DISPATCH

WTF IS PUER TEA?

Puer

  It’s a little complicated to answer. Puer (also puerh, pu'erh; pronounced like pooh - err/arr) tea is many different things to many different people. It’s an anthropologically loaded beverage. History, ecology, philosophy compressed and weaponised into discs or bricks for our (in)convenience. It’s a drug, a cure, a problem, a comforting solution. It’s iridescent green-then-orange-then-dark concentrated and distilled plant matter and bio-actives, volatile to the void of time and place. Puer tea is a stimulant, a depressant, an olfactory and cognitive agitator of significant power. It’s also fucking delicious.     ORIGINS Many years ago, puer tea was a...

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WATER AND TEA, PART II.

Water

Following on from the previous article, let’s continue talking about the extremely large and complicated topic that is water and tea brewing.   After all, water is important for the taste of your tea. And the most effective thing you can do to improve your tea, short of getting better tea, is to improve your water. The excellent MarshalN talks about it a lot.   What water is right for making tea? Firstly, the results of a simple experiment. look around you I made several batches of water from scratch by adding magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) and sodium bicarbonate (bicarbonate/baking soda) to distilled...

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TEA DYNAMICS: WATER TEMPERATURE

Brewing Temperature

Water temperature, along with how much tea leaf we use, how long we steep it, and the quality of the water we use, is one of the only variables we have control over when brewing tea. It is often stressed in general tea information that one should use the right temperature for the right kind of tea. But let’s look at water temperature in simple terms: entropy. More water temperature = more heat = more energy. More energy in the extraction solvent = more extraction from the tea. When we consider the energy (heat) lost to the air, the teaware,...

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TEA DYNAMICS: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE STEEP TEA?

Brewing

‘Gongfu’ or ‘gongfu cha’ has come to loosely define a kind of tea brewing methodology, and is often the preferred method for many Chinese/Taiwanese teas. But why? What makes it good? Let’s investigate what actually happens when tea is steeped, from a viewpoint of physics and chemistry. Once the tea leaves are immersed in water, a simple process of osmotic diffusion occurs; chemicals and compounds on the surface as well in ruptured cells within the leaf slowly diffuse into the water, moving across the concentration gradient, from high to low. As the water surrounding the tea ‘fills up’ with compounds...

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WATER AND TEA, PART I.

Water

“I hate how every tea blog article about water starts with a quote from me” - Chinese scholar Lu Yu, ca. 1652. Let’s talk about water. Look around you. Water is everywhere. It’s powerful stuff, especially when combined with tea leaves. The purpose of this article will be to: Investigate what we can practically do to improve tea via water Examine some common water related myths There have been numerous discussions about water across Facebook, blogs, and forums. But we need to go deeper. Water is important. Aside from the quality of the tea itself, it is the number one biggest...

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