How to Brew Pu-erh Tea
One can roughly distinguish between two infusion methods: the Grandpastyle and Gongfu Style:
Grandpa Style: a relatively large vessel (cup, pot, bowl) with relatively little tea. One does not pour off the tea, but lets the tea steep constantly in hot water. Depending on your preferences and the strength of the tea, you simply add some hot water to dilute the tea. This can be done, according to ones personal preference, until the infusion no longer has any taste.
Gongfu Style: a relatively small vessel with a relatively large amount of tea. Many infusions are made with relatively short infusion times. This usually also includes a dispenser vessel (pitcher) and possibly a small, fine strainer.
There are 3 standardized sizes of Gaiwan: small: about 80ml; medium: about 110ml; large: about 140ml. These are the standard, white Gaiwans as used in tea tasting.
Of course there are also all kinds of other Gaiwans with all kinds of different volumes.
Yixing or Chaozhou pots: There are no standard ones. But most of the pots for Gongfu Style have between 100ml and 150ml. It is a good idea to determine the volume before the first use by weighing to get a feeling.
In principle every tea can be prepared according to the two methods mentioned above. Whether green tea, black tea, white tea, wulong tea, pu-erh tea etc. It depends mainly on the infusion temperature and the amount of tea in relation to the water to achieve a good result.
Water temperature: as a rule always preferably at about 100°C as the tea is usually processed from ripe leaves that have formed a cuticle. In addition, the temperature needs to be as high as possible in order to dissolve the aromatic flavours created during processing.
Ratio tea – water approx. 1:50. A large Gaiwan (cup, bowl, pot) with 150ml approx. 3g. On 500ml pot approx. 10g
Brewing time: Drinkable at any time. If too much water is poured in, simply add some hot water again.
Gaiwan: small Gaiwan: 3-5g; medium Gaiwan: 5-8g; large Gaiwan: 8-10g
Yixing/Chaozhou pot: ratio tea – water: about 1:20
Heavily rolled teas such as Taiwan Wulongs can be steeped in the first infusion for about 1:30 – 2 minutes. Then reduce the infusion time for the next two to three infusions to approx. 30s – 1min and then slowly increase the infusion time again.
Twisted teas like Yancha or Dancong in the first infusion 20 – 30s. The following two infusions can be poured after 10 – 20s. Then slowly increase the infusion time again. Even after many infusions, you can simply “sit” the infusion and pour it off after 2 – 3 minutes or even longer. Most of the time, the infusion is still aromatic and full in flavour.
Fenghuang Dancong teas often tend to become slightly bitter. It is always a good idea to make the infusion quickly.
Anxi Tieguanyin is often not as heavily rolled as the Taiwan Wulongs. But they need a little more time to “wake up” than Yanchas or Dancongs. The infusion time is somewhere between these two teas.
Oriental Beauty is an exception among all Wulong teas, as young and tender leaves are plucked rather than mature leaves as in all other Wulong teas. It is recommended to reduce the infusion temperature to 90 – 95°C. Brewing time is about the same as for Yanchas as they are also loosely twisted.
All specifications are approximate and should only be used as a guide at the beginning. With a little experimentation you will quickly find an intuitive feeling for quantity, steeping time and water temperature.