I was recently asked exactly the specifics of how I am stretching my puerh sessions across a week. So I thought I would just elaborate in a post. I suppose it is quite unusual and, I believe, a product of my own invention. The basis of the week long session is that I am using some basic concepts of gongfu cha brewing ,which I’ve been doing for decades now, and applying it to my novel life situation…
Why exactly would you want to steep a puerh across an entire week rather than just drink it in one sitting? The short answer is really you would not want to do this. I would much prefer sitting cross legged on the floor at my charcoal fired hearth and drinking an hours long session in ceremony while meditating and taking in the full vibe of the tea. If you go far enough back in this blog that’s exactly what I am doing there. Having young children pretty much wrecks this vibe. If you only have one child it’s still kind of possible to do proper gongfu cha when they are at certain ages. I used to wake up early and do so years back. Having as many children like I have here now, it’s impossible.
For years now I have had my tea table set up right in the heart of the kitchen counter so I can brew facing out to everyone. The kids sort of interact with my session today my toddler wanted to sniff my puerh mug which she undoubtedly learned from watching me gongfu brew. Anyways, the mornings when I drink tea have just gotten progressively crazier and crazier with each passing year and I have found my self gravitating to larger and larger Yixing pots. I don’t measure them exactly but first it was 275ML, then I got one a few years ago that is probably 400ML, the last one I got a few months back is maybe 600 ML? Playing around trying to steep many times in a super small pot is just too distracting and more work. When you have a bunch of kids you have really hacked it if you mainly just keep it simple. A year or so my large glass fair cup that I had for over a decade broke (any suggestions wear I can find a replacement?) so I just started to pour directly from my yixing pots directly into the mug. I usually choose the colour I’m in the mood for and pour into these Classic Le Creuset mugs which really hold the heat in nicely. I still pour into some small ceramic cups on the tea table at anytime during the week long sessions if I want to do shots to get a better concentrated read on a tea anytime throughout the session.
The tea table setup is basically a front row of these 3 Larger yixing pots, back row of a large mug and smaller gongfu ceramic cups. I snapped this picture of the display case in the kitchen and you can see it a bit. I used an extra large white ceramic cappuccino mug for the largest pot and Classic Creuset mugs for the other two pots. The mugs often sitting off the bamboo tea table and I use a handy tea shammy to wipe away any spillage. Often I will have two weekly sessions going at once.
The xtra large yixing I might use 40g of puerh leaves. Again I’m not sure because I don’t measure but when they open up they often fill the pot. You can imagine these larger pots have a slower pour so they really push the dry leaf pretty hard. They also will loose less heat than a smaller pot as well. First I'm just doing flash steeping directly into the mug. I often use a technique called “keeping the root” whereby you always leave a 1/5 of the liquid in the mug before pouring another flash steeping into the mug. If I want I increase the steeping time as needed.
You can imagine that I’m not having too many steepings each morning - sometimes just one others a handful. Then I just simply put my bamboo table back up into the display case there with the pots and cups and with the mugs if they are still holding the root. This keeps the kids from playing around with my hundred dollar pots… haha. The next day I just pull the bamboo table down from the display case and step the leaves that were left in the pot without water on them overnight. Ideally the pots would go in a fridge but again it would be too easy for someone to accidentally break a pot in the fridge. This goes on for days until the tea leaves are sufficiently spent then I leave the boiling water on them in the pot overnight to push the last of it out. I find that this style of brewing let’s you really reflect on the steepings of the week long session that you had that particular day and how it compared to the days before. It’s like a full on slow motion style of gongfu cha. It’s also a pretty heavy handed way of brewing which usually does aged tea well.