Tea can be as complicated as you want it to be – what with its rituals and myriad details to handle. At the same time, it can be a simple delight. Being of Chaozhou (home of gongfu tea) descent, I fuss over the little details and continually experiment with getting the most out of each pot. At other times, though, I yearn for simplicity, but not in the form of a tea bag or the monstrosity known as the tea ball. Rather I am referring to glass-brewing loose-leaf tea, specifically green tea.
This is not to say this works exclusively for green tea; but for oolong tea, the full spectrum can only be unleashed by gongfu brewing. In contrast, green tea is favored for its brisk, refreshing quality, something that is, in fact, better served with a “lighter taste.” This works quite well for yellow and, to a lesser extent, for white tea as well, but my consumption of those two is less than that of green tea.
The How of It
It is really simple.
Step 1: Add tea leaves
Step 2: Add water
Step 3: Drink to about 1/3 and refill
Step 4: Repeat Step 3 until there is no more taste
It may be simplistic, but the results are pretty good. In fact, it tastes better than brewing out of a big pot because the heat may over-steep the tea leaves, leaving a lifeless and insipid liquid. It may not yield as flavorful a brew as using a gaiwan, but that’s the trade-off for the convenience factor.
The Why of It
To me, there is a simplistic charm about it. While the ceremonial ritual of gongfu brewing provides us a respite from the microwave culture we live in, it’s not practical to do all the time.
In the workplace, we can always provide ourselves with a timeout. Sip on a glass of Huangshan Maofeng and imagine breathing in the rejuvenating cool air of that gorgeous UNESCO heritage site. Savor the fruity nuances of Dongting Biluochun and fantasize about relaxing on the shores of Lake Tai.
Joy doesn’t always need to be complicated. It can be come in a simple, unassuming glass of tea.
This article by Derek Chew was originally posted in May 2013.