As the weather finally starts to get cooler down here in Central Florida, I have noticed my tea drinking habits start to change. In these colder months, I’m drinking tea in my usual gongfu style less and less and slowly moving more towards western style brewing. I must admit that I’m not quite sure what is causing these changes in my tea pattern beyond the lower temperature. It might be that the chill in the air is making me too lazy to do gongfu cha as often as I was before. Nonetheless, the changes in my tea consumption in the past few weeks have been noticeable.
Since the drop in temperature, I am drinking far less green, white and lightly-oxidized oolong. Instead, I find myself reaching for packages of Indian and Sri Lankan black teas. My gongfu sessions, which are becoming more and more infrequent are almost entirely devoted to shou puerh or a highly roasted oolong.
Even my brewing methods have started to change as I adapt to the humid chill in the air. In western brewing, I will now use more leaf than usual and let it steep out for longer, resulting in a thicker body and more a robust and astringent taste. In gongfu brewing, I will use a few grams more in my gaiwan and add a few seconds per steeping with hotter water to really push a tea to its maximum body and flavor. Unfortunately, in brewing tea this way gongfu style often significantly reduces a tea’s longevity in a session.
I am drinking no iced tea whatsoever, which is really too bad because I have some very nice black teas that I would love to try drinking cold. At the very least, I have something to look forward to in the spring if there isn’t a warmer day sooner.
Although the weather hasn’t gone below freezing, my tea drinking habits and rituals have changed drastically. I expect I will return to my old ways when the mercury rises, but for now, I’m going to sit back, throw on a sweater and enjoy my pots of black tea and gaiwans full of shou puerh.