Friday, April 20, 2007

technical or not

As a result of an online tasting, aside of each individual's taste, experience and preference of tea, same parameters resulted in very different outcomes. That raises my question in duration of steeping. Even though it's 10s on paper, does that 10s include pouring in/out time? I think some would clock 10s after closing the lid then pour, which technically speaking adds 5 to 15s to the total steeping time depending on how fast you pour and from what vessel, in turn, can be significant for delicate teas, particularly greens.

My practice of 10s, is from the time the first drop of water touching the leaves to the last significant drop of water comes out of a pot or gaiwan. Which is a quick pour in and out, almost immediately. Steeping time is when tea leaves are submerged in water in whole or partially, to my understanding.

Lately, I pay more attention to the technical aspects of making a good cup of tea, I feel less relaxed about drinking tea. My initial liking of tea was emotionally driven. The mental setting, yi jing 意景 is what I enjoyed the most. Not to say that the quest for science in tea isn't important, it is over rated in the US. All the science proofs, researches and what not circulating in the media definitely generate interest, however it's the kind of interest to seek a magic pill. How many bonding benzene rings are there in a leaf?! I might as well pop a green tea tablet. Although it's all about tea, I personally feel science is clouding the pure tea drinking experience. My tea tastes much better when my mind is cleared of science and skill. After a while, one can establish his own set of skills to make a good cup of tea, it becomes habitual or auto pilot that emphasis can be focused on enjoying the taste, experience, surroundings, companies, etc etc. So if I over steeped a brew, tea is kinda like human, you can mess it up and still be loved!

I remember days when my girl friends and I had little tea gatherings after nice dinners. We talked mostly everything else but tea. That is what tea meant to me, tea is there to enhance our lives, not consume our lives.

The semi-official LA tea club have gathered a few serious tea tastings, I enjoyed it very much. The new friends I made, the generosity of the members, the knowledge I learned from them, the new teas I got to taste otherwise not, and more. In future gatherings I would like it less tea fanatically formally oriented . Yes, I know it's a tea club! Now that we got pass that initial awkward stage, we can drink tea like old friends do, tea is just the glue. Hey gang, love you all!


Nicolaus Mote said...

You need a bit of both, no? The engineer in me likes to measure and test under more controlled conditions... Plus because I lack real expertise in tea, keeping track of times sometimes helps me brew a decent cup. Maybe some day, when I'm more experienced I will be able to do everything by intuition and feel. But yes, we can sometimes get so caught up in our hobbies that we forget how to enjoy them. If that's what you're saying, I totally agree with you.

But would you really call our LA tea sessions "serious"? I found them pretty low-key and unpresumptuous (sometimes formal, yes, but I attributed that to the fact that we really don't all know each other that well, yet).

Imen said...


Yes, you said it better. There are times I wounder if my tea would taste better this way or that way, I forgot I actually have a good cup of tea in my hand. And this is totally my own personal battle.

12 teas in one afternoon with a group of tea addicts is pretty serious, not to mention documented with pictures. :P I don't think I had that much tea on US soil, China tea market sampling is a different story. You are right again, the first few times were "tea orientations" until we are more familiar with each other. In future events, our conversations should branch out of tea more so than previously. :)

Bill said...

"Lately, I pay more attention to the technical aspects of making a good cup of tea, I feel less relaxed about drinking tea." Wow Imen, I thought it was just me! Good to know!

~ Phyll said...

Part of the reason that my blog has been rather slow going is because I have been drinking a lot of tea and while not giving a hoot about taking pictures and jotting down notes. Tea, me, my wife and a good movie (baby sleeping) is quite a relaxing setup.

I still love to share my experiences online, though.

About our LA tea club, I think the meeting has been getting more and more laid back, which is great. At the same time, though, I don't remember ever feeling awkard even the very first time I met with Danica, Will, etc. (although all eyes seemed to be on each other's brewing method, which was rather unnerving at first -- lucky I didn't drop Danica's Yixing or something). Perhaps next time we should focus equally on tea and non-tea conversation topics, too.

In any case, I very much enjoyed each of the meeting that I had with everyone, except with Nick (that's because I haven't met Nick yet).

PS: I hate word verification. It reminds me of my actual IQ.

Imen said...

Bill and Phyll,

After I posted this note, in the back of my mind, it tells me some one is going to be offended. What a tea snob she is! Thank god, number of you feel the same way! It was how my body feels, so I am just going to say it.


I didn't mean awkward in a negative way, however it was a getting to know curve which was "unverving" at the beginning. Every one did warm up after a while though.

I am sorry, it's either porn site attack or IQ test. :P