tea with the Farmers”

  1. I think the best advice I had was to weigh leaf accurately when you first start brewing gong-fu style, until you get a feel as to what 5/6 grams looks and feels like, and thereafter you’ll be near enough – for most teas I know that two and a half to three spoonfuls using the tea scoop from my gong-fu tool set, or three “pinches” using my fingers will be about right.

    Having said that, I still like to weight out new teas – the Anji Bai Cha I recently bought was light and bulky, so that 5g looked surprisingly more than it actually was…

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    1. I drink a lot of balled oolong, so I tend to go for the “fill the bottom” as a rough guide and go from there, and it generally works well for balled oolongs. I suppose it saves you later on if you do weigh, but I enjoy a trial and error process. OK, I’ll just cave in and say with new teas especially it’s a good idea to weigh, as you might write off a good tea because you didn’t add enough/too much leaf, especially if you don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like. I watched my farmers prepare the tea, and they have also watched someone prepare the same teas as well so that makes it substantially easier to go without weighing, and eyeball it.

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      1. I also think it’s best to err on the side of too much leaf rather than too little – you can then shorten infusion times accordingly, but if you do that when you’ve used too few leaves then you run the risk of oversteeping…

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      2. I’m mostly talking about black teas, and I’ve found that this works quite well, personally. Otherwise, I agree. A lot of leaf and short steeping times, even flash brewing often works really well for me.

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