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  1. #41
    MEversbergII's Avatar
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    It's usually advisable to boil water and then cool it down to the desired level, rather than trying to get it to a certain temperature. It'll evaporate some dissolved gasses and other things I don't quite remember.

    Japanese greens are still rather new to me, as far as greens go. Their steaming method of processing seems to result in a much more delicate leaf, but calls for temps in the mid-to-upper range of what I've seen called for in Chinese greens (~80-85 degrees).

    M.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post
    It's usually advisable to boil water and then cool it down to the desired level, rather than trying to get it to a certain temperature. It'll evaporate some dissolved gasses and other things I don't quite remember.

    Japanese greens are still rather new to me, as far as greens go. Their steaming method of processing seems to result in a much more delicate leaf, but calls for temps in the mid-to-upper range of what I've seen called for in Chinese greens (~80-85 degrees).

    M.
    Sencha gets 165-175 degrees (so about 80 degrees C MAX) depending on the variety, brand, and steaming method used. Good gyuokuro is made at temperatures as low as 140 and MAX 160 so WAY cooler than sencha. Only things like the roasted houjicha and twig teas get warmer temperatures than sencha really. Yes, the leaves are delicate.

    Also, you can boil out the gasses, sure, but you concentrate the non-gas minerals when you boil the water which can make it taste more metallic. The Chinese traditionally describe as many as five different "boils" of water and don't even use the term "final boil" for a full rolling boil. They use it to describe what they also call "turbulent waters" which is about 200 degrees (95 C?). My Chinese friend told me they NEVER boil the water past this point. It concentrates minerals ans makes the water too "hard" (minerally) which prevents antioxidants from steeping into the water and effects the twas flavor by making it slightly metallic.

  3. #43
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    Do you have any literature on these different "boils"? I'm going to have to read into those. I've heard things similar (using terms like fish-eyes, crab-eyes to describe the sort of bubbles in water when it reaches temperatures as it approaches boiling). You have to boil water for a good length of time to really lose a considerable volume, though, in order to concentrate it so much.

    Now as to the Sencha, I am kind of new to them. Chinese greens I have seem to be told to me as optimal between 75 and 85, depending on the various factors. Wild Yunwu types seem to be good at any place along that spectrum, though on the lower end you'd want slightly more leaf and on the upper end slightly less.

    According to this package I have here in front of me (my first sencha):

    Den's Preferred Brewing: 3oz @ 180F, 2g of leaves, 60 second steep. (Second cup has a boiling water request and 15s steep).

    To put those in real numbers, it comes to 1g of leaves for every 45ml of water, which is actually pretty close to "tasting standards" suggested to me, at 1g per 50ml. 180F comes to 83C. I brew this in a 250ml kyusu, so that's 5.5g of leaves per "pot", which I can get about three infusions from.

    That said, there are people telling me to jump it up to 1g per ounce, or about 8g per "pot" in this case.

    It's not that I am disagreeing with you - in fact, we are in accord. I have no idea just how this sencha was prepared.

    Houjicha is best boiled for sure. Genmai also often seems to call for boiling temperatures, as does cheap Jasmine tea. I think this is because the base they're using is low quality, and the boiling water pulls more out of the additives to disguise it.

    M.

  4. #44
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    I was in E. Lansing, MI over the weekend and was pleased to find a tea shop with about 7 varieties of organic green tea for the infusion. I had to coach them to cool down the water (they have one of those spouts that's probably close to 200F), but had a very nice Dragon Well. Otherwise it would have been Tazo's "china green tips" from Starbuck's, which is as good as you can get in a bag, I think. I've been enjoying the organic Yun Wu from ArtOfTea.com lately--great price for a very nice green tea. Thanks for the info, Drumroll--when does the book come out? ;-)

  5. #45
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    Tazo's China Green Tips was my first "full leaf" green tea. Gram for gram, though, it's pretty expensive. Kept the tin - rather pretty.

    M.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post
    Do you have any literature on these different "boils"? I'm going to have to read into those. I've heard things similar (using terms like fish-eyes, crab-eyes to describe the sort of bubbles in water when it reaches temperatures as it approaches boiling). You have to boil water for a good length of time to really lose a considerable volume, though, in order to concentrate it so much.

    Now as to the Sencha, I am kind of new to them. Chinese greens I have seem to be told to me as optimal between 75 and 85, depending on the various factors. Wild Yunwu types seem to be good at any place along that spectrum, though on the lower end you'd want slightly more leaf and on the upper end slightly less.

    According to this package I have here in front of me (my first sencha):

    Den's Preferred Brewing: 3oz @ 180F, 2g of leaves, 60 second steep. (Second cup has a boiling water request and 15s steep).

    To put those in real numbers, it comes to 1g of leaves for every 45ml of water, which is actually pretty close to "tasting standards" suggested to me, at 1g per 50ml. 180F comes to 83C. I brew this in a 250ml kyusu, so that's 5.5g of leaves per "pot", which I can get about three infusions from.

    That said, there are people telling me to jump it up to 1g per ounce, or about 8g per "pot" in this case.

    It's not that I am disagreeing with you - in fact, we are in accord. I have no idea just how this sencha was prepared.

    Houjicha is best boiled for sure. Genmai also often seems to call for boiling temperatures, as does cheap Jasmine tea. I think this is because the base they're using is low quality, and the boiling water pulls more out of the additives to disguise it.

    M.
    I recommend you read both of these for a good take on brewing Japanese green teas:

    How to Make Green Tea (says 175 is typical excepting the lower temp gyuokuro)
    Steeping Green Tea | Tea Trekker

    The second link also details Chinese green teas and you can clearly see that they recommend hotter temperatures for those (sometimes by as much as ten degrees!).

    Both links mention that you should play around within five to ten degrees or so of the recommended temps based on the types of tea and harvest time and desired flavors. You can also play somewhat with the amount of leaf depending on preferred tea strength. It is slightly individual.

    Here is a more general steeping guide for tea:

    Steeping Tea | Tea Trekker

    Here is a little primer that describes the various "boils" as the Chinese define them:

    Boiling Water for Tea: Bubbles and Steam | Mighty Leaf

    It seems to indicate that it is traditional for the Chinese to take their tea off of the heat and apply it to the tea leaves as SOON as it reaches the desired stage in the boil and NOT to let it "boil and cool." Probably not a huge issue of course, but hey, if they've done it for centuries this way, there must be a good reasoning behind it.

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    By the by, I'm going to the famous tea shop in my sister's college town on Friday. If anyone wants to put down an order with me, maybe I can arrange something...

  8. #48
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    I now probably have four months of good tea siting n front of me. Ah, dang it, I did it again.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post

    That company is where I get most of my tea. More than 90% of my total supply, and 100% of my Chinese teas.

    One that I enjoy greatly:

    http://teahong.com/white-teas/3006-w...er-needle.html

    M.
    Thank you for the link. That one intrigues me, I'm going to order it right now. I would also love if you would share some good places for tea supplies in general. A good strainer, tea kettle, etc. Do you use a top strainer or one that steeps in the water, and why?
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  10. #50
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    If what I think you mean by strainer is the thing that keeps the leaves from ending up in the cup/pitcher, then it depends.

    I have four tea pots so far:

    One has a filter built in that is a number of holes punched into the wall where the spout connects. It does fairly well, though this is my most recent purchase and I haven't had it more than a week and a half. I got this one at a local Oriental Market, as the wifey found it and wanted it. I think it's volume is ~750ml but I only used it once before I packed it for the move. It is earthenware, and came with a stainless steel brewing basket, which I will mention below.

    Two of them are side-handled tea pots in the Japanese style (yokode kyusu). One's for work and one's for home, and is how I do all my work-tea brewing and a lot of my at-home brewing these days. This is because it is a very handy 250ml size (roughly one US cup). It has a built in mesh filter which is very fine, kept in place by some ceramic "pegs" which hold it right up against the spout. These I got from Den's Tea, which is a great place for Japanese teas in the U.S., and I will talk more about him below. Unfortunately, this style was part of the $5 ($10?) kyusu sale, and are no longer available. However, Den's has a number of similar pots in more attractive colours stating around $20, if I recall. I've been told they're very well designed for Japanese greens, but I haven't found them lacking for any other category. The fine mesh filter even kept some finely ground Assam I got cheap from getting messy in my cup. It is earthenware, though thinner than the other styles.

    My oldest tea pot is a large 500ml classic tea-pot shape. This one has no built in filter, though it comes with a ceramic brewing basket. For this one, since I discard the brewing basket (for reasons below), I simply end up using a large 6" or so diameter fine mesh strainer. It fits reasonably well into the same 500ml measuring cup that fills the pot (I still use a microwave to heat the water, which I think does just fine though I'm needing a water heater soon). I just pour through it and it catches leaves. Unfortunately the spout tends to get clogged, so I have to be attentive else it can get messy. This one was given to me by a friend I used to room with before I moved on. It's earthenware.

    Regarding brew-baskets, I don't care much for them. They tend to be pretty convenient if they have some kind of built in handle (like my ceramic one does), but the ones that sit just under the lid tend to be a pain to remove when they're hot hot. Additionally, they don't let leaves expand very much, and some leaves need a lot of room once they get brewing - anything Anxi style, for example, more than quadruples as they unfurl. My brew baskets just kind of sit on the shelf, in the odd case I need them for something. Same goes with tea balls - I only use tea-balls for mug-brewing compressed pu'er, but that isn't something I've done in some time.

    As for kettles, I'm one for thinking that even the less expensive ones at say, Target, would do the job. They're stainless and not very expensive. You can use them with a hotplate style setup (magnetic works too if I recall) for portability. If you want to get real fancy, you can get a tetsubin, which is an iron kettle used in Japan. These you can use on fire as well as stove tops and hot plates. Downside is they're going to require drying discipline to guard against rust, and they can be pretty pricy. A very practical solution is an electric kettle. It's a purchase I keep putting off, but it would be much more liberating than having to run to the mirco every time. Get one without exposed elements and with a glass body. The one with the heating tubes inside the chamber tend to scale pretty nasty. And as above, I don't think microwaving the water makes a bad cup. It's how I make all of mine, and is how I'd prefer to do it at work so I don't have to take up more space with my own electric kettle (the one here has tubes).

    As for places to acquire tea, I have a few regular sources:

    * TeaHong - I buy from there most of my Chinese teas because the guy who runs it is the one who got me into higher grades of tea. All his stuff is good quality. He also has tea from Nepal, some from Taiwan and one or two from India. Unfortunately, shipping from there STARTS at around $17 if memory serves, due to the whopping great distances involved. Subsequently, in recent times I haven't ordered much. Good place to get Gaiwans and yixing.

    * Den's Tea - Den is a Japanese man who knows Japanese teas real well. It's based in the West Coast of the US, so shipping cost is low and times quick. His selection is pretty wide, and includes some "instant" forms of tea by way of matcha and powdered tea leaves. He also carries quite a bit of teaware, all in Japanese style I believe.

    * Rishi - I haven't ordered from Rishi, but their teaware selection is nice and they have a good range of both Japanese and Chinese teas.

    * Puerh Shop - I've had several successful orders from Puerh shop - which is US based around Troy, MI. Mostly I purchase dianhongs from them, but recently I got a 2009 shucha bing at 357g for about 10 bucks out of curiosity. It's alright, good enough for making-at-work tea or tea for dinner. Their big-leaf dianhong is great, and has become my favourite making-at-work tea. However, I get the feeling they're a bit disorganized because sometimes labeling on the packages are off (contents are right, bag is wrong), and there's a touch of controversy regarding a mis-advertized pu'er bing from a couple years back. Selection is good, service is prompt, shipping is cheap.

    * Yunnan Sourcing - Yunnan is home of Pu'er, and this was one of the first big name English websites for pu'er. They have a massive selection and are kind of the US rival to Puerh Shop listed above. They have a China-based shop in English at Yunnan Sourcing Pu-erh Tea Shop where the selection is even larger. With pu'er, people really get into vintage and brand, so there's a lot "going on". They also sell a number of other yunnanese teas, much like puershop. I've only had the dianhongs, but they're pretty good. I usually end up going with pu'erh shop lately due to slight closer proximity and a few sales they had recently. Both are good US sources for Yunnanese things either way.

    There are others, but these are my more regular look-ats. Hope this helped!

    M.

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