Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gong Ting Again

This will be very brief. I brewed more Gong Ting today. I intended to get some very good pictures of the leaves and color of the tea. The vendor's site describes this puerh as "the smallest (and most expensive) grade of fermented Pu-erh," and it makes me wonder if the 'smallest' refers to the leaves used. Indeed, the leaves are very small and fragile. In fact, after brewing they look like stems, still curled tightly. When I attempted opening a leaf or two, they simply fell apart in my fingers. So taking a picture for the sake of comprehension, I feel, is out of the question. Unless over-brewing will make the leaves turn too soft?

I broke off a nice 5+ gram piece this time, and put that into my pot. The first infusion (after the rinses, of course) was much lighter than subsequent steeps, but it was full of flavor. The second infusion was quite dark, though.

I was watching a movie at the time, tentatively, so I just kept going until the tea was well past finished and I was well past full of tea! As you can see with the final four infusions, side by side, there is a noticeable difference even with very long steeps. I had stopped timing them long before.

So that's my 2005 Gong Ting story.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Gong Ting

I'm finally breaking a cake. Since I already have a pot for Shu puerh, I decided to get into the 2005 Gong Ting Tribute Ripe Pu-erh. Of course when I opened the first of my two current pu storage boxes, it was the one with the Nan Jian. Its aroma is phenominal, and I'll probably just go for it with a gaiwan before too long. It's just too tempting, to wait for one of my new Yixing pots!

I can't really judge anything about the cake, since it was my first time even looking at one as a whole. Comparing to the sample of Pu Qing Hao (PQH now, to save time) I've previously posted about is my only option.

Since this is a new cake, of course I broke pieces from the edge. It was surprisingly less dense than the sample of PQH on the edge, but the center is more dense, it seems. And before anyone accuses me of trying to break it apart with that monstrosuty of a knife, I did not. I can explain, but later. So I broke off a sizable bit of the cake -- bits and all came out as 7.8 grams.

I didn't really follow a pattern when I brewed. After two rinses, I started brewing for 30 seconds, but the whole time I was also remembering reviews of other puerh teas with steeps of just a few seconds. So I played around with shorter and longer steeps. Surprisingly, the yield was still surprisingly dark and flavorful. I did not intend to break down the flavor this time, though, since I can revisit this tea many times and better appreciate the nuances. The liquor was more red than the PQH. And I will say I have no complaints about this tea.

OK, the knife. In several videos on breaking a cake, it is said to pry between the layers. But I saw no layers, and the knife is huge (I remembered too late to wash my letter opener) so I didn't want to damage anything. So I just used the "gentle bending method," which worked fine, especially considering it is a smaller cake (~100g).