Friday, December 24, 2010

Section 8.- Infusing Tea

"straining should not be done too soon and drinking should not be delayed too late. If it is too soon, the spirit of the tea will not have emerged, and if it is drunk too late, the wonderful fragrance will already have disappeared."

from Cha Sin Jeon- A Chronicle of the Spirit of Tea, a copy of Zhang Poyuan Chalu recorded by Cho Ui, translated in Korea Tea Classics

Those who do not have a copy of Korean Tea Classics do please follow along and participate by referencing a different English translation available here from The Leaf.

This tea classic will be covered one section a week which will go on for 24 weeks. Feel free to jump in with your commentary at anytime.



Bret said...

With green tea this is often the most difficult aspect. Some teas are trickier than others, some teas can become very bitter if over steeped or if too hot water is used.

Such a small window of opportunity to get it right. I generally try to determine this by smell and apperance, when the teas aroma has bloomed and you see that the leaf has opened up, that's a good indication that it's steeped long enough. Even just a few seconds more can ruin a good tea.

Good green tea requires that you pay attention when brewing, that "sweet spot" comes and go's with the blink of an eye.

Matt said...


Optimal brewing of first pick green tea takes experience. One agrees with you that these are the trickiest to brew.


Petr Novák said...

Bret- my experiences also say that greens are tricky but it is not true generally. Many of them, for example Chinese greens, especially from yunnan, you can steep however you would like to try and the tea is still interesting and good...

But may be Matt give here the point when he said " Optimal brewing of first pick green tea takes experience." First picking and also fresh tea is trickier then older leaves or aged teas...


Anonymous said...

“After checking that the water is completely ready” -> this adverb is not defined in Section 6. Is it in fact to be understood as “invariably” (the last one in Section 6)?

The teapot should be washed with cold water after using it twice, least the tea's fragrance decreased. Therefore, it means that we only have two interesting infusions of a same (green?) tea.

“Once it has cooled, strain it and drink” -> I do not think the idea is the right one. If we strain after it has cooled, the leaves will probably have been steeped too long! Better not take the temperature into account to know when it is time to strain the liquor.
One does not say the meaning of a “cool” temperature.

Matt said...

Petr Novak,

Initially one was also going to add the word "subtle" to "first pick green tea" but then decided not to do so. That word shows up to much on this blog already ;)

Julien ELIE,

"completely", "perfectly", "conclusively", and "invariably" are just synonyms.

In this work they recommend that the tea pot should be rinsed with cool water after two uses to make it "clean and pure". The idea behind this is that it is only the interaction of cool and hot that creates steam, and that steam caries the aroma of tea. So by washing it with cool water is imparting the energetics of cool energy into the pot so that when the water is heated and tea added, it will facilatate a more wonderful aroma. One has never heard of this being done in modern times.

“Once it has cooled, strain it and drink” they didn't use gong fu method at this time as the instructions on infusing tea reflect. It must be noted that they likely used a lot less tea per volume than we do today with gong fu brewing.


Matt said...


Notes on section 8:

"First pour a little water into the tea pot to warm and clean it then pour that water away" This is done not only to purify the pot but also the mind.

This section has a few different references to balance, harmony, and the Middle Way. While putting tea leaves in the pot we should "take care not to loose a moderate balance". Not too less tea, not too much tea. Don't use too hot a tea pot. Don't strain too soon. Don't drink too late. All of these recommendations strike at trying to achieve the Middle Way. This not only creates the best tea, but more importantly is done to create the right mind. It can only be achieved through experience.

When mind and tea are one, What is this?


Rebekah said...

I *wondered* about the cool-water rinse, thank you. The cool with hot invokes balance in more ways than one, then. The language of avoiding imbalance can feel to a new reader both abstract and restricting at times, but the experience of seeking it and sometimes finding it are anything but.

Anonymous said...

"First pour a little water into the tea pot to warm and clean it then pour that water away" This is done not only to purify the pot but also the mind.

Especially when (nowadays) we then put the leaves in the teapot, wait a few seconds and smell the fragrances of these dry leaves inside a hot teapot (preferrably in clay).
Peaceful images come in the mind!

When mind and tea are one, What is this?

“I'm happy, no complaints.”